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Published: Tuesday, 2/14/2006

Erie Township officials are facing recall in May voting

BY LARRY P. VELLEQUETTE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mikels Mikels
FRASER / BLADE Enlarge

ERIE - Two freshmen Erie Township board members will face a recall election this spring after the Monroe County clerk certified sufficient signatures on recall petitions filed against them.

Township voters will decide May 2 whether to remove supervisor Paul Mikels and clerk Amy Whipple from office.

Both were elected to their first terms in office in November, 2004.

The county clerk's office certified 384 valid signatures on a petition seeking to recall Mr. Mikels, 88 more than the 296 required.

The petition alleged the supervisor:

●Interfered with a planning commission meeting in November.

●Failed to secure legal advice after a lawsuit was filed against the township.

●Failed to ensure that the township's books were balanced monthly.

The petition seeking Ms. Whipple's recall contained 390 signatures and alleged she neglected to manage the township's accounts payable and receivables, and she failed to ensure the township's books were balanced each month.

Monroe County Clerk Geri Allen said if voters remove the two elected officials from office, their positions would remain vacant until the remaining three members of the township board appoint successors. The posts would then be opened up for a special election later this year, she said.

Mr. Mikels said the charges against him and Ms. Whipple are untrue, and the "real reason" behind the recall was the recent lawsuit against the township by the owner of Alcatraz strip club and disputes between a small number of township residents and the township police department.

"[The lawsuit by] Alcatraz is what stirred this up to begin with. But it's totally out of the board's hands. It's in the courts right now," Mr. Mikels said.

Alcatraz owner Jeffrey Truckor filed suit Nov. 21, after his application for a zoning text amendment that would allow him to move his business to Victory Road, off Luna Pier Road, was sent back to the planning commission for further review.

The township board has been pressured by local citizens to take a stand against the plan, but has been advised by the township's attorney to say nothing on the subject.

Mr. Mikels said the fact that the township budgeted $150,000 from money it receives from the former BFI for its landfill in the township toward providing additional police manpower is also at issue. Erie Township has a six-man police department.

"What they want to do is pare down the police department in the township, and one of the ways they want to do it is to get Amy and me out of office so that they'll have a better chance of paring down the [police department] budget," Mr. Mikels said.

Ms. Whipple did not return a call seeking comment.

Under state law, recall petitions are reviewed by a three-member panel of elected county officials for clarity, but the allegations against those being recalled aren't verified, Mrs. Allen said.

The subjects of recall votes are allowed to post written responses to the allegations as part of the recall ballot.

Contact Larry P. Vellequette at:

lvellequette@theblade.com

or 419-724-6091.



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