Can we stop the “Rush to Resignation” campaign against Lansing Mayor Andy Schor and talk about making changes that matter?
This may run counter to our toxic, modern-day cancel culture, but the answer to every problem isn’t to call for the head of whoever happens to be in charge.
Government, like life, isn’t about blocking someone on Twitter or left swiping a face on Tinder.
It’s not about turning real people into disposal pieces of tissue that be tossed away like garbage or flushed down a toilet.
People are people. Not a cell phones app to be deleted. Not a Facebook image you can block. Not an email to delete.
Andy Schor isn’t neck-deep in scandal. He hasn’t been charged with a crime. He has some on-the-job trouble with the hot issue of our time and needs some help. Making Andy Schor “dead to you” doesn’t create meaningful policy change. It doesn’t change the hearts and minds of the people at large.
Calling for Andy Schor to resign is an attention grabber. It’s kind of like calling for police defunding. It’s great rhetorical fuel for an angry mob, but both are impractical and political losers.
Look, Andy Schor clearly isn’t doing well with the Black community. I don’t know why he can’t seem to keep people of color in his administration. I don’t know why he can’t seem to connect with peaceful protesters demanding change in how police interact with Black residents.
I do know that the mayor was elected by 72% of Lansing voters. I also know that in political terms, that’s a landslide. Schor’s popularity coming into office was so great, our former mayor didn’t even bother running.
The last few months or so has shown us Schor’s strong suit isn’t addressing protesters. He isn’t going to rip out a rousing speech that will inspire the masses to run through a brick wall. He doesn’t react well when directly confronted or when strangers are hanging out at his house. His public responses to crises, in general, could be better.
But let’s talk about what Schor is good at and work from there. Schor can bring people together. He listens to people who are willing to have a real conversation with him, not yell at him. He’s willing to find consensus. He wants to find solutions to problems.
He already proposed that the City Council move $170,000 into a racial equity and anti-racism fund, most of it coming from the Police Department. So clearly, he’s open to improving race relations in our community. Let’s go from there.
Is the problem police pulling over young men and women for “driving while black”? Let’s address that.
Is the problem a lack of social programs or after-school activities? Let’s address that.
Is the problem that Schor is thin on diversity within his cabinet? Give him some names. Give him time to address it since we all know it’s a problem.
Sure, these things should have been on Schor’s to-do list from the beginning. They obviously were not. We all know it now. Let’s work from there.
The campaign spurred by George Floyd’s death at the knee of a police officer has inspired people of all races to take action or, at the very least, think differently our world.
To make the sum total of our campaign locally about two things the general electorate doesn’t feel comfortable doing — getting rid of police and our duly elected mayor — will only result in one thing: a losing campaign.
Moreover, showing up at the Capitol or any other building to blow off steam works up to the point that you turn down the opportunity to make changes. Then the law of diminishing returns kicks in. The public grows skeptical about the mob’s genuine attempt to make meaningful changes.
Now is the time to work on these issues within the confines of government. Generate an action plan. Build coalitions of support. Schedule meetings. Encourage Council members or the mayor to change ordinances and policies.
If getting rid of Andy Schor is truly the goal, there’s a way to do that, too.
Recall him. Get the county canvassers to approve a reason for recall. Collect around 11,000 valid signatures within 60 days. And city voters will have another election. They can pick Schor or someone else.
Otherwise, Schor is up for re-election next year. Either way, it’s time for protesters to move into the real action phase of their movement. Because this yelling-at-a-building thing is starting to get old … for everybody.
(Kyle Melinn of the Capitol news service MIRS is at firstname.lastname@example.org.)