Take a minute to step outside the emotional and passionate debate over what to do---or what not to do---with Belle Isle and imagine this:
Just imagine, you’re a foreigner who lives across a river, let’s call it Swan River, and in the middle of the river there’s an island, say, Swan Island.
To you, Swan Island is just a place on a map, a place across the river to feel good about knowing what it is if a visitor asks—it’s a public park that’s part of a neighboring country, you would say. That’s it. And they never ask.
You don’t think about Swan Island as anything more than a green spot across the rippling river water. In fact, you don’t think of Swan Island much at all.
But one day, you’re bored so you cross the river for a change of scenery. It’s a foggy day in a mid-winter thaw and you, on a whim, decide to visit Swan Island to clear your head and get some fresh air.
When you get there, you see it’s a beautiful place. Swans bob peacefully on the river's rippling waters. The island road gives an up-close stunning view of the City’s downtown area, and there’s nature everywhere, a spec of heaven in the Detroit River.
You decide to go for a jog in the bike lane to see more of the island. But the further you run the more you start to realize something: this island isn’t being taken care of like other parks you’ve been to. It seems like not many people care about the island because the trashcans are overflowing and the storm drains are so decrepit that amid the snow thaw has transformed a soccer field into a duck pond.
The flooding expands all the way into the bike lane, three inches deep. You running shoes are soaked through hand through. You have to go to the bathroom so you wade through the storm puddles in search of a restroom area, like they have in all the large parks you’ve been to.
Instead, you find an abandoned rest area and a row or port-a-potties outside of it.
With cold, soaking feet and a curious mind, you decide to ask people about the park.
You ask a couple who are taking photos of the swans: What’s going on here? Why is this beautiful place so neglected?
You are blasted with a cold response: that this place is not neglected, that it is a jewel; that you are an outsider who needs to mind your own business.
You ask more people, each shouting very different, heated and negatively themed answer.
One person rants that the city that owns the park is led by a bunch of obstructionists who always say “no” and never have a plan to counter an offer with. Another person says a there’s a Fascist ruler in the province who wants to steal Swan Island from the people and that any problems on the island can be fixed by the city, not the province. They say the city, although it is in financial trouble, has to find away to keep up the 982-acre jewel on the river without giving it up.
Another person says the leader of the province is not a tyrant at all but rather a concerned citizen who really wants to see Swan Island cleaned up and maintained properly-- something that the city cannot afford. But after all the name calling and bickering from the city, this levelheaded ruler recently abounded his effort to try to help restore the island.
Another person says they are getting a group of billionaires together to buy the island and turn it into an exclusive tax autonomous commonwealth for wealthy investors and secede it from the city, the province and possibly the country.
You feel like you just stepped into some bizarre dream where passion leads and there is no logic.
It quickly becomes obvious that it’s not that people don’t care about Swan Island but that perhaps people care too much. I mean, these people really love this place, so much so that's it paralyzing. They all seem blinded by emotion and heated debate, firing off at one group or another for being “the problem”.
Not one person you talk to has a calm, comprehensive outlook on the issue. Grown adults are pointing fingers like kids on a playground. When will that fire be squelched?
Will people ever calm down and work together?
If there is so much passion, why are there not volunteer groups picking up trash? If the province cares so much about the island, why don’t they offer a grant to help fix its drainage problem?
And if city leaders are so determined not to go through with any plans that are on the table, why don’t they create a plan of their own?
It starts to rain so you get in your car, all soggy and cold, and drive home.
One passionate bombardment of arguments is enough for one day.
Back home, across the water, Swan Island is still that green stretch in the fog.
Maybe the people in that province need to see it from your angle, you think. Just take a step back and cool off, put themselves in your soggy wet shoes for a second.
Then maybe when the fog lifts and the anger subsides, they’ll be able to roll up their sleeves and use their passion for the place (which is remarkable and in many ways admirable) to sculpt a real solution and not an elementary name calling fight.
In his State of the State address Wednesday evening, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder did not bring up the issue of gun control despite President Barack Obama signing 23 Executive Orders earlier in the dayto restrict gun sales in hopes of curbing gun violence in light of recent tragic shootings.
Instead, Snyder touched on mental health policy, another key issue aqs the national conversation on gun violence continues. Snyder, while he did not mention gun violence or it's relation to mental health, said caring for the mentally disabled would "benefit all of us."
Snyder suggested that public-private partnerships, not just public money would play a key role in funding mental health projects in Michigan in the upcoming year.
Snyder didn’t give any details in his speech such regarding any new projects or any specific companies the state plans to partner with. Rather, he offered a broad suggestion that “ great demonstration projects” will spur better and more preventative mental health programs.
“We started investing [mental health] and we’ve done some good work with mental health courts. But the issue is that we should be doing more to help people before they show up before a judge,” Snyder said in his speech. “So what I’m saying is, we need to work together in partnerships that well put additional budget resources towards. But we need to partner on coming up with great demonstration projects and how to engage mental heath issues more effectively, get communities more involved, create more pub private partnerships and take care of people that deserve better attention that will benefit all of us. So let’s work on mental health.”
Snyder also announced encouraging developments for veteran care. Moving forward, the state now has more leverage to partner with non-profit organizations to better reach the nation’s men and women of service.
“Tonight I’m happy to announce we have received something from the U.S. Veterans administration. The state of MI is now going to be an accredited body," Snyder said.
What does that mean?
"We’ve got great veteran service organizations—The American Legion The Purple Heart Association, Veitnam Veterans—many good people are doing that work but now we can works with them better. We can collaborate better. We can prosecute better claims for veterans in terms of benefits, so it’s major achievement."
Snyder said Mchigan will have a new veteran's agency by the end of the week. "We are going to stay focused on [veterans]. And we are going to show better results."
One day after Gov. Rick Snyder appointed a 6-member team to conduct a financial review of Detroit’s finances, Mayor Dave Bing rolled out a “revenue enhancement” plan estimated to bring the city $50 million in revenue.
But at this point, after years on financial insolvency, many are wondering if the city’s new collection initiative is “too little to late”.
City and State officials have warned that a wrong move at this crucial time in Detroit’s history could land the city in bankruptcy court.
But here’s the twist: Under state law, the city must first be appointed an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) before being eligible to file for bankruptcy. Snyder’s review team’s findings could result in him appointing an EFM to Detroit, someone who would take away the Bing Administration and the City Council’s power to make financial decisions.
Just a month ago, city and state officials were squabbling over the release of $30 million in escrowed state funds. Now that the city has reached the milestones of an agreement that was contingent on the $30 million drawdown, the city is not in much better shape.
During the drawn out “milestones” tug of war between the mayor’s office and city council members, the mayor’s talking points made it sound like the $30 would stave off layoffs.
Turns out, layoffs are just one of the measures the city has to take in order to move not toward financial solvency but just to keep afloat.
One thing that’s different now is that City residents and business owners face tougher tax collection efforts now that the city has hired private collection agencies to go after delinquent accounts. No one is safe, not even the mighty Illitches who owe more than 1.5 million in taxes.
The city estimates that it could gain nearly $20 million in tax collection initiatives annually if stricter collection is enforced.
That begs the question: why were these collection measures not taken sooner?
The answer is a complex one that boils down to the fact that the city, until recent contracts with private firms, did not have the capacity to go after its debtors, Bing says.
As the city keeps skimming its payroll, there are less people doing work.
“Because of the loss of so many people—we had almost 14, 00 people when we came into office now we 9,700 people—we need some help on the personnel standpoint so we’re going to the outside and getting some outside firms to come in and help us. They are not going to be permanent.”
Meanwhile, the city plans to lay off 500 more workers in early 2013 mostly through attrition and retirement according to CFO Jack Martin.
Still, is this too little too late, Mr. Mayor?
“It’s too soon to say,” Bing said Wednesday. “We’re not throwing in the towel. Contrary to what a lot of people may believe there’s a lot of good things we have done. I think when we lay this plan out it’s going to surprise a lot of people. This is not a ‘get tough’ stance on anybody. It’s fairness and being correct.”
At this point Detroiters can only wait and see. Hopefully, people will get the surprise Bing looks forward to.
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.
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.
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.
For years Detroit has been on the brink of one financial crisis after another. While the threat of running out of cash is an ever-looming one, this time the State is not buckling under Detroit’s reluctance to change the status quo (or at least the division in leadership over how to change it).
Ultimately, the buzz about the escrowed state funds is a tiny spec on the surface of an enormous financial monster. Let’s be real: Detroit is in way deeper -*- than a $30 million bond sale installment and a few unpaid furloughs can remedy. The city council could approve Miller Canfield contracts all day long and the city would still be down the well so to speak.
At this point big chunks of city operations need to be dissovled or merged. This is serious restructuring that city leaders have been able to pull off over the past decades of post industrial depression.
The consent agreement with the State put in place last spring in lieu of an EFM just isn’t cutting it. As Detroit City Councilman Andre Spivey said on Tuesday:
“…The truth of the matter is we are 8 months away from when the consent agreement [was implemented]. We could have had a baby in this time. But nothing has been done.”
That’s why an Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) now seems inevitable. Since Public Act 4 was suspended in November, the State must revert to the old emergency manager law, Public Act 72, which limits the powers of a state-appointed appointed money czar. By now it’s not a question of “if” anymore, rather “when” and “who”.
While an emergency financial manager would not have the sweeping powers that an emergency manager would have had under PA4, he or she could still take control of financial matters [hopefully] without getting too tangled in politics.
That said, perhaps the most important question for Gov. Risk Snyder when is comes to appointing an EFM to Detroit is the “who.”
It will take an individual of tremendous resolve, intelligence, and overall chutzpah to turn around the roaring southbound train that is Detroit’s finances.
The person who is appointed to head Detroit’s money matters will have to have the resolve of a Hillary Clinton and the optimistic, fiscally conservative outlook of a Rick Snyder.
If it is as Mayor Dave Bing said last week and leading Detroit is the second hardest job in the country, the EFM position could easily line up as the third most challenging.
Aside from negotiating a cease-fire in the Middle East, perhaps negotiating with city unions for hefty pay cuts and layoffs are the most difficult negotiations to make in the nation.
Snyder should appoint as Detroit’s EFM a woman with the character and intelligence of Hillary Clinton.
Conservative Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to President George W. Bush said recently of Clinton:
“Secretary Clinton in particular stepped forward and exerted some leadership. That's very good news, because what the Middle East has been crying for is greater U.S. leadership."
Well, what Detroit has been crying for is greater leadership, too. So if an emergency financial manager is the only way out, lets make sure that manager is thoroughly vetted and can to the dang thing.
Think back to before Snyder, before Public Act 4 took effect. The city was broke then, too. Just as broke, in fact, as it is today. There was the threat of payless paydays, a recurring warning in the city these days. So what’s different now?
The state’s taking a firmer stance: Make big structural changes in Detroit government or no money from us, is the message coming from Lansing.
That’s why at a press conference last week, Mayor Dave Bing told reporters that, ultimately, he’s not the one calling the shots in these politically and financially stressful days. The State is. “I’m open minded but by the same token, the State is holding the cards at this point,” Bing said when asked whether he would reconsider terms of a contract that is necessary for acquiring state funds. Bing has brushed off City Council’s concerns of a conflict of interest with the controversial Miller Canfield contract.
If the state is holding the cards, a good poker face is in order.
Per the Snyder Administration’s deal with the Mayor’s Office, the City must hire and maintain private legal and turnaround firms, among other restructuring moves in order to get $30 million in bond sale funds. Now, heading into the New Year, the city is so broke it (apparently) can’t even pay attention to the simple legal requirements of holding a public meeting.
As Detroit faces a fiscal cliff of its own, the words “payless paydays” and “unpaid furloughs” have resurfaced as they have time and time before, especially over the past four years after former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick left office and audits exposed the city’s financial nightmare. Essentially, the only difference between a payless payday and an unpaid furlough is notice not to come to work. And rhetoric. Either way, what usually would be a payday’s going to roll around and some unfortunate city workers are not getting paychecks. Either way, a check has to be missing a couple zeros or missing altogether.
We’ve heard it before, perhaps too many times: If the city doesn’t make drastic changes, it will crumble into the void. But by now Detroiters are a practically numb to the threat of running out of money. And that’s no good, especially if they city really is to run out of cash. But here’s the thing: it’s not.
The city won’t run out of cash any more than is has in the past. That’s not my opinion; it’s Detroit CFO Jack Martin’s. He spoke at a press conference last week declaring that a few unpaid furloughs will be enough to fill the cash gap. He and Bing last week promised “absolutely no payless paydays” and “no bankruptcy whatsoever.” But a slow trickle of furlough savings a $30 million lump sum is not.
But really, how do the two even compare? If a few unpaid furloughs for non-public safety or revenue generating workers is enough to stave off a financial crisis, was how critical was the crisis in the first place? It’s a question that perhaps touches on root of the issue between the legislative and executive branch of Detroit government.
Obviously, unpaid furloughs are being used as a threat to get council members to approve a controversial contract. But if it doesn’t work, then what? More lawsuits from unions? More back-and-forth?
As Bing and Martin have said, bankruptcy at this point is far from an option. The city is not close to being eligible ... yet.
Now that the State-City Milestone agreement benchmarks have not been approved by the City Council, and now that the state’s emergency manager leverage has been repealed, it’s back to the drawing board. Back to the unpaid furloughs hotly contested in 2010.
As far as bankruptcy goes, there’s a good reason we want to avoid it: “Bankruptcy costs a lot of money, ironically,” Said Eric Scorsone, extension specialist in State and Local Government at Michigan State University. He said the city of Vallejo, California spent over $10 million on bankruptcy lawsuits in 2008. “If you can get the same outcome at a cheaper price, you do that.”
Let’s do that.
Any time, Any place, Any way, Any Pace. No, that’s not the title of a breathy Janet Jackson hit circa 1993. It’s the name of Governor Rick Snyder’s proposed public school learning model.
Snyder, in an effort to revamp public education, commissioned The Michigan Public Education Finance Project to draft a legislation package aimed to replace the School Aid Act of 1979 which is the current funding model.
At the core of the 302-page draft bill is a school choice funding, which allows state funding follow students to whatever school district will accept them so long as it’s a public school. Or, if sitting for hours in a public education institution doesn’t work, online learning for K-12 students would be beefed up to allow more students to learn anywhere, any time, any place, literally. The proposal also provides cash incentives from $2,500 up to $10,000 for early graduation.
While it may be high time for a re-do of Michigan’s 34-year-old school funding legislation, some argue that the proposed changes are too free wheeling to produce productive education, and don’t take into account special needs children and low income household who can’t jet their kids across the county to a “good” school or have household access to the web.
The Detroit Board of Education isn’t the only school board with issues regarding Snyder’s reinvention of Michigan.
In fact, John Austin, President of the Michigan Board of Education has been vocally condemning the new legislation in media interviews and in a scathing op-ed where he said the proposed legislation would trigger a “meltdown” of the state’s public education system.
Austin has a problem namely with the lack of regulations set in the proposed bill on education standards.
Austin stated in his op ed:
“Nowhere in the proposed legislation is there a rationale for how this proliferation of new schools will improve overall education quality and outcomes for students in Michigan. There is no priority placed on new quality choices where students actually need them, versus where schools are performing well. There are no expectations concerning minimum qualifications for school operators. Most significantly, there is absolutely no discussion of the impact, financial and otherwise, on the existing public school system of this new marketplace for education.”
While Austin opposes the legislation; other state officials are not so critical.
State superintendant Mike Flanagan thinks online education and school choice could be the wave of the future.
Regarding the controversial the bill, Flanagan said:
“We need to realize that schools are not going to be a 900,000-square-foot box anymore. We need to stop building Taj Mahal high schools that we aren’t going to be able to fill.”
Governor Snyder is pushing for the bills completion and passage in the state’s lame duck session before the new year.
"The governor is looking forward to reviewing the report and recommendations about how we can move Michigan into the any time, any place, any way, any pace model that the new economy demands," said Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel.
Surely there are parents out there who have opinions on this. Those are the opinions that really matter. What do you think?
When Governor Rick Snyder addressed a group of corporate business leaders Monday morning at the Detroit Athletic Club he shared his vision and accomplishments for reinventing Michigan.
One of the reforms Snyder said he plans to push is firmer restriction on ballot petitioners.
“There is a good reform opportunity with respect to paid circulators,” Snyder said at the DHR International corporate leadership breakfast.
Currently, Michigan does not ban pay-per-signature, which allows petition circulators to be paid for every signature collected offering petitioners monetary incentive to get the most signatures. Pay-per-signature something that Snyder said is a concern and suggested said hourly pay for should be mandated.
Between 2008 and 2009, several states—including Colorado, Montana and Nebraska—made it illegal to compensate petition circulators based on how many signatures they are able to collect on petitions.
But in Colorado a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction in June 2010 against the new Colorado law (HB 1326) in a lawsuit that says the law's ban on pay-per-signature violates the U.S. Constitution. The case is still in active litigation according to Balletpedia.org, a non-profit effort to inform the public on political issues and laws.
Snyder’s biggest beef with Michigan’s ballot petitioning rules is the fact Michigan does not require paid petition circulators disclose that they are being paid to collect signatures, or who paid them. In other states petitioners have to wear a badge that ways whether they are a volunteer or paid to collect signatures for a ballot measure.
Many deep-pocketed groups can sponsor a ballot measure and pay petition circulators without disclosing if they are doing this out of their passion for the measure or for a paycheck.
“People don’t get the full scoop before they sign,” Snyder said, adding that he only supports one ballot proposal (Proposal 1) of the six that will appear on the ballot in Nov. He said six proposals seem like too many. “We needed more disclosure of where money was coming from for circulators.”
Another law Snyder said he wants to push for is one that mandates where petition circulators can collect signatures for a given measure. Currently, Michigan does not have a distribution requirement. Any amount of the required signatures for a ballot measure may be collected in anywhere in the state and is not forced to pull from different areas.
“We need to look at where people are getting these signatures,” he said noting that they should not all come from one area known to favor a certain sway of the proposed initiative seeking signatures.
The flood of ballot proposals this year has been unprecedented with six statewide ballot proposals set for the Nov. election. And that’s not counting local municipalities’ proposals.
Why so many proposals? Snyder has an idea.
“It’s a reaction to the reinvention of Michigan,” Snyder said. “People don’t like change.”
Be sure to stay informed about Michigan ballot initiatives and more, check out Mlive’s Michigan voter guide to help prepare for the long ballot that awaits voters on Election Day.
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