Delayed briefly by a technicality, the grassroots effort to recall four members of the Bloomfield Hills Schools Board of Education has resumed.
Officials with Oakland County Clerk’s Office confirmed today that recall petitions seeking the ouster of Board President Ingrid Day, Vice President Ed Ford, Secretary Kate Pettersen and Treasurer Cynthia von Oeyen have been refilled by members of the Bloomfield 20/20 citizen’s group.
A clarity hearing to determine whether the recall petition language is accurate and legally viable is set for the Oakland County Election Commission in the court of Oakland County Probate Judge Linda Hallmark on June 29. The meeting is open to the public.
At issue is their support for consolidating Andover and Lahser high schools under a plan that would require a millage vote in 2012. The board unanimously approved a measure last week that would create a Bloomfield Hills High School on two separate campuses beginning in 2013. Day was not present for the vote due to a family emergency, officials said.
Hallmark, County Clerk Bill Bullard and County Treasurer Andy Meisner comprise the commission, which is tasked with reviewing all recall submissions.
The commission must meet between the 10th and 20th day following the recall filing, according to state law. They are to determine whether the reasons are clear enough for voters to identify the basis for the recall, but the commission members do not have the authority to rule on reasons for the recall.
Their determination can be appealed in circuit court within 10 days of a ruling.
The petitions state the board members “did not act in the best interest of the students nor the resident taxpayers” when they authorized a development plan and put a $74 million bond proposal on the November 2010 ballot that failed. The petition is also critical of the $863,000 contract awarded to Fielding Nair International to plan, design, and facilitate the consolidation.
The board also unanimously authorized the international consultants to further develop the high school facility.
“They defied the voting that took place and I’m sorry to say, but we need a recall. They still don’t get it,” said Bloomfield Township resident and 20/20 member Eleanor Williams.
The group initially filed the recall petitions last month, but had to withdraw them after discovering that von Oeyen had not served long enough to legally face a recall challenge since her re-election in November. That changes on July 1.
There are more than 31,000 registered voters in the district, meaning recall organizers need 5,266 petition signatures to get on the ballot.
Pettersen said she remains focused on her job as an elected official and will wait to see if the petition language is approved before mounting any formal response.
She said the group is vocal at meetings and on internet chatrooms, but she has yet to be approached by any 20/20 members to discuss her votes and viewpoints. She said from her perspective, the group is opposed to consolidation but for different reasons than why they voted ‘no’ in the fall.
“It seems their reasons are different now and there’s quite a bit of inconsistency with how they’re approaching this,” she said. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
Though they aren’t technically beyond the first step in the process, the group is increasing its presence. A handful of supporters wore red and protested outside last week’s controversial meeting, and signs advocating for recall are popping up around local intersections and public buildings
The message isn’t resonating with everyone.
“The 20/20 leaders need to stop,” said parent Amy Cardin. “They need to stop the recall, stop the scare tactics, stop the bullying and stop holding the district hostage.”