God’s (re)calling

After failing the first time out, the Troy Committee to Protect Free Speech last week won approval of the language in recall petitions that will now be circulated as part of the group’s attempt to recall Mayor Louise Schilling and Mayor Pro Tem Robin Beltramini.

Schilling and Beltramini are being targeted for ouster because they twice voted against allowing the Troy National Day of Prayer Task Force to hold a Christians-only service outside City Hall in May. The two, it should be pointed out, were on the losing side in both those votes. So was Councilmember David Eisenbacher, but he’s not subject to a recall because he has less than six months remaining on his term.

The three council members have said they didn’t want to be seen as favoring Christianity over other religions. The trio advocated holding the services at the Troy Civic Center instead.

“This is unnecessary,” Schilling says. “People in Troy are incensed. We’re trying to do positive things for the community and that’s where our energy should go.”

But it’s not just a question of where energy is going. City Clerk Tonni Bartholomew says between staff hours, benefits and overtime for city officials, the total bill for the recall could reach the ungodly sum of $240,000. “It’s a big hit,” she says. “It’s also part of the law under the provisions of the Michigan Constitution.”

Wendee Rex, president of the recall committee, says she is pleased at the ruling, and has faith that the group’s goals will be realized. “I don’t think there’ll be a problem collecting signatures at all,” she says.

“They attempted to violate the constitutional rights of the people of Troy,” she says. The prayer group and the free speech group, she says, are completely separate.

This is a hard-won victory for the group. On June 6, Oakland County Probate Judge Eugene Moore ruled that the original petition language lacked clarity. The group now has 90 days to collect 7,344 signatures before a recall vote can be put on the ballot for November elections, says Oakland County Elections Division office manager Ellie Gerber.

News Hits is compiled by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at [email protected] or

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