Sunday, June 24, 2012

On behalf of democracy

Over the last couple weeks Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a deal with various officials from Ontario and Canada to build a second bridge across the Detroit River. Snyder did it in a way that circumvented the state legislature, which has refused to agree to the bridge.

The existing bridge is privately owned by Matty Maroun. A new bridge would cut into his profits. The legislature wouldn't agree with Snyder because Maroun had bought them off. Maroun offered to pay for the new bridge himself (he's part of the 1%) but Canada flatly refused Maroun's requirements.

Maroun is now furious with Snyder and promptly started collecting signatures (he is able to pay for a large army of gatherers) to force the issue onto the November ballot. It took him less than a week to do so. The committee that collected the signatures is named "The People Should Decide."

Hold that thought.

I wrote about Michigan's Emergency Manager Law and how it is used by the 1%. A proposal to repeal it is now on its way to the November ballot. A group with the title "Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility" are fighting hard to keep the proposal off the ballot.

The GOP has been trumpeting lately -- such as every vote on marriage equality -- that the people should decide. And here we have a case of two issues backed by the GOP, the 1%, the Tea Party, or general fiscal conservatives (take your pick) where they feel one should go before the voters and one should not.

Let's be clear: Neither conservative effort is on behalf on democracy.

Maroun wants his bridge proposal to go before voters because he paid for the work to make it qualify and he is convinced he has the financial muscle to lie to voters in such a way to get them to vote for what he wants.

But the EM repeal proposal was brought by the 99%. It would have strong backing. The 1% doubt they would be able to convince the rest of us to vote it down. So better to keep it off the ballot.

Jack Lessenberry, political analyst for Michigan Radio and Metro Times, says there are at least four, likely eight, and perhaps eleven big proposals on the November ballot. Add in the candidates for president, Senate, House, state legislature, judges and justices, university regents, and dog catcher and the whole thing will be "as long as the proverbial bedsheet." Which makes it too long to fill out in the voting booth (especially after standing in line). "In other words, today’s ballot is like a complicated take-home test -- except that for most of us, it is illegal to take it home." Lessenberry's advice: plan to be away from home all day so you can legally apply for an absentee ballot.

The Doonesbury comic strip today explained the difference between Obama and Romney. Real easy to do.

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