It’s kinda funny in a way because Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and his administration are doing their level best to continue to behave as if his Emergency Manager legislation is going to be fine. Just fine. Just put on that happy face, click your heels, and whistle a happy tune.
In the ongoing saga of “Don’t Laugh; You Could be the Next Michigan”, re-energized opponents of the disastrously anti-democratic Emergency Manager law scored a pretty major victory recently that could be the first step toward the law’s unraveling. According to an April 25 article in the Detroit Free Press:
“A citizens group fighting to overturn the state’s emergency manager law announced this afternoon that they have enough signatures to have the question placed on the November general election ballot.
“The group collected 203,238 valid voter signatures – more than 40,000 more than the 161,305 that were required, leaders of Stand Up for Democracy say a state official has reported. The group has been working to repeal Public Act 4, which gives Gov. Rick Snyder sweeping authority to appoint emergency managers to oversee troubled cities or school districts.”
Realizing now that this could actually happen, supporters of Public Act 4 are now mounting a challenge to the ballot initiative in the hopes of derailing this whole issue by saying that the size of the font on the petitions just isn’t the right size and this simply won’t do. No, honest. This is what they’re saying. You think I could make up something this good? I return you to the Free Press, same article:
“While the number of signatures hasn’t been questioned, Woodhams said, the size of the type used on the petition forms was challenged as improper.
“On Thursday the Michigan Board of Canvassers is expected to meet in Lansing to decide whether the petition will be placed on the November ballot.
‘It’s entirely up to the Board of Canvassers” whether the font size issue is enough to stop the petition,’ Woodhams said.”
Some might refer to this maneuver as desperation. I am one of them.
But even if Font Gate doesn’t succeed and the issue is allowed to be put before voters on the November ballot, supporters of Public Act 4 are insistent that not much will really change because in the cities where an Emergency Manager has already been enthroned (Pontiac, Flint, Benton Harbor, Detroit Public Schools) they would still be allowed to stay and do their work.
Really? Then why did I read this in the Detroit News in February?
“If enough signatures are validated by the Bureau of Elections to get the issue on the ballot, the law will be suspended until voters decide whether to repeal it.”
Or this written by columnist Tom Watkins in the April 26, 2012 edition of DOME Magazine:
“Assuming enough signatures are validated by the Michigan Secretary of State, Bureau of Elections to get the issue on the ballot, the law will be suspended until voters decide whether to repeal it as early as November.”
Or this in a March 6 article posted on Bloomberg News:
The group last week submitted to the state what leaders said are 226,637 signatures. If 161,305 are validated in 60 days, the measure would be suspended until voters decide in November whether to reinstate it. If the question makes the ballot, it would be the eighth state referendum before U.S. voters in November — the most since at least 1980, said Jennie Bowser, senior fellow at the Denver-based National Conference of State Legislatures.
So are the supporters of the Emergency Manager act saying that (assuming Font Gate is unsuccessful) Public Act 4 will be suspended until the November Election, but then if the voters decide to overturn Public Act 4 during that election then the emergency managers will be back to work the next day? In other words, they will be suspended from their duties until the people of Michigan decide whether or not they want them, and then once the people of Michigan decide they don’t want them, they will once again be stuck with them.
Kinda makes one’s brain itch, don’t it?
Update: According to the Detroit Free Press, “The Board of State Canvassers deadlocked 2-2 along party lines this morning on the question of whether a ballot proposal to overturn Michigan’s emergency manager law should go before the voters this fall. The vote will send supporters of the proposal, who collected 203,238 signatures to put in on the ballot, to the state Court of Appeals for a ruling.” The two Republicans on the board voted no to putting the proposal on the ballot.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.