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Blasier recall language approved

ESCANABA — Language for a petition to recall Escanaba City Councilman Ralph Blasier for comments about shooting rioters made at a meeting earlier this month was approved Monday by the Delta County Election Commission.

During a discussion at the June 4 city council meeting about whether or not to move forward with the city’s planned Independence Day fireworks display, Blasier read from what he described as a “press release” he drafted to outline requirements for those in attendance of the event. The first three paragraphs outlined social-distancing requirements, but the fourth and final paragraph shifted to potential violent protests.

“‘Any person throwing objects at police, shooting at anyone, looting and setting fires will be shot in both legs and left lying there till dawn, and at dawn, each person will need to crawl to the hospital,'” Blasier read, before adding, “I mean, this text for your public announcement, people might want to alter it some. This is just the first draft. If I were alone in charge of the city, this is what I would publish, but I can see where some people might, change it a little bit.”

Blasier made it clear the statement was intended to be facetious during the meeting. However, his attempt at humor fell flat in the wake of violent protests taking place across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd, a black man, who died after Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 45 seconds.

Blasier apologized for the comment the next day.

Monday, the language for a recall petition submitted by Peter Gregorie, of Escanaba, was reviewed by the Delta County Election Commission, which is composed of Delta County Probate Judge Perry Lund, County Clerk Nancy Przewrocki, and County Treasurer Sherry Godfrey. The commission unanimously approved the language, with only a minor correction to correct a misspelling of Blasier’s name.

Petitions may now begin circulating with the following language:

“We, the undersigned, registered and qualified voters of the City of Escanaba, in the County of Delta, and State of Michigan, petition for the calling of an election to recall Ralph Blasier from the office of city councilman, for the following reason(s): Councilman Ralph Blasier’s violent and cruel implications and suggestions do not serve the best interests of Escanaba. Specifically, at the city council meeting on June 4, 2020 in his capacity as a member of the council, Ralph Blasier proposed that any person throwing objects at police, shooting at anyone, looting and setting fires, will be shot in both legs and left lying there till dawn, and at dawn each person would need to crawl to the hospital, further that if he were alone in charge, that is what he would publish.”

Despite unanimous approval from the election commission, the commission did raise some concerns about Gregorie’s use of the phrase “violent and cruel implications and suggestions,” as all three commissioners felt these were reflections of Gregorie’s views about Blasier’s comment and not strictly factual statements.

“The language is fine, as stated, it’s factual and it does state what happened. As far as where it says ‘violent and cruel implications and suggestions,’ I don’t have a problem with that. I think it is a little bit of conjecture, but if people are willing to sign that, I guess that’s fine by me as far as the wording,” said Godfrey.

Beyond drawing attention to the spelling error, Blasier had no issues with the submitted petition language.

“Other than that, I concede that everything he said was accurate, and I commend him for that because, of my critics, he’s the only one who’s got it right yet,” said Blasier, who has repeatedly expressed frustration that his comment have been interpreted as applying to those exercising their constitutional rights to protest rather than only to those committing acts of violence or damaging property.

“It’s factual on it’s face,” Blasier later said of the language.

Blasier also said he didn’t care whether the spelling error — which only appeared once out of the three references to him by name — was corrected.

“I don’t really care. I’ve seen it spelled that way 1,000 times. It’s wrong, but I’ve seen it 1,000 times,” he said.

Beyond asking a few clerical questions about the petition process and asking if the misspelling could be corrected without resubmitting petition language, Gregorie himself had little to say about his petition language. He told the commission he had no arguments to present about the language because he believed it was factual and had sufficient clarity.

Gregorie now has 180 days to collect 1,218 signatures. However, the individual signatures are only valid for 60 days, all signatures must be submitted at one time, and the signatures must be returned to the clerk’s office by July 28 if the recall is to appear on the November General Election Ballot. If the signatures are not returned by July 28, but are collected within the 180-day window, the recall would be pushed off until May.

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