Those Scottville residents seeking relief from the lawless reign of Mayor Marcy Spencer may be crestfallen after reading a recent article in the Mason County Press titled "Scottville Mayor Recall Petitions Denied due to error." While the headline is accurate, it fails to maintain that condition throughout the article and fails to realize that the denial should be reversed when the process goes further.
Former Commissioner Rob Alway, MCP's editor in chief and close ally with Spencer, first falsely reports that the petition sponsor, Eric Thue, another former city commissioner and a future commissioner who is the only person running for the open seat this November, left a word off the end of the petition. We will see firsthand that 78% of that word was on all petitions, and missing only due to a copier issue.
In the third paragraph, Alway claims that Eric Thue " in fact, actually approved the [removal of first public comment] process when he served as a city commissioner". In fact, Eric Thue first tried to be on the commission in August 2021, losing to Aaron Seiter. He would join the commission the next month when another seat came open. Marcy had already enacted this back in March 2021 for the first time, when Thue never had any inclination to join. Rob Alway was member then, and relished this move that was against the city charter so that he would only have to hear about his faults once a meeting.
In paragraph five, Alway mistakenly writes that Thue turned in petitions without enough signatures to be reelected. He wasn't running for reelection for the remaining two years of his term, the filing deadline had passed before he realized it was needed and he never took out a petition. He could have filed as a write-in and won the two-year term that nobody else filed for. Instead. he filed for one of the four year open terms as a write-in. Write-ins never win as a general rule unless there's more seats available on the ballot than there are names.
Lastly, Alway infers that Thue and his crew needs to start the process over, but he fails to recognize that the petitioners have an alternate route to continue the recall and redeem the democratic principles behind such recalls, stopped initially by the county clerk's office by their decision to reject the signatures of 113 Scottville electors wanting a change. How? Let's read on and find out after taking a look at some petitions:
We see the tops of three petitions in the picture above. Petition A is Thue's copy of the original petition approved by the Election Commission to be factual and clear, which survived judicial review after Spencer's appeal. Petition B is Thue's rewrite of Petition A which is identical to the first except that he misspelt "Commissioner" at the top with only one 'S'. He also had to write slightly beyond the last line to get the word 'conducted' in at the very end.
Petition C is the exact same as B, except that it is one of the dozen or so photocopies of B. The copying machine missed the last two letters of 'conducted', leaving the wrong tense of that word 'conduct'. That's it; the general meaning of the petition is not any different except for a misspelling and a verb tense of the last word that changes nothing about the reason for recall. One has to only look up north to Escanaba to see that this is not a dealbreaker, and this happened less than two weeks earlier:
ESCANABA Daily Press— A copyist’s error in the recall petitions for Commission Bob Barron will not invalidate the 1,235 signatures collected to place his name on the May 2024 ballot.
While the language approved by both the Delta County Election Commission and a circuit court judge stated “On February 7, 2023 Commissioner Robert W. Barron voted to terminate Administrator Emily DeSalvo’s employment contract,” the petitions that were circulated across District 3 stated “On February 7, 2023 Commissioner Barron voted to terminate Administrator Emily DeSalvo’s employment contract.” Barron’s full name was still included on the petition, just not in the portion explaining the reason for the recall... While the signatures on the recall petitions will not be invalidated due to the copyist’s error, Barron may still challenge the individual signatures.
These petitions left out a full first name and middle initial from the original petition language, yet were still not rejected. And the copyist made another boo-boo:
According to Commission Chair Dave Moyle — who said there was a misspelling of the word “administrator” on the petitions for his own recall — the county received an opinion Thursday from County Attorney Scott Graham that the difference in language was not enough to disqualify the petitions.
As you might expect, misspelling a word on your petitions does not disqualify many hours of signature-chasing and the mandate those signatures represent. This was not a rash decision by the Delta County clerk and attorney, it has actually been supported by the Michigan Supreme Court in a case from just 4 years ago in the case Hardy v. Secretary of State. This was explained in many state papers at the time:
Mlive Dec. 2019: At issue is the omission of the word “right" in the petitions circulated to voters. Because it was different than the language previously approved by the Board of State Canvassers, the Bureau of Elections determined the signatures didn’t count.
The petitions circulated by the committee also incorrectly spell the word “diminished” as “diminshed,” although that typo wasn’t directly referenced as a reason to invalidate the signatures collected.
In its decision, the Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs that the slight difference in wording does not invalidate the petitions.
In this case, reasonable people can determine that Thue's recall petition is proper because the reasons given for recall in the circulated petitions were not different than the one approved by our county's election commission. This is evident, and this is why Eric Thue with support from his crew are in the process of having the clerk's decision reviewed and likely overturned so that the petitions can be counted without this unfair, counterintuitive, hasty rejection of the will of 113 voters in the City of Scottville.
Thanks for the explanation. Sounds like Alway has trouble explaining the news to his subscribers.
This is not the first time that Alway has portrayed Thue and other Scottville commissioners that didn't join his faulty ideology as the villain and used false and misleading information to achieve that. Alway could provide a good service to the community because he is a dedicated reporter, but his lack of objectivity and basic humanity in some articles taint his overall product and ruins any credibility he has left.