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January 23, 2013

Rasor to look for repercussions of ethics pledge

Optional pledge cannot be required, per city charter

By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer

ROYAL OAK — Although a proposed ethics pledge was deemed unconstitutional and not able to be forced upon city commissioners, that may not be the end of it.

City Commissioner Jim Rasor said Jan. 11 that he plans to bring the issue to the commission table Jan. 28 as to whether the unconstitutionality of the pledge merits further action against those who recite it.

The pledge was originally proposed by Mayor Pro Tem Patricia Capello at the Sept. 10 City Commission meeting, where she recited the nine-sentence statement, before her fellow commissioners decided to refer it to City Attorney David Gillam.

“The city attorney was asked to opine whether or not commissioners could be lawfully required to take the pledge,” Capello said via email. “He indicated that city commissioners could not legally be required to do anything more than what is required by the city charter. Any commissioner can voluntarily take the pledge, as is, if they so choose.”

Rasor said he believes there is more to it and that what Capello stated may not necessarily be true.

“She went off ad hoc and said a pledge at a meeting that was unconstitutional and illegal. What are we going to do about that?” Rasor said. “I’m going to bring up her unconstitutional and illegal actions at the next meeting. I don’t know the repercussions of it.”

When asked Jan. 16 whether he thought there was anything legally barring
commissioners from voluntarily reciting the pledge on an individual basis, Gillam said he didn’t believe so.

“No. Nothing prohibits the pledge from being taken voluntarily,” Gillam said via email.

Unless Rasor, who is an attorney and owner of his own law firm located one block from City Hall, has more research and information to suggest further investigation, the issue may stand as is.

Capello said she does not currently plan to amend the proposed pledge, but will rather wait and see what changes the Rules Committee — which consists of Rasor, Mayor Jim Ellison and Commissioner David Poulton — makes to the existing ethics ordinance.

The City Commission will meet at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at City Hall, 211 S. Williams.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Chris Jackett at cjackett@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1110.