Campaigning season has already started
April 26, 2012 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
The campaign season has officially begun in Plymouth Township.
Clear evidence of that is yet another mailer received by both city and township residents regarding the changes made to the emergency fire service and the “rightsizing” of the township fire department. This slick, enamel piece of literature carefully bridges the line between campaign promotion and general information in an effort to avoid those pesky campaign finance regulations about using taxpayers’ money to fund the campaign of an incumbent seeking re-election. This piece of almost-propaganda obviously didn’t come cheap, before postage costs.
Add that to the contentious meeting of Lake Pointe subdivision residents last week when current Plymouth Township Supervisor Richard Reaume spoke and it is clear that the campaign fertilizer is already flying at exceptional velocity.
This meeting was curious, too, when, obviously attempting to protect Reaume from any dissidents or residents who might question his rationalization of the closure of the fire station which serves the subdivision, the meeting was labeled as private and only dues-paying homeowners association members in good standing were allowed to attend. The board president demanded identification at the door and went so far as to deny admission to people who were interested in what Reaume had to say but who hadn’t paid their annual $35 dues or who weren’t residents. Curioser and curioser.
Despite their best efforts, some of those pesky dissidents insisting on the truth actually snuck in however, and even went so far as to ask questions.
If this wasn’t a campaign speech, there’s never been one. Reaume spent about an hour talking about the benefits and necessities of reducing the fire department staff by more than half, of closing fire stations and using a private ambulance service and on-call volunteer firefighters.
When questioned about his refusal to allow residents to vote on a millage and being forced by a circuit court order after four court appearances to place the question on a ballot, he had nothing to say about hiking the millage ballot question to 10 times the amount petitioners had requested ensuring a defeat. Perhaps avoiding this kind of ugly truth was the reason for the attempt to keep the meeting limited to only those who met with the approval and qualifications of the president of the homeowners’ association.
After all, there really isn’t a good answer to that question of fact, no matter how expert one is at manipulating public opinion.
We admit, we were surprised, however, at the violent reaction of the association president to the questions. His shouting, swearing and evicting of one questioner seemed somewhat of an overreaction. We were also surprised when he and his vice- president confronted one 35- year resident demanding his video camera so that no taped record of the meeting or the shouting match could leave the building. They were thwarted in that attempt at controlling the facts, too.
We were really surprised by Reaume discussing a fire in a second story office on Main Street above Kilwins’ Fudge Shop. We couldn’t, and still can’t figure out how a candle fire, put out by a cop with a fire extinguisher, before 24 volunteer firefighters with three trucks arrived on the scene, was an example of a good use of resources and public service management. What we really can’t fathom is why he would be discussing the city procedures when his domain is the town- ship.
To us, when that many volunteer firefighters, who are paid about $26 an hour, show up and stand around with nothing to do, taxpayers’ money isn’t being used wisely. And why on earth is this an exemplar in a talk by the township supervisor?
But as in all campaign rhetoric, it doesn’t have to make sense, be logical or often, even be coherent. It just has to make voters think the speaker has done or will do a good job.
Just a note of caution, then, to voters. The onslaught has begun. You are about to be bombarded with propaganda, literature, claims, counterclaims and arguments. It will be more than difficult, particularly in this campaign, to sort truth from fiction.
Our advice is pretty simple, it’s like Scully and Muldar always said: The truth is out there.
We hope we can help you find it.