WEST BLOOMFIELD — Since March, a group of West Bloomfield residents has repeatedly attempted to recall three township board members.
And for the fourth time, the Oakland County Election Commission has rejected the petition language to recall Clerk Cathy Shaughnessy and trustees Lawrence Brown and Howard Rosenberg.
Attorney Ryan Fishman, who filed the recall petitions, said he was shocked that the language was rejected again, but at this point, he “maybe would have been more shocked if it would have been approved.”
Fishman said the difficulty they face filing the petitions is that the law pertaining to recall language changed in 2012.
“Before, it used to be you could make any allegation you wanted, factual or not factual, and the language could be approved so long (as) it was clear,” Fishman said. Now, the language must be factual and clear.
Fishman said he is reworking the language to make it “more abundantly clear” why the residents are seeking to recall the board members and what the issues are. Fishman was expected to file the new language within a week. If it fails, he will then explore appealing, he said.
“If no recall moves forward … next August, when these folks are up for re-election … hopefully at that point will they be held accountable for their actions and their behavior,” Fishman said.
Rosenberg said in a press release that a recall election would cost the township up to $100,000, “and that election would be held just three months before the next primary in August of 2016, when everyone is up for re-election anyway.”
In response to the $100,000 cost, Fishman said that “should that cost sit on the township budget, I put that on the shoulders of Mr. Brown, Mrs. Shaughnessy and Mr. Rosenberg, who are playing the system knowing exactly what’s going to happen. And maybe that’s more evidence that a recall should go forward.”
At the June 1 Board of Trustees meeting, residents spoke out for and against the recall, and some accused Supervisor Michele Economou Ureste of leading the efforts.
West Bloomfield resident and chairman of the West Bloomfield Environmental Commission Tony Spokojny said at the meeting that he is so opposed to the recall efforts “being promoted by (Economou Ureste) and friends of yours that I have been and will continue to donate my (legal) services free of charge to the opponents of the recall.
“I ask you to stop that effort because we could certainly use that $100,000 to go towards other programs in this community,” Spokojny said.
Economou Ureste responded to Spokojny and said that she is not involved in the recall efforts.
“In fact, there is a large army in the community that is leading the recall effort against Clerk Shaughnessy, Trustee Rosenberg (and) Trustee Brown. I have had a tough time over the last seven years as township supervisor, whether it is a trustee who didn’t collect a penny of trustee income in conflict with state statute … or now, a building director resigned last Monday without notice because trustees have asked him to illegally approve a building permit, and I have hard evidence to that fact,” Economou Ureste said.
Fishman said he has never spoken to Economou Ureste, Treasurer Teri Weingarden or trustees Steve Kaplan and Diane Swimmer about the recall petitions.
West Bloomfield resident John Oram also addressed Spokojny and said that he doesn’t need Economou Ureste to “tell us what to do.”
“I will fund this thing if I have to work 24 hours a day … just to have the right thing and for us to have the right to vote,” Oram said.
Brown said at the June 1 meeting, “This is the sixth or seventh time that they’ve tried to recall me, and if I was that bad of a person, I suppose it would have happened.”
Shaughnessy said in a press release that she feels the petitions are a representation that she and the trustees are doing their jobs.
“A small group of people are trying to recall us for being fiscally responsible. This doesn’t make any sense to anyone except the petitioners,” Shaughnessy said in the press release.