Category Archives: Paul Smith
Some local residents have made much ado online and at a recent city council meeting regarding a trip being made to Lakewood, Colorado by members of the Planning Commission, City Council, city administration and others. The official reason for the trip is to determine how the site made its successful transformation from a dying mall (similar to Lakeside Mall) to a thriving destination in metropolitan Denver, and to parlay that information into a PUD ordinance to be publicly heard and voted on by the Planning Commission and City Council this fall.
The PUD ordinance will lay the groundwork for developers to come in and pitch proposals for how the site might be redeveloped. We anticipate that the current owner of the mall will work with nationally known developers to redevelop the site; having the legal framework in place for them to do so is an important step of the process.
The residents I mention have spoken out against this trip as a waste of taxpayer dollars in a technological era where distance learning is possible via remote presentations and meetings. It is an interesting question, and one that I have been giving consideration myself.
One prominent resident, Jazmine Early, a candidate for office in the Michigan Legislature, has taken to Nextdoor.com, posing questions about the trip, implying the trip is unnecessary. Since the Nextdoor website is inaccessible to non-members, I will reproduce her initial post here:
I would like to take the opportunity to respond to Jazmine with some questions of my own via the following open letter:
It appears you have convinced yourself the Partridge Creek concept is similar enough to the Belmar site that you wouldn’t need to travel to Lakewood, Colorado to get a sense of what it is like.
It seems this sentiment resulted in your making a judgement call as to whether or not the trip to Colorado by city officials is worth the expenditure of taxpayer dollars.
I find your conclusion interesting. Since at least some people share your sentiments, I would like to ask you, as a prominent citizen and candidate for public office, for some information and advice.
First, I would like for you to provide your thoughts regarding the wording of the PUD the city will be preparing and presenting in public forums this fall.
If you have been certified as a Michigan Planner, as I have, I would be especially interested to hear your thoughts with regard to the mixed uses that are being contemplated for the PUD for the Lakeside site, and any input you might have regarding the proposed layout, building materials, setback requirements, parking requirements, building heights, traffic flow, and other design aspects to be encoded in the PUD.
Further drawing upon your planning expertise, could you please give the other readers of this site a summary of what a PUD is, including what the provision in the law seeks to do and why it is a useful in a Planner’s arsenal of strategies?
While you’re at it, I would appreciate your informed commentary on how the Partridge Creek development is doing financially and how that relates to the Lakeside site; please include sourced information regarding the revenues, targeted markets and demographics, as well as a comparative analysis between Lakeside and Partridge Creek. (Of course, as a candidate for office and a tax paying resident, you are privy to this information, right?)
Could you please provide me with the cost of your proposed remote site tour vs. the cost of the tour that will take place next week? Which vendor(s) might be able to put together such a remote learning presentation? Please include the itemized costs for aerial photography, teleconferencing from multiple sites, and a narrative explanation of what we are seeing.
Can your preferred vendor also arrange for a teleconference with public officials, representatives from the Belmar site, and members of the public in Colorado during the business day for questions? Please include the costs for that as well, if possible.
With regard to the people we would be meeting in person, and the visibility of all of the design aspects in person vs. via teleconference, would you please provide a cost/benefit analysis comparing the two approaches?
Last night, the election returns confirmed what many had suspected would happen all along: Michael C. Taylor and the incumbent city council handily beat Paul Smith and his slate of challenger candidates. The victory is meaningful, and several lessons can be drawn from what took place.
Among other things, Smith’s success in organizing the petition drive against the Anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance compelled him and several of the challenger candidates to run for office. Convinced that receiving over 8,000 petition signatures represented true victory, they thought they had found support which would sweep them into office. Fortunately for the city, there is a much different threshold one must cross to get somebody to vote for you than there is to get somebody to sign a petition. If you are not honest in the way you go about convincing people to sign a petition, it is easy to mistake a successful petition drive for a barometer on the will of the people. The resulting, deeply flawed indication from the petitions sparked a political campaign that proved to only have a fraction of the support the petition garnered. Petitions are petitions, and elections are elections. Mistake one for the other and you may wind up as disappointed as Mr. Smith and the challengers.
Smart Meter activism informed the campaigns of two of the candidates. At some point, those candidates should have realized that the difficulty they were having gaining traction on the Smart Meter issue in council chambers meant they would face an even more uphill battle trying to win an election on the issue. Smart Meter activism is crackpot activism, and it led to a crackpot campaign. It is little surprise that it wasn’t possible to win election based on pseudo-scientific hearsay and conjecture, even to those candidates, so rather than reconsider their bids, they decided to double-down on bad ideas and attack immigration in a city with a large immigrant population. The immigrant voters stayed away in droves. Bigotry does not win in 2015’s Sterling Heights, nor do crackpots. The city is more sophisticated than that.
The debate over a proposed mosque in the city, even though it gathered a great deal of attention in the media and exposed the xenophobic biases of several of the candidates, ultimately failed to impact the vote the way the challengers hoped. Perhaps more accurately, the Smith camp failed in its attempt to hang the mosque proposal around the necks of the incumbents. The voters could not be convinced that a sitting council which remained neutral on the issue was doing anything other than following the law and remaining within the bounds of its purview on land use decisions. The charges that council was either pro-mosque or anti-mosque were without merit, and the voters ultimately ignored them.
Incumbency is powerful. Nate Shannon, a perfectly reasonable man who has proven to be a perfectly satisfactory city council member, could not get elected in his original bid for office. Yet, after being appointed and serving in the position for nine months, he won the election handily. The difference? The depth and strength of his support, combined with the fact that a city’s voters can be convinced more easily to maintain the status quo than they can be convinced to take the risk of electing someone new. Mr. Shannon, although technically the weakest candidate on the incumbent slate due to the nature of how he got into office, has demonstrated that the campaign dollars flow to the candidates who people can trust to keep the city on an even keel. This made all of the difference in the world.
The difference in the percentage of the votes between the new Mayor Pro-Tem, Joseph V. Romano, and the candidate who was re-elected with the least number of votes, Maria Schmidt, is 1.26%. If you look at the vote counts, the council candidates were all within a few hundred votes of each other in an election that counted over 88,000 votes. My conclusion? The difference between the Mayor Pro-Tem’s support and any of the other re-elected council members is statistically insignificant. There is no council member significantly stronger or weaker than the rest of the pack. On the other hand, the difference between the candidates who were re-elected and the challenger candidates was vast: at minimum, over 5,000 votes. My contention from the very beginning of this campaign was that the challengers would be extremely lucky to elect one candidate, and that Mr. Smith had no chance of being elected at all, and although I’m a little surprised about the order the challengers finished in, my basic premise proved to be right.
In the end, a very poor-quality group of challenger candidates took on a well-established group of incumbents, and predictably, the challengers lost. Much will be made by the losing side in the coming weeks about how voter apathy is to blame for the election results, but I maintain that the voters who came to the polls were the ones who made the right choice; in other words, only the best qualified voters were the ones who showed up. This morning, Mr. Smith posted to one of his Facebook pages that his campaign signs will be collected beginning today in preparation for another election bid in 2017. He should save his time and money and just throw them away instead: a repeat of this election in 2017 will have no different results. His political career in Sterling Heights is finished.
Finally, a personal note to my readers: this blog has been running for about five years now, and it had its best week ever over the last seven days in terms of page views. Thank you for your readership, it is very gratifying to see people coming to the site to see what I have to say. I appreciate your support, feedback, and referrals of the site to your friends and neighbors. I feel very fortunate to have an audience, and I will continue to work to make your time spent reading here worthwhile.
The other day I found the following post on Paul Smith’s campaign Facebook page:
He has zero respect for educated millennials. The “3 young kids” he is referring to are a 32 year old attorney with an undergrad in economics with a wife and three kids (not to mention 6 years experience as an elected official in Sterling Heights); the other is in his late 30’s and VP of government affairs for Wayne State school of Medicine with a masters and numerous political endeavors and experience; and the third is also in his late 30’s and is a high school economics and government teacher with a masters degree teaching our truly young kids, who has a wife and two kids with another on the way!
Of course, she’s absolutely right, but it goes deeper than that.
This isn’t just an anti-Millennial bias at work. This doesn’t speak very well of his opinion of senior citizens, either. It’s apparent he’s courting the senior vote with comments like this. In his attempt to get elected, he’s looking at the people most likely to vote for him, and apparently has come to the conclusion that they’re more likely to be older than not. Talking about “those young kids” should play well to that group, right? After all, it’s the young people who are screwing up the country, er, I mean city, with their tolerance for gays and their anti-xenophobic sentiments, right Mr. Smith? So what does he do? He attempts to make age an issue in the campaign, despite the fact that the people he’s trying to belittle are indeed fully-fledged adults.
It takes a certain cynicism to assume that you’re going to be able to sway a majority of the electorate based on a jingoistic theme such as “those young kids.” For one thing, you have to believe it yourself. For another, you have to hope that everyone else in your own age group will buy into it too and just vote for the older man because “he’s one of us” regardless of any of his other qualities.
It is a precariously one-dimensional view of the world that informs this sort of behavior. It means that you only look at the world superficially, without the insight required to remember that these elderly folks have adult children who are about the same age as Mr. Smith’s opposition. A lot of these people are quite proud of their kids, adore the grandchildren they have brought into their lives, and are old enough and experienced enough to look favorably on times changing. I have met Mayor Taylor’s grandparents; they are not young people, but they stump for him at a polling site regularly every other November. I would not be surprised to find out the same is true for Mr. Nate Shannon or Mr. Doug Skrzyniarz. At the very least, I am sure they receive the support and good wishes of the elders in their own families. And I’m sure that they all consider themselves to be young at heart.
Significant amounts of time, money and effort are being expended by everyone in this race, including by “those young kids”. Two of them have been elected to office in a year when Mr. Smith’s own attempt to be elected failed. Nobody is taking this election as a joke. Nobody. Comments like this just further exemplify the sort of biased, bigoted thoughts that rattle around in Mr. Smith’s brain.
Paul Smith complained during the Meet the Candidates event that the city is about to squander “a million dollars” on a new bridge in Dodge Park. He further stated that this would be done to further the interest of commercializing the parks. Here are the facts.
The city has received a $651,000 federal grant via SEMCOG to replace the bridge. An additional $279,000 for the project will be funded directly by the city, resulting in a net expenditure of $930,000, which is not quite “a million dollars.” So, speaking strictly in terms of finances, Mr. Smith is overstating the cost of the bridge by 7%.
According to a press release by the city, the bridge has been examined and found to be structurally deficient, and it has been temporarily repaired until it can be replaced. So much for Mr. Smith’s claim that the existing bridge is perfectly good. Like the rest of the infrastructure in southeastern Michigan, this bridge is subject to the wear and tear of four seasons, and it is showing its age.
For your consideration are a couple of pictures of the bridge in question. The first two show what things look like during most of the year.
Nothing more than a relatively idyllic scene, right? What could possibly be wrong with this bridge?
Take a look at what happens when the river runs high, which is at least a couple of times per year in the spring.
As you can see, and as Mr. Smith recently complained, there are debris floating in the river all the time. The river often rises up to the level of the bridge, where the debris can impact its structure with considerable force.
It is no wonder this bridge has been deemed structurally deficient. As you can see in the photos, the bridge structure is rusting. It withstands significant impacts annually from floating debris when the river rises up. It has a wooden deck, and wooden safety railings. It is substandard and obsolete.
The bridge is also narrow. It is hard for two people on bicycles to pass each other going in opposite directions, and if someone on a wheelchair is on the bridge, he has to pretty much have it to himself.
Further, if somebody gets injured on one side of the bridge, and the closest emergency help is on the other side, there is no getting a vehicle across the current bridge. First responders will have to expend precious time going to a crossing point that can support a vehicle.
What’s more, the bridge is going to be part of a new nature trail that runs from southeastern Michigan all the way up to the Upper Peninsula. This nature trail is going to be busy. Probably at least as busy as the trail that runs along Metropolitan Parkway, if not more. An antiquated, narrow bridge such as this is not up to the task of supporting that level of traffic day in and day out. It will be a safety hazard and a bottleneck.
But according to Mr. Smith, upgrading it is a waste of money, even though the majority of the money is coming in from a federal grant. His good friend Janice Daniels famously rejected a large federal grant when she was the Mayor of Troy, MI. She claimed that spending $9M on a train station was a waste of taxpayer money so she blocked it. She got tossed out on her ear in a subsequent recall election for, curiously, making the same sort of homophobic comments that Mr. Smith has been known to make in public settings on signs.
Mr. Smith isn’t just for refusing to build this badly needed bridge. He’s against any use of taxpayer dollars that do not fit his personal needs. He’s been making statements on Facebook to the effect that the city should use the money to build sidewalks instead…through commercially-zoned areas where few if any people actually walk. Mr. Smith and his wife walk there, though, so that should become the priority, apparently.
This morning, as I scanned the Facebook pages of local candidates, I came across this item on Mayoral Candidate Paul Smith’s page:
I would like to call your attention to the comment he posted on Tuesday, September 29 at 6:02PM, where Mr. Smith states “As of September 29th, Taylor’s illegal sign still stands. This will not be forgotten. (emphasis added)”
Not being privy to Mr. Smith’s innermost thoughts, it is difficult to know for certain what he means here. If we were to be charitable, we might surmise that Mr. Smith has decided he will no longer purchase his submarine sandwiches from Jimmy John’s or his coffee from Starbucks. That would be his prerogative, and completely understandable. Why support the business of somebody who doesn’t support your campaign, right?
But the fact of the matter is that Mr. Smith has already been in office as a city councilman before, and his past behavior gives us some clues as to what his future behavior might be. During his brief, single term in office, Mr. Smith made quite the show of throwing his weight around. A few examples immediately come to mind:
- A well-documented attempt to improperly influence the members of the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to vote against a business Mr. Smith did not want to come to Sterling Heights,
- An incident where Mr. Smith attempted to use his “authority” as a member of City Council to order the driver of a piece of heavy earth moving equipment to stop operating it on a public road,
- An incident where Mr. Smith was thrown out of a local car dealership after he took issue with a sign supporting a tax increase posted in front of the business and chose to create a scene in the showroom.
Mr. Smith has little patience for people who oppose him. As you can see above, in the past he used his elected office as a cudgel to attempt to silence his opposition, improperly influence the city’s boards and commissions and act outside of his authority.
So, in consideration of the man we’re talking about here, it’s probably pretty safe to conclude this is a veiled threat. Next question: who is he threatening?
It seems to me he could be threatening Mayor Taylor, who maintains that he has the proper signed form for the campaign sign. Of course, he’s trying to defeat the mayor in the current campaign, and if he wins, he will have had a significant victory.
He could be threatening Code Enforcement with not enforcing what he feels is the law regarding campaign signs. This seems more likely, since he would have significant influence over Code Enforcement if elected.
But I think the most likely case is that he is threatening the property owners that authorized the sign. This fits the pattern of his previous behavior most closely.
I cannot predict what exactly Mr. Smith intends to do to these property owners if he is elected and gets the chance. One can only speculate that he will do the same sort of things he tried to do the last time in office. If Mr. Smith is elected mayor, or a majority of his running mates are elected to City Council, It is not a big stretch of the imagination to come up with a few possible scenarios:
- If they ever have business before a city council that Mr. Smith or his fellow challenger candidates control, they can probably expect to have their request rejected. For example, they might want a piece of property rezoned for a future business venture, which requires an act of council. A request of this nature would probably be denied on Mr. Smith’s watch, regardless of its merits.
- If the property owners ever find themselves in some sort of trouble with the code enforcement arm of the city, they will probably find that Mr. Smith has lodged the complaint, and is attempting to influence the code enforcement division to pursue the matter to the extreme.
- Should Mr. Smith find he has the opportunity to do so, he might use his influence as Mayor to benefit one of their competitors, disparage their business, or otherwise repay them for this perceived slight.
Were Mr. Smith a reasonable man with whom I merely disagree on matters of politics, I would have to chalk this all up to a poor word choice on his part and leave it at that. Most of the time, when you don’t know a man’s thoughts or motives, you should give him the benefit of the doubt unless you have past experience that indicates otherwise.
In Mr. Smith’s case, however, we do have the past experience with his past behavior, especially his outbursts. They are so frequent I have come to think of them as ‘Smithsplosions’. In my opinion, his past behavior portends bad things for those property owners.
If I were them, I would be seriously concerned. And that, precisely, is the effect his words are intended to have. He is trying to intimidate them into taking Mr. Taylor’s sign down.
If the sign disappears before the election, you will know that he succeeded in intimidating them.
This morning I was made aware of a posting by Sterling Heights Mayoral Candidate Paul Smith regarding some logs being illegally dumped into the Clinton River.
Mr. Smith sure likes to complain about his city government, doesn’t he? He complains about the people answering the phones, the people in charge showing up late and leaving early on Friday, and the “Obama dollars” spent to clean up the Clinton River.
Strange behavior for a man who wants to slash taxes and the city services that those taxes pay for, isn’t it? It stands to reason that a Smith administration would be even slower to respond, and less likely to be able to do so than today.
After a little bit of research this morning and an email to the Clinton River Watershed Council, I confirmed my suspicions about this: environmental problems like this are handled at the state level, not the city level. Which only stands to reason, being that the Clinton River cuts through quite a number of communities as it weaves its way across southeast Michigan.
Just for future reference, should you see something like this happening on any of Michigan’s lakes, streams or rivers, please call the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at 1-800-662-9278. They claim they handle thousands of such calls per year, so they probably can come up with an answer fairly quickly.
My email sufficed to notify the state that this is happening, and they’ll marshal whatever resources they need to address the problem.
Mr. Smith, try doing a little research next time before jumping to conclusions and just assuming that the city government that you want to be placed in charge of is incompetent and wasteful because they don’t have an immediate response to your inquiry, especially if you suspect it might be out of their jurisdiction. Way to turn a misplaced phone call on your part into a campaign issue. Or, if you cannot handle that minimal amount of mental effort, just give me a call, and I’ll be happy to do the real thinking for you.
This is taken from a comment written on Mike Lombardini’s Sterling Heights Local Politics Facebook page. I felt it important to post it here as well, since it directly concerns the coverage this blog will have during the upcoming election.
I have been commenting on city politics on this site for about 5 years now.
For much of that time I have made an attempt to be even handed. You can see that in my past campaign coverage. Although the first election year I chose to recommend for and against candidates, the next election year I chose not to, I came to regret recommending against some people in that first election who I later found out were actually very good at their jobs. Sometimes you learn new things if you stick around long enough and pay attention, and I was fortunate to do so. I felt that it was more my place to just make the public aware of who the candidates were, and allow them to decide for themselves.
When Paul Smith first ran for council, I declined to recommend him, because I had some concerns about his style and felt there were better candidates running. I didn’t recommend against him, mind you, but I specifically didn’t recommend for him, nor did I vote for him. You can check my Election 2011 coverage to see this is the case.
After Mr. Smith came into office, his behavior quickly became outrageous. There are few things that offend me in everyday circumstance. I am not put off by profanity, nor do many ideas upset me (much). But I was well and truly offended by his behavior, and I started writing about it. I gained a substantial portion of my audience writing about his antics.
When Mr. Smith decided to file for a run for the Mayor’s seat when Mayor Notte announced he was stricken with cancer, I was incensed. Not because I had a great love for Mayor Notte’s politics — quite the opposite, actually — but because I respected him as Mayor, and he reciprocated that respect to me. Mr. Smith’s actions were done in defiance of what I believe is the proper decorum for a candidate seeking election. It was reprehensible.
Since then, the more I have learned about the current crop of challenger candidates, the more I am unable to sit silently by and watch as they potentially become elected. I have become very “partisan” in this election.
However, this is not the way I would prefer it to be. I would much rather be impartial. I see a clear and present danger in these folks reaching office. Considering the opposition, the incumbents are by far and away the better choice for the city. Much better.
So…it is with some regret that I am going to go back to the approach I took during the first election year, and make recommendations for and against candidates. I believe it is the only responsible thing for me to do. In time, I hope we get past these folks, and that they do not leave an indelible mark on our city’s political environment. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I publicly acknowledge that this year’s Election 2015 coverage is going to be biased heavily in favor of the incumbents. It’s only fair to tell you that. I will still present information on all who are running, but be advised that in the year or so that I’ve been watching the challengers, I am completely unimpressed.
This morning, Paul Smith placed the above image on his personal Facebook page. It is a campaign poster for his wife, Moira, who is running alongside him for office in the November 3, 2015 city election. I want to discuss the campaign issues listed on the lower left poster to address some falsehoods. In a separate section, below, I will address her reasons on the upper right as to why the “old Council” must be replaced.
On the lower left, you will see the following issues. I am posting each as a separate bullet point, and then commenting on each one in turn:
“Council must stand for the residents, not outside interests”
What you might think:
“Doesn’t it stand to reason that the council should be focused on the residents and not anyone else?”
The real story:
This is an implication that the current council doesn’t work for the residents, and somehow is being manipulated to doing the bidding of powerful, outside interests that lurk in the shadows. She may be covertly referring to the LGBT lobby, or DTE, or perhaps the Trilateral Commission. It is unclear.
In reality, this is an attempt to create the fear, uncertainty and doubt that her campaign is relying heavily upon. People fear being secretly controlled, and she is indirectly trying to say that the current council is, in some Machiavellian scheme, taking orders from The Powers That Be, rather than listening to the residents and just trying to run the city the best way they can.
I would be more inclined to think that Mrs. Smith is taking her marching orders from outside interests, namely the Tea Party, than our current group of council members. At best, she is making a baseless accusation without any specifics, and hoping that the voters don’t recognize it for what it is: a sham.
“Restore our traditional elegant logo”
What you might think:
“The city lost something of great historic value when the current council replaced the logo.”
The real story:
First, a thought: if what’s appearing on the city’s letterhead is your number two campaign issue, maybe you don’t have much of any importance to run on.
The city recently spent about $8,000 to redesign its logo, and it was introduced this past January as part of the rebranding effort included in the city’s 2030 vision statement. Eight thousand bucks sounds like a lot of money, but it represents 0.0005.9% of the city’s $135M annual budget.
Now whether you like the new logo or the old logo or neither one is a matter of taste. Personally I have seen the new logo compared with a dishwasher soap packet, and in a way I tend to agree. But the fact remains that entities such as the city redesign and refresh their logos every few years. Google did so just in the past few weeks. Marketing efforts always strive to keep the material in public view fresh and appealing, and the logo change is little more than that. The city has to market itself in order to attract new businesses and residents and remain viable.
If a Moira Smith term in office implies that the city will stop attempting to market itself, then there is a serious problem with her candidacy. If such ideas were to overtake council, we could see the city’s fortunes trending downward as it failed to attract new residents.
‘Phase out the “temporary emergency 1.9 mil tax hike”‘
What you might think:
“Hey! That tax hike wasn’t supposed to be permanent?!? Things are better now! Give us back our money!”
The real story:
This is a blatant lie wrapped in a falsehood.
I am intimately familiar with this issue, because it is the issue that prompted my activism back in 2010, which ultimately resulted in the blog you’re reading right now. To be perfectly clear, I was against this tax hike. The against side lost.
First of all, the 1.9 mil tax hike was never promised to be temporary. This was one of my big objections to it at the time. I knew it was going to be permanent, everyone knew it was going to be permanent. It wasn’t an emergency measure, it was a response to a trend that started in 2008 and nearly bankrupted the entire state. The real estate market crash destroyed the city’s funding model, and the city had to decide whether or not to drastically downsize emergency and other services, or raise taxes. The idea that the tax hike would be temporary was wishful thinking on the part of the people who opposed it.
Mrs. Smith is attempting to tell you that the funds being brought in by the 1.9 mil increase enacted in 2010 are no longer needed, and she’s relying upon the fading memories of the situation five years ago to get you to believe that it was supposed to be temporary.
This is a damned lie. First, if you take significant tax revenue out of the city right now, there is going to be a massive funding problem. The only way to “phase out” the tax is to “phase out” emergency services. Period. End of story.
“Govern according to THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE”
What you might think:
“Mrs. Smith and her husband, Paul Smith, know what’s going on inside our city government, and they know that the will of the people is being ignored.”
The real story:
Mrs. Smith has a distorted view of what the will of the people is.
She may be referring to “the will of the people” regarding the LGBT issue, in which she and her husband managed to engineer a fabrication substantial enough to scare 8,000 people into signing a petition ordering the anti-discrimination ordinance be either rescinded or put to a vote in an election.
I would remind Mrs. Smith that Sterling Heights was only the 35th city in the State of Michigan to pass an ordinance of that nature at the time, not the first or second. I would further remind her that we do not live in a pure democracy, where the “will of the people” can be known in its entirety for every single issue that comes before council. We live in a representative republic, and we entrust the people who are our elected officials to do what they think is best.
This ‘will of the people’ thing is a canard, plain and simple. If elected, Mrs. Smith will not enact a pure democracy and take polls on every decision she must make. She will do what she thinks is best, and in her mind, that equates with “the will of the people.” In other words, she has deluded herself into thinking that her thoughts and beliefs represent what everyone else thinks. It is sad to see someone operating under such misapprehensions.
Why Mrs. Smith Thinks Council Must Be Replaced
Again, I’m going to take her reasons why council must be replaced and address each one in turn.
“Passing an unwanted ordinance that triggered a massive repeal campaign.”
What is she talking about?
This is with little doubt a reference to the Anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance passed in the summer of 2014, the subsequent petition drive, and the ultimate rescission of the ordinance.
What is she really saying?
Mrs. Smith and a number of her fellow candidates were against passing anti-discrimination ordinances that favor members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community for religious reasons.
Believing that homosexuality is an abomination against God, she and her husband fought tooth and nail to make sure that no ordinance would protect these folks from the likes of her, who would be willing to discriminate against the LGBTs without remorse.
Mrs. Smith and her husband managed to get a very small portion of the electorate to sign a petition that forced the issue to be decided by a public vote. I and my wife were approached by the petitioners, and they neither understood nor cared what the law actually said. The petitioners fabricated reasons why the law was a bad idea, and they found 8,000 people who believed them enough to think they should sign. Some portion of those 8,000 people may have signed because they thought all important decisions should be put to a vote, possibly because they operate under the same misapprehension that Mrs. Smith does about our form of government being a pure democracy.
“Turning Dodge Park into a flea market”
What is she talking about?
This item refers to the introduction of the Farmer’s Market at Dodge Park.
What is she really saying?
Mrs. Smith is against using the city’s parks for organized activities such as the Farmer’s Market and SterlingFest. She has appeared at a City Council meeting with pictures of wildlife, claiming that it is being displaced by these activities.
Since the Farmer’s Market has been, by all reports, an unqualified success since its introduction, the only way she can attack it is by disparaging it as a “flea market,” which is a false and misleading characterization of what is actually going on there on Thursdays.
The well-informed voter merely needs to visit one of these events to confirm that Mrs. Smith is, once again, distorting reality in an effort to manufacture a campaign issue.
A Smith on the Council would be a “No” vote for popular activities such as SterlingFest, which, by the way, are revenue neutral; a very inexpensive way for the city to provide recreation opportunities to the residents.
“A spending and hiring binge without open public consent.”
What is she talking about?
This item may be referring to the recent hiring of several police officers and the purchase of several pieces of equipment for the Department of Public Works, among other things.
What is she really saying?
Mrs. Smith has forgotten that the city put a “Safe Streets” millage proposal on the ballot in the last general election and it passed by a substantial margin. If the term “open public consent” means anything, this millage proposal’s passage would be it.
Instead of closing a fire station and laying off 45 police officers, the city is able to retain that station, keep those officers on the force, and hire a few more to replace officers that will soon be retiring.
That is not a “binge”, it is maintaining what we have, and what we have compares very favorably to national averages. We are well below the number of police per thousand residents typical for cities of our size. Our Fire Department’s service is well designed; closing that station would have made a dramatic increase in response times…but maybe not as much in the part of the city where she and Mr. Smith live.
So we have a “binge” that is not a binge, and something that happened “without open public consent” that passed a vote of the public with flying colors.
By telling us the issues she is running on, Mrs. Smith has confirmed that she has a distorted view of the reality of what is going on in our city government.
Mrs. Smith is driven by ideology, not practical concerns. Her approach to significant issues is not to observe, orient, decide and act, but rather to consult the Tea Party playbook and regurgitate a canned response.
A simple ideologue, she is not deserving of public office.
In an edition of Fox 2 TV’s Let It Rip, Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Taylor successfully managed to demonstrate the utterly obtuse nature of former Councilman Paul Smith’s opposition to the LGBT protection ordinance. It is several minutes of very revealing television which will show you who is and who is not for human rights in Sterling Heights.
I will let the segment speak for itself, adding only that Mr. Smith recently requested nominating petitions to collect signatures to have himself placed on the November 2015 ballot as a candidate for mayor.
It would be a sad day for all of us should the likes of Mr. Smith actually manage to win an election, and I personally will devote as much time and effort as possible to make this apparent to all who will listen. Fortunately, the position of dogcatcher is not an elected post in Sterling Heights; if it were, Mr. Smith would not be qualified.
As it stands, the folks who opposed the LGBT ordinance claim to have enough people willing to run to replace the entire city council in slightly more than a year from now. It is high time that candidates who are pro-human rights begin to make themselves known.