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Friday, August 10, 2012

State Board of Canvassers v.s. People's Referendum Round 2: Challenge raised to Protect Our Jobs Proposal

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"Not again!" That's probably the term soon to be heard out of the mouths of up to 678,000 Michigan voting citizens, who signed petitions to place a Constitutional Referendum vote before the people, adding collective bargaining language to the states' founding document.

"Michigan Citizens Protecting Our Constitution" group filed a 91 page challenge to the State Board of Canvassers on Thursday, August 9th, seeking to disregard signatures gathered to support the petition before approved ballot language could be placed before voters. Contained in the groups' challenge language, is a statement were they compared the signed petitions to a "sheep woven wooden sweater".

From M-Live August 8, 2012:

“The proposal is a muddled mess seeking to unravel at least 100 laws and countless constitutional provisions by holding itself out as a mere constitutional amendment,” the challenge reads. “But a wolf does not become a sheep merely by wearing a woolen sweater.”
The organization initiating the petitions, "Protect Our Jobs Coalition" state they are prepared for any contesting procedures forwarded to the State Board of Canvassers by the "Michigan Citizens Protecting Our Constitution" group.
“This proposal deals with one specific subject, collective bargaining.  It is no different from recent amendments that dealt with one specific subject, such as stem cell research or affirmative action, that were approved for the ballot,” said Attorney Nick Nickelhoff on the Protect Our Jobs website press release August 8th.
Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), at the request of with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, took a unusual move to coming out against "Protect Our Jobs" Constitutional Referendum petition effort being placed before state voters can decide on the measure, and prior to the Board of Canvassers schedule a meeting on the manner.

From the Detroit News August 3, 2012:

In a legal analysis for Gov. Rick Snyder, Schuette concluded the union-bankrolled Protect Our Jobs ballot initiative conflicts with 18 current constitutional sections, including the Legislature's spending powers and the governor's authority to organize the executive branch, according to the document obtained by The Detroit News. 
Concluding the initiative is too broad to summarize in 100 words for voters, Schuette is urging the Board of State Canvassers to reject petitions with a reported 684,286 voter signatures and keep the proposal off the Nov. 6 general election ballot. 
"Due to the proposal's extensive rewriting of Michigan's Constitution and statutes — a facially discernible reality that the proposal's organizers have touted publicly — it is not possible to fairly present such a (100-word) summary, as Michigan's Constitution requires," Schuette wrote in a memo sent July 20 to Snyder.
Its' currently unknown if A.G. Schuette or Gov. Snyder providing in-kind or other support to the "Michigan Citizens for Protecting Our Constitution" group effort but, recent history involving state governmental personnel "double-dipping" into manners such as referendum drives are not abnormal in the state.

During a recent referendum drive seeking to allow voters to repeal or affirm Michigan Public Act #4, former Board of Canvasser appointee and Partner at Sterling Group Jeffery Timmer's company, assisted with the formation of "Citizens for Fiscal Responsibly" while deciding to initially vote down "Stand Up for Democracy" organization petitions.

From Michigan Radio April 10, 2012:

The Sterling Corporation also runs the group known as Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility; a separate, federal non-profit, that can lobby or raise money for political campaigns. Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility is a state ballot committee. LaBrant says he was unaware of the similar names when Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility was founded. 
One of the people in line to decide the fate of the referendum to challenge Michigan’s emergency manager law has a business interest in the outcome. Jeffrey Timmer is a partner at The Sterling Corporation and is a board member on the State Board of Canvassers.  
That’s the bipartisan panel that will make the initial ruling on the challenge. 
Sterling also shares a business address with the Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. 
Governor Snyder appointed former Gov. John Engler's(R) Special Council and Director of State Affairs member Colleen Pero (R) to the Board of Canvassers June 28th, after Jeffery Timmer's resignation from the governmental body.

To date, the Board of Canvassers has not scheduled a meeting to determine fate of "Michigan Citizens Protecting Our Constitution" challenge but, the body would need to meet before August 27th for initiative to be included as ballot language during November 6th upcoming general election.

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