Packed Crowd- Still St. Clair County Commissioners Say "No Referendums"
February 24th, 2012
The St. Clair County Board of Commissions met last evening with a packed audience as residents spoke for about two hours during public comment asking commissions to agree to referendums on a proposed convention center near the Thomas Edison Inn in Port Huron and the Interstate 69 International Trade Corridor. Regardless, commissioners decided to proceed without allowing for residents to vote. At last week’s meeting, Gerald Frendt, chairman of the St. Clair County Republican Party, collapsed during public comment and later died of an apparent heart attack. His widow, Lorraine Frendt, was the first to speak at last night’s meeting, reading the statement her husband had planned to present last week, calling for a referendum on the pair of projects. “We could argue the merits of each for a long time without coming to an agreement but we can agree that your power to govern comes from the consent of the governed,” Frendt wrote. “The right to vote is one of the most cherished rights in our system of government. Most people are outraged whenever that right is denied or elections are rigged. It goes against the very core of our being Americans.” County Clerk Jay DeBoyer says by the laws that govern interlocal agreements such as the one associated with the I-69 corridor project state that cannot be subject to a referendum. According to County Administrator Bill Kauffman, the only way to force a referendum on the bond for the convention center would have been to submit a petition bearing 12,000 residents’ signatures within 45 days of the county’s notice of intent to issue the $9 million bond. That time came due February19.