Sunday, December 06, 2009

Argus pushing for consitutional convention in 2010

There's been a push for a constitutional convention (con-con) by a small, but influential group of Lansing elites and their followers. This has been going on for the last three years. I'm strongly opposed to opening Pandora's Box here. The Argus fails to make a solid case for it here. In fact this is one of the sloppiest editorials I've ever seen from the Argus

Some background - I've been aware of the con-con push since December of 2006, almost exactly three years ago.

Heads up! Property Tax Raisers want to change Michigan's Constitution and eliminate safeguards - 12-13-2006

This group of Lansing insiders, elitists, and termed out legislators (Frank Kelley, Joe Schwarz, Harry Gast, Phil Power, Debbie Dingell, and John Hertel) had their agenda they wanted to push. They did not like constitutional amendments, Headlee's protection on property taxes, term limits (I agree with that aspect), give the governor much more power, raise taxes, eliminate recalls, and end elections of judges and university trustees. That was as of 2006.

The issue died down, at least in public until July 2008. There was a debate on the Right Michigan website on this issue between myself (oppose), Dennis Lennox (support), and Chet Zarko (opposed).

July 10, 2008 - Michigan does not need a constitutional convention

August 12, 2008 - Updated

I rehashed the reasons listed in 2006, but Zarko caught something that reminds me what assume means. Ass-u-me.

In the Right Michigan post, I also missed one reason more than any other why it needs to be opposed. Outside Lansing and Oakland Politics blogger Chetly Zarko pointed it out. He said this.

I agree with RM here, with this addition, copied from my response to DL on his item.
The RMGN debacle is evidence of what bad can come from convention.

Special interests will own the delegates, particularly since the Dems are sitting on the reform Marty Knollenberg proposed in Oct. 2007 that I pointed out to him last year. The Michigan Campaign Finance Act of 1977 forgot - understandably due to the rareness of conventions - to include delegates in reporting category defintions. And limit definitions.

Democrats - I'm calling Ward Connerly if there's a convention and there no law to say he can't give me one giant donation, which I'd never have to report. And I will run if there is a Con-Con, despite my hatred for it - largely to protect MCRI, but also to protect the initiative process, Headlee, and all that the people have earned in the last 40 years in at least marginally checking government excess.

Republicans - Stryker nightmare.

It's not individual candidates that evade the radar - its the potential for competing blocs of "sponsored" candidates. A Herculean battle would occur.

You think the raw costs of a convention in terms of administrative costs, staff, space, etc. are high. The political costs, and the subtle changes that can only ultimately favor the elite power interests since they are best positioned, are huge.

Fight both the Con RMGN and the Con of the Con-Con.

That is something I missed completely and is why the word assume makes an ass of "u" and me. I assumed these are covered by the campaign finance laws. Nope. Billionire radical Jon Stryker can dump his billions into these races without anyone knowing. He can also call his sister out of state so she can dump her billions. All the Lansing and DC interests can dump their money, and George Soros himself could dump money in there, without any one of us knowing about that. All those that want to increase our taxes, earmark spending, grab our guns, criminalize certain speech (Colorado just did it), and do whatever they can think of if they can get their people in there.

April 09, The Argus had an editorial written by Rich Perlberg on this, who at the time hid his cards. I commented on that  here

Literally, all of this is on the table, and that doesn't mention safeguards on taxes. That's on the table. When it comes to state law, the Michigan Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It is checked only by the US Constitution.

In addition to that, who knows for a fact what laws govern elections of constitutional delegates? Under the current campaign finance laws and election laws, this is an unknown. They did not include the position of "constitution delegate" in their laws because it is so rare. This last happened in 1963. The campaign finance laws were post Watergate, 1977.

Soon after Perlberg's April editorial, I posted what was at risk. In short. Everything.

Trial by jury for some misdemeanors, racial preferences, human cloning and embryonic research, recalls, elections of judicial officers, safeguards requiring that all bills are one subject (as compared to the federal government), death penalty, election of attorney general and secretary of state, property tax safeguards, eminent domain (Michigan is much more restrictive than the feds), collective bargaining provisions for police officers, and that's not getting to gun control, abortion, vouchers, and those issues, as well as the policy for amending the constitution.

Also in April, Terri Land pushed for safeguards regarding the con-con in case it passes. Those were ignored by the legislature.

Land wanted to require delegates to be citizens and residents of the district, wanted to set the primary election in February and general in May, establish policy of delegates to be the same as state rep/state senate provisions, make the term of office the 2010 and  not 2012 boundaries addressing redistricting changes, vacancies of delegates much be of same political party as elected, require 2/3 vote for removal, and most importantly place delegates under authority of campaign finance laws. Right now, we don't know how it works.

That finally gets us to the Argus editorial. From the Argus

Voters should start giving consideration to calling for a state constitutional convention when it is placed on the ballot next November.

It's a risky ploy. The writing of a constitution opens the door for all sorts of mischief. You can be sure there will be efforts by out-of-state interests who want to push for social issues including gun control, abortion, capital punishment, gay marriage and state-funded vouchers.
Normally, we would agree. But there comes a time when you have to seriously question if the unknown hazards of a new constitution could be any worse that the terrible slide we've seen in the state since the constitution was last rewritten and ratified in 1963.

The first question that needs to be asked is this. What is the problem in Lansing? Is it the constitution, a small part of the constitution, or is it the people in Lansing. To correct the first needs a con-con, but the second can be corrected by an amendment, and the last can be corrected by a simple election.


Can you blame state leaders for this economic failure? Of course not. But it is clear that the state has changed dramatically since the constitution was last changed 36 years ago. It is also clear that Lansing is impotent when it comes to creating — much less executing — a long-term plan to combat the new realities.Instead of solutions, we get constant bickering and partisan grandstanding. Republicans say no to anything resembling new taxes or revenue; Democrats stand in force against meaningful spending reform.

The Argus blames the people. That can't be corrected with a con-con. In fact, a con-con would make it worse if the problem is the current legislature. Why? Because delegates are elected in the same districts as the legislators. A con-con is a partisan election, with primary and general. In fact, it will be more hard-edged than normal because it is a special election with lower turnout. The Argus blew away its own theory with its reasoning.

t's hard to imagine a rewritten constitution that could provide a worse government than what we have now.

I find it easy to imagine it being worse. Put the current people instead of circa 1963 people in charge of creating a constitution. The Argus then puts its own recommendations.

Get rid of term limits. It hasn't worked.

That can be done by amendment.

Adopt a graduated state income tax.

I highly disagree, but that can also be done by amendment.

Require balanced budgets. Fire all lawmakers and the governor if they fail to make the deadline. Ban them from the public payroll — including lobbying — for life. We don't need failures.

Balanced budgets are already required.

Consider a unicameral legislature.

Mixed views.  The good and bad with this is that it makes bills easier to pass. Good bills can pass, but so can horrific bills. Bicameral legislatures check and balance each other so horrible crap does not get through.

Revamp and reduce the number of K-12 and county intermediate school districts.

A con-con is not needed for that. Districts can decide that on their own.  In fact they should. That is something that should be a policy issue and not at the heart of the structure of the state government.

Provide a cap on state employee benefits.End tenure.

Both of those can be done by contracts.  It's a policy issue, not a structural issue.

Provide a voucher system that will allow parents to reward effective schools.

The Argus mentions their worries about special interests. Then they do the same thing they warn about with special interests here. I'm not against vouchers, but that is not something that should be in the constitution - the structure of government.

Provide constitutional protection for greater funding for high-poverty communities.

Why should this be in the constitution?

End the election of judges.
HELL NO. Right now we need more checks and balances on government power than ever before. 

Create a nonpartisan commission to redraw state and national legislative districts.
I don't like the current system on redistricting, but I don't like commissions here. I addressed that in the past. If donkeys and elephants pick the "nonpartisan" commission, expect even more entrenched incumbents. I'd rather have computer generated maps with limited breakpoints (County/City/Township). I don't support nonpartisan redistricting. I support nonBIASED redistricting. There is a BIG difference.

Make all elections nonpartisan.

That's how it is in much of Nebraska.However, nobody here is stopping non-partisan candidates from running for any office in Michigan. They just don't win.

Crazy ideas? Unworkable? Maybe. But are any of them worse than what we live with now?

That was a sloppy and poor editorial with poor reasoning. They didn't do their homework.

Most of those ideas don't need a con-con. Even when it comes to "nonpartisn elections," they are only partisan because the people want them to be. Independents can run with no party affiliation. They don't win. People vote for democrats or republicans in most cases. I have voted for 3rd party candidates in the past, and none of them  have won.

The Argus does not mention why a con-con is the best vehicle for these reforms, and also does not mention anything about the rules of the game involved in a con-con. In short, if the voters approve a con-con in 2010, there will be a partisan election to determine who the delegates will be. The delegates will then write a new constitution with everything, literally everything on the table, subject to these approximately 150 one-termers that do not ever have to face the people again.

In addition, we do not know if delegates are subject to Michigan's campaign finance laws. I assume not. They are not specifically mentioned in the election laws. That means we probably have no idea who is funding the delegates, and if there is any disclosure. Jon Stryker is a billionaire and is the bankroller of the democrats here in Michigan. Expect millions to come flying in from Stryker, Soros, out of state interests, and the like. This is the holy grail of power, and they know that.

While we may win big, especially in 2010 with Obama and Granholm's piss poor job, we may also lose everything as well. I don't like that risk with the constitution. It should not be messed with more than it absolutely has to be.

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