Case dismissed

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It has been many moons since Detroit’s Community Coalition attempted to recall Mayor Dennis Archer. And it has been nearly as long since the group was accused by the Archer administration of deliberately adding false signatures to its petitions.

It appears now that Archer owes the coalition an apology. According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, there is no evidence to support allegations of intentional wrongdoing.

After Archer was elected to a second term in 1998, the Community Coalition circulated petitions to recall him. (The group was particularly peeved with the mayor for not choosing African-American businessman Don Barden as one of the three casino developers.) In May 1999, the group turned in 123,000 signatures, according to coalition president Ernest Johnson.

The Archer administration alleged that thousands of the signatures were forged — prompting a joint investigation by the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, State Police and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. But according to a letter Assistant Attorney General Thomas Boyd sent Wayne County Prosecutor John O’Hair last week, there is no evidence that the coalition acted illegally.

“No witnesses support the theory of an organized effort to forge signatures,” wrote Boyd. “In fact, petition organizers gave instruction sheets to each circulator which directly contradict this allegation.”

O’Hair’s office also said there is no evidence of forgery.

None of this surprises Johnson, who headed the recall petition drive. He says that before the effort began, his group required signature gatherers to sign an affidavit stating that they were properly instructed in how to perform the task.

“If we didn’t have them sign the affidavits before sending people out, I would have had a big headache,” he says.

Johnson says that the clerk approved only 50,000 of the group’s signatures, which needed 55,000 to hold a recall election. A lawsuit was filed against the clerk’s office and is still pending, says Johnson.

Archer press secretary Greg Bowens declined comment.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]
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