In elementary school, I learned to pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands... In junior high school, I learned that a Republic is a specific form of democracy in which eligible voters elect officials to act as their representatives in adopting laws and setting public policy. In high school, I learned that English taxation of the American colonists without representation in Parliament was a principal cause of the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution that soon followed. In college and law school, I learned much more about the U.S. Constitution, including Article IV, Section 4, which reads in part: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union, a Republican Form of Government . . .
With this basic understanding of our republican democracy, I turn to Michigans new emergency manager law, P.A. 4, that greatly expands the authority of Governor Snyder to allow him (and his successors) to abrogate -- unilaterally, indefinitely and much more comprehensively than before -- the fundamental rights of Michigan citizens to enjoy an elected, republican form of government at the local level.
Under this legislation, Governor Snyder has deposed -- no other word will do -- the local government of Benton Harbor that was elected by the voters, replaced with an unelected bureaucrat who will decide how that citys local taxes are spent.
Right now, Benton Harbor residents are in the same position as the American colonists in 1775 -- they are paying local taxes, but they have no representation in a local legislative body that will decide how their taxes are spent.
My pocket copy of the Constitution was published in 2002 by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, DC. While I dont subscribe to all of Catos doctrines, I do wholeheartedly agree with the following prefatory statement. Government officials must respect their oaths to uphold the Constitution; and we the people must be vigilant in seeing that they do.
It is time for we the people of Michigan to repeal P.A. 4 by referendum. Petitions are now circulating. If you are a registered Michigan voter, please seek out and sign a petition to restore republican democracy to every layer of Michigan government.
In 1787, after the Constitutional Convention had concluded, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government the founding fathers had created; he is said to have replied: A Republic, if you can keep it. Will you do your part?
Jay S. Johnson Empire
Document crime rates
It is surprising to me that the editorial staff of Northern Express permitted the screaming, inflammatory headline and picture titled Fewer Cops, More Crime (6/20). This headline certainly gets attention and produces fear for some readers, but the article contains no evidence whatsoever to support this headline.
Did your writer examine real crime rates in the counties where he conducted interviews? Is it a fact that crime rates increased after any layoffs happened in these counties?
I believe the Express and its writers need to produce real documentation for claims made with a headline such as this. Documentation is needed--not just personal opinions and conversations.
Michael Kearns via email
Boom & bust
One cycle runs for 30 years or so and then is replaced by the other.
From 1947 to 1977 you could hear the American Boom on the moon. The primary reason for that boom was jobs. That cycle was a workers feast, and the economy cleaned up their plates. In 1956, 35% of the private sector work force was unionized; non-union industries and stores paid higher wages just to keep workers from forming another union. Working people tripped over themselves spending their paychecks, factories went into overtime to keep up with the demand, and the middle class expanded to include almost everybody.
Workers saved more of their paychecks, stashing nice little next eggs for rainy days and their retirement and maybe a little for their grandkids to go to college. Almost nobody got fired but when they did it was for a reason. One good job could occupy the entire working life of one good employee.
The last 30 years have been the Bust. Reagan fired the air traffic controllers and began a power shift from employees to employers. Phil Gramm slipped a bill into the last Clinton budget that mostly deregulated Wall Street, and ever since its been a steady decline in jobs, wages, spending, and the middle class. Only 7% of the private sector is now unionized. Just hanging on to a job is a challenge; landing a new one requires the fortitude of a Hercules and the faith of a Zen master. Employees are routinely fired, usually for no reason at all, often for capricious reasons, always to intimidate the rest of the workers into cowed silence. The recent termination of Margaret Kelly as senior adult reference librarian at Traverse Area District Library is a perfect example.
Today the most powerful person in Michigan is a former business owner who purports to have everyones interests at heart as he tries to run the state like a business. His mentality is peeking out from his white collar. Isnt this the same mentality that served up unregulated financial speculations and risky credit derivatives? Isnt this the same mentality with untold mortgage foreclosures and bankruptcies and innocent workers fired for no reason on its resume?
The Emergency Financial Managers act is a reflection of that mentality. Now through his hired gun the governor can fire any public servant, including policemen, firemen, teachers, school principals and superintendants, county commissioners, city councilmen.
And district librarians.
Imagine financial difficulties for Traverse Area District Library. The new director would certainly be in the cross-hairs of the EFM. In her short time on the job shes come under close scrutiny from the library board, serious review, probation and public embarrassment. Her job history hasnt spoken in her favor either; both Chelsea and Royal Oak staff revolted against her directorship. What if county voters said no to the librarys next millage referendum?
I can almost hear the boom coming.
David Zaiss via email
Stop the polluters
As we celebrate Independence Day and our veterans and members of the active duty military, we need to keep fighting to protect our families, right here at home. Every year, big polluters dump millions of tons of toxics into our air and water increasing the risk of asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung disease, and mercury laden fish.
Reducing mercury and air toxics will also help protect our long standing investment in our outdoor heritage and Michigans $5 billion dollar recreational tourism economy. Air toxics settle from the air onto our waters polluting the environment and accumulating up the food chain as wildlife consumes the contamination.
EPA is working to update air quality standards and big polluters are working to stop them. Delaying new air quality standards will result in more deaths, additional asthma attacks, and more fish consumption advisories every year. Thats unacceptable. Any action to block the EPA from implementing new clean air standards is an attack on the health of our people and our outdoor legacy. We shouldnt stand for it. We need to help ensure the legacy we leave our children is a clean and healthy planet.
Brenda Archambo Cheboygan