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Friday, July 27, 2012

Op/Ed: Destroying Democracy 101: Michigan Governmental Democracy is nearly a failure

ROJS News Op/Ed

This one is personal for me. Usually, when writing Op/Ed's we try and maintain a sense of fairness to both sides of an issue. In this case, its' impossible to be fair when the state of Democracy as known, is simply falling apart in the Great Lakes State I know and love.

Last week, we learned that if elected state officials commit "perpetrated election fraud" as in the case of Speaker of the Michigan House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) and Statewide Candidate filing deadline switchrooer, former Democrat, now Republican Representative Roy Schmidt (R-Grand Rapids), nothing will be done. Especially, if you ask our current Governor and state leader, per his position holding the highest elected position in Michigan Government, Rick Snyder.

Governor Snyder, whom either seems afraid to check and balance his party's House leadership or simply doesn't care to do so. In fact the Governor said this when asked if he should call for Speaker Bolger's resignation from at least leadership position.

From Democratic Minority Senate Leader Gretchen Whitmer's newsletter July 23rd:
"When pushed by reporters to respond to the election scandal last week, the Governor would only state, “I focus on the executive branch, that's the legislative branch of government. Obviously there's topics of discussion and I hope the legislative body and the people associated with that work through their issues.”
Where is MSNBC's Rachel Maddow when you need her?

No seriously folks, we have a deep and disgusting problem in Michigan. The very fabric of the Mighty Five Great Lakes Democracy is falling the heck apart. Walk or in this case, read on with us here.

In the last year and seven months under Gov. Rick Snyder, State House and Senate Republican Majorities, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) and Attorney General Bill Schuette's legislative, judicial and executive branch GOP gone wild leadership, the following sad events in Michigan's history have occurred.

1. Two Democratic Female Representatives, Lisa Brown (D) and Barb Byrum (D) in the State House were Censored for saying the word Vagina when debate about Super-Anti Abortion measures H.B. 5711-5713. 

This downright embarrassing incident in our state legislative chambers received so much national attention creator of the Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler led as Michigan female House and Senate members; along with 5000 Michiganders ascend upon our Lansing Chamber lawn and its' steps, affirming saying "Vagina" when talking about measures to regulate a "vagina" is totally appropriate to do. 

2. Michigan was "thisclose" to bringing back Jim Crow laws of the 1960's from the dead with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson's "Secure and Fair Elections Initiative" packages. Only a last minute non-signing of one of the worst bills in the package by Governor Rick Snyder (R) avoided turning Michigan into the new Mississippi of the 21st Century.

Not to be denied, the remaining parts of the "Secure and Fair Elections Initiative" bills that proudly received Gov. Snyder's "John Hancock" made significant "secret" changes to Michigan Campaign Finance Act in Public Acts 31. 273, 275 and 277. Including this it and think about how Michigan is facing a 'fiscal budgetary crisis', right?

"The State, by appropriation, or a county must reimburse or waive any late contribution late filing fees paid or assessed if the following apply:
  • The fee as assessed between January 1, 2010 and July 3, 2010, the effective date of the amendment.
  • The Committee has filed all other required campaign statements in a timely manner. (P.A. 277)"
As for "public bodies" using "public resources" using "public employees" we would assume, payroll deductions for a committee, well that's just not allowed anymore. At least not in Michigan, that is.
  • A public body is prohibited from using public resources to establish or administer a payroll deduction plan that would collect or deliver contributions to make expenditures for a committee. A public body may not be reimbursement after the expense is made or in advance of the expenditure to cure a violation. An interested person is authorized to file suit to enforce this provision in limited circumstances. (P.A. 31)
Wonder in P.A. 31 does the legislator and Governor Snyder, who signed this statue, think "Public Bodies" are those "pesky" state employees unions? Time will tell, huh?

Moving on, remember these measures signed by Governor Snyder and passed by a Republican State House and Senate.
That was the half of it.

Michigan has indeed changed for the worse, much worse under its' Republican leadership. To complete this trip, its important to turn the clock back to a WWJD moment. The capitalization short cut is not denoting what you think.

Instead WWJD in this case means What Would (former Governor) Jennifer (Granholm) do if Speaker Jase Bolger (R) was a Democrat instead.

History allow us to review former Gov. Granholm was not afraid in the least to call out and even hold a mini-trail if members of her party royalty messed up, as so in 2008:

From the Detroit Free Press September 2, 2008:

"A judge ruled today that Gov. Jennifer Granholm can proceed with a removal hearing Wednesday against Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. 
Wayne County Circuit Judge Robert Ziolkowski said Granholm’s public and private comments about Kilpatrick’s criminal case and the Detroit City Council’s request that she remove the mayor from office contained no bias. Further, Ziolkowski said a previous court has ruled that a lawsuit claiming violation of the Michigan Constitution’s promise of “fair and just treatment” in executive investigations cannot be brought before a removal hearing – only during the hearing."

And so she did....

"After months of legal challenges meant to stop her, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm (D) of Michigan opened an unusual hearing on Wednesday to determine whether she should remove Mayor Kwame M. Kilpatrick (D) of Detroit from office for misconduct."
What does Gov. Rick Snyder on-the-record quote about state Speaker of the House Jase Bolger and Representative Roy Schmidt's "perpetrated election fraud" as noted by Kent County Prosecutor William Forysth say about his leadership. Well let's review that quote the Governor made last week on the Bolger/Schmidt scandal.
“I focus on the executive branch, that's the legislative branch of government. Obviously there's topics of discussion and I hope the legislative body and the people associated with that work through their issues,” Snyder stated.
Yes Governor Snyder, alone with individuals associated with working though this issue tearing at the code principle of Michigan and America's as a whole Democracy, protecting the people's rights to free and fair elections, is it your job to do so? We're sure, it is.

Unless Michigan voters fire many Legislators in our House and Senate on November 6th, and show Gov. Snyder, Secretary of State Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette the door in 2014, we are indeed screwed.

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