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Posted: 10/28/09

2 recall efforts target
five on school board

Observer Staff Writer
      Two separate recall effort have been brought against five of the seven members of the Romeo Community Schools Board of Education.
       As of Monday afternoon, a recall effort was submitted by resident David Peterson-Tousignant to oust Trustees Sue Hier and Sara Murray, giving between nine to 10 different reasons for their removal.
       Meanwhile, Treasurer Greg Jacobson, Vice-president Michael Stobak and Secretary Jennifer White are the targets of a recall filed by Romeo resident Dan Knepp on Oct. 20, citing multiple board decisions as the cause.
       Peterson-Tousignant, a former executive manager for property consultant companies, said he and other citizens are frustrated that Hier and Murray have left board meetings before they end.
       "There were a number of times where they refused to vote or didn't participate," he said. "I know they don't get paid and volunteer their time, but I expect them to sit there and vote on issues that affect our community."
       There were 19 total petitions, 10 for Murray and 9 for Hier. Among the 11 reasons listed were voting to close Croswell Elementary, hiring most costly auditor and voting against "transparency" issues.
       Once a petition has been filed, it must first be approved by the Macomb County Elections Committee and if approved, the petitioner must then collect signatures for each petition.
       Peterson-Tousignant said he didn't know of the other recall effort until he filed his own.
       Hier and Murray had no comment about the recall as of Monday evening as they were unaware it had been filed, though Hier said it was just a part of the "voting process."
       Knepp, a resident and retired engineer, said he filed his 19 recall petitions on behalf of others who he says also disagree with how the three board members have voted on recent expenditures.
       "We want to see the educational system in this community put back on track," he said. "I'm a concerned citizen, I watch this stuff happen, and I'm tired of it."
       Of the seven reasons from Knepp's petitions, one of the main issues mentioned was a vote taken on Aug. 23 to privatize the custodial workers in the district in the hopes of saving $1 million.
       "That is local people who wouldn't be shopping in local grocery stores and such, it would be more devastation to our shattered economy," he said. "We're losing businesses left and right, so we should keep what we have rolling."
       Knepp said he and other citizens disagree with many of the board's actions, but didn't see fit to target the entire board.
       "(Trusee) Terry Davis seems to be the lone one asking questions, though Murray and Hier have been questioning their own actions," he said. "At least they're paying attention."
       Board President Dale Chesney's term will expire as of this year, and he opted not to file for re-election.
       Among the other issues the recall takes up includes not using fund equity to keep Croswell Elementary open, spending $25,000 on a superintendent search and laying off secretaries, reading clinicians and counselors.
       The second recall was brought up at the board's Oct. 28 meeting, where Stobak addressed each issue one-by-one. He said of the issues two were correctly described<spending $25,000 on the search and the layoffs<while the others were misrepresenting the truth.
       "That goes down to the tactics that people will use to distort the truth and have people misunderstand by misrepresentation that people have made at the podium or different news articles or other avenues to portray or misrepresent what I and others on this board have been trying to accomplish," he said.
       White said she was only on the board for the students, and believes recall efforts lead toward issues not being debated at the board table.
       "We are in such a budget situation that it calls for us to discuss everything . . . and we shouldn't put a muzzle on board members and threatening them with recalls for discussing these items," she said.
       Jacobson had no comment regarding the recall.
       Chesney ceased further discussions at the meeting because he didn't believe it was the proper place to talk about it.

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