Tuesday, 18 December 2012 11:03
Why will Mich. Governor Rick Snyder veto a bill that loosens restrictions on concealed weapons? To put it simply, it's just bad timing. In reality, gun violence likely won't disappear with "a wave of the legislative wand."
That said, all eye are still on Rick Snyder this week.
It’s been a big month for our Gov. with a wildly active legislature cranking out approval of bill after bill; Snyder has been busily signing new legislation into law. Without pause the Governor signed some of the most “divisive” bills that political analysts say will tarnish his claim to being a moderate political leader. Things got pretty chaotic when the Snyder jumped aboard the right-to-work train.
But nothing gets people riled up quite like the debate over gun control. If right-to-work came to a raucous head last week, it was overshadowed this week by another piece of controversial legislation that would allow concealed weapon schools and churches. It happened in a tragically ironic turn of events, when, just as Michigan lawmakers passed a bill to loosen restrictions on concealed weapons, a Connecticut school shooting massacre ending the lives of 26 young children and teachers rocked the nation.
If Snyder knows what’s best for his political career, he’ll veto Senate Bill 59. The debate over whether the veto will curb school shootings will remain, but in light of the Newtown shooting, the climate for bills like SB 59 is an acrid one. Signing that bill would be the last straw tossing what’s left of Snyder’s “moderate” image to the wolves of lefty mania.
Amid a virtual snowball fight of gun incidents, studies and wobbling “proof” that guns do or do not curb violence, the conversation is no longer in favor of any legislation that would make things easier for gun carriers; especially in schools. The unspeakable horror of the Newtown shooting landed like a brick on gun enthusiasts’ efforts to make guns even more accessible than they are now. It was enough to silence the nation’s most vocal group of gun-toting advocates.
The Huffington Post asks, “where’s the NRA?” in a recent report:
“The nation's largest gun-rights organization – typically outspoken about its positions even after shooting deaths – has gone all but silent since last week's rampage at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that left 26 people dead, including 20 children. Its Facebook page has disappeared. It has posted no tweets. It makes no mention of the shooting on its website. None of its leaders hit the media circuit Sunday to promote its support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms as the nation mourns the latest shooting victims and opens a new debate over gun restrictions. On Monday, the NRA offered no rebuttal as 300 anti-gun protesters marched to its Capitol Hill office.”
If the NRA has gone ghost, it’s a sign it’s time to law low on the gun gusto. So pro-gun laws? There’ll be a time for that but it doesn’t take a political guru to know that the time is not now.
For now, in the emotional aftermath of Newtown massacre, it’s a time for reflection of the state of firearms. Right now many are arguing that in the writing the U.S. constitution’s second amendment, muskets were the arms people had the right to bear, not automatic human-killing machines.
Here's some food for thought: Maybe we would be better of if we were still fighting with horses and bayonets.
Thursday, 13 December 2012 10:03
There are many Michigan political pundits who believe that recent ballot proposals, namely Proposal 2, baited the fury of corporate giants and conservative politicians ultimately sending right-to-work bills charging through the legislature this week before ending up on Gov. Rick Snyder’s deck, where he hastily signed them.
For someone who didn’t have RTW on his agenda, critics argue, Snyder sure didn’t waste any time cheerfully supporting the measure that would allow workers to opt out of paying union dues while still claiming the same wages and benefits negotiated by the union contracts governing their workplace.
So let’s take this back a bit. It may seem like a distant memory, but on November 6, we all voted and since an overwhelming majority of us Michiganders are not unionized to begin with, unions lost a multi-million dollar gamble. With all the money they poured into ballot proposal campaigns like Prop. 2, which would have engrained collective bargaining into he state’s constitution it was a big loss for for the union shop.
That’s the thing about gambling. There are no guarantees. If you play big, you lose big. And that’s exactly what happened to organized labor’s bet on a union-supporting electorate.
Analysts are saying it was fail for labor on two fronts: First, it showed how union backed measures are not widely supported by voters and second, it made conservative decision-makers real mad.
But if we take a closer look, the ballot gambit is not the only thing unions have failed. Proponents of the RTW laws argue that it passed because the unions have failed on many fronts in a post- WWII era: They have failed to beef up membership, failed the public through stolid self-service and ultimately will fail themselves in the absence of creative new structures to adapt to the changing world.
Bill Ballenger, editor of Inside Michigan Politics quoted Emerson in his opinion on the matter: "There's an old saying that goes, 'If you strike at a king, you better kill him.'"
Well, if Snyder is a king and Prop. 2 was a strike, it missed. And now unions are up the proverbial creek.
Lansing political consultant Mark Grebner told Metro Times’ Curt Guyette that a "cold war" between the Synder administration and labor ended with the recent union-backed ballot measures aimed directly at the state constitution. Grebner compared the ballot measures to the Japan bombing Peal Harbor:
"When one side starts shooting, the other side doesn't feel constrained to try and keep the peace. It might have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it didn't turn out so good for [unions]."
But there is a silver lining here. For the sake of staying in the game, unions have got some strategizing to do. With the downtrend in organized labor over the past 30 plus years, isn’t a little re-organized labor in order?
As of now, unions have no strategy to reach remote workers like me, someone who essayist Jack Lessenberry describes as “the knowledge worker banging the keyboard in her lonely apartment as an independent contractor.”
Labor has herded catlike workers before and maybe it’s blind optimism but with the right leadership and intellectual power, it will be the force it once was.
Still, the fact will always remain: Win some, lose some, there will always be the political push and pull between labor and business.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012 10:27
As thousands of right-to-work protestors descend on Lansing today, state lawmakers are in the final hours of debates before deciding whether Michigan will be the 24th state to pass the highly controversial legislation.
Right-to-work laws make it illegal to require payment of union dues as a condition of employment, but workers who opt out of paying those dues would still receive all the wages and benefits of the union contract negotiated for their workplace.
It seems unfair, opponents argue, to force middle-income wageworkers to make such a decision; of course a few extra dollars seem more useful –short-term—in pockets than in union coffers. The long-term effect of right-to-work laws on unions is projected to be a crippling one, while critics of right to work laws say there is no evidence that such legislation improves the economic climate of a state.
Proponents of right-to-work laws say optional union membership make a state more welcoming to businesses. Governor Snyder said in an interview last week that Michigan should go the way of Indiana, which passed similar legislation in February. Snyder, who had said that right-to-work was not on his agenda, changed his talking points last week when the bills flew through the house in a matter of days.
“I looked at it as ‘this is becoming divisive’. I’m confident that we’re doing the right thing,” Snyder said of his decision to throw his support behind right-to-work legislation. Snyder said right-to-work would force unions to make membership more “exciting” to entice workers to pay dues instead of making it mandatory for employment.
Snyder said in an interview on WDET's Craig Fahle show that his support for right-to-work is twofold. First:
“It’s about worker choice. It’s about giving the workers a freedom to choose because this whole issue is about worker’s relationship with the union. This has nothing to do with collective bargaining and the relationship between the union and the employer. I think it’s important that people not be forced to pay to belong to an organization if they don’t see any value in that. They should have the ability to choose. I encourage unions to be proactive in presenting great value equations that get people excited to say they should join.”
Second? Better jobs, Snyder says:
“I’ve been tracking carefully what’s been going on in Indiana they passed similar legislation back in February. And if you look at the pipeline with the Indiana economic development corporation there are 90 companies that have identified themselves as having right to work as one of the considerations of coming to Indiana. Literally those companies could end up creating thousands of jobs in the state that otherwise would be there and a lot of those jobs are good jobs.”
Still, opponents of right to work laws say that all economic boosts from right to work are purely speculative citing that there is no proof that right to work packs a jump to economic growth. Snyder said right-to-work must be paired with other business-friendly legislation within states in order to be economically effective.
On the other side of the right-to-work debate stands President Obama, who was very clear at a rally in Redford yesterday that right-to-work was wrong for Michigan:
"These so-called right-to-work laws, they don't have anything to do with economics, they have everything to do with politics. What they're really talking about is giving you the right to work for less money."
Michigan could become a right to work state before the new year. A fierce legal battle is expected in the wake of the passage of the legislation.
Monday, 06 August 2012 07:48
The Michigan Supreme Court on Friday ruled that PA4, the state’s controversial emergency manager law, be put on the November ballot for Michigan voters to decide it's fate in the November election.
But now that the law has been put to a vote of the people, it is technically not a law (quite yet) anymore until the people decide. So the emergency manager law may be suspended until November, although lawsuits are set to fly on whether it should be.
Gov. Rick Snyder has said that everything done thus far under PA4 will not suddenly be erased, but no new developments cannot be made until the November vote. Current emergency managers will have to take a demotion for a few months and go back o the the powers they had under the former emergency manager law, passed in 1990.
The 1990 law does not give emergency managers as much power. One key difference is that it forbids an E.M. to shape collective bargaining agreements.
The Detroit Free Press report quoted one lawyer, John Philo, legal director of the Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice in Detroit saying:
“…Going forward, anything under the consent agreement that is ostensibly under Public Act 4 can’t be taken – anything that’s clearly a Public Act 4 power is suspended. It raises serious questions about any continuing powers for the Financial Advisory Board and some of the powers granted to the program management director.”
There are other lawyers like Donato Lorio, a lawyer for the Detroit Police Officers Association, who believe city’s recent pay and benefits cuts imposed on city labor unions are now “null and void.”
Whatever the case, Detroit is in for another round of turbulent debates and Michiganders will face a big decision come November. No more bickering from the sidelines, people get a chance to once and for all put this controversial law to rest.
But it does raise the question: If there's no strong emergency manager law, then what's in store for DPS and other cities facing financial crisis?
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