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FLINT, MI — Mayor Karen Weaver is challenging recall signatures submitted in hopes to remove her from office.
According to the Genesee County Clerk’s Office, Weaver is contesting at least 1,200 of 5,951 signatures certified by Flint City Clerk Inez Brown’s office.
Weaver filed paperwork challenging the signatures on July 31, 2017 – The last day she had to challenge the 5,951 signatures verified by Brown’s office.
“As Mayor of City of Flint, Michigan, who is the subject of the Recall Petition filed by Arthur Woodson…I challenge the validity and genuineness of the signatures of the petition circulators and petition signers as described herein pursuant to MCL 168.961a,” read Weaver’s challenge.
In the mayor’s challenge, she claims that the process is questionable including the review process in the City Clerk’s office.
“A review of the dates of several hundred petition signatures, even by a lay person, reveals that the dates were written by someone other than the petition signers,” said the recall challenge. “It appears that petition circulators may have requested that petition signers not date their petition signatures. This is prohibited by the statute.”
On June 30, 2017, Woodson turned in 780 petitions with 8,848 signatures. The County Clerk’s office signed off on 8,051 of those signatures before turning them over to Brown’s office for verification.
Brown’s office approved 5,951 of the signatures. She had until June 24, 2017, to verify and turn the signatures back over to County Clerk, John Gleason’s office. Brown’s office submitted the 5,951 signatures to Gleason’s office on July 21, 2017. Woodson needed 5,750 signatures to put the recall effort on the November 2017 ballot.
Gleason says he believes Brown did a thorough verification process of the signatures and the recall will likely show up on the November 2017 ballot.
“There will be no stall tactics, none,” said Gleason. “They can’t run the clock out. They don’t have the ability to keep this off the ballot. Their deadline is over. The clerk typically does a thorough job in matters like this.”
Gleason said the issue is likely to show up on the November ballot. His office has to review the 1,200 signatures Weaver is challenging. If Gleason confirms that the signatures are valid, then Weaver can still take the issue to court.
According to documents, Weaver’s legal team hired SPECKIN, a company that analyzes signatures. The forensic analyst, Robert D. Kullman reported that in his opinion, that there are discrepancies.
“My examination revealed changed/altered dates within the circulator signature block, dates on the signature lines that were after the date in the circulator signature block, information in the signature lines (addresses, zip codes, dates) that were not written by the signer.”
Kullman was asked to check to see if any signatures were dated prior to May 2, 2017, if circulator signatures were written by someone other than the circulator, if dates were changed or altered, if signature lines were dated after the date in the circulator signature block and if information in the signature lines were written by someone else other than the signer.
Woodson initially submitted recall language on Jan. 23, 2017. On January 27 he withdrew that language.
He filed his more language in February pointing at the city’s controversial trash dispute as for the reason. Woodson’s approved language was the fourth attempt to remove Weaver.
“They are using thug tactics to fight this recall,” said Woodson. “The real question is why are they trying to fight this so hard? If the people want to keep her in office she let the people decide in November. This move again shows their inability to follow the law and their blatant disrespect to the citizens of Flint. My team will continue to fight this corruption. This is why we are pushing for this recall.”
Woodson’s language read:
“Mayor Karen Weaver, on September 22, 2016, signed an emergency waste collection contract with Rizzo Environmental Service(s),” reads the language filed with the Genesee County Clerk’s Office on Feb. 24.
The trash dispute lingered for months as Flint City Council members and Weaver’s administration fought over whom would haul Flint’s garbage.
In June 2016, Weaver’s administration asked the council to approve a $17.9 million contract with Rizzo Environmental Services but council members questioned the company’s integrity and later voted 8 to 1 to not support Weaver’s recommendation.
Flint City Councilman Eric Mays was the sole supporter of Weaver’s recommendation.
Ultimately, the council and Weaver’s team came to an agreement to continue using Republic Waste Services to haul Flint’s trash shortly after October 2016 reports that Rizzo was at the center of a federal corruption investigation.
Weaver said she is focused on doing her job and declined to comment on the recall issue.
“I am going to continue doing the job I was elected to do and will not be distracted,” said Weaver in a July 21, 2017, email statement.