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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Secretary of State rules City's proposed "Advisory" Waste Hauler vote.Null and void.

Everybody makes mistakes.   However the  advisory vote  proposed by City Manager Jay Cravens  in March and approved  City Commission in May

was a particularly egregious error. That is because "advisory" votes have no basis by law in Michigan elections. In three  metro area counties, and four elections, the state has a rejected non binding elections as a waste of taxpayer money and misuse of state election equipment. That information is readily available on line by typing , "Advisory Elections in Michigan" in the Google  Search Engine.

Regrettably two area publications including this one failed to do so before the domino's started falling.  

The original plan advanced by Mr. Cravens and not questioned by any City Commissioner was to have an advisory vote in November 4th national election.  The  City commissioners were then to make the  final decision at a later date

This publication did ask  Mr. Cravens why the vote was merely "advisory". Mr Cravens replied that any commissioner who voted against the will of the people would be committing political suicide. So we asked if that were so why not just have a real election with a binding vote ? That question went unanswered. At first we kicked ourselves  for not pursuing the point  further but later in our own thick headed way realized the question had an  answer. 

The point of the "advisory" vote was to determine exactly how much "political suicide," if any, the City Commission  would incur by making a  final  decision  possibly contrary to the will of the people.

City Attorney Bill Hampton, in correspondence with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson argued for an advisory vote citing the City's authority in such matters. 

Johnson replied  that  her department's  decision   " is not dependent on whether the local unit of Government possesses authority over the subject matter of the question,  but whether it is proper expend taxpayer funds and use its election equipment for  what amounts to a public opinion poll.
Johnson added ,"Neither Michigan Election Law  or the City Charter empowers the City to certify a non binding question to the ballot."
And finally "unlike an election for ordinary ballot proposals, the City Commission would not be bound to act in  accordance of  with the outcome of an advisory  question."
and Match

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