Michigan has been in the national news a lot lately. Driving home last week, I caught the last few sentences of a broadcast quoting the Detroit Free Press saying that a city government had run amok. I later found out they were not talking about Troy, but a Detroit city councilwoman saying the city should cash in on its support for President Obama to solve its fiscal problems.
As far-fetched as that may sound, it is one council member’s opinion and not without precedent. Troy has its own constitutional crisis, as half the city council, the city attorney and city clerk think the city should obey the charter and part of the state election law, ignoring the main provision and the Secretary of State’s and Attorney General’s opinions if there is a conflict.
The conflict in the state statutes appear to be the time required for calling an election, not when the next regular election is (February). Our city employees appear to have run out the clock, blocking residents from filing for the mayor's race.
Which Constitution, Written or Living?
Last November the newly elected council members all swore an oath to uphold Michigan’s Constitution. Some later took another oath to uphold the Troy Charter, which is subservient to the Michigan Constitution and U.S. Constitution.
Thinking the Troy Charter is equal with state election law is like expecting Troy High vs. Athens to be an equal football game as Michigan vs. Michigan State.
Labels such as liberal and conservative are used as shorthand by journalists and mean no disrespect, since both are valid governing philosophies. Troy voters chose a conservative majority in November 2011 after years of a liberal majority.
Liberals believe in a living constitution, which changes meaning with the times. Conservatives believe in amending it by the proper procedure (votes of the people), not judicial activism. So without breaking another Troy Taboo (naming political parties until someone runs for higher office or self-identifies), here's an attempt to explain what's happening.
Playing a No-Trump Hand of Bridge - December 17 Decision
Appointing the council swing vote is more important than who serves as mayor and city spokesperson until the next election. Maureen McGinnis (Queen of Spades), Dane Slater and Jim Campbell (Jacks of Clubs), must agree with Wade Fleming (King of Hearts), Doug Tietz (Jack of Hearts), and Dave Henderson (Jack of Diamonds) on a new council member. Both Tietz and Henderson show promise and are ranked as Jacks because of their short tenure, not lack of ability.
I would have preferred former councilman David Eisenbacher, who has a known voting record (Jack of Hearts), or Ed Kempen (Jack of Diamonds), the voters’ clear runner-up choice for council in November 2011. Kempen got 99.1% of the votes of current council member Jim Campbell, compared to 93% for Bruce Bloomingdale (Jack of Spades). Doug Tietz (116.3% of Campbell’s vote count) and Dave Henderson at 109.2% were the newly elected conservatives.
Eisenbacher and Kempen would not have been acceptable to the three liberals on council, however, so the three conservatives didn’t bother voting for them.
Swing Vote on Troy Council
A 3-3 council choosing the swing vote is like picking Supreme Court nominees who only have to look good during a job interview. Their voting record won’t be known until they are sitting on the council.
Fortunately there will be a mayoral election coming in either February or November where once again “We, the people” of Troy will get to choose our mayor and then city council elections in November. The cost of a special election would be less than the city would have to spend to fight the state’s lawsuit.
If you care, you will vote
Those who are awake and engaged will once again have the opportunity to go to the polls and choose their leaders after hearing their campaign messages. What nonsense to think that low voter turnout in a February special election will thwart the will of the people.
Liberals have no qualms using odd election times when it suits their purposes, like school board elections when many teachers show up. Those who care will vote; those who don’t will stay home.
(This is not to denigrate anyone by applying labels, just pointing out voting patterns of people groups. This week many teachers are taking sick days to go to Lansing to protest the perceived loss of their collective bargaining power, while 26,000 students sit home.)
If you don’t vote, you should forfeit your right to complain. That didn’t stop the majority of the recall petition signers, however, who after a year of loud complaining finally succeeded in nullifying an election they hadn’t bothered to show up for.
Shades of Narnia - Animal Analogies
I mean no disrespect with the following analogies. If anything, an apology to the animals is deserved; after all, they are only doing what they are designed to do. People have a choice.
Some people’s idea of reaching out is like a porcupine playing with a golden retriever. The dog had best avoid close encounters or it will end up with a face full of quills. Those who use negative words like cronies instead of friends are best avoided.
The majority of recall supporters had never met Mayor Daniels. Over half hadn’t bothered to vote in November 2011. One recall supporter said, “We tried reaching out to her a few times but she was always surrounded by her cronies.”
Skunks and Junkyard Dogs
Anyone who has ever bathed their dog in tomato juice needs no instruction about skunks. The dog usually learns quickly too!
Compared to the porcupines mentioned above who use their full names with their negativity, the Patch skunks band together with their friends to chase conservative commenters off. They use first names only or multiple pseudonyms to increase their virtual footprint, pulling comments down after posting them, sometimes contributing thoughtful comments but usually preferring to win arguments rather than solve problems.
Pit bulls and other junkyard dogs have their uses – for protection and defense of property. If you want to win a lawsuit, hire the most tenacious attorney you can find.
Hopefully you can find one whose moral compass points north, and not a win-at-all costs type. Abraham Lincoln was right: honesty really is the best policy. If you always tell the truth you never have to worry about being caught in a lie.
A whole new category for Poison Politics
Then there are rats, who spread disease and deserve to be hunted down and exterminated. The Lansing vermin at Michigan Citizens for a Better Tomorrow produced a creative hit piece on Martin Howrylak and his immigrant wife complete with a cartoon of Howrylak in Crocodile Dundee garb.
Those who agreed it was wrong, but denied any connection to Troy while making excuses like “maybe his reputation preceded him,” or “it probably helped his campaign” also deserve criticism. His reputation for being a straight shooter who knows that budgets are one big pot, that taxes in must equal money spent or we pass more debt to the next generation?
The hit piece might have helped Howrylak’s campaign if someone had read between the lines and concluded that someone with traditional values was worth voting for (doesn’t smoke, drink or date until he meets the woman he wants to marry). More than likely the rest of the innuendo hurt him, however. It certainly was painful for his family, who are supposed to be off limits in political campaigns.
Behind the scenes
Some have complained that certain elected officials and others with “horrible political reputations” like elected precinct delegates and the chairman of our district’s Republicans are behind the attempt to force Troy to follow state election law. These are elected officials, however, not extreme Coffee Party activists whose views are so far left they could never be elected to public office in Troy.
Meanwhile, “proud Republicans” like former Mayor Stine (Queen of Clubs) criticized our new mayor on her first day in office for not swearing her oath to the Troy Charter while displaying yard signs for the recall and a couple of Democrats this November. She must vote in Republican primaries; her house was on my list as a likely Republican voter when campaigning for Martin Howrylak.
Non-partisan does not exist
There is no such thing as non-partisan. Political opinions are like noses; everyone’s got one, and they’re all different. There are less partisan people who work well with others.
America needs more leaders who work well with those of opposing views and fewer hyper-partisans on either side. Unfortunately we just narrowly reelected (<51% of the popular vote) a very partisan (some say imperial) President who tramples our Constitution and continues to campaign in Michigan for unions.
President Obama should be home in Washington leading the negotiations to avoid the fiscal cliff our country is headed for unless Republicans agree to twice the tax increases he proposed last summer.
So assuming conservatives aren't blackmailed into a tax increase that will hurt America's struggling economy, they will continue in the blocking mode for another two years until the mid-terms, probably gaining some seats if history repeats itself.
Obamacare – 2000+ pages, plus many times that of regulations
Unfortunately Obamacare will be embedded into our psyche unless it is resisted by state attorneys general on economic grounds and also with lawsuits from principled pro-life people and their allies who believe in the First Amendment (religious liberty).
On the positive side, Obama will have another four years to try to finish the job he has started. He’ll only have his own pro-growth (government growth, that is) policies and the obstructionist Republicans (who promote private sector growth and try to block the growth of government) to blame.
We need fewer hyper-partisans on both sides, especially deceitful ones, and more people who are willing to find common ground, agree to disagree when necessary and engage in constructive bipartisan dialogue with those of differing views.
For those who think “non-partisan” local politics doesn’t matter, four of the five candidates who filed for state representative had served on Troy’s City Council.
Ace of Hearts Martin Howrylak defeated Queen of Clubs Mary Kerwin in November after winning a contentious Republican primary over Deborah Debacker and Matt Pryor. Wade Fleming filed to run but dropped out.
Pro-life is not an issue for every voter, but city leaders often run for higher office where it does matter. Most taxpayers care about efficient government and more than whether their trash is picked up on time and the streets are plowed.