Monday, July 17, 2017

Recall Against Spring Lake Village President Joyce Verplank Hatton Will Be Rejected

Joyce Verplank Hatton

By Brandon Hall
(Email Him At

A recall hearing regarding Spring Lake Village President Joyce Verplank Hatton will take place Wednesday afternoon, and given the language that was filed, the Ottawa County Election Commission must reject it.

The recall was filed by Spring Lake business owner Michelle Hanks, who, along with her husband, owns Seven Steps Up. 

The OCEC is comprised of Ottawa County Treasurer Brad Slagh, Judge Mark Feyen, and County Clerk Justin Roebuck.

Hanks opposes Hatton's 5 year crusade to disincorporate the village and merge with Spring Lake Township. Hatton says the fact that Village residents have to pay taxes to both entities is unfair.

Recall language is reviewed with two criteria in mind: whether or not the information is clear, and whether or not the information is factual. The Hatton recall fails on both counts.

First, it alleges that Hatton made "inappropriate comments" when she compared the growing police state in Spring Lake and across the country to what happened in Nazi Germany. (Spring Lake Village manager Chris Burns, at the same meeting, escaped scrutiny despite calling some SLV residents "rednecks.")

"Inappropriate" is subjective, it's an opinion, it is neither clear nor factual. That alone is enough to throw the recall out. 

However, the 2nd portion is also problematic. 

The argument that disincorporation poses a "significant cost" to taxpayers is at best another subjective opinion based on selective facts, and at worst, completely incorrect. Disincorporation will save Village residents money, there is no "significant cost." Even if there was a cost, whether or not it's "significant" is a matter of opinion.

Hatton responded to opponents in a recent letter to the Grand Haven Tribune. 

"As anticipated, opponents of Spring Lake Village disincorporation filed a recall petition to remove me from my seat as the village president," Hatton said. "The small group hiding behind the recall includes government employees and contractors who want to keep the taxpayer-funded, cash-guzzling gravy train known as the "Village of Spring Lake" operating for their personal benefit. I need not respond to this group any longer. The right to disincorporate is on the ballot. The voters will respond to them in the Aug. 8 election. If the voters want extra taxes and more government, that is their choice. If the voters want to recall the village president, that is their choice, as well. I'm not contesting a recall."
>>>Read the rest of Hatton's letter below:
"Like the media mavens who told us Hillary Clinton had the national election "in the bag," the Tribune has been playing along with a loud, pro-government minority. Fortunately, neither the Tribune nor the small band who benefit from the village's continued existence will decide the issue.
That is one of the miracles of our democracy. People vote in private, and in silence. And most Americans do not feel the need to tell anyone how they intend to vote, or how they voted.
When the village voters step into the booth on Aug. 8, they will know what to do. With only a month to go until election day, the village and the township are mailing their tax statements. The village tax is substantial. For example, the village wants over a thousand bucks for a modest, ground-floor, two-bedroom, two-bath condo — on top of a full share of township taxes. It isn't hard to imagine how this completely unnecessary double tax impacts the majority of folks trying to raise families in our town."
Brandon Hall is a lifelong political nerd from Grand Haven, and is the Managing Editor of West Michigan Politics.

>>>Email him at

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