Citizen group proves “You can fight city hall”
November 23, 2011 PLYMOUTH EAGLE.
No matter what the outcome of the hearing in Wayne County Circuit Court may be, members of the Citizens Action Group in Plymouth Township deserved a resounding thank you from residents across the state.
These people have taken the elected leaders in their municipality to task for not listening to those they were elected to serve. When the township officials and board members decided, for whatever reasons, to gut the fire department in the township, depriving the residents of both Advanced Life Support and Emergency Medical Service, many citizens balked, realizing the threat to themselves and their families. When the township officials wouldn’t listen to their arguments and reasoning at public meetings, opting rather to continue their plan to reduce public safety services and allow firemen to work on a volunteer basis from homes 15 miles outside the township, the residents again loudly protested the threat to their well-being and security.
When the Citizens Action Group amassed more than 3,500 signatures and submitted them to the township asking only for a vote on a dedicated public safety millage to prevent the board from savaging the fire department, they were soundly rebuffed with claims that the real property owners could not be easily identified and that condominium owners did not actually own land and therefore could not sign the petitions.
Again, the group followed the procedures for correcting what they feel in a misstep by their elected officials and collected more signatures, this time verifying the ownership of the land so that they were confident they had collected the required percentage of signatures.
They were again rebuffed by the very people they elected to represent their best interests and told that they needed even more signatures as the non-taxable property had to be added into the equation determining the number of signatures they were required to submit.
These officials seem determined to have they own way without any respect for the wishes of their constituents or concern for the safety of the residents of the community. They argue that the $1 million deficit caused by the withdrawal of the City of Plymouth from the joint fire safety agreement is the cause of these measures, made strictly, they claim, to balance the deficit budget.
Watching the actions of these officials in this situation may provide a clue as to the motivation of the city to escape any joint operation or dealings with them.
The Citizens Action Group of Plymouth filed a show cause petition last week in Circuit Court, demanding township officials validate their position in denying the public a vote on a public safety millage. Understand, these folks aren’t asking the township officials to do anything more than allow the public to be heard, to allow voters in the township to say whether they would, or would not, support a 1-mill tax to pay for fire department services. They simply want the right to vote, to have the will of the people expressed and heard, rather than have their safety threatened by the arrogance and ego of those who believe they were anointed rather than elected.
The citizens group has played by the rules every step of the way and have now taken their cause into court.
We applaud them for their determination and their use of due process. Win or lose, they have exercised the rights that were hard won in our country and which are the envy of many throughout the world.
Unfortunately, the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees doesn’t seem to understand that those rights to true representation of the majority of the people exist. The court may very well rule against the citizens group, but the very act of taking legal action on the issue proves to us that they are a better example of public representation and steward of the public trust than those who claim elected office in Plymouth Township.