I drafted a press release shortly before I went to the courthouse today to deliver a couple of 14" X 8.5" papers with "Recall Petition" prominently displayed in boldface at the top.  Once I had submitted the petitions, I sent the following to the local paper and the two local radio stations announcing the effort and the creation of a new political movement in the city limits to rein in the 'natural' inclination of city hall to devolve away from representative democracy.  And it's called:

NEWS RELEASE:  This afternoon, recall petition language was submitted for Ludington City Councilor John Bulger and resubmitted for Mayor Mark Barnett; other councilor recalls are also planned for the near future.  Our Election Commission found the two legally defined terms "unsupported anecdotes" as either unclear or opinion (just like their decision) in the first effort against the mayor, we have changed the language to better explain how the mayor unethically used his position to gain for himself a service worth up to $19,500 for himself and his family that he was not legally entitled to.  

"Mayor Barnett failed to disclose that he would personally benefit from Wildlife Management (WM) services provided strictly to the City of Ludington by the USDA through a Cooperative Service Agreement (CSA).  After advocating for restarting WM in committee and council meetings, he signed a USDA form falsely claiming he had his own CSA and stands to have WM done on his private lot paid for by the general fund."

The three councilors to be targeted for recall elections have each served a little over a year of their four-year term and have each supported four different decisions made that reflect badly on their position as a representative of the people in their wards, this petition language states:

"In 2023, Bulger voted to: 1) raise tax rates, taking nearly $300,000 extra from city property owners, 2) pay a state legislator's business for services months prior to the competitive bidding award for the contract, 3) provide commercial rehabilitation act relief for a playground (rejected by the county), 4) subsidize, with about $1M from the general fund, two enterprise funds."

Citizens of Ludington can generally agree that councilors raising taxes without a vote of the people is a bad thing, agree also that violating competitive bidding processes just to enrich or seek favors from a corrupted state legislator is a vile practice, agree that using fraud to subsidize developers and place increased burdens on the rest of us is a betrayal of the public trust, and agree that the city's enterprise funds, competing unfairly with our city's private marinas and campgrounds, should not look to councilors for substantial donations from the general fund. 

The City's avarice and corruption seems to have peaked in their 150th year, so I and others have created an effort to ebb those inclinations through the democratic process of recall, which, if successful will put each member of the city council up for election in November.  We call this Grassroots Operation: Ludington Democracy for year 151, or simply GOLD 151.  Please join us to become aware of the malaise that has entered the city council chambers, spread that awareness, and become part of the change we need to have an honorable council in the future that works on behalf of the good folks of Ludington, not against them.  

When I originally envisioned GOLD 151, I had planned to go down to the courthouse with a citizen representative from the 2nd and 4th Wards and hand in 4 petitions, adding one for Councilors Winczewski and Stibitz (I moved back to my 6th Ward property in January).  But then I worried that my compatriots would face undue criticism from the corrupt city's tendrils, and then one backed down before the day arrived, having reasonable considerations as to how it may affect his life.  I could only commiserate, as I've seen this happen firsthand too often in the past.

To protect my other sponsor, and to better attract another sponsor for the 2nd Ward, I decided to go in with just one of the councilor petitions, my own.  Should that pass the clarity hearing for petition language, I should be able to have my sponsors submit the other two (with the same language, just a name change) and not have a formal clarity hearing, as allowed by recall law.  As a respected attorney, Barrister Bulger should be able to have the most precise defense against the document's language anyway, so if he can't make the Election Committee reject the language, the two career teachers aren't likely to do any better.

This will also allow me to concentrate on 6th Ward signatures for a couple of weeks before I go to the other even number districts to help out and collectively collect a couple hundred signatures from each.  We will welcome earnest help from any city ward, and even others who live outside the city who are sickened by city hall's last year and would like to see the full council come up for reassessment this very important election year.  We will also be looking for potential candidates to run against the incumbents in all wards.

There are few people other than those walking in lockstep with those in charge who believe higher taxes, fraud, payoffs, and unfairly competing with the private sector are what their councilor is elected to do.  Everybody should be upset about these actions, at least upset enough to sign the recall petition against their councilor when they get the chance.  The mayor's action is also shameful.  I'm hopeful that we can find some hardy souls motivated enough to be able to grab their drums, fife, and clipboard and help us get around 1000 valid signatures for the mayor's petition and less than 200 for the councilors.  

We will be establishing a webpage for GOLD 151 shortly to help get the word out for our mission: to cleanse the city council chambers of those who won't represent us, but instead kowtow to the good old boys and out-of-town developers looking for handouts of money and power.

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Terrific news X. I can just hear all of them having an internet meeting when they find out what your next move is going to be. You are going to be giving them all headaches because they haven't worked this hard figuring out how to cover their butts since they became City reps. At least now people are going to question what the entire elected core of politicians have been up to.
Just curious. Shouldn't you have included the words "deer cull" or something to that affect when you reworded Barnett's petition?


I was worried about using the term 'deer cull' because of the potential for the mayor and the EC to object to that terminology-- because we know they want to prevent this going through using anything at their disposal-- and so I used the euphemism that they contracted under:  wildlife management.  Additionally, this allows the signature-seeker to explain the ethical infraction on the petition in simpler terminology.  I also figured that it would illustrate that the main reason the recall is under way is not because it's sponsor objects to the deer cull in Ludington, rather they object to the mayor's unethical course of action.  This may also get signatures from people who are for the deer cull, but object to a mayor who uses his position to get something for himself for free.

I appreciate your reworking of the GOLD 151 frontispiece, and agree that the recall of the even ward councilors will filter to the odds, since the four votes I mention for them in the petition language falls also on their plate.  If you can adapt any more illustrations for the cause, it would be deeply appreciated.

It seems to me that the clearer the petition is the more willing people will be to sign it. All the references to  WM, CSA, USDA doesn't really explain much about the petition. It will take a lot of explaining and convincing to get people to sign it. Explaining what the different agencies are and how they relate to each other and to a cull will be difficult because the cull is not referenced in the petition. I don't know much or even understand much about how submitting a petition is done. I just know that when I have been asked to sign petitions, they had to be clearly to the point and understandable.  Why is a petition required to be so condensed?

If you have any illustrations or ideas that you are considering let me know. I'm not very good at thinking up new ideas. 

I cannot disagree with your reasoning, but the contract was couched in euphemistic terms, so instead of being a contract it's a 'cooperative service agreement' and instead of being a deer cull, it is 'wildlife management'.  If I used kitchen table-talk terms, Barnett could say that the term deer cull is unclear, because it's also the idea that removing bucks with less-than-desirable antler characteristics for their age will increase antler quality of future bucks by changing the genetics of the population.  Or manipulating population structure, removing animals that are sick, injured or in poor condition, providing a sustainable source of income through sales of venison.

In the CSA (aka contract) there was no mention of a cull only WM.  With this anal-retentive anti-democratic Election Commission, I'm not taking chances.


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