As treasurer and spokesman for the City Hall Recall Committee, I want to personally thank the dozens of petition circulators for their herculean efforts and those 7,687 Lansing voters who signed petitions in this historic effort to recall Mayor Virg Bernero.
Even though we fell short of our goal of 9,000 signatures, nearly 7,700 signatures is a huge vote of no confidence for Lansing’s Mayor during his first year in office. The fact that Virg survived the recall effort is insignificant, because he now has the dubious distinction of being the only Mayor in Lansing’s history to have ever been the subject of a recall. Certainly, Virg is very unpopular with thousands of Lansing voters.
I was surprised by the numbers of citizens who agreed with the recall, but refused to sign a petition, because they were too frightened of being personally punished by Virg (i.e. either being fired from their jobs, getting harassed by police or code compliance, or losing their positions on city boards and commissions). Amazingly, most Lansing political pundits and insiders felt confident that had enough signatures been collected to force a recall election, that Virg would have easily been recalled.
Petitions were not submitted to the Ingham County Clerk in order to protect citizens and circulators from Virg’s wrath and vengeance. The petitions are secure in a bank vault and will not be used unless Bernero or some other Lansing official within the next year or two forgets that we are a government of by and for the people. After two years, the petitions will be retrieved and shredded.
The news blackout of the recall for 82-89 days was unconscionable and unprecedented. Instead of factual reporting, Lansing’s print and broadcast media succumbed to yellow journalism: journalistic bias and the endemic practice of operating as mouthpieces for limited and particular allegiances, rather than for the public trust. In other words, because the mainstream press supported Bernero in 2003 and 2005, they remained totally silent while Lansing citizens exercised their rights, granted them and protected by the Michigan Constitution and the Lansing City Charter. Undeniably, the recall was news!
Not only Mayor Bernero, but all of Lansing’s elected officials are hereby put on notice. If you don’t represent Lansing citizens fairly, don’t provide basic services, and ignore their needs and concerns, you will be the subject of a recall. Never again will Lansing citizens just sit back and wait for incompetent or unscrupulous politicians to serve out their terms.
The City Hall Recall Committee is here to stay and we have 7,687 petition signatures to start another recall if and when it is warranted. The sleeping giant (the Lansing electorate) has been awakened, and will remain active and vigilant.