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Wednesday, August 31,2011

Clearly, recalls being used for political gain

by Kyle Melinn

In the Michigan Legislature this spring,
there was a bill. It was HB 4362. The bill eliminated the Michigan
Business Tax. Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer and Rep. Barb
Byrum voted against the bill. 


Is anything about those four sentences unclear to you?


It was for the Ingham County Elections
Commission. They ruled last week that the wording was so unclear, it
wasn’t fit to put on the top of Holt man Robert Walter’s recall
petitions against both Whitmer and Byrum.


How about this for being clear: If Ingham
County Clerk Mike Bryanton, Treasurer Eric Schertzing and Judge George
Economy had ruled the language was clear, they would have signed a
political death sentence for both Whitmer and Byrum.


Let’s make this clearer. Let’s assume
Walter gets financial help from the Michigan Republican Party or
deep-pocketed GOP supporters. Professional circulators are paid $3 or $4
to get the thousands of needed signatures by Nov. 25. 


The recall question goes on the Feb. 28
ballot, the same ballot Republicans across the state will choose their
preferred presidential nominee to run against President Barack Obama
next fall.


With Republicans rolling out of the
woodwork to vote in that election, Byrum would be toast in her 50/50
district, and it’s very possible Whitmer would be, too. The resulting
stigma of recall would taint Byrum’s future plans for Ingham County
clerk or the prospect of statewide office for Whitmer, the Dems’ top
prospect.


And for what? Opposing Snyder’s
budget-balancing plans? That’s called being part of loyal opposition,
certainly not grounds to recall. Recalls should be reserved for the
public official embezzling money or doing totally wrong things with a
13-year-old.


Like the recall attempts by progressive
groups against Snyder and 27 Republican lawmakers, Walter’s proposal is
being used for political gain, which shouldn’t be condoned. The
difference is Walter’s proposal, like others being overseen by former
Michigan Republican Party Executive Director Stu Sandler, has more than a
snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. 


But the Election Commission can’t turn
away Walter because they disagree with what he’s doing. The law only
allows recall petitions to be tossed if they are unclear.


In politics, anything can be ruled "unclear" if you want it to be.


The sky is blue.


Is that unclear? Why sure. 


The sky is blue except when it’s cloudy,
at which point it’s white, or sometimes gray. At sunrise and sunset, the
sky is a pretty combination of nearly every color in the spectrum. And
at night, the sky is black … except when the moon and some stars are
out. Assorted man-made light pollution can taint the sky’s color to
various dark shades, like coal.


In this case, the Election Commission
sided with Whitmer and Byrum’s attorneys — Michael Hodge and Mary Ellen
Gurewitz (a pair of the state’s best political/election lawyers) —who
can turn clear water into muck pretty easily.


After all, HB 4362 didn’t technically eliminate the Michigan Business Tax.


It was HB 4361 that scratched the
multi-tiered business tax structure created under the Gov. Jennifer
Granholm administration in favor of Gov. Rick Snyder’s flat corporate
income tax. It’s companion bill, HB 4362, laid the groundwork for
businesses that were awarded the MBT to continue receiving them until
they expire.


But even if Walter wrote HB 4361, that
bill did a lot of other things. It eliminated around $1.7 billion in
income tax credits that taxpayers like you and I had been claiming. The
wording said nothing about that.


And even if it had, the bill didn’t eliminate
business taxes in Michigan, which is something a reader could infer by
reading the language. Business taxes will still exist in Michigan under
the bill. 


From what I understand, case law doesn’t
necessarily allow a county election commission to reject language for
accuracy. It’s supposed to prevent something like "Rep. B. buyrm did not
for bill vote." 


Some of the recall petition language
being used against Republican lawmakers isn’t accurate at all, claiming a
new law allows governor-appointed emergency managers to remove from
office elected leaders. It does not.


Walter and the Republicans are trying
again, though. This time, they’re going to draft numerous language ideas
and include Rep. Mark Meadows, D-East Lansing, in the mix.


When Walter concocts language the
Election Commission can’t help approving or the Republicans go to the
courts to get the language they want, the window to collect the needed
signature will be a lot shorter.


Maybe the Republicans will only have
weeks to meet the after Thanksgiving Day deadline, a tall order for even
professional signature gatherers.


Clearly, politics is being used to fight politics. In politics should we expect anything different?

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