Feuerstein alleges conflict of interest at recall hearing


By Cory Smith • Last Updated 9:44 am on Thursday, June 05, 2014

Belding Councilman Joe Feuerstein challenges verbiage laid out in a recall petition against him Tuesday during a clarity/factual review session at the Ionia County Courthouse. — Daily News/Cory Smith

IONIA — Belding City Councilman Joe Feuerstein made the claim at Tuesday’s clarity/factual review session that Ionia County Clerk Tonda Rich should have recused herself from the review session due to a conflict of interest.

In a letter directed to Ionia County Prosector Ron Schafer, and also delivered to The Daily News, Feuerstein outlined his reasons as follows.

Feuerstein alleged that Rich had a conflict of interest due to her “political activities” relative to the city of Belding.

According to copies of Facebook posts attached to the letter, Feuerstein believes that Rich’s status as a member of the “Hold Belding Government Accountable” Facebook group, as well as her “like” status of and comments left on the “Give Jason Cooper His Badge Back!” fan page, warrant her dismissal from the election committee.

In a separate argument, but in the same letter, Feuerstein stated that pursuant to the Election Officials’ Manual, Michigan Bureau of elections, Chapter 18, updated January 2014, … “All elective officers in the state” are eligible for recall.

According to Feuerstein, that language would mean that councilman Tom Jones is also subject to recall.

Feuerstein’s letter states that in a conversation with Belding City Clerk Kareen Thomas, Rich said otherwise, that Councilman Tom Jones is not eligible for recall because he was appointed to his position, however, Feuerstein believes she is misinterpreting the language.

In an email to The Daily News, Schafer said he did not intend to take any action.

“Based on what he sent, the statutory authority for the County Clerk to be a member of the review committee and the routine, limited role the committee performs, my office has no intention of doing anything,” Schafer stated.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Sykes cut Feuerstein off, alerting him that the review session was not the place for such discussion.

“I can assure you that if any of us felt there was conflict (of interest) we would recuse ourselves and make that known,” he said. “I can’t imagine that any member of our commission would act inappropriately with any other alternative motive.”

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