Before reading this post, you might want to scroll down to the bottom of this blog and read through the individual posts. There’s plenty of background on what I’m about to discuss below.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
I didn’t realize why they are not responding to my emails, until I saw Owosso Mayor Ben Fredrick’s post on the budget. Now it is crystal clear: they’re scared. I inadvertently called their bluff. There were two main themes to my emails:
- To the commissioners: Either fix the county budget to restore our road patrol, or I will collect enough signatures to initiate a Preliminary Financial Review under PA 436 of 2012.
- To the sheriff: Either sue the county for failure to provide legally mandated public safety programs, or I will collect enough signatures to initiate a Preliminary Financial Review under PA 436 of 2012.
My assumption at the time was that the county was either:
- Financially Insolvent-In which case better to force them to fix it now than later -OR-
- Had a lot of misplaced priorities-In which case the thought of having to undergo a state audit and possible Emergency Financial Manager, would prompt them to quickly adjust their priorities.
Just a note on my personal opinion of EFM’s-I believe that Emergency Financial Manager is the most anti-democratic concept in the history of our state. The very concept makes me nauseous. However, based on my research, and contrary to what our county commissioners are telling us, we are not in bad enough shape to warrant an EFM. In fact, I don’t believe we’re in bad enough shape to cut public safety by a single dime. I think our commissioners are greatly exaggerating our budget issues as part their personal agendas or vendettas.
So why are they scared? Because a preliminary financial audit of our county finances will reveal the truth and make a lot of politicians look really bad. That final report would be public information: compiled by the treasury and posted on the State website. Our County government would have no input into the process, and no ability to “spin” the information! Up to this point the county has yet to release a detailed budget for next year. Why do you suppose that is? My guess is that they’re trying to hide the “true numbers” until after the budget is approved. The transparency provided by this preliminary financial review could end political careers, and even if it doesn’t-nobody likes to be audited right?
At this point you’re probably wondering why we don’t just try to recall the Commissioners or Sheriff? Because recalls are hard and they take too long: There is complicated ballot language, approval issues, and thousands of signatures required to make it happen. We need to get our Sheriffs back on the job ASAP. We don’t have time for elections, appeals, and litigation.
Requesting a preliminary financial review under PA 436 is easy: There are no language/ballot requirements, no means of appealing or fighting the petition, and all we would need are the signatures of 5% of the number of people who voted in the gubernatorial election. That’s only 1213 signatures. Compare that to the 6062 we would need to prompt a recall election!
With only 81 signatures per “pink slipped public safety employee”, we can fix this. I am prepared to do exactly that.
That being said-Let’s hope we don’t have to!
Our first and best option is that the our County Commissioners realize that this isn’t going to end well for them and decide to go back and take a realistic approach to budgeting. This is a good possibility now that Mayor Fredrick called them out on their questionable budgeting practices. That should draw a few hundred people to the commission meeting on December 12th!
Our second option is that Sheriff Braidwood realizes that cutting the road patrol will ensure that he never holds another public office again and decides to take legal action against the county commission for failing provide funding for mandatory services. As of January 1st, 2015 he will be failing to carry out his duties as Sheriff as required by MCL 51. It is important to note that the Sheriff, not the commissioners, can be sued for this.
Call your Commissioner and Sheriff. Tell them to stop playing games with our safety. Tell them that if they don’t, you will sign the petition for a preliminary financial audit under PA 436 of 2012.
If that doesn’t work, help me gather the 1213 signatures that we need. I will have the petition ready for signatures on December 11th. If the commission decides to approve the budget, we will immediately begin to gather the signatures necessary to Save our Road Patrol.
Thank you for helping me protect those who protect us!