Another lakes area state lawmaker has become the target of a recall petition drive, and — as with the other recent case out of west Oakland — we’re urging registered voters not to sign recall petitions.
Lisa Brown is the latest target in the rash of recall attempts going on at the state level. Two sets of recall petition language filed against the second-term Democratic state representative — whose district covers Commerce Township, Wolverine Lake, and some of West Bloomfield Township — were approved by the Oakland County Elections Commission on Monday, Sept. 26.
The first one cites her vote against House Bill (HB) 4362 as grounds for recall. That bill was part of a legislative package that enacted the repeal of the exemption that many Michigan senior citizens enjoy on their pensions — which is now a new state law that the Michigan Supreme Court is in the process of reviewing for constitutionality.
The recall petition language reads:
“On May 12, 2011, State Representative Lisa Brown voted no on Michigan House Bill 4362.”
The second set of approved recall petition language cites her vote against HB 4214, which enacted an increased level of authority for emergency financial managers in the state and became Public Act (PA) 4 of 2011.
That language reads:
“Lisa Brown on March 15, 2011, voted no on House Bill 4214.”
Both sets of recall petition language were filed by West Bloomfield Township resident David Rohtbart, who made a $1,000 contribution to Gov. Rick Snyder’s campaign last year and a $55 donation to the 9th District Republican Committee on June 7.
Rohtbart says he doesn’t believe Brown is representing her constituency, adding that she seems to be “acquiescing to the more hardcore liberal wing of the Democrats.” He also said he feels it’s “time to fight back a little” given the slew of recall efforts under way against Republican lawmakers. Rohtbart said the people who will be knocking on doors to collect signatures on his petitions are “trying to send a message.”
We don’t have a problem with Rohtbart and company sending a message to Brown or any other elected official; however, employing the recall process to that end — in this case and in another here in the lakes area — is completely inappropriate.
Elected officials shouldn’t have to fend off a recall attempt simply because they voted their conscience, or for purely political reasons. Although recall drives motivated by politics certainly are possible under current law, that was never the intent behind providing the people with the ability to recall their elected representatives.
Recall drives should be reserved for cases of misfeasance, malfeasance or non-feasance in office, not for people to be able to grind a political ax over disagreements related to public policy. The only general exception to that should be cases where an elected official’s personal life threatens to overwhelm their ability to fulfill their duties as an elected official.
In the Brown recall example, Rohtbart apparently takes issue with Brown because of a perceived — or even real, perhaps — alignment with the “more hardcore liberal wing of the Democrats.” Additionally, he indicates his recall effort is motivated solely by politics — not malfeasance, misfeasance or non-feasance in office — by stating it’s “time to fight back a little” in light of those similarly misguided people seeking to recall various Republican officials over petty politics.
For example, state Rep. Gail Haines (R-Waterford, West Bloomfield) is facing a recall effort by Waterford Township resident Neil Billington — who challenged Haines in the 2010 Republican primary election — for her vote in favor of the emergency financial manager bill that eventually became PA 4 of 2011.
So, we have two lakes area lawmakers facing recall efforts, one for voting for enhanced powers for emergency financial managers and one for voting against that. That’s a pretty good indication that the recall drives, in both cases, aren’t based on any abuse of power, illegal use of power or a lawmakers’ failure to do their jobs, but are all about dissatisfaction over how the officials have voted on one or more issues. That’s frivolous, and it could exact a heavy price in a couple of ways.
State laws currently mandate that after a certified petition with the requisite number of signatures is submitted to the county election scheduling committee, a recall election must be held within 60 days. Such an election conducted outside the traditional polling cycle will cost the municipalities within the district thousands and thousands of dollars — funds that are sorely needed to provide critical services like police and fire protection.
The other cost of petty recall efforts is the periodic spate of recall reform legislation that gets introduced and threatens the public’s ability to embark on legitimate recall drives.
Neither Brown nor Haines have done anything, or failed to do something that would justify facing a recall campaign. Don’t sign the petitions targeting them — if don’t like them as your state representative, work to oust them in the 2012 elections. That’s what those elections are for.