Friday, November 03, 2006

Ballot Proposals

In Michigan, some people (both from here and not-from-here) have decided to take it upon themselves to make law, rather than relying on the judgement of those we elect. Thus, they have gotten up petitions, gathered signatures, fought a court battle or two, and now we have 5 Statewide Ballot Proposals. Some of these will amend the State Constitution, some just create laws.

1. A constitutional amendment to mandate the conservation and recreation funds can ONLY be used for their intended purpose.

This is already The Law, but the Michigan Economy is so bad right now, I think the folks behind this are worried these funds will start getting sucked up for other purposes. I'm having a hard time with this one. How hard it is now to get at those funds? If it isn't allowed under any circumstances, or in only the most dire of emergencies, why bother with an amendment?

2. The "Civil Rights Initiative". This constitutional amendment would ban affirmative action in public institutions. These institutions include state and local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts. Oh. It would ban discrimination, too.

Don't you want to take a shower after reading that? They call themselves the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative and then claim they didn't perpetuate fraud in the signature gathering process (signature gatherers were accused of misrepresenting the petition). The name alone is fraudulent. While I will vote HELL NO, I have a bad feeling this will pass.

Jennifer Gratz (that's her official bio), who is heading up this initiative, sued the University of Michigan Law School, claiming that she was denied admission because she is white. I heard a rumor that she was wait listed, and had she returned her postcard, she would have been admitted. Is that true?

3. A referendum to establish a hunting season for mourning doves.

Didn't the legislature already vote for this and Granholm vetoed it? I'm inclined to vote against this one for that reason alone. We elect people to make laws and a governor who has the right to veto that law. Live with it. Otherwise, I don't really care; neither side has made much of a case. The doves aren't endangered, nor are they pests. I don't know why you would want to shoot one, but I don't really understand why people do anything (besides knit).

4. An amendment to prohibit government from using eminent domain for private enterprise.

Do you mean to tell me that Napoleon Township can take my house and let Mall of America build a cathedral to commerce in it's place? I don't think so!

5. A legislative initiative to mandate school funding levels.

I don't have kids but I think public schools are among the most important institutions our society has and I had a really hard time making up my mind about this one. On the one hand, schools have really been shafted in this economy -- primary and secondary education are underfunded and are stuck teaching to shallow standards. Higher education is becoming so expensive that soon all but the most privileged will be able to afford it. However, I'm really uncomfortable with mandated funding levels, especially when politicians are afraid to raise taxes. Michigan Radio has been doing a series on the State elections. They talked to an administrator of a Jackson elementary school who isn't taking an official positions, but wondered what would happen to other services the school uses, such as fire, police and road repair. That is what finally helped me make up my mind. I will gladly pay more in taxes to fund schools, but I just don't think this is the way.

So there you are. My blowhard opinions on our fun ballot initiatives, worth about as much as you are paying for them.


Anonymous said...

So your argument is that merely using the words "civil rights" in the name of the initiative amounted to a criminal fraud?

You may disagree with the petitioners, you may disagree with the interpretation of "civil rights" that they had, but whatever happened to the old axiom that you would defend their right to say it (and petition the government for it). Of course, that's the whole hypocrisy of those that oppose the petitioning process by trying to use the government's (otherwise legitimate) power to regulate "fraud." When it becomes "fraud" to have a opinion, the First Amendment will be gone.

Lee said...

I don't know who "anonymous" is, but I did put the argument out there and it wasn't terribly complete. I am sure, however, that I never used the word "criminal". I suppose the word fraud has a legal connonations that I'm not sure I intend. So I will go ahead and back off that slightly. It is MY OPINION that by choosing the words "civil rights" MCRI are misreprenting themselves.

According to an article in the Grand Haven Tribune (which isn't dated), U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Tarnow found that the signature gathering process *was* fraudulent, but because it wasn't race-based, it didn't violate the Voting Rights Act and could therefore be placed on the ballot. (

I don't love Affirmative Action. It is a band aid that was never intended to be permanent and it doesn't take economic diversity into account. My hope is that once Affirmative Action is gone (and I believe that it will, eventually have to go), those who have fought so hard for it will start working towards fixing the social problems that made it necessary in the first place.

Lee said...

Drat. The link got broken. If you want to read the article, you will need to paste one line, then then the next into your browser: