First, the disclaimer: I have never met, nor do I know any of the incumbents or candidates in the local political races, nor am I a member of any of the citizens groups in Plymouth Township.
I just write about things that interest me, and right now, politics are the news of the day. Local politics usually never get the interest that the national scene garners, but in Plymouth Township these days, it has been very heated and Township Supervisor Richard Reaume has just turned the temperature up a few degrees higher.
Richard Reaume has taken off the gloves, and thrown fellow Republican, Plymouth Township Clerk Joe Bridgman, under the bus. In a letter sent to Plymouth Township voters — and paid for by Citizens for Nancy Conzelman & Committee to Elect Arthur Butler — Township Supervisor Richard Reaume not only endorses these two candidates, but uses a good portion of the letter to attack the incumbent Bridgman.
I found this letter kind of funny, but also a bit disturbing, as I thought about how dirty politics have become lately. Usually the nastiness has been confined to the statewide and national elections, but in Plymouth Township I have discovered that below-the-belt politics are indeed alive and well.
Generally, the dirtiness is kept partisan, and Democrats and Republicans going after one another is the norm, but in the Republican bastion that is Plymouth Township, things have turned cannibalistic. The real battles in Plymouth Township are the primaries, where Republicans decide who will move on to the general election, which is more or less an afterthought, as Democrats really stand no chance of being elected.
While there always are Democrats who volunteer as cannon fodder for the general election, I imagine it is just to have a name next to the "D" on the ballot.
I have no problem with a spirited primary campaign to pick a nominee, and I think it makes the candidates more accountable, but something just smells rotten here, and I'll tell you why. You have a sitting township supervisor doing what I would call an attack ad against a man he may have to spend the next 4 years with on the Board of Trustees.
Something about that just doesn't feel right to me. I can accept an endorsement of another candidate, but an attack ad against a colleague and fellow Republican just doesn't pass the smell test for me, especially in Plymouth Township.
Mr. Reaume begins this letter as wanting an "opportunity to share my thoughts" and it was pretty generic, though a bit self-serving (imagine that). Reaume takes the first paragraph to pat himself and "our management team" on the back for "navigating through one of the worst economic downturns in history." That sounds strangely like an Obama campaign ad, blaming Bush for everything, and I am absolutely fed up with the blame Bush crap, especially from a fellow Republican.
He quickly turns to the endorsements of Nancy Conzelman and Arthur Butler, and I will admit that I don't know much about either of them other than Ms. Conzelman is running as a Republican for township clerk against Bridgman, and Mr. Butler is running as a Republican for a trustee seat. I am sure we will hear more about these two candidates as the primary heats up.
Next, this letter "to share my thoughts" turns ugly. Mr. Reaume, the man who was elected to chair the Plymouth Township Board of Trustees goes on to tell us how he "did not take the decision not to support our incumbent lightly."
At this point I think back to the time my dad told me this was gonna hurt him more than me, right before the big smack.
OK, my Dad did not smack me, but you get the point. Mr. Reaume goes on to a series of bullet point criticisms about Mr. Bridgman's record. He talks about how Mr. Bridgman voted against belt-tightening; he goes on to say that Mr. Bridgman voted against "right-sizing," which is political code for downsizing and layoffs. He further states that Mr. Bridgman missed more meetings than any of the other members.
Maybe all of these things are true, and maybe they are just political spin. It has been my experience that the truth usually falls somewhere in the middle, depending on who is telling the story.
Maybe Mr. Bridgman had a sick relative? Maybe Mr. Bridgman simply sought different solutions in the "right-sizing" effort? I don't have these answers yet, but I imagine that time will tell, as I am sure these issues will be vetted out in the near future.
The next statement made by Mr. Reaume is the biggest and most telling part of the whole letter. Mr. Reaume writes, and I quote: "This behavior by an elected official can not be tolerated, which is why I am supporting Nancy Conzelman for Township Clerk."
Well that is all well and good, and Mr. Reaume is entitled to his opinion, even if it is, in my opinion, unprofessional in that as the township supervisor, he chairs the Board of Trustees and should always strive to remain above the fray politically.
The biggest problem I have with his statement on what behavior cannot be tolerated is with the behavior that he HAS tolerated in the past.
I bring to you Mr. Ron Edwards. Ron Edwards is the Plymouth Township treasurer, and the township's resident loose cannon. While Reaume claims that Mr. Bridgman's behavior is intolerable, Mr. Edwards' behavior is apparently tolerable for Mr. Reaume. This is the funny part of the whole story — although many called it disgusting.
Please take the time to watch WXYZ-TV's account of the 2011 Fourth of July fireworks incident, and by all means take a gander at some of the readers' comments on this story about Mr. Edwards. The comments shed a very bright light on what most folks consider intolerable behavior, and what Mr. Reaume considers tolerable behavior.
Apparently in Mr. Reaume's mind it is OK for an elected official to have a hissy fit over traffic, while tying up a 911 operator whose job it is to take emergency calls only. Even though an injury accident is what appeared to cause this elected official to be inconvenienced, unbelievably, Mr. Edwards still refused to apologize for his actions. In some cases, people have actually been criminally charged for using 911 to make non-emergency calls, but of course that did not happen to Mr. Edwards. I wonder why? That might be a good question for Mr. Reaume.
I can hear the crickets already.
If I was Nancy Conzelman, I would not want Mr. Reaume's endorsement, but what do I know? I am just one of the little people who waits patiently in line, just like everyone else, to leave the fireworks...