By Jessica Mathews /

Rigged, bought and paid for – that appeared to be the general feeling of the Pinckney Village Council about a marijuana proposal that will appear before voters in the November general Election.

Council met virtually Wednesday night and discussed the importance of getting information out to residents about the ballot proposal being put forward by Jobs For Pinckney, a grassroots group headed up by political organizer Sam Pernick of Oakland County. A minimum of 53 signatures were required to get the proposal on the ballot but there was confusion about which jurisdiction to file petitions, which led to lawsuits. Organizers ended up filing suit against the village, township and Livingston County clerks. The Michigan Court of Appeals ultimately ruled in favor of the group and ordered the proposal was placed on the ballot. The language reads that if adopted, the proposal would “provide for the number of Marihuana Establishments within the Village, including regulatory and application provisions incidental to a system of safe and legal access to marijuana within the municipality”. If passed, there’s a lengthy associated ordinance that would have to be adopted by Council.

The Village earlier “opted-out” of allowing such establishments and was waiting for guidance from the state like many other municipalities. It was stated Council has been very open to discussion but this is not the right way to do it, the language is “embarrassingly vague” and it will not create hundreds of jobs or thousands of dollars in new revenue as being advertised in flyers circulating throughout the community. Board President Linda Lavey commented they would love to have seen a petition from actual residents, even if it was on a piece of notebook paper, but the actual petition just showed up - none of the organizers ever contacted anyone or attended any meetings.

It was stated that if the proposal passes, Council could change the ordinance or appeal to have it declared invalid based on content. However, the Village doesn’t legally have the ability to do many things contained in the ordinance. It was described as “one size fits all” with certain requirements and approvals that must be done in 30 days, which members agreed seem to be set up to ram through people who are already prepared to open up shop.

President Pro-Tem Rebecca Foster commented the language is vague and it seemed as though the organizers didn’t do their homework about how, where or when to submit the ballot petition to get certified. Foster said she’s not adamantly opposed to allowing a retail facility in the Village and stressed there’s not any secret plan to thwart the measure. She added its being disguised as Jobs for Pinckney but they don’t have hundreds of people that need work – adding there are 2,200 people in the Village and only 1,500 are over the age of 18.

Councilman Ted Kinczkowski commented if the proposal passes and Council was to tweak it or appeal, it will look like they’re the bad guys and be viewed as another case of local government trying to squash marijuana. He said the Village needs to start communicating now because if it passes and they have to make changes, they’ll be villainized no matter what but Council is really just trying to do what’s best for the Village. Kinczkowski said they’ve been demonized by a lot of people saying it’s another example of a small town trying to stop commerce but the whole situation was presented by someone who is intentionally lobbying for an industry the Village won’t see any money from and is disguising it as Jobs for Pinckney. He said it’s an initiative by people hiding behind lawyers forcing legislation on the Village that has nothing to do with helping anybody in Pinckney. Kinczkowski speculated that there are people outside of the community who are ready to go and have applications “sitting in their hot little hands” – recognizing Pinckney is a small Village that doesn’t have a big budget to drag things out in court and get them to bend over for what they want.

Kinczkowski and others were of thinking that the organization has a plan to force something in immediately and box everybody out because no potential locals could mobilize fast enough to get their business and paperwork in. It was also reiterated by multiple members that there would be very minimal income and significant costs to the Village.

Council is working to get further clarifications from attorneys and a fact sheet is currently being drafted to help educate residents. The ballot proposal language and associated ordinance will be posted on the Village website.