Being a local city commissioner, council member or member of a board of trustees comes with both honors and responsibilities. As an elected official, you are always a visible member of the community, and whether up on the dais at a meeting, at a restaurant or casually driving through a neighborhood, the cloak of being a respectable elected official always rests upon your shoulders. Sometimes you're feted, and sometimes you're designated as the object of ire.
Choosing to be a local vigilante never falls under the definition, however.
The definition of “vigilante” is a “self-appointed citizen who undertakes law enforcement in their community without legal authority.” Unfortunately, that is exactly what occurred in a couple of bizarre incidents of stealing political signs by Bloomfield Hills City Commissioner Stuart Sherr last fall. He chose (and was caught red-handed on surveillance cameras) to repeatedly steal Bloomfield Hills School Board candidate Anjali Prasad's election signs, while deliberately leaving other candidate signs in place. According to Bloomfield Hills public safety reports, Sherr was stopped and arrested on November 1, 2018, for larceny of election signs, a misdemeanor. He has plead not guilty, alleging he had implied authority from the building owners because they were in the right-of-way, and “illegal signs can lead to death when signs are in the right-of-way.”
Yet, police reports show Prasad actually had written approval from the building owners, who later wrote notes for Sherr in January – months after the fact. And strangely, there is photo evidence that Sherr had to step over signs for Lena Epstein, running for Congress, and Shelley Taub, running for county commission – both of whom Sherr supported on Facebook – in order to reach Prasad's signs.
Prasad and Sherr both stated they do not know one another, and Prasad, who said she ran to be an example for her sons, can't figure out why Sherr targeted her. For his part, Sherr said, “Just one evening, I got fed up. She was slamming those signs all over the place. I have every right to do it as a private citizen. They were in violation of our sign ordinance. I'm friends with all these property owners.”
Problem is – friends or not – Sherr didn't have the right as a private citizen, nor as a city commissioner. Fed up? We all get sick of signs in the right of way. Each and every one of us have the opportunity to call City Hall or a police department to complain, and expect them to perform the job for us.
Sherr showed not only poor judgement, but a sense of misplaced entitlement that does not belong on the city commission. This behavior negates his six previous years on the commission. The only remedy going forward is for Sherr to resign his seat as he can no longer be a representative of and for the city. No one is above the law, and no one is the law.