Wednesday, June 13, 2012



Yesterday the Grand Rapids City Commission refused to even debate a motion offered by First Ward Commissioner Dave Shaffer to clarify the City’s secret policy to pay for abortion on demand in their Employee Health Coverage Plan. The Shaffer resolution would have simply made it clear abortions would be paid for only in the cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the Mother.

The other 1st Ward Commissioner Walt Gutowski, the only member of the City Commission who is a Catholic and ran for office opposing abortion with the endorsement of Right to Life of Michigan, had promised to back Shaffer in placing the item on the agenda, second his motion and vote for it but cracked under pressure and refused to even second the motion leaving the issue to die without a debate. Gutowski betrayed Shaffer, his own constituents, and even the democratic process.

Below are three letters in reverse chronological order (to Gutowski, the staunchly Pro-choice contingent of Mayor George Heartwell, Second Ward City Commissioners Rosalyn Bliss and Ruth Kelly and finally Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom  appealing for them to respect life and at the very least support an open debate.

Unfortunately democracy died yesterday in Grand Rapids executed by the City Manager, Mayor Heartwell, the City Commission, but mostly through the betrayal of the untrustworthy and politically ambitious Walt Gutowski who flip flopped and chose to be a lapdog to the Mayor and pro-choice political bosses instead of keeping his word, standing up for life or even supporting truth and transparency in government.

Grand Rapids citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Commission Dave Shaffer for his integrity, moral courage and his fight to at least have a debate on the critical and never publicly discussed, authorized or negotiated item of abortion. For the others on the City Commission, especially Walt Gutowski, their refusal to even discuss an issue brought to them by their citizens has seriously compromised their credibility to govern with the public’s trust.  No matter how you feel on an issue, people on both sides have a right to have their elected officials discuss it and vote their consciences.

This blog entry tells their pathetic story. It is possible citizens may place the issue on November's ballot for a public vote if they desire to go that route since their elected officials with the exception of Dave Shaffer hid behind a parliamentary procedure to avoid taking a stand!

On Monday June 11, I laid out the case.

Walt Gutowski discovers Abortion is controversial turns pro-choice for the good of the City and will not fight taxpayer funded Abortion on Demand? 


Not since Roy’s actions last month have I witnessed statements and thinking so profoundly stupid and despicable. Your cowardly flip flop on this issue is also disgusting. You claim to be pro-life, covet RTL’s endorsement yet refuse to fight for the unborn when you have a chance and reject the democratic process of debate, discussion and open voting because your colleagues are afraid to admit being pro-choice so your allegiance is to them not your constituents or even to an open government operating with truth and transparency

Let’s examine your thought processes as to why you are now pro-choice, yet claim to be pro-life:
According to the Press article below one reason (actually excuse is the term I’ll use so we don’t pervert the noble definition of the word reason) you give is “I’m not going to be seconding (Shaffer's motion),” Commissioner Walt Gutowski said. “I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the community (to have this discussion). It's a very divisive issue."

Really Walt when did you finally realize abortion was a divisive issue? When you actually have to take a stand against abortion and are asked by your constituents and RTL to finally stand-up to the pro-choicers on the Commission in the name of truth, justice and life?

Abortion has been a controversial issue for the last fifty years because it causes the death of innocent children. Slavery was controversial, civil rights still are, so is forcing the Catholic Church, other institutions, and employers to pay insurance coverage for things they are morally opposed to, and I could go on but you should get it by now. As a pro-life pharmacist Mike Koelzer has taken a courageous and principled stand to not distribute contraceptives should he be forced to do so? Do you support the contraceptive mandate or does it depend on who you are talking to and what’s in it for you?

When George referred to pro-lifers as the “forces of darkness” and even worse mocked virginity just to throw red meat to a pro-choice audience wasn’t that divisive, unprofessional and a disgrace to his office? To his credit he offered an apology on the “forces” comment yet not on mocking virgins that I’m aware of yet you I’m told you defended George with some Jerry West story of your youth and his mentorship. You are a Father do you mock virgins? By the way your actions as an elected official in deception, pro-choice actions and flip flopping shows you’ve learned from your mentor well.

Walt, Grand Rapids citizens have always voted for pro-life measures since 1972 and always against pro-choice measures. Check the voting it’s a matter of public record. Yet even if they did not reason and Natural Moral Law should dictate the decisions of a principled and intelligent Representative of the people. George knows this as do Rosalynn and Ruth which is why they want a secret policy and no public debate or vote on this issue of taxpayer funded abortion on demand. 

The other excuse you offer again from today’s Press article is my personal favorite. “Gutowski initially said Friday that he planned to second Shaffer's motion and honor "my commitment" to Right to Life. But he said later in the day that he changed his mind on behalf of the city as a whole. "The real issue I have is I have no trust for the people that are driving this, (former city commissioner and mayoral candidate) Rick Tormala and Rina Sala-Baker," he said.

Walt I’ll debate you and match my credibility against yours on any issue especially this one ANYTIME and poor Rina has done nothing except defend life, yet even if we were Bonnie and Clyde how does that turn you pro-choice? Neither Rina or I matter, this is about truth, transparency, unauthorized taxpayer unfunded abortion on demand and having a full, free and open debate and vote at the request of the citizens of Grand Rapids and RTL to whom you pledged your word.

I asked you and others privately and politely to find the truth and if there was an unauthorized policy to expose it and end it. As people can see, you pledged below your support to do so on May 23, 2011 and on June 26, 2011 while you ran against Rina and others ran for re-election you asked me to delay it until after July 4th, 2011. Finally in October I went public with it and that is how Rina as a constituent of yours became involved and all you wanted were secret meeting with me. Finally the gloves came off and I kept pressing you as Rina, other citizens and RTL came aboard SIMPLY REQUESTING A SECRET POLICY BE PUBLICLY DEBATED, CLARIFIED, AND VOTED ON LEGALLY TO ENSURE WHAT THE CITY CLAIMS --EVEN THEY WANT NO ABORTION ON DEMAND. If what Greg finally said is true clarifying this will end what they say they don’t want.

Yet Walt you now kill this proposal, blame others but stand exposed for the deceptive, untrustworthy person you are by your own words. As all can see from your recent June 5, 2012 e-mail you now are deliberately calling this a Federal issue, yet still say you’ll support it but essentially it’s a lost cause! Now for the good of the whole City you turn pro-choice.

Are morally noble lost causes not worth fighting for to you? Slavery, Civil Rights, women’s right to vote, and many others were once considered lost causes. If it is right you fight for it. Watch this clip from a movie everyone in politics or in elected office should watch MR.SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. In the movie Mr. Smith talks about “honesty, sincerity, selflessness, duty, integrity and political courage. Do you see any of these in your actions, those of the Manager, Mayor and other members of the Commission? Now to lost causes Mr Smith Goes to Washington-"Lost Causes"  this speaks volumes.

Finally Walt you have a chance, as do your colleagues, to still do the right thing in an open and fair fashion. Back Dave and at least put this on the agenda, let the public speak on both sides and then stand for life or say why you won’t. To be clear medically necessary without clarifications permits abortion for everything from sex selection to I don’t want a baby which is then covered under safety and health as Rosalynn pointed out so conveniently.

Robert Bolt’s brilliant play A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS (the movie is great too but misses this character but both should be mandatory watching for elective officials) has a character that speaks to the audience as he plays various small roles that change with the scenes. His name is the Common Man and his are the final lines after the great Saint’s head is chopped. Sadly Walt, he sounds very much like you, the Mayor and every Commissioner except Dave if you just add the word politically in certain places. “I’m breathing.... Are you Breathing too? It's nice, isn't it? It isn't difficult to keep alive, friends just don't -make trouble-or if you must make trouble, make the sort of trouble that's expected. Well, I don't need to tell you that. Good night. If we should bump into one another, recognize me. "

Do the right thing.


George, Rosalynn and Ruth don't hide behind the City Manager and block a legitimate agenda item and disenfranchise citizens because you are afraid to give your views on abortion

Dear George, Rosalynn, and Ruth:

I’m writing to demand as a citizen that you support Dave Shaffer’s request backed by Walt Gutowski to place Dave’s resolution to end the unauthorized and never publicly approved or discussed practice of taxpayer subsidized abortion on demand on your evening meeting’s agenda for this Tuesday, June 12th. A covert policy of abortion has been operating without being a negotiated item and stunningly is not even listed or outlined in the City of Grand Rapids Employee Health Care Plan.

You three are my elected leaders and it is an insult to representative government, an abdication of your duties, and a willful disenfranchising of the citizens of your Ward and indeed all of GR’s residents for the Mayor and my Second Ward Commissions to cower in fear behind the City Manager, an unelected bureaucrat, simply because you lack the courage to debate this issue in public or perhaps you have inappropriately decided this important public policy matter in private?

To recap: There has never been a public discussion, authorization, or approval to allow abortion on demand as a negotiated employee benefit and in fact it took the City Manager almost two years to admit abortions were taking place at all and only after a petition of over 1600 citizens forced a public discussion on the issue. You three never responded to requests I made to discuss it. 

Commissioners and even union members were unaware of this item. 

Greg claims there is no policy of abortion on demand because all surgeries must be “medically necessary”, yet everyone knows that specifically vague term without clarification permits abortions of all kinds for any reason.

 Rosalynn you further exposed the problem in this e-mail; “Mr. Korte, I saw that City Manager, Greg Sundstrom, already responded to your email however I wanted to acknowledge that I received it and to thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with me. As Mr. Sundstrom indicated, the City's health insurance will not support “elective” abortions. A doctor must determine that the procedure, like all of the medical decisions made within our coverage, is medically necessary for the health and safety of the mother. Thank you again for the email. Sincerely, Rosalynn” 

Additionally not all abortions are surgical and abortion is not defined or stated as a covered negotiated benefit item. The proposed resolution will clarify and approve abortion when medically necessary to save the life of the Mother, or in cases of rape and incest. How can there be any reasonable objection to this measure? 
Like any policy however it can and should be debated publicly not killed in back rooms by a Mayor and two Commissioners who are pro-choice(though hide it when they seek office) get big bucks from your pro-choice backers but don’t have the courage to debate your own convictions.

Pro-life or pro-choice I would never fear a public debate on an issue. To top it off this is a secret matter that looks like it’s being willfully concealed. By opposing even placing the Shaffer resolution on the June 12, 2012 evening City Commission Agenda so the public (on any side of the issue) has a right to speak to the matter before it is voted on and to ensure there is a debate and vote you three, along with any Commissioners that join you, will shatter any confidence citizens have left in trusting this City Commission to be open and transparent and you will seriously compromise your personal integrity.

Attached is my letter to the Manager which explains (among other things) why Shaffer cannot be stopped from placing his resolution on the evening agenda. Your own Standing Rules state the Manager “prepares the agenda” for the official City Commission meeting it doesn’t require his approval or consent as clearly stated in some of the Sub Committees rules.

If the City Commission doesn’t follow its own rules why should the public follow them at Commission meetings? There could be chaos based on the bad example you are setting and Mr. Mayor I should not have to remind you we pay for the microphones used by you and the public!

At any rate why try tricks instead of having a full and free debate on an issue that matters to the majority of your citizens? The City Manager answers to you and you answer to us. 

George, Ruth, and Rosalynn if you three or any Commissioners fear truth and the people resign and don’t embarrass this City any longer. You are supposed to be leaders and our representatives, act like it! 

Place the Shaffer resolution on the agenda, debate it, and vote on it. Use reason and truth to make a decision BUT VOTE!

I can assure you even with this item on the agenda it is still very likely the Sun will rise on the morning of June 13th and the world as we know it will continue to exist. The only question is will it shine on a City Commission that welcomes the bright light of truth or prefers the false shield of darkness? 

I will pray God gives you guidance along with the wisdom and courage to act in truth and justice.

Do the right thing and place this important measure on the agenda.




I always thought you would follow Kurt and be an effective City Manger because you apprenticed under our most competent and longest serving Manager.

Your dictatorial actions vetoing the legitimate and appropriate requests of two of your duly elected representatives, and part of the elected body you work for, to suppress an issue of concern to a large number of citizens I find appalling. It is an affront to the democratic process and an abuse of your position as City Manager.

While everything is political, it is not your role to become politically involved by picking winners and losers regarding what issues are placed for debate at the City Commission table. Your concluding an issue doesn’t merit placement on the public agenda because it will fail based on private conversations you have had with the Mayor and other Commissioners behind closed doors violates the intent if not the letter of Michigan’s Open Meetings Act and destroys your credibility as a leader committed to transparent and open government! Disenfranchising the debating and voting rights of two Commissioners, their entire Ward, everyone who signed the pro-life petition, every pro-life citizen, even every pro-choice citizen committed to open government, in fact all residents of Grand Rapids will not have a chance to view a public debate on an important issue because an unelected bureaucrat has decided privately on his own the matter is closed!

Citizen participation is the glue that holds our form of government together and trust is the coin of the realm and you are destroying both capriciously. If you are acting as a shill for a pro-choice Mayor and Commissioners shame on you, because there is no other valid reason to deny Members of the Commission an opportunity to debate and allow citizens pro and con to weigh in on the policy at a public City Commission meeting before the debate takes place.

Kurt Kimball always respected the people, the Commission, and the integrity of his office through his sensible and fair practice of simply placing an item requested by two Commissioners on the agenda. He might have recognized the obvious truth that a motion and a second was sufficient to have a public debate and it was not his role or right to play politics, interfere and suppress it. Since the City Charter (see Citation 1) allows two City Commissioners the power to call a special meeting Kurt might have rightfully concluded they (along with their office and the people they represent) should be given the respect due them by placing an item they want on the agenda for public discussion. Maybe he did it just because it was a practice to promote honest and open government!

Rule 2 of the City Commissions Standing Rules states-No items shall be considered unless presented to the City Clerk or City Manager prior to 2PM on the Wednesday preceding the meeting at which they are to be presented. Commissioner Shaffer did that and it doesn’t say a Commissioner needs your approval just present it. In other rules on agenda for committees it mentions you need the Manager’s consent and approval but not here.

Rule 3 states the Manager prepares (not approves my note) the agenda and sends a copy to each City Commissioner at least 24 hours before a regular meeting.

There is no right or reason for you to deny this legitimate request Greg and thwart the will of the people and their elected Representatives.The issue and your own feelings do not matter and its merits and action taken or not should be debated publicly with input from the public by being an agenda item where both sides can speak before the debate.

To recap briefly the issue: There is an unauthorized Taxpayer Subsidized Abortion on Demand Mandate never publicly approved or discussed by Commissioners, the public or even union members and it not even mentioned in the benefit booklet. Your argument that no elective abortions are performed (even though it took you two years to just claim that position) is flawed because of the unclear language “medically necessary”. Also Greg not all abortions are surgical. Which is precisely we need the debate in public! 

A secret non-negotiated taxpayer funded abortion mandate will not stand up anywhere and would reflect negatively on any group, person or government supporting an unapproved policy in addition to destroying the credibility of a City government that claims to operate with Truth and Transparency.

The decision to use taxpayer money or even institute a policy that would allow taking the life of an unborn child for any reason is not something to be done in secret but only with the full consent and approval of the citizens of Grand Rapids and their elective officials in the bright light of public knowledge. Since it has never been bargained for it is not subject to the contracts. If any entity or person claims that it is, they should be included in a full state investigation into secret items being placed in contracts.

In fact this resolution proposed by Commissioners Shaffer and Gutowski would ensure a secret taxpayer funded program of abortion on demand is not allowed while permitting abortion in verified cases of rape and incest with the only medically necessary reason for abortion being to save the life of the Mother.
Right now the term medically necessary without being clarified to ensure it means only to save the life of the mother, allows for abortion on demand and elective abortions something you claim doesn’t happen (so Greg we are helping you tell the truth and ensure it) but cannot prevent without clarifying medically necessary to mean saving the life of the Mother.

If it means what it should mean, the only valid reason to terminate a pregnancy and end an unborn child’s life would be to save the life of the mother. The current vague definition has confused Rosalynn who expands it to health and safety of the mother which opens the door clearly to elective abortions on demand.

“Mr. Korte, I saw that City Manager, Greg Sundstrom, already responded to your email however I wanted to acknowledge that I received it and to thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with me. As Mr. Sundstrom indicated, the City's health insurance will not support “elective” abortions. A doctor must determine that the procedure, like all of the medical decisions made within our coverage, is medically necessary for the health and safety of the mother. Thank you again for the email.

Dave and Walt have done what is appropriate to place this matter legally on the agenda for a public and open debate with citizen input. I want my elected representatives George, Rosalynn and Ruth to speak to this issue publicly and take action to end this unauthorized and secret use of taxpayer money or explain in public debate, not cowering behind the closed doors of the City Manager, as to why and how they can support it. I expect as much from Eli, Jim, Dave and Walt.

In closing this resolution should not be blocked by you Greg from being place on the agenda at the night meeting on June 12, 2012. Please do so. You have the time do the right thing. 

The City Commissioners and the Mayor irrespective of their position on abortion have the opportunity to remove or prevent a taxpayer funded abortion on demand mandate being forced upon the citizens of Grand Rapids that currently has no right or authority to be a health care benefit. The City of Grand Rapids Employee Health Care Plan is designed to save lives not end them.


Do the right thing Greg for honest and open government. It’s your job.


Meetings. Sec. 5. The City Commission shall meet in regular session twice each calendar month at such times as it may prescribe by ordinance; provided, however, that at least one regular meeting each calendar month shall be held in the evening. Special meetings may be called by any two members upon at least twelve hours notice to each member. Such notice shall either be in writing and served personally, left at the Commissioner's usual place of residence, or transmitted electronically, or such notice shall be telephonically served either personally or via recorded message at the Commissioner's usual residence or mobile phone number. All meetings of the City Commission, and notices thereof, shall comply with the Open Meetings Act, Act 267 P.A. 1976, as amended, MCL 15.261 et seq.
(2-19-62; 8-8-06)
The Michigan Open Meetings Act (OMA) does not contain a "voting requirement" or any form of "formal voting requirement."
A "consensus building process" that equates to decision-making would fall under the act.26
For example, where board members use telephone calls or sub-quorum meetings to achieve the same intercommunication that could have been achieved in a full board or commission meeting, the members' conduct is susceptible to "round-the-horn" decision-making, which achieves the same effect as if the entire board had met publicly and formally cast its votes. A "round-the-horn" process violates the OMA.