Fighting Local Government Corruption — Part 12 of ?
When I was laying on my deathbed in Africa I had a few regrets. One was that I hadn’t written anything. That’s why I write. Not many people get a chance to lay on their deathbed twice. And when I am laying on my deathbed next time, I don’t want to have regrets.
I would regret not having the courage to stand up to a corrupt government official like Tony Barnes. I would regret failing to defend individual rights. I would regret bowing in fear before a petty tyrant. That’s why I take action.
I received the official rejection letter for the Recall on Saturday, although I think the hearing went fairly well.
Judge Pittman read the Recall that I had written. I was then allowed to speak for 2 minutes. The clock was started before Pittman had even finished giving me the instructions to state my name and address, so he had the clock restarted. He made several good adjustments like that. (Tony tried to speak after his lawyer and Pittman said that the lawyer had already presented their side. Pittman also made sure they did a roll call vote after they had already done a general vote.)
Here is my Recall wording.
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On May 8th, 2019 Dalton Township filed an injunction for a Temporary Restraining Order as well as a lawsuit against Hidden Creek Farm. No vote was taken for either of these actions at any public meeting prior to that. Both of these actions are direct violations of the Michigan Open Meetings Act. It is the job of the Township Supervisor (Tony Barnes) to see to it that the township acts in compliance with applicable laws, which he failed to do.
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I knew that Tony’s lawyer Nick Curcio was going to attack both my factuality and clarity. First, I cited the Michigan Election Law Act 116 of 1954, MCL 168.952 section 3.
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The board of county election commissioners… shall meet and shall determine whether each reason for the recall stated in the petition is factual and of sufficient clarity to enable the officer whose recall is sought and the electors to identify the course of conduct that is the basis for the recall.
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I emphasized that my statement meets these requirements because the conduct that is the reason for the Recall is clear to both the official and the electors.
Then, I quoted the State of Michigan Court of Appeals Hooker v Moore case from 2018. (I also had a phone call with Jeremy Hooker and he was both helpful and supportive of my efforts.)
On page four of the decision in favor of Hooker there are two great sentences. (There are citations in the decision, but I left the second set out because it’s so long and is hard to track when given verbally anyway.)
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Our state constitution provides that “[t]he sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required shall be a political rather than a judicial question.” Const 1963, art 2, s 8. An assessment of the accuracy or truthfulness of a factual assertion is an inquiry into the sufficiency of the reason stated in support of recall; our Constitution plainly reserves that assessment to the electors, and the Legislature could not in any event remove that right from them.
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The right to Recall is extremely important, and I’m glad that Michigan has supported that right. I pointed out that my statement is not a conjecture, it is a factual assertion that can be verified or falsified.
Tony’s lawyer was then given the ability to speak for up to 3 minutes, but he stopped just after 2. (I don’t know why lawyers get to speak for an extra minute.) He proposed that my statements were a legal opinion and thus not factual, and that since I didn’t mention Tony Barnes until the end it wasn’t clear. He also proposed that it wasn’t clear because the corruption could have happened in a number of ways. Tony’s lawyer actually proposed three of the ways that Tony could be corrupt, and stated that because we don’t know which version of corruption is happening behind the scenes then Tony can’t be held responsible.
They voted and all three found that my statement was factual. All three also found that my statement lacked sufficient clarity. Judge Pittman then realized that they hadn’t done a roll call during the vote and decided to do it that way, where each person states their name before they vote so that it can be recorded in detail.
All three voted against the clarity again, but Tony Moulatsiotis changed his vote for the factuality to a no. (Moulatsiotis seemed quite confused by the entire proceeding. He asked Judge Pittman a number of questions throughout the hearing. Nancy Waters tried to explain things to him a few times. He actually stated that he didn’t know the difference between factuality and clarity and didn’t see how it could be split, which is him saying that he doesn’t understand that part of his job. It doesn’t effect the outcome in this case.)
My Recall was denied, but I was happily surprised that they found it factual. I still have until August 9th to appeal the decision.
A couple of interesting things happened after the hearing. About 10 or so people were at the hearing to support me, which I appreciate. A few of us were talking after the meeting and Tony Barnes jumped into the circle and started spewing various lies. One lie was aimed directly at me, which annoys me.
Tony Barnes is standing next to me in this haphazard circle of people and says to the group that I created the event for the Dalton Township meeting where people were standing outside of the building. It’s true that I created the Facebook event. Then he points at me and says that I blocked him from the event. That’s a lie. I knew he was lying, he knew he was lying, and he knew that I knew he was lying, and he lied anyway.
That’s the thing with Tony Barnes, he will lie to you, about you, in front of you. It’s amazing, incredible, kind of stunning. I have zero people blocked from my personal Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyAlexanderMartin and I have zero people blocked from the Concerned Citizens of Dalton Township group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/2275100969473041/ and I have never blocked anyone from an event. (I do reserve the right to block people if the appropriate situation arises.)
After Tony Barnes came over and started pestering the group with his lies, I went and talked to some other people. Tony Barnes is like an infection, and it does you no good to talk to an infection.
I had an interesting conversation about voting. While talking to Nancy Waters she made the case that absentee ballot voting is a more responsible version of voting because you can look up information on the candidates at home while you are filling it out. That, plus logistics, is why she is trying to get more people to do absentee ballots. Seems reasonable to me.
On a personal note, my spine was a bit messed up after the meeting. My spinal deformities don’t do good in the types of chairs you find in government buildings. Add the stress of sitting in front of a panel and being judged, while sitting one seat away from the infection called Tony Barnes that you’re trying to remove from office, and my spine was a bit off by the end of that meeting.
In further efforts to stop corruption in Dalton Township, I was finally able to file the police report about the Open Meetings Act violations with the state police. I’ve been trying to do it for weeks. I even drove to the state police office in Rockford and was turned away a couple of weeks ago.
They do not make it easy to file a report about the government breaking laws. Someone had contacted the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s office a couple of months ago. They were told that a report had to be filed by the state police. I decided to do this. I went to the state police office in Grand Haven and found out that it’s not open to the public. Then, I drove to Rockford. I talked to an officer there, but he wouldn’t take the report. He told me to get more information and then call the local police station and have them connect me with the state police. Then an officer would come to my house to make a report.
I had to find a day where I could spend the whole day sitting around waiting for an officer to stop by. The day after the Recall was pretty open for me so that’s when I was able to do it. I called a local police station and asked to be connected to the state police. They said they couldn’t do that, and that I had to dial 911. I thought it was weird to call the emergency line, but that’s what the police office said to do, so I called. Then they said they also couldn’t connect me to the state police, but they would take a message and have someone from either the state police or the county police call me back.
I hung around my phone, but ended up missing the call anyway. I called back and was able to talk to Michigan State Police Detective Sergeant Bentley. She took the report, but she didn’t want to. I’m pretty sure she was stifling a laugh part of the time. And, she even tried to intimidate me into not filing the report. She said that if I had an agenda then I shouldn’t be trying to use the state police for that. I told her that my agenda was an attempt to hold the township government accountable for breaking the Michigan Open Meetings Act three times, but that it seems like the government does not consider the government breaking laws important.
Here’s that call. (Michigan is a single party consent state for recording phone calls, meaning you can record them if you’re an active participant. That’s something I didn’t know before I started fighting the corruption in Dalton Township.)
I don’t know if anything will actually be investigated. I doubt it. I don’t know if anything will be turned into the Muskgeon Prosecutor. I doubt it. And, even if it is I doubt he will do anything with it.
In situations like this it’s easy to think of the myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was punished by Zeus. His punishment was to push a boulder to the top of a mountain, but when he would get close to the top the boulder would roll back to the bottom and he would have to start over. For eternity. A lot of effort in a futile endeavor. It’s a form of torture.
The Nazis sometimes did something similar to prisoners in the concentration camps. They would have them move a huge pile of bags of whatever from one end of the prison to the other. Then, when they were done, they would have them move it back. A lot of effort in a futile endeavor is a form of torture.
I’m kind of like Sisyphus in that way, but with a difference. Especially while filing the police report, I felt like Sisyphus, but without his godlike strength. I can push against the boulder, but I can’t move it. I can’t move the boulder, and even if I could it wouldn’t make a difference anyway.
After that feeling it could make sense to give up. Instead, I want you to think of Viktor Frankl. When the Nazis took over Germany Frankl had the chance to leave. He had a visa to the United States because he was a psychiatrist, a neurosurgeon, and the head of a hospital. But, he decided to stay. He was a Jew and he knew that at some point the Nazis would come for him. But, until then he could help save people. He could help protect them from the Nazis, and he did. Then, while in the concentration camps he continued to help others to the best of his abilities.
Even when we encounter such resistance in the world, even in the face of evil and corruption we have a choice. We can give in to such things, let them overwhelm us not just in the world, but so too in our spirit. Or, we can stand on our principles and advance forward in spite of everything. This defiant spirit of the human soul, this is where redemption can be found. Even in the face of failure there is yet hope for such a person.
Read more of what Jeff deems worthy of attention at: http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com