Chase Township officials racing to recall

CHASE TWP.  — Chase Township Supervisor Ken Shoemaker has been given the go-ahead to proceed with a petition to recall Trustee Amy Patterson, according to documents from the Lake County Clerks Office. 

The wording of the recall petition was approved on May 5, by the County Election Committee in a clarity hearing. This is Shoemaker’s third attempt at a petition to recall Patterson. The petition was rejected for unclear wording on Feb. 24 and again on March 18.

“The wording has to be clear and factual,” said Lake County Election Administrator Gail King.

Now that the wording of the petition has been approved, King said Shoemaker must begin collecting a minimum of 86 signatures for approval. 

“Shoemaker needs 25 percent of the number of voters who voted in the last gubernatorial election for that precinct,” King said.

The petition to recall Patterson is the third in a string of recalls plaguing the Chase Township Board of Trustees, and states her removal from the board is necessary “for verbal abusive behavior towards board members at the township board meetings on or about Dec. 12, 2012, through Feb. 12, 2014.”

“He accuses everyone of doing these things, yet he’s the one behaving horribly,” Patterson said. “I hope people come to the (board) meetings and see what his behavior’s all about.”

Patterson said working with Shoemaker is often difficult and that his negative behavior has escalated since she joined the board. She said requests to see information regarding board spending have been denied repeatedly by Shoemaker.

In addition to his petition to recall Patterson, Shoemaker filed a petition to recall Trustee Phil Lodholtz earlier this year, which was rejected on Feb. 24 and March 18 before being approved on April 14.

The petition accuses Lodholtz of “releasing the Chase Township attorney-client confidential information to unauthorized individuals during the months of May through October 2013.”

“I believe the only reason Shoemaker filed against us was because we filed against him first. It is a retaliation against us,” Patterson said. “He’s an extremely difficult person to work with. He won’t listen to anybody, and he just refuses to work with some members of the board.”

Patterson said issues with Shoemaker’s negative behavior became clear when she joined the board and began voting against several of his initiatives. At the last board meeting on June 11, Patterson said the tone of conversation became escalated and that Shoemaker “came across the table at” her.

Patterson was the first to initiate a recall petition, aimed Shoemaker last year, which made it successfully onto the ballot for the upcoming Nov. 5 regular election. Her petition was originally rejected on Dec. 13, 2013 for unclear wording and was approved on Jan. 28.

The petition to recall Shoemaker states that “He illegally bars board members from reviewing township records,” and “He directs lawyers to act on the township’s behalf without authority from the township board.”

Patterson said she became suspicious of the money the board was spending, particularly on legal fees. She and other board members have decided to submit a Freedom of Information Act request to gain access to information regarding recent spending.

“I asked to see the bills and what they were for, and (Shoemaker) refused to show me,” Patterson said. “After asking repeatedly and getting nowhere, we decided that it was time for his recall and so we filed.”

Shoemaker said he would have preferred to not file the petitions to recall both Lodholtz and Patterson, and was hoping to settle any differences another way.

“I was hoping that we could work something out,” Shoemaker said. “At the last meeting, it was obvious that it’s not going that way.”

In order for both his petitions to reach a general election ballot, Shoemaker must collect his signatures within 180 days of the petitions being approved by the County Election Committee. Each signature will be valid for 60 days. 

Shoemaker said gathering signatures will not pose a problem and that he is confident both petitions will go through. He also said he is contacting the Michigan Attorney General to have the filing of his opposing nominee in the November election investigated. Shoemaker said the nominee did not file on time and will not be appearing on the ballot.

“The majority of the township residents are calm. They don’t think we should be arguing and bickering either,” he said. “It’s going to be quite easy, I believe.”

The next Chase Township Board of Trustees meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 9 at Chase Township Hall.