ON THE RECALL
You’d think that all the people that were responsible for calling that special, secret, unannounced meeting about Mayor Foster would feel so ashamed of themselves that they wouldn’t want to look anyone square in the eye. They definitely should have announced this meeting ahead of time in the paper and made mention that it was open to the public. They sure must have been awfully afraid that they would run into some real still opposition. It appears as though they definitely didn’t want any part of that whatsoever. They wanted to make sure that only the people that they wanted to be there would be present.
Robert J. Brock
612 Sheridan Drive
Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
P.S. Will you please print this in the “Views Of Our Readers” column of The Evening News paper. I sure would really appreciate it so very much. Thank you so very kindly. I have just as much right to have my letter published as other people do. Don’t tell me that you don’t want to publish it either. You publish letters from lots of people, and I’m just as good as they are. They aren’t any better than I am.
(Editor’s Notes. About eight months ago the Mayor stated there were to be recall petitions for some of the commissioners. There was no public meeting announced the to discuss the matter, although one would assume some of the supporters of the movement had meetings. Both then and now we feel that these are matter for discussion only by those advocating on course or another. Recall procedure is a long tie, clearly defined citizens recourse to attempt to correct hose matters they feel are wrong. The active citizenry has ample time to discuss pro’s and con’s of a recall and express their own individual opinion, by secret ballot, at a well publicized election if they so desire.
Petitions Are Distributed At Meeting Here Thursday
Chairman of the meeting was Frank Heselton.
Organizers of the meeting passed out more than 170 petitions calling for a special election to recall Foster. The petition contended Foster “has failed to work constructively for the city, and has demonstrated incompetency to understand the functions of the City Manager form of government.”
Chairman Heselton, in a prepared statement, outlined the reasons in detail for asking the recall of the mayor. Heselton’s statement follows in its entirety:
Mayor Foster this morning told The Evening News “This is Shouldice’s doing. I have a lot to say; however, I cannot say anything at this time. This whole hassle will be aired at the January session of the county Board of Supervisors then hang on, because I am going to really lower the boom”
The mayor said further, “I wish to thank four of my friends who drove through blinding snow and then walked into my lodge yesterday to warn me of last night’s meeting. I had intended to attend the meeting to attempt to identify the element working against me, but I reconsidered because I did not want to embarrass my friends who attended in my behalf”.
Chairman Heselton, asking for comments from the audience, was asked by Fred Ralph “Do you wish to pass judgement on our fine mayor who was elected to this office by the people previously, then re-elected to the same position”? Heselton replied. “No, I do not intend to pass judgement; the people of Sault Ste. Marie have done that”. Also speaking from the floor was Roy Ranson, who said the present mayor lacks all rudiments of common courtesy so important to officials of a border city.
John W. Allen said he recently visited in Sault, Ont., and was told by residents of the Canadian city with the mayor Sault., Mich. Has, the proposed international university will never become a reality.
“It is indeed gratifying to find such a terrific response to a very hastily arranged meeting. It is even more gratifying to see among you the representation of the full breadth and depth of citizen interest in our community. I think that it bodes well not only for our purpose in meeting together this evening but for many future purposes, and I intend to pursue this line of though somewhat further along.
“I am certain that many of you felt so strongly the need for our undertaking that you set aside other activities you had planned for tonight. I did so, and I am going to diverge for just a mement and tell you about it.
“Tonight also happens to be the time for the annual meeting of National Federation of Federal Employees Local No. 32, the meeting at which we elect officers for the coming year and at which other matters important to the local are handled. This would have been the 22nd consecutive annual meeting I had attended, because I regard such obligations on members very seriously. However, I felt it more important that I take my part in this meeting. Nevertheless, I am going to act like a good opportunist, to kill two birds with one stone.
“You have heard of the pending closing of Kincheloe Air Force Base. Naturally, civilian employees at the base are concerned for themselves, and the concern of the Sault and of this whole area was strongly expressed when news of the closure broke. As a matter of routine our union officers bundled up copies of clippings from The Evening News and from any other sources that appeared and sent the whole sorry mess to our national president.
“Of course it had been my intention to present this matter at the meeting of our union tonight. John Crawford, who also would like to be in two places at the same time is going to leave this meeting in time to do so. There is no doubt that Local No. 32 will take the matter at hand. Now we have some guidelines, some suggestions, some help from work done in a comparable situation elsewhere; and possibly a workable solution to the problem we face in the planned closing of Kincheloe can be reached – through the concerted effort of Chamber of Commerce personnel, representatives of business, the unions and all of the population.
“I hope that if and when the time comes for the real try to continue Kincheloe as some asset to this area, we will have in Sault Ste. Marie a Mayor with the ability and the strong urge to help in the effort, and not one who will attempt to tear it apart and who will malign all wo are working for it.
So much for my divergence. I hope you will hear much resulting from it in the future.
“Now to our reason for being here; and really we are here only for a reason. No identifiable group called this meeting – it practically just happened through common consent. I am before you, as far as I know, only because a number of people - and I do not know how many, and I could name only 3 or 4 who were in the group – thought that I could and would act as chairman and offer a keynote of sorts.
Let me tell you why I am here, and see how closely your reasons parallel my own.
“Our incumbent Mayor served a previous two year term from 1957 to 1959. His handling of his office at that time was much as it is now. If city commissioners were not fully in accord with him, then in his thinking they were against him. He had no spirit of compromise, he recognized no possibility of a meeting on a middle ground of opinion. If he did not find agreement, he reacted with criticism – personal criticism, criticism of interest groups, criticism of The Evening News. He outlawed any possibility or semblance of unification of the City Commission as a body, because if the six commissioners voted “Yes” on any suggestion and he voted “No,” he would not or could not accept the majority decision as a full commission action and support it as such. In his thinking, he was right and our other elected representatives were wrong – and he made this amply and publicly clear. This was an utter refutation of the chief principle on which our form of self-government is based.
“Not only did he thus make impossible the smooth functioning of the government body of our city, But he at that time also initiated his personal vendetta against certain of the appointed city officials, with the sure result of dissatisfaction and low morale spread among the whole community of city employees.
“Now, you may think that this was ust a local trouble; but it was not. I have done a fair amount of travelling throughout Michigan, some of it in your interests, for several years, and the image of Sault Ste. Marie throughout the State of Michigan at that time would have shocked you. On one occasion, the superintendent of schools at an upper peninsula city, greeted me at a meeting at Marquette with the question “What is your Mayor up to now?” I was not uncommonly asked by board of education members, state officials, and other Federal government employees “How can your city government fucntio with a divided commission and officials under fire?” and “Do you think that the dissension in the city government will affect your school system?”
“Shine Sundstrom told me at that time that out-of-town subscriptions to The Evening News were in a boom period, and it is no wonder, because distant acquaintances told me also that news of our city government beat the funny pages hands down.
“You may think I am exaggerating, but I assure you that I am not. During the previous incumbency of our Mayor, Sault Ste. Marie became in some circles the laughingstock of Michigan.
“Now, I am going to Lansing tomorrow to a meeting of a somewhat select group, the Boar of Directors of the Michigan Associate of School Boards. There will be only 15 or 20 of us from all parts of Michigan. Who wants to place one dollar against my ten dollars that I will get through the day without a single reference to or question about our city government? And no one need be offended that I have publicly offered to wager, I would simply have made a small investment that would have paid off at 10 per cent.
“Ladies and Gentlemen – in those other two years I got full of it up to here. I am full of it up to here again.
“I attended the meetong of the City Commission last Monday evening, I was curious to hear the Mayor’s discourse of “Freedom of Speech in Sault Ste. Marie,” I heart that discourse amoung other things.
“The resignation of Chuck Brownm, a moan who I thought had outstanding qualifications fo rthe office of City Commissioner and who was, in my opinion, proving this to be so under difficult circumstances, was accepted, accompanied by the Mayor’s comment on the benefits of Christmas and his thanks to Santa Claus.
“For the umpteenth time, Commissioner King failed miserably in attempts to keep the Mayor on the path of proper procedure so that he and other Commissioners would have opportunity to discuss motions before they were called to vote. However, he was successful as usual in drawing up himself the Mayor’s personally directed tirade. I am told that Mr. King offered to purchase a copy of Robert;s Rules of Order for the Mayor if he would read it, but was told by the Mayor that he knew all he needed to conduct the meetings. His knowledge must be deep, indeed as it has yet to reach the surface.
“You heard or read reports of other of the Mayor’s utterances, including his views on “Freedom of Speech in Sault Ste. Marie,” I wonder, however, if you were as shocked as I was, not be what was said, but by what was done. Let me look at it.
“Citizen Foster wrote a letter for publication in The Evening News. He was dissatisfied with the quire legitimate manner in which it was handled by The Evening News. So, during the course of a regular meeting of the city governing body, Mayor Foster blithely yields his chair to Citizen Foster, and the regular commission meeting becomes a forum for the airing of personal views of Citizen Foster. This is a blatant and intolerable misuse of elective office.
“The Mayor would have been equally in order and by that time it would have been much more constructive and far more interesting if he had risen and said “The Mayor would have been equally in order and by that time it would have been much more constructive and far more interesting if he had risen and said “The Mayor now yields his chair to Citizen Heselton to express his views in the conduct of the Mayor’s office.”
“I went home from last Monday’s meeting in a state of considerable irritation. I was angry all day Tuesday, so Tuesday evening I sat down, all by myself, and I called a few people to see whether they were feeling as I was – that we had to take action to remove our Mayor from office. While I was engaged in this interesting occupation I received a call, asking if I would act as chairman tonight; and I have given you only an inkling as to why I said “Yes” so fast.
“Allow me a few minutes to give you my concept of the office of Mayor and the characteristics of the person needed to fill it. This is not complicated.
“To begin with the Mayor has the same standing as a commissioner in debate, and he has one vote the same a s commissioner. He is not in the position of one who submits questions or programs for approval or rejection by the Commission; that is the function largely of the City Manager. This is not to say that the Mayor or commissioners should not be production or progressive ideas; but when they are, then these ideas should be submitted for the administrative study and recommendations and still come before the Commission through the City Manager.
“The Mayor conducts the meeting of the Commission, and he should not do so to impose his will on the Commissioners. He should do so with the intent of dragging out every fact and the full expression of opinion by each Commissioner, making his own contribution, so that every action is the best possible, based on the knowledge of the seven individuals selected to run our business.
“If a question cannot be unanimously resolved through pooling of knowledge and attempted reconciliation of views and compromise of opinions, then the vote of the majority must be literally acceptable as the position of the Commission as a body, and should be supported as such by the Mayor whether or not they voted with the majority. This is highly important, and far more so with the Mayor than with the Commissioners, because the Mayor is the spokesman of the body. I do not care if the Mayor is one of those on the wrong end of a 4 to 3 vote, in referring to the results he should say only that “The action by the Commission on this matter was so and so for such and such reasons.” Failure to do this can bring only dissension.
“Since he is the spokesman for the city governing body and the citizens at large, the Mayor must take a constructive and progressive view. He must be a builder. More than any other individual of the community the Mayor projects the image of the community. Do I need to belabor this point further? Not to you, I am sure.
“Now, I am not going to go back over these items one by one and compare the performance of the incumbent. Mayor with them as standards. If you have not been doing this while I spoke you would not be here. I am going to mention three specific instances of the destructive potential of the Mayor.
“He has called our County Hospital a white elephant. I think you an dI and a great many other people bought the hospital expansion idea, and worked like the very blazes to bring it to fruition on the basis of a reasonable and factual presentation, and with the knowledge that it would require not only our initial but our continuing support and our use, to maintain it as an institution that will offer us the utmost possible service. We knew this, and we cannot afford to be talked out of it; because to the extent that people accept the Mayor’s view, and allow that acceptance to govern their actions, they can indeed damage the hospital.
“He has voiced views regarding education, at all levels, in such manner as to arouse controversy, if any were fool enough to rise to his bait. Now, you may think that, since I am one of the Board of Education, his critical remarks had something to do with casting me in my role this evening. They did not. I am accustomed to criticism of our schools. I indulge in it myself, and I criticize other institutions. However, I would offer the general observation that those who speak with the utmost confidence and the greatest apparent authority do so either from the height of great knowledge or the depth of abysmal ignorance; an I leave it to your judgement to evaluate criticisms accordingly. The sad fact however is that a citizen, who happens to be Mayor and thus have considerable attention paid to his utterance on any subject, has chosen to bring out his dissident views on our educational institutions, and persons connected with them, and to foment dissension between those in Canadian and United States school systems, where excellent relations have prevailed for many years, at the time when the whole community wishes to bend its efforts to improvements of the higher education institution and perhaps help it become an international educational facility. Further he chooses to do this at the very time when the college and the public schools are being visited by people who may strongly influence decisions regarding the future development of the college.
“Did I say that the Mayor should be a progressive and constructive individual? Oh, brother!
“By his refusal to accept a majority decision of the City Commission as one he was bound to support, and by voicing his criticism of that decision he has caused the withdrawal of the gentleman selected to fill the highly important office of City Manager; and almost certainly has created situation that will make it impossible to find a fully competent an experienced individual who will accept the position. This same situation will make it difficult to recruit the best prospects for any position in the city government that may become vacant.
“I do not believe I need to say more; you all know of these things and probably others. I will get to the meat of the matter.
“Many times during my years in Sault Ste. Marie I have heard the opinion expressed that it is good to have someone in our city government who keeps things stirred up. I have thought somewhat about this feeling.
“You may remember, a very few of you, that many years ago, when a housewife had to stir something up, she took a firm grasp on a large spoon and went to work with it. IN this advanced technological age she picks up an electrified stirrer-upper, operates it in her mixture to the extent necessary, and the job is easily done. My wife was running one of these stirrers-uppers on some stuff in a bowl when I arrived home yesterday afternoon, so just to make a point I asked her why she didn’t prop it up in the bowl and let it work while she did something else.
“Well, she gave me one of these looks by which a wife enters her husband in the temporary classification of Nitwit, Lower Grade and said “Because it would splash on the counter, and the walls, and the front of my dress, and probably the ceiling. “
“Now I believe that an elected officer should be somewhat of a stirrer-upper, but a controlled stirrer-upper, an objective stirrer-upper. He should poke a little here, and probe a bit there, and inquire into this and push a little on that; and in this way he not only learns what he should know but many times he focuses the attention of others on needs, and starts movements towards improvements.
“But we cannot put up with an uncontrolled stirrer-upper, who is without objectives, and is just dropped into the goop and whirls like made. My wife says it splashes on the counter, and the walls, and the front of our dress, and probably the ceiling; and I have to believe my wife, she has been outsmarting me for years.
“I think that our present stirrer-upper has already splashed far, far too much, and that we have to get him out. I expect that we are going to get him out.
“But, remember this – we cannot be like him, and only tear down and destroy. We are no an aroused group, seeing the need for tearing down, but we cannot stop with the recall of the Mayor. We must remain an aroused group, a group with an intensified interest in what is good for our city, a group that is ready and willing to work harder than we ever have worked before for that good, a group which will supply well qualified citizens who will run for, accept and serve in our elective offices.
“We cannot, like the Mayor, be satisfied to only tear down. We tear down, by his recall, only to rebuild; and if any of you is not prepared to work in this rebuilding, if you believe your duty is fulfilled with the recall of the Mayor, you may as well walk out of here now. I repeat, from among you, and through your efforts with others not present, must come not just the recall of the incumbent Mayor – there must come candidates for Mayor and the City Commission, there must come guidance and suggestions and well considered support for those now on the Commission, there must continue this sort of unity of interest and action by all groups, by all levels of business, labor, professions, housewives, for our common good and the future of our community. None of us can afford to say “I do not want to get involved” What does it mean to get involved? To get involved, my foot. We cannot stand the type of apathy that has got us into this unholy mess, and we cannot think in terms of “Getting involved,” we have to think and act in terms of assuring that our city government functions smoothly, efficiently and economically to provide the services it should – from the Mayor and the Commission, through the administrative officers and throughout all departments.
“Now, I am here by request, as chairman of this meeting, to stimulate the signing of petitions to bring about a successful election to recall the Mayor. So there is going to be an election; you are going ot see to that. After the Mayor is recalled by that election there will be another election to choose his successor in office. You are going to see to that, also.
“I cannot stop with what I have been asked to do tonight. Somehow there must be created a systematic manner of handling the future needs, and it is going to be done. I shall see that a steering committee – as nearly as possible a fully representative steering committee – is formed. I may ask some of you to help me form that committee and I do not expect to be refused. Some of you unquestionably will be asked to serve on that steering committee and I do not expect you to refuse. That steering committee will ask some of you to do a variety of things, and the committee will not expect you to refuse, nor do I expect that you will. And as you obtain the signatures of citizens to recall election petitions you may as well pass the word to them – some of them will be asked to help in the future, and they are not expected to refuse.
“I thank you all, for myself as an interested and deeply concerned citizen, but far more, as one who I hope represents the community at large this evening.
“Now, and briefly, to details. The petition forms may be picked up as you leave. When you pick them up lease sign your names and show the number of forms you have taken. Each set of forms has instructions attached to it, expect I believe they do not state that signatures must be in ink – not pencil. Please remember, the petitions must be filled out in ink.
“If you are not a registered voter in Sault Ste. Marie, and have not lived here long enough to qualify for registration, please do not take any petitions, your effort would be wasted. But – we are real happy that your interest is so great in your new home town.
If you are not a registered voter in Sault Ste. Marie, but can qualify for registration help yourself to petitions and go to work with them; but tomorrow morning hike yourself to the City Clerk’s office and register to vote. A petition circulated and certified by an individual not a registered voter in invalid, so let’s have no wasted effort.
“We hope you will work fast and we wish to make it easy for you. The certification of the circulator of a completed petition must be executed by a Notary Public. Go to work, get them filled with names, and on Monday – next Monday – from noon to 3 p.m. bring them right back here and you can get them notarized and turn them in. For those very few of you who may not finish by then please get them notarized wherever you can and get them to me somehow – but, really it would be nice to have them all on Monday.
“And when you are obtaining signatures to these petitions, do not let the signers believe that this is all that is expected of them. Tell them that you expect them to vote when the election is held. Tell them that they may be called upon for further help, and you do not expect them to refuse. I have tried to lay it on the line with you, now you try just as hard with those you approach.
“I Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what I know you are going to produce. So – Get Your Petitions. Goodnight.“