Members of the Macomb County Election Commission met on Jan. 20 and voted 2-1 to deny approval of the proposed ballot language of a second recall petition targeting Warren City Councilman Eddie Kabacinski. The commission voted 2-1 to approve the language of a separate petition targeting Kabacinski on Jan. 8.

Members of the Macomb County Election Commission met on Jan. 20 and voted 2-1 to deny approval of the proposed ballot language of a second recall petition targeting Warren City Councilman Eddie Kabacinski. The commission voted 2-1 to approve the language of a separate petition targeting Kabacinski on Jan. 8.

Photo captured during Google Meet session

One of two recall petitions targeting Warren’s Kabacinski approved

Councilman also faces misdemeanors for alleged actions at political rallies

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published January 20, 2021


MOUNT CLEMENS/WARREN — One of two recall petitions targeting Warren City Councilman Eddie Kabacinski has been approved by Macomb County elections officials.

The Macomb County Election Commission met on Jan. 8 and voted 2-1 to approve the language on a recall petition submitted by former City Councilman Robert Boccomino and orchestrated by a committee headed by John Johnson, CEO of the Southeast Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

In a press release in late December announcing the recall effort, Johnson said Kabacinski, elected in November 2019 to a four-year term representing residents of Warren’s City Council District 5, was targeted for recall because he failed to support a blanket settlement to a costly chain of litigation brought by companies seeking medical marijuana dispensary licenses in the city. While Kabacinski was just one of five council members who voted to deny the settlement, Johnson said Kabacinski was in the “weakest” position politically and that he had other “baggage” even before the vote in late November.

Kabacinski was present on the call for the Google Meet virtual session on Jan. 8, when the three-member commission met and he spoke twice during the hearing that lasted less than an hour. Macomb County Treasurer Larry Rocca chaired the meeting. Macomb County Clerk Anthony Forlini and Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham also sat on the commission.

Kabacinski argued that the petition language was inaccurate but said he did vote yes to deny the proposed blanket settlement to the marijuana dispensary lawsuits. He likened cannabis companies seeking to do business in Warren to “drug cartels,” claimed his family had been threatened after his vote and said supporting the proliferation of the state-legal marijuana industry in Warren would be a violation of his oath of office and federal drug laws.

“No matter how many threats have been levied against the Kabacinski family, and there have been many … I will always vote no,” Kabacinski said. He later added, “The language is wrong and to force me to violate federal law here is wrong, too.”

Kabacinski went further to claim that permitting the marijuana industry in Warren would be a reversal of the country’s drug policies under former presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, and that it would be a betrayal of “wholesome” and conservative values.

“I cannot think of any elected official worth his salt that would stand up and say the narcotics industry is good for our economy,” Kabacinski said.

He added that Warren was about to become “one of these Democratically-run cities,” one he said would be “doomed to suffer” as a result of “drug cartels.”

Kabacinski said voting to remove him from office would “disenfranchise” the people of Warren who voted to support President Donald Trump and a silencing of a conservative voice on the City Council.

Several people spoke in his support, including one man who was deemed “out of order” by Rocca after a profane outburst.

“I dont give a (expletive),” the man said. “Eddie is a good man, and you’re just letting him get railroaded!”

Another supporter questioned why Kabacinski was targeted for recall while five members of the City Council voted in favor of denying the settlement in November. She stated that the motive was clear: because he is a Republican.

Forlini, a Republican who defeated Fred Miller in the county clerk’s race in November, cast the lone vote against approving the recall petition language. Rocca is a Republican and Wickersham is a Democrat. The offices held by members of the Warren City Council are nonpartisan.

Attorney Frank Krycia, representing Macomb County, told the members of the commission that it was their job to determine only whether the language was sufficiently clear and factual; that is, whether the claimed action described took place. Krycia said it would be up to the voters to ultimately decide whether the recall effort has merit and whether Kabacinski’s removal is warranted.

The language, as now approved by the commission, reads:

“We, the undersigned, being qualified electors residing in the city of Warren Michigan, City Council District 5, request that Edward Kabacinski, member of the City of Warren Michigan, City Council, representing City Council District 5, be recalled for his no vote in opposition to the Proposed Settlement and Consent Judgement in the matter of Pinebrook Warren, LLC, etalv. City of Warren, Macomb County Circuit Court Case No. 2019-004059-CZ. at the Warren City Council meeting of November 24, 2020”

Johnson said previously he believed the signatures of roughly 3,000 registered voters from the district would be needed and that it would represent the required percentage of those who cast ballots in the state’s last gubernatorial election. Another source said that number could be closer to 2,000.

Should the required number of signatures be collected, the question could be placed on the ballot of the city’s next election.

The District 5 seat covers south Warren between Ryan and Hoover roads and a portion of central Warren that extends north to Martin Road between Hoover Road and Van Dyke Avenue.

Kabacinski faces misdemeanor charges, second recall effort denied

The now-approved recall effort isn’t the only issue Kabacinski faces.

In October, he was arraigned on misdemeanor charges after he allegedly handcuffed a woman who put “Black Lives Matter” stickers on a Donald Trump political sign at a rally in Eastpointe. The case is pending, and a hearing scheduled for Jan. 19 was adjourned until March 2 at the request of defense counsel, according to court records. Neither Kabacinski nor his attorney, Stephen Rabaut, responded to requests for comment on the charges.

Prior to the Eastpointe rally, Kabacinski drew criticism from his constituents after he stood with a group of counterdemonstrators he later said turned out to support law enforcement during a September “March Against Racism” in Warren. The march was organized by the South Warren Alliance for Radical Movement, or SWARM, and Detroit Will Breathe after a series of incidents that targeted a local Black family.   

On Jan. 6, SWARM announced on Facebook that the group had submitted a recall petition of its own seeking to remove Kabacinski, who openly carried a handgun at the march and, according to the SWARM recall petition, “openly portrayed himself as a police officer.” The petition also cites Kabacinski’s alleged actions at the Eastpointe rally, and his statements at a September City Council meeting where he claimed the organizers of the march were “affiliated with terrorist organizations.”

The Macomb County Election Commission met on Jan. 20 and declined to approve the language, with Rocca and Forlini voting no. Wickersham cast the lone vote in favor of its approval.

Kabacinski was present for the virtual Google Meet session and appeared on camera wearing a formal U.S. Army uniform. He addressed the members of the commission and said that the language should not be approved because it had not been proven that he engaged in any unlawful actions.

“There is nothing in this petition language that should be considered true, at all,” Kabacinski said.

SWARM’s Bridget Quinn told members of the commission that Kabacinski had “engaged in dangerous rhetoric.”

“I can’t overstate how important it is that we remove him, and allowing this petition to move forward will give us a chance, the residents of Warren, to do just that,” Quinn said.