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Residents Heated at 1st District Forum for Banks, Schulte, Zichi

A group of residents accuse a candidate of lying about pending civil litigation during Grosse Pointe League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday.

What began as a run-of-the-mill candidates' forum between three local politicians escalated into a shouting match between audience members and organizers Wednesday evening, with police officers eventually summoned.

Off With a Bang

As more than 60 audience members crowded into the Grosse Pointe Woods city council chambers for the Grosse Pointe League of Women Voters forum for candidates in Michigan's 1st District race, volunteers handed each an index card to write a question to the candidates. The questions were collected by forum volunteers.

Before the candidates could even give their opening remarks, members of the audience broke ranks and loudly accused LWV volunteer George McMullen of being a campaign contributor to Democratic candidate Brian Banks and that McMullen should not be allowed to sort the audience's submitted debate questions.

GPLWV President Christina Schlitt responded that, while the LWV is not a political organization, every person within the LWV is allowed their political view. Schlitt continued that multiple volunteers were sorting the questions for redundancy and this gave the sorting process balance.

McMullen later told Patch that he had, in fact, contributed to both Banks and Schulte's campaign fundraisers and was a member of both local Republican and Democrat organizations.

While several disgruntled members of the audience continued to murmur among themselves, the debate continued with the candidates' opening statements about their qualifications and background.

Who Are the Candidates?

Three candidates are vying for the opportunity to represent residents in the new 1st District that includes parts of Detroit, Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores.

Lifelong Harper Woods resident and city parks employee Zachary Zichi, a write-in candidate for the Libertarian Party, is new to the campaign trail having filed his candidacy in late September.  

Republican candidate Dan Schulte is a two-term Grosse Pointe Shores councilman and currently serves as the Shores' Mayor Pro-Tem. He is the only candidate running that has prior experience as an elected public official.

Democratic candidate Brian Banks, also of Harper Woods, is an adjunct professor at Baker College and community activist.

Candidates Respond

Banks, Schulte and Zichi found consensus on issues like supporting public transit, local control of schools and in their mutual opposition to Michigan's pending Emergency Manager proposal, which would allow the governor to appoint an emergency manager if the state determines that there is a financial emergency and allows the emergency manager to act in place of local government officials.

On the issues of school vouchers, unions and Michigan becoming a 'Right to Work' state, the candidates parted ways and often along traditional party lines.

A full broadcast of the debate's questions and answers will air Thursday at 8 p.m. on the War Memorial's local public television station and each evening at the same time through Monday, Oct. 8.

Candidate's Past Questioned

During Wednesday's forum, a question was posed to Brian Banks about his criminal convictions and how people can trust him as their elected representative.

Banks has admitted to being an eight-time felon convicted of passing bad checks and credit card fraud. His last conviction was in 2004.  

"When you look at the mistakes I've made and what I've accomplished since then, I've shown great tenacity and commitment to rehabilitating myself by not only going to one university, but two universities and receiving a Bachelor's, a Master's ... and a law degree.

"I've taken the time to pay my debt to society. I've admitted my wrong. I've accepted my responsibility. I'm a tax-paying, contributing member of society and I should be afforded the opportunity to serve the people," Banks said.

Later another question posed to Banks asked if he was a defendant in any pending court action. Banks stated that he had signed a lease for a relative who had failed to pay the rent on time but that the issue had been resolved.

That's when Grosse Pointe Shores resident Dr. Robert Lee jumped to his feet and accused Banks of lying about the pending litigation in Harper Woods. The disturbance caused volunteers to summon four police officers into the room, who remained until the crowd became quiet.

Banks did not respond to the accusation.

According to District 32A of Wayne County, Banks is being sued for eviction from a residence in Harper Woods. The case was filed on Sept. 11 and the trial was scheduled to take place on Thursday in Harper Woods, ABC News reported.

In an article by the Huffington Post, Banks referenced the pending eviction action.

"I was a victim of the economy. I, as with several of my constituents, have experienced economic challenges as well as have lived through obstacles that families face trying to better their quality of life."

Banks' final comments to the audience asked for their vote and for them to look beyond his past mistakes.

"Just like I have past, many of you have a past, many of your family members. So I'm asking that on November 6th, you allow me to be your state representative."

Veronica Paiz October 05, 2012 at 01:31 AM
Banks is NOT a community activist. Did you even listen to this debate? He leases a home on Berden in Harper Woods and the 98 year old owner has to take him to court every two months (until the lease ends) to get a judgement for him to pay rent, water bill, etc. Sometimes, his checks bounce.
John Chronos October 05, 2012 at 02:37 AM
My questions, in no particular order: 1) how much of the 1st District is comprised of Detroit and Harper Woods? 2) is it likely that a criminal record and intentional misrepresentation of pending legal action will have a material and negative effect upon Mr. Banks' likelihood of election? 3) given that so many local governments find it difficult and, indeed, undesirable to live within their means, is Mr. Banks' history of bad checks and credit card fraud fraud perhaps actually a requirement for Michigan political office?
Veronica Paiz October 05, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Additionally, the matter is not "resolved." The owner of the Berden home was in 32A court today trying to get him to pay his rent. The lease is in his name and he uses that address for his voter registration and absentee ballot. The case of the home on 20927 Fleetwood is for termination of tenancy, and has been rescheduled for November 1. It's also the address he uses as his CTE address on his campaign finance report. He has had multiple court judgements against him for nonpayment of rent and evictions going back to at least March 2011. Maybe one day he can stop blaming others for his actions, but probably not.
Chace Wakefield October 05, 2012 at 10:33 AM
Why don't these passionate members of our community who are always making headlines ever run for office themselves?
Susan Raynal Puzniak October 05, 2012 at 11:26 AM
So where does he live? In the district or not -is there a length of time required to establish residency?
Mark October 05, 2012 at 01:24 PM
1) I can't give you exact numbers but GP was gutted. We are overwhelmingly the minority voters. 2) No. The district is now at least 70% democrat and you can almost guarantee they will vote for the democrat despite his criminal past.
Veronica Paiz October 05, 2012 at 02:54 PM
In my case, I have run for office in Harper Woods. Why didn't I run for State Rep? Because I believed that there were better candidates than I to serve as our State Rep. As it turns out, all of those better candidates didn't have Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon making calls for them the night before the primary; Mr. Napoleon asked voters to vote for Banks.
Robert Lee October 05, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Chace: In my case I have run for office in Grosse Pointe Shores. My experience is that non-office holding citizens can have a more important impact on political events than office holders might have, by staying engaged and holding our politicians accountable. There would be no headlines here if Mr. Banks was an honest and upright citizen, instead of a liar and an eight time felon.
Katie October 05, 2012 at 03:42 PM
It seems Mr. Banks cannot give a truthful answer. All this second chance stuff is BS. He is slippery and evasive. Huffington Post, referenced in the article, "I was a victim of the economy. I, as with several of my constituents, have experienced economic challenges as well as have lived through obstacles that families face trying to better their quality of life." Well when asked at the forum, a question for all three candidates, what their working background is, Mr. Banks stated that he quit his job this summer at a Legal firm to concentrate on running for office full time. You can hear it from his own mouth if you watch the War Memorial re-broadcast. Mr. Banks is not rehabilitated, he is a liar.
Todd October 05, 2012 at 05:10 PM
LOL... an 8 time convicted felon... And we are supposed to think Benny Nap's endorsement is good? He's renowned for his high ethical position in Wayne Co. Seriously.... what's left to say? That is supposed to be someone that represents us? What do I tell my kid? Felonies go away if you talk pretty and live dirty?
GP For Life October 05, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Katie, you can take your negative view, or you could take my positive view. My positive spin on things is that at least the fine Democrats of Wayne County are voting for a convicted felon instead of voting for someone, then having them be convicted of a felony. I am all for transparency in government. Ok, in all seriousness, the gerrymandering that lead to this is offensive. It basically gutted whatever political power our community had. If it isn't corrected we will be most-epically boned.
Veronica Paiz October 05, 2012 at 11:17 PM
I really don't understand the logic of Mr. Waldmeir's comment regarding Mr. Banks. I don't believe we should forget Mr. Banks. It appears he's going to be our next State Rep. The guy has filed for bankruptcy 3 times, the latest in 2006 for over $219,000 owed to 50 creditors, which included $12,000 in rent. I do not want this guy handling taxpayer money (or any other monies) or representing me.
Pete Waldmeir, GP Woods October 06, 2012 at 01:51 PM
When I said "forget" Banks, what I meant was, you can write him off as our next State Rep. No individual with his felony and debt records will ever get elected. Sorry that I didn't make that much clearer for you and/or any other readers. Agree with you wholeheartedly.
Mark October 06, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I wish I could feel as confident as you on that Pete. Unfortunately the large swath of Detroit that now comprises this district will never vote for a Republican suburbanite.
Chris K October 07, 2012 at 01:16 AM
Partisan and identity politics at their finest! The thought of having this guy represent this district makes me ill.
Robert Lee October 07, 2012 at 12:25 PM
In addition to stiffing his creditors, Banks has never addressed the issue of whether or not he has made completer restitution to the victims of his 8 felony crimes. I submitted this very simple question for Mr. Banks, but Mr. George McMullan and his fellow screeners failed to ask it. For Mr. Banks to say he is reformed and sorry for his litany of felonies rings hollow unless he has made financial restitution to all the victims of both his criminal acts and civil malfeasances.
Robert Lee October 07, 2012 at 05:50 PM
The Patch should tell the voters the complete story about Mr. Banks. Why don't you post his complete criminal and civil court roster on this web site. The voters need to see Banks appears to be on the way out of the 3rd home he has rented in Harper Woods over the past few years. Should voters be represented by a guy who can't stay current on his own rent to live in the district? If one can't keep their personal finances in order, voters should have grave doubts about Bank's ability to manage the taxpayers' money! Banks stated he had a single landlord-tenant dispute. The record shows five different individuals or corporate entities have had to sue Mr. Banks seven times just in Harper Woods since 2010! The court records prove beyond any shadow of doubt that Mr. Banks remains a dishonest person who lied to the electorate at the GPLWV debate about the scope of his legal problems. Until Mr. Banks has repaid every penny of the money he owes to his creditors or defrauded people of, he is a hypocrite to get up in front of the voters and claim that he has made amends for his errant ways.
Katie October 11, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Well said! Without making the financial reparations and just asking for a do-over is lazy and not credible. What I would like to know is who is funding this guy and what is their agenda?
Robert Lee October 11, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Katie: You can look it up on line on the Michigan Campaign Finance databank:: http://miboecfr.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/com_det.cgi?com_id=515833 Banks is being supported by Manny Maroun and his wife, DTE, the august law firm of Clark Hill, the MEA, the pipefitters and carpenters unions, and a variety of others. Including Pointe gadfly George McMullen, who was one of the question screeners tossing softball questions to Mr. Banks at the debate. What is interesting is that while Banks just got kicked out of his 3rd Harper Woods rental home since 2010 for failing to pay rent, his campaign finance report shows he has donated at least 8 grand to his own campaign. How can you trust somebody with a criminal record who stiffs his creditors for rent, but dumps thousands in cash and in king contributions to his own campaign coffers in an effort to buy a job as state rep?
Robert Lee October 11, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Sorry for the typo above, it should say "in- kind contributions". The revealing link to review is Banks' list of thousands in kind contributions to his own campaign, yet he repeatedly stiiffs his landlords for rent: http://miboecfr.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/cfr/contrib_anls_res.cgi?doc_seq_no%3D359921%26doc_stmnt_year%3D2012%26com_id%3D515833%26doc_date_proc%3D07/27/2012%26sched%3DIK%26doc_type_code%3DP1%26caller%3Dcf_online
Diane Smith October 11, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Who is funding him? Banks himself with leftovers from his scams and rent he did not pay, plus George McMullen, a few folks on Fairholme in GPW, Manny M. and his wife, plus the D party.
Katie October 11, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Thanks Robert. Interesting list of friends. After 7 failed do-overs after his First FELONY conviction, it should be obvious to anyone that he is not trustworthy. It seems he may be more interested in looking out for himself - for a free-ride salary paid for by District One taxpayers rather than a genuine interest in working for the east-side communities.
clear choice October 11, 2012 at 06:33 PM
great points Dr. Lee about Banks but having watched Schulte on the Shores T.V. and then with your support of him makes me really think....that Banks is a better choice.....reformed felon vs a out right jerk.....BANK ON BANKS
Katie October 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM
clear choice - from your statement it is obvious you do not 'think' but make decisions based on your emotions. I feel sorry for you.
Frank Walshingham October 13, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Is this Zichi joker even eligible to run for office? He's not even 20 years old. The state constitution says you need to be 21 years old to be a state rep. With the multi-felony crook Brian Banks in the race as democrat, and this underage and ineligible libertarian Zichi, it looks like Republican candidate Schulte is the only District 1 House candidate actually fit to hold office.
Frank Walshingham October 16, 2012 at 12:38 PM
Sorry for the above typo. Should read "Check out Banks letter to the judge that says he needs to get off the tether he was placed on for his felony crimes." www.shameonbanks.com
Robert Lee October 16, 2012 at 08:19 PM
www.shameonbanks.com is a great resource. All his criminal convictions, civil cases and other aspects of his shady past all there for the voters to review.

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