Letters

Letters 02-02-2015

History Lesson  “The days of cheap oil and easy acquisition are over. “ -- President Obama, June 2010

A Study In Mudslinging In the January 12 issue of Northern Express, Grant Parsons wrote a piece that touched on behind-the-scenes campaign financing. Mr. Parsons referenced attack ads he received in the mail prior to the November elections.

Sad Story I read with sadness in the Detroit Free Press of 24-year-old Angela Marie Alexie, who abandoned her just born baby boy in an unheated Eastpoint, Michigan garage to die alone in the cold, and who had also previously lost 3 children to foster care, the youngest of which, a girl, suffered withdrawal symptoms because of Alexie’s drug use during pregnancy.

Balance On The Page Having looked through the Northern Express for years, I have finally found something worth reading besides News of the Weird and the Advice Goddess!

An Eye On Congress The U.S. Senate on January 21 voted 98 for and 1 against to adopt a non-binding resolution stating, “It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax.”

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · New Constitution a bad...
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New Constitution a bad idea

Stephen Tuttle - August 30th, 2010
New Constitution a Bad Idea
Michigan’s November ballot will include a proposition asking us whether or not we wish to convene a Constitutional Convention in order to rewrite the state’s constitution. To suggest this is a bad idea is roughly akin to suggesting nuclear weapons might cause a little damage.
Our state constitution, one of the youngest in the country, was written in 1963. One article requires us to evaluate the document every 16 years and vote as to whether or not we want to rewrite it. In 1978, 78% of us said “no”. In 1994, 72% again rejected the idea. So, here it is again.
How does this process work? The devil really is in the details.
Vote “yes” on Proposal 2010-01 on November 2 and a cascading series of events are triggered. The first of those is another statewide primary election, likely in February, and then a general election in June, to elect delegates to a Constitutional Convention.
These elections will be fully partisan with each party nominating candidates, one from each State Representative district and another from each State Senate district. Sounds fun already, doesn’t it?
Who will these delegates be? The most likely candidates are those with a built-in fundraising capability and a natural voting constituency. In other words, legislators and other professional politicians. If a sitting legislator is elected to be a delegate, the governor will have to appoint a replacement. Before we’ve even been able to catch our breath from the November barrage we’ll get a repeat of the forests of signs, robo-calls, negative campaigning and other foolishness that accompanies these things. As a bonus, you might end up with an appointed legislator instead of whoever you just elected.
The issues on which they’ll run are almost too frightening to even contemplate. Just imagine the worst idea you heard during the regular elections and then imagine that as part of the state constitution and you’ll get some idea of how terribly wrong this could all go.
Let’s assume the voters, in their infinite wisdom, decide we need a new constitution and vote yes in November. And let’s assume we somehow manage to get through the special elections and now have delegates. Just for fun, let’s even assume we’ve not elected a coterie of miscreants and reprobates to write our new constitution. Now what?
First, the lobbyists will descend like locusts. This is a rare chance for special interest groups to get their pet projects actually codified in the state’s constitution. The temptation will be too great to pass up.
There are a couple of other details. We’ll be paying the delegates for this work. We’ll be paying for a place for them to conduct the work. We’ll be paying for the staff and computers and office furniture and letterhead and everything else they’ll need. They will have a virtual carte blanche when it comes to spending.
How much? Early estimates are at least $45 million. It seems likely it will be more.
And our legislature will find itself in a bit of a pickle. Will the laws they’re passing be constitutional in two years? Will the new constitution itself resolve the problem for which they’ve just enacted legislation? How in the world does any of this work? No one knows for sure.
To be fair, if you are absolutely confident the delegates to the Constitutional Convention will agree with you on most every social, economic, environmental and criminal justice issue, and you’ve no problem adding $45-$50 million to the state’s burgeoning budget deficit, this is a great idea. If, on the other hand, you’re not that confident about the delegates or the spending or the actual need to rewrite our constitution, this could be a nightmare from which you will not wake for 16 long years or however long the delegates decide it should take before we get another crack at their new constitution.
Once they are done with their work and the special interests have been satisfied and the money spent, we will vote on whether or not to keep the new constitution or revert to the existing document.
Some who support this idea, like Gov. Jennifer Granholm, say we need a constitution that better reflects the reality that Michigan must move away from an industrial-based economy and into... well... some other kind of economy.
But we don’t need a new constitution to accomplish that. To make the changes Granholm and others suggest, we need smart legislation, an occasional executive order from the governor and, if absolutely necessary, a constitutional amendment.
We don’t need a new constitution or another contentious, partisan election or another wave of unanticipated multi-million dollar spending. We need new leadership with fresh ideas and an understanding that they work for us, not the other way around. We can accomplish that by making wise choices in the candidate races in November while rejecting Proposal 2010-01.





 
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