Proposed language for a recall petition against state Rep. Gail Haines (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) was not approved yesterday, Tuesday, May 31 because two members of the Oakland County Elections Commission — Circuit Court Family Division Judge Linda S. Hallmark and Clerk/Register of Deeds Bill Bullard Jr., a Republican — determined that two sentences in the submitted verbiage were unclear.
Clerk/Register of Deeds Elections Division Director Joe Rozell said Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner, a Democrat, was out of town and not available for the hearing on Waterford resident Neil Billington’s petition language seeking to oust the second-term lawmaker.
The denied petition language read as follows:
“This petition to recall State Representative Gail Haines is based on her repeated failure to represent District 43 constituents. After signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and vowing not to raise taxes, she has consistently supported legislation which raises taxes. She has publicly stated that even though she was absent during the voting for House Bill 4361 (the proposed budget for 2011/12), she would have supported this legislation, which reduces the Michigan Business Tax and shifts that tax burden to lower- and middle class citizens, including the removal of exemptions for senior citizens’ retirement pensions. She voted in favor of House Bill 4408 (Public Act 14 of 2011), which reduced unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. She voted in favor of legislation which is now included in the Emergency Financial Manager Law (Public Act 4 of 2011), which gives excessive and unconstitutional power to Emergency Financial Managers. Rep. Haines has missed 8 key votes on issues that negatively affect her constituents. When present to vote, a review of her voting record shows that Rep. Haines is not casting her vote to reflect the needs and desires of her constituents. Representative Haines is not representing the people.”
This marks the second time that Billington, who challenged Haines in the 2010 Republican primary election, has been thwarted by the three-member elections panel. The following language Billington submitted was rejected on May 9:
“We the People of District 43 (Waterford, Lake Angelus and parts of West Bloomfield Twp.) in the State of Michigan, charge our State Representative, Gail Haines for misrepresentation and discriminating against the citizens by voting in favor to abolish our once given and expressed rights. Starting with but not limited to H.B. 4099 and H.B. 411, which totally Bans Smoking from previous Smoking Allowed facilities and Penalizes Patrons and Owners with Fines and/or with shut down of these Private Clubs, Local Bars and Restaurants from dueling [sic] deciding the best policies for their establishment. This law states, No Exemptions and bans all smoking in these private and public facilities. Whereas this same Law, exempts Michigan Gabling [sic] Casinos from its restrictions and/or consequences. Causing further damage to Michigan’s economic stability of other related industries with lost jobs and revenue. This opinionated act jeopardizes more than just the freedom and civil rights of all citizens, it is oppression of a bias [sic] government and tyranny.”
In an interview last month, Billington said he would continue his efforts to recall Haines “10 more times” if the recall language didn’t receive the elections panel’s OK.
Haines, referring to previous statements made to the Spinal Column Newsweekly by Billington, said on Tuesday, May 31, “He said he’d try 10 times. He’s two down, so he has eight left to go.”
Billington said he has one of two options: appeal the panel’s decision or submit new recall petition language. Either way, he said he expects to finalize his next step in the recall effort by Friday, June 3.
“Absolutely, we are going to appeal it,” he said. “If we don’t appeal it, we are going to come in with new language. This has got to stop with what’s going on. I’ll switch parties. I’ve had it with (the Republicans), and I’ve been with them since 1984. There is no leadership. Everybody follows everybody.
“I’m determined now,” Billington said.
Rozell said an appeal would have to be filed with the Oakland County Circuit Court no more than 10 days after the Board of Election Commissioners rendered its decision. The Circuit Court judge hearing the case would have the ability to overturn the election commissioners’ decision, Rozell said.
Billington would have 180 days to collect 8,613 signatures — an amount equal to 25 percent of the total ballots cast for governor in the 43rd House District during the last election — if recall petition language is approved for circulation.