Protesters outside Troy city hall in December started demanded Mayor Janice Daniels' resignation. On Thursday, March 1, recall petition language was approved which allows citizens to begin collecting signatures to have the Mayor removed. The election may be held in November depending on the success of the signature drive. BTL photo: Andrew Potter

Troy Mayor recall effort moves forward

November election possible

By Kate Opalewski

TROY - The public should soon see a petition on the city's streets to recall Troy Mayor Janice Daniels from office. On Thursday the Oakland County Commission deemed clear one of two submissions from the Recall Janice Daniels group during a clarity hearing attended by more than 30 people. The meeting ran for about an hour and a half at the Oakland County Probate Court in Pontiac.

The commission, which includes Chief Probate Judge Linda Hallmark, Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, and Oakland County Clerk/Register of Deeds Bill Bullard Jr., unanimously approved the language of the first petition, which targets Mayor Daniels "for voting to reject a $8,485,212 Federal investment grant to the City of Troy on December 19, 2011."

"We are very pleased. We can now move forward with the recall. We have plans to start collecting signatures in the middle of March. Volunteers are coming out of the woodwork every day," said Troy resident and petition sponsor Matthew Binkowski.The grass-roots group filed its committee paperwork on Feb. 13 with the Oakland County Clerk's Office.

Former Troy Mayor Louise Schilling, who served the city for 7 1/2 years said she thought the recall effort was justified for all the reasons cited on the website.

"Janice Daniels exhibits her incompetence repeatedly in words and deeds. The wording approved (for the petition) will be only one of the reasons voters in Troy will sign the recall petition. I also believe Janice Daniels was fraudulent in her campaign with printed materials and deliberately misleading comments to voters. From what I have been constantly hearing from residents and businesses in Troy, they want her gone from the position of Mayor as quickly as possible," said Schilling.

According to Michigan's Recall Procedures, each reason for the recall must be based upon the officer's conduct during his or her current term in office. That's why Hallmark and Bullard Jr. voted to reject the second petition.

The language in the second petition targets Mayor Daniels "for refusing to swear to support the Troy City Charter in taking the oath of office and later referring to the Charter as a "whimsical document"; for failing to support a Federal investment in the City of Troy of over $8.4 million dollars, by voting against the Troy Transit Center project on two occasions, December 19, 2011 and January 17, 2012; for violating the City Council's procedural rules on January 9, 2012, by exceeding the limitations on a council member's speaking time by reading a position paper which publicly denigrated city employees; and for embarrassing the citizens of the City of Troy on January 9, 2012, by telling high school students planning an anti-bullying program that "the homosexual lifestyle is dangerous."

Hallmark said she has "concerns" about whether the oath of office incident occurred during or prior to the time that Mayor Daniels was actually sworn in to office.

In advance of the hearing, Mayor Daniels prepared written comments to rebut the accusations made against her in the petitions, although she did not have the opportunity to read them aloud. It reads, in part: "The majority of these accusations are refutable conclusions drawn by the complainant. They are not facts...In conclusion, if this honorable board would watch the Troy City Council meetings I believe that they would agree that as a newly elected government official I am making a valiant effort to Chair these meetings with dignity and respect to all persons who come before the board, with an honest effort to follow protocol and with an expressed love for our city and our citizens."

As many of Mayor Daniels' supporters stepped up to the podium to express their frustration with the allegations and challenge them, Hallmark reminded them that it's not the responsibility of the commission to judge the accuracy of the petition language, but the clarity of the language.

"Truthfulness is not an issue. We are not defending the petition statements, but only explaining that if a petition statement is false, that is irrelevant to our decision," said Hallmark, adding that the commission does not have the authority, by law, to rule on the reasons for the recall.

"The citizens presented their case as best as they could," said Oakland County Republican Party Chairman Jim Thienel. He stated the proceedings are "extremely objectionable" and the outcome is "shameful."

While leaving the courthouse, Mayor Daniels said, "I am concerned with the process itself, in that clarity has to have substance to be clear. We need to start working on that as a state legislature to fix these laws in place."

Petition circulators have six months to get 7,985 signatures. Within those six months, signatures are valid for 90 days.

"We're confident that we can reach our goal," said John Kulesz, a local attorney, longtime resident of Troy and volunteer for the campaign. "The number of people that voted for Janice is not relevant to the number of signatures we need to gather. But for the record, 14,832 Troy residents voted in the Mayoral election. Janice won with the slightest of margins, 51.98 percent to Robin Beltramini's 47.83 percent. Respectively, the total votes were 7,709 to 7,094. When you consider that there are approximately 56,000 registered voters in Troy, Janice can't claim that she represents the majority of Troy."

Election officials say a recall election could be held as early as November. Mayor Daniels can appeal the decision in Circuit Court within ten days.

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