Former candidate seeks Bing’s immediate removal due to massive irregulaties in vote
By Diane Bukowski
DETROIT, Oct. 4 — Just as a tide of anger against Mayor Dave Bing’s urban removal plans is rising, the Michigan Court of Appeals has said it will hear former mayoral candidate Tom Barrow’s suit challenging Bing’s right to be Mayor on Nov. 2.
Ironically, that is election day, an official holiday for city employees. Bing and the City Council just imposed a concession contract on AFSCME workers, the last hold-outs, after months of their angry protests at the Coleman A. Young Center.
Al Garrett, president of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, was excited when informed of the announcement.
“I’ll be at the polls and the appeals court and we’ll get a letter out to our members. We”ll be happy to get to the bottom of this–there have been too many problems with elections in Detroit for too long. And secretly–and you can print this, I’m rooting for Barrow.”
Nearly all city unions endorsed Barrow in last year’s election.
The hearing, by a panel of three judges, is open to the public and will take place at the state’s Cadillac Place building (the old GM building on W. Grand Blvd. and Second) at 11 a.m on the 14th floor.
Barrow said the appeals judges assigned to the case are Deborah Servitto, appointed by Governor James Blanchard, Pat D’Onofrio, appointed by Governor Jennifer Granholm, and Brian Zahra.
“The underlying facts in this case have never before happened in the United States,” said Barrow’s campaign manager Geoffrey Garfield. “Because of the paucity of modern case law, many legal observers expect the Court’s decision to establish precedent for decades to come as this case is being monitored all over the country.’
He said the Wayne County Board of Canvassers ruled “100 percent of Detroit’s 41,485 absentee ballots could not be recounted; that another 8,001 ballots from neighborhood precincts also could not be recounted; and that 9,649 ballots could not be determined to have been cast in compliance with state law requiring polls to open at 7am and remain open until 8pm.. Thus 59,135 , or 54.9% of the 114,718 ballots cast for mayor were tainted in an election where the margin to alter the outcome of the race was 9,692, nearly 7 times less than the number of irregular ballots. These facts alone should have our citizens up in arms and demanding accountability from Detroit election officials!”
Barrow said, “This law suit is not sour grapes or a refusal to accept an election loss, rather it’s about 59,135 of 114,718 ballots which the public does not know were un-recountable and irregular. It is clear that Mr. Bing was not validly elected, rather only the passage of time gives the public a false impression of legitimacy.”
Barrow said the chief court clerk informed him that all other cases scheduled for that day have been postponed, indicating that the court recognizes the gravity of the case. He said the case has been expedited, despite the delay caused by Bing’s failed attempt to get it dismissed, because the other cases scheduled for the day have earlier court numbers.
Barrow said he is optimistic about winning. If the appeals court rules in his favor, Bing will have to step down and a new election would be held.
“Our army of volunteers plans to be at the polls all day, then walk into the rooms as the computer tapes come out and monitor every step of the process. We will never allow this to happen again,” he pledged.
Barrow said his agenda for Detroit is the anithesis of Bing’s.
“All this talk about right-sizing and down-sizing Detroit is absurd,” he said. “As far as the vacant land in the city, frankly, the banks created most of it, making loans to people that they couldn’t afford later, and then refusing to renegotiate them. So they drove many Detroiters out to the suburbs to rent homes from people there that are losing their homes too. The bankers in their white shirts and red ties and dark blue suits created this situation.”
Barrow said he is not about to cut off services to sections of Detroit as moderators at Bing’s “community forums” suggested, and that he is not about to turn residential parcels into farms so people can get “a cucumber or two.”
“Detroit has massive potential crying out for leadership,” he said. “People will come back, they are already coming back. You have to realize Detroit is the first major city in the state, founded in 1701, so of course its infrastructure and buildings are older than those in suburbs that weren’t founded until 1958 and 1959. I want to modernize and revitalize the city, which needs an independent-minded, entrepreneurial, creative leader.”
He said he welcomes participation from the suburbs, but with the understanding that Detroiters have the right to determine their own destiny.
“The first thing I would do is get that legislation on Cobo Hall overturned, and let the people vote on whether or not they want a regional authority to run it,” Barrow said. “You can’t just go around violating Home Rule, the City Charter and the 10th Amendment.”.
Gwendolyn Gaines, a long-time Detroiter, reacted joyously.
“I think it’s fabulous!” she said.
“It’s incredible that over half the vote was not able to be counted. I don’t know what’s wrong with with the officials of Detroit. When are we going to have fair and equal elections? We’ve been out there fighting and supporting Tom Barrow all along through this process. That Detroit Project that Bing has is horrible. I went to a meeting with environmentalist groups today, and we don’t support it. We’re going to come up with our own plans, Since when have the Kresge Foundation and the others ever done anything but screw us out of our homes and build charter schools? Dave Bing did not win that election fair and square, and when he goes he needs to take all those other so-called leaders with him.”
Bing’s attorney on the case had not returned a call for comment before press time.
.Barrow’s appeal brief is available by copying and pasting http://www.anewvisionfordetroit.com/pdf/07022010_Direct%20_Appeal_Appellant%27s_Brief_%20on_Appeal.pdf . It lays out his case in detail.
For further information, contact: Geoffrey Garfield, 922-7769 Ext 201 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Appeals Court Judges who will hear Barrow’s case
Deborah Servitto Governor James J. Blanchard appointed Judge Servitto to the Macomb Circuit Court in 1990, and she subsequently was elected three times to that court. Governor Jennifer M. Granholm appointed Judge Servitto to the Court of Appeals effective March 23, 2006, to replace Judge Hilda R. Gage. During her tenure as a circuit judge, Judge Servitto was instrumental in implementing innovative programs, such as a seminar for divorcing parents aimed at helping their children cope with divorce and a drug court program that provides treatment and intensive supervision to nonviolent, drug-addicted felons.
Pat M. Donofrio Of Macomb Township, Judge Donofrio was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2002 by Governor Jennifer Granholm and elected in 2004. He previously served as a Macomb County Circuit Court Judge after appointment and election in 1997 and 1998 respectively. From 1998 until appointment to the Michigan Court of Appeals he served as the presiding judge of the civil/criminal division of the circuit court.
Brian K. Zahra Judge Zahra was appointed to the Court in 1999 by Governor John Engler. Previously, he served as a judge of the Wayne Circuit Court, he was a law clerk to US District Court Judge Zatkoff, an adjunct professor at University of Detroit Law School, and he worked as an attorney in private practice.