he six-month mark since Alpena Mayor Matt Waligora and Councilmen Mike Nunneley and Dave Karschnick took their oath in office. It is also the day people can file for recall.
At least one group in Alpena intends to do just that against Waligora, Nunneley and Karschnick. Cindy Johnson, who has the recall language in order, will submit the required paperwork Tuesday, and if it is approved for its clarity, signatures will be sought to have the recall put on the ballot in November's general election. Johnson said this move was not made without careful thought and was not a knee-jerk reaction to the firing of former City Manager Thad Taylor, but what transpired afterward.
"It wasn't considered shortly after the firing of Thad and no explanation came out. The community was in turmoil and we didn't understand it," Johnson said. "We kept watching, figuring there had to be something coming, waiting to see what the new vision is and then when they said Peltier's name we were like wow, 'wait a minute.'"
Johnson said she is not acting alone in the recall effort and is only doing it because of the damage it has caused the community. She said the reasons for the recall focus on actions made that were not in the best interest of the city and the effect they will have on its finances.
"This is not one of the things on my bucket list that is for sure. I have volunteered for the city for over 20 year and have worked under a few managers and Thad was by far the best and he was very well respected. His firing was not what was best thing for this city, Johnson said. "It is also going to cost the city a lot, well over $100,000 by the time everything is done. I believe they did violate the Open Meetings Act no matter how many times they say they didn't. There was no other way they could go into that meeting that took less than 14 minutes and decide the fate of a great city manager. The discussion about Thad had already been done."
Even though several months have passed since the firing took place, Johnson said people in Alpena are still upset. She is confident the 804 signatures needed for each can be obtained.
"We have lists and lists of people who have contacted us. We really haven't reached out to many people yet," Johnson said. "The people are just as dumbfounded today about the reason for the firing and the direction as we were on April 15. It is the people's recourse to have a recall and hold those who made these decisions accountable.
"This is the last thing I ever thought I would have to do, but it is something we need to do. Let's let the people - whether they are for or against what they have done - decide if this is the direction we want our community to go. If they are for them, then the recall will fail; if if they don't believe in the new vision then it will be a vote of confidence that they have to go. But let's deal with this now either way."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5689.