Saturday, November 04, 2006

18: Endorsements: Michigan and Genesee County.

EVENT

Below please find my own endorsements for positions elected from Michigan (general) and Michigan (Genesee County). Numbers correspond to their order on the ballot.




MICHIGAN: GENERAL



1. GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.

Jennifer M. Granholm and John D. Cherry, Jr.: Democratic Party

Granholm's reliance upon Michigan's diminishing industrial base is indeed troubling. However, Michigan is a complex state of over 10 million people operating in several regional spheres. The fact of the matter is that any transition to a more diverse and versatile economy can only take place over the course of a full generation, and in fact, so much of the state's revenue is bound up in manufacturing right now that it must play a decisive, if not overwhelming, role in that transition. This isn't a romantic time for Michigan, and is not likely to be for a while, but slowing the attrition of our domestic automakers, and encouraging new industry within the booming Western side of the state is the best route to a healthy, diverse economy down the line. Granholm is not so devoted to spending that she will not offer incentives to businesses, and in fact her sympathy for and understanding of Michigan's pro-Union climate gives her policies local traction that is necessary to match any incentives she gives to investments. She has a good record with balancing the budget, a healthy emphasis on education and urban development which are also key ingredients of any long term improvement. It should be added, also, that many of the state's economic woes in the last four years were inevitable, and to hold Granholm accountable is unreasonable and unrealistic. It should be finally added that Amway is essentially a legal pyramid scheme, and its success is not necessarily the best barometer of business acumen.


2. SECRETARY OF STATE

Carmella Sabaugh: Democratic Party

I really want to throw my support behind Lynn Meadows of the Green Party. She has a fresh and invigorating attitude toward the responsibilities of the Department of State. Despite her relative inexperience she also seems to have done her homework. She advocates automatic registration of citizens at the age of eighteen or naturalization, and most strikingly, calls for a voter's holiday or a mail-in ballot system such as Oregon's. Oregon has the highest rate of voter turnout in the nation at over 80%. The Democrat, Carmella Sabaugh, though she has an exuberant personality has a more generic approach and has taken partial action on her own behalf, preemptively mailing absentee ballots to seniors in Macomb county, a solidly Democratic voting block. But in the end, this is a place to exercise a strategic vote. Incumbent Republican Terri Land has successfully avoided the traps of Ohio, but with questions already arising concerning new voting technology, disenfranchisement is a valid concern, and cities such as Detroit, Flint, and Benton Harbor could easily become contentious. More, she co-chaired the Michigan Bush/Chaney reelection committee which I find particularly damning given the sensitivity of her role in elections. At some point, my skepticism has to step in, mindful of the damage recently done by partisan Secretaries of State in Florida and Ohio. A vote for Sabaugh may not be particularly satisfying, but at least it's relatively safe.

3. ATTORNEY GENERAL

Amos Williams: Democratic Party

Some have been nailing Republican incumbant Mike Cox with infidelity and foolish campaign moves. Which is unfortunate, because there are better reasons not to elect him. He's been too lax on Great Lakes pollution, which is the Attorney General's issue in Michigan. And, of course, he passed on the seemingly straightforward issue (how straightforward can we get?) of companies treating spoiled meat products with carbon monoxide to make them appear salable... he refused to comment on the subject. That's immoral and disgusting. So don't vote for him. On the other hand, even the conservative-ish Grand Rapids Press was forced to paint a likeable profile of the Democrat Amos Williams. He's fighting with fewer funds and less name recognition, so any support will make a difference.


4. UNITED STATES SENATOR

Write in: Darnell Earley

Holy shit. This is ridiculous. Normally, this is a no-brainer, and based on Debbie Stabenow's statements to the League of Women Voters, I didn't think there was much to worry about. But then I dug just a little deeper, and here's what I've decided:

1) Debbie Stabenow is pretty liberal on the whole, and hasn't been lauded for her bipartisan efforts, but of all the points to reach across the aisle she voted for torture and lost my vote. Of course, she also voted to constitutionally ban flag burning, and that also makes me very angry. Flag vs. Human Being. Don't burn the first. The second, well, okay. I simply cannot vote for this person. Nor will I vote for any candidate who permits what amounts to torture. It may be my one line in the sand this year.
2) Michael Bouchard actually seems like a decent guy. But he's very status quo conservative, right down to a misinformed defense of executive deficits and ignorance about universal health care. I hope he loses, but continues on as sheriff of Oakland County.
3) Normally, when my vote is a speck in the water, if I can't vote my conscience for a Democrat, then I default to the Green Party. But David Sole is the most ridiculous candidate so far; while many of the Greens on this year's ballot are pitching reasonable, realistic positions that voters could actually get behind if they didn't automatically write off third parties, Sole reminds me why we all started hating the Greens back in 2000. Not much is going on with the U.S. Taxpayers Party or the Libertarians (who I might actually consider in this situation, except their campaign statements are always so borglike).

In short, I'm astounded. I've never done a write in candidate for any position before, and I never thought I'd start with such a grave and important office as the U.S. senate. But none of the five choices here are acceptable to me.

I'm writing in Darnell Earley, who was briefly appointed mayor of Flint after the recall of Woodrow Stanley. While I will probably be the only vote he recieves, I can say with confidence that he would make a admirable and worthy U.S. senator.


8. MEMBERS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

Reginald Turner: Democratic Party
Casandra E. Ulbich: Democratic Party
Eileen Weiser: Republican Party

I'm more ambivalent here than in any other race... the complexity of the issues contrasted with the scarcity of information made it very difficult to make an informed choice. Ultimately, I voted along party lines because I don't want any resources directed away from struggling inner city and rural public school districts... voting for a Republican increases the risk of school vouchers that sap public school and funnel resources into charter programs that are often more affluent, too easily accredited, and no better than public schools. That said, I felt bad not voting for Republican Eileen Weiser, who has an energetic bio and the most novel approach of any candidate. I wouldn't criticize anyone for voting for her.


9. MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

Julia Donovan Darlow: Democratic Party
Kathy White: Democratic Party

These choices are important because of the roles that regents have in supporting equal opportunity and affirmative action. But a huge issue for any state university is the need for state funding. Pressure in the form of letters and requests to Lansing are an essential second part of this equation.


10. MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY

Faylene Owen: Democratic Party
George Perles: Democratic Party

The League of Women Voters yielded very revealing statements at the very end of their comments regarding funding. Both Republican candidates emphasize private scholarship and funding. Both Democratic candidates support an increase in state funding. This alone should steer your vote toward the Democrats. Our state university system is one of America's bastions of innovation and free thinking, but private support never comes without strings attached. It is absolutely essential that our taxes primarily support public education. The bottom line is, however subjective we may be as individuals, collectively we are more objective judges of a balanced education than Pfizer or the Walton family.


11. MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY

Debbie Dingell: Democratic Party
Eugene Driker: Democratic Party

Eugene's vision of Wayne State as a "portal to the American Dream" is particularly compelling, but both of these candidates seem to have an understanding of Wayne State's unique position as Detroit's academic workhorse and its size somewhere between MSU and U of M and the smaller state universities. Michael Merriweather (Green) had some interesting suggestions, but I'm a little unsettled by what seems to be a lack of perspective on the sorts of concessions that these positions necessarily demand.


13. JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT

Michael F. Cavanagh
Write In: Arthur A. Busch

Once again I find myself using a write-in, because I couldn't find out anything about Marc Shulman, and three of the other four candidates oppose affirmative action. Michael Cavanagh didn't thrill me with his answers either, but they were better than the others.

On second thought, I have made a mistake here, and should have decided which of the other four legitimate candidates were most palatable, but since I already filled in the bubble, it's too late to turn back. Sorry. :P


14. JUDGE OF THE COURT OF APPEALS

Deborah A. Servitto

The only candidate who supplied answers to the League of Women Voters, and I liked her answers very much.
All positions incumbent. Three votes / three candidates.


19. PROPOSAL 06-1

YES

Ironically one of the strongest supports of Proposal 1 comes from its opponents: "The language of the proposal is virtually the same as the current statutory language restricting these funds so all this amendment will accomplish is to make it more difficult and costly to change these restrictions if that is needed in the future." Precisely. The fact that an explicit proposal is called upon to see that funds are spent as stipulated says much for the impact vested interests can have upon environmental concerns. Moreover, as there is more evidence of Great Lakes degredation, and as Michigan tries to expand its economy beyond manufacturing into areas that often depend upon a robust, healthy environment, this bill is both timely and necessary.


20. PROPOSAL 06-2

NO

My easiest vote today.

When you can convince me that the effects of discrimination have been redressed or that there is a more productive way to redress them than affirmative action, then I will happily consider any alternatives. The argument that Proposal 2 and similar measures seem to rely upon is the shoot-a-fish-in-a-barrel argument that affirmative action is flawed. Of course it's flawed! We should have thought of that through all the years of segregation and housing compacts. Bearing this in mind, it is regressive and unethical to repeal affirmative action with any measure that does not provide an energetic and effective alternative. These proposals always seem to neglect to provide an alternative.


21. PROPOSAL 06-3

YES

Though this is without doubt the silliest proposal this year, and I don't mind particularly if it fails.

Basically, I want to pick my battles, and when there is appropriate legislation that either restricts firearms for safety reasons or reduces poaching, then I am strongly in support. This, however, is a pretty inconsequential affair. Doves are basically white pigeons and I don't think that feather color should distinguish "symbols of peace" from "beaked rodents." Mourning dove hunting will be tightly regulated, and funds collected will be directed into conservation efforts.


22. PROPOSAL 06-4

YES

But with some reservation, and I might turn out to be wrong in the end. Essentially, the counterarguments, that governments, and especially municipal governments, need recourse to eminent domain in order to adapt to changing economic circumstances, are valid. However, this proposal does not erode eminent domain so much as hold it to its stated purpose. For example, State Senator Stamas, the voice behind the proposal, has said that it "requires a higher standard of proof to declare a property as 'blighted' and puts the burden of proof on government to show that a property meets the definition of blight." There is no reason to object to this sort of specificity when it comes to adjudicating property rights. There is also an additional, indirect, benefit. These restrictions will mean that eminent domain is more difficult and expensive to obtain, which also means that municipal goverments will have to be more selective in the projects they pursue. We could even entertain the idea that proposals like this prevent embarassing errors like AutoWorld, for example, because in the process of meeting the requirements for acquisition, the added research would help to demostrate that a project is not viable.


23. PROPOSAL 06-5

NO

I'm really torn on this one. It is a fact that resource disparity is a huge issue between school districts, and that Michigan's charter is particularly unforgiving to any school or corporation that cannot stay in the black. Normally I am all for increases in education spending, including those that depend upon increases in taxes. But if 2/3 of funding in this proposal is earmarked for retirement funds, as its opponents assert, then we are not really voting on maintaining standards of education, but on incentive packages for teachers, and truthfully, not even the young teachers we hope to woo into careers in Michigan. Incentive is a valid concern and is one of the perennial problems with both attracting new teachers and preventing burnout. This proposal, however, has a hefty pricetag and purports to accomplish more than that for which it provides. With this in mind, it seems to tempt a backlash in the next election cycle, which almost certainly would hurt Michigan students with general cuts. On the other side of things, if the K-16 Coalition for Michigan's future were to put together a comprehensive bill that addresses fund allocations for schools (much in the spirit of this years Proposal 1), then I might vote for it, $565 million price tag notwithstanding.






MICHIGAN: GENESEE COUNTY




5. REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS, 5TH DISTRICT

Dale E. Kildee: Democratic Party

The opposite of my positon on #4, the candidates for the Democrats, Republicans, and Greens, all seem reasonable. Eric Klammer may be the most liberal Republican I've read of recently, probably close in reality to what McCain is in peoples' minds. Ken Mathenia of the Greens makes a compelling argument for Universal Health Care. But Dale Kildee has the benefit of these grounded positions as well as extensive and active experience in congress. So it's an easy decision in the end. Dale Kildee.


6. STATE SENATOR, 27TH DISTRICT

John J. Gleason: Democratic Party

This is the boringest race in the county.


7. REPRESENTATIVE IN STATE LEGISLATURE, 48TH DISTRICT

Richard E. Hammel: Democratic Party


12. COUNTY COMMISSIONER, 7TH DISTRICT

Archie Bailey: Democratic Party

He's done a fine job, and already has a whole lot on his plate. Flint's spotty ambulance service is too important to rock the boat over a race that barely even qualifies as symbolic.


15. JUDGE OF THE 7TH CIRCUIT COURT

All positions incumbent. Three votes / three candidates.


16. JUDGE OF THE 7TH CIRCUIT COURT

One vote (incumbent) / one candidate.


17. JUDGE OF THE PROBATE COURT

Robert E. Weiss (incumbant)

Weiss has an incredibly draining job whose difficulty is particularly acute in the Flint area. He brings to this a wealth of experience and commitment (of his 21,000 cases, not one is over a year old). Zerka has spent three times as much, but this seems to be his sole stand-out quality in this campaign.


18. JUDGE OF THE PROBATE COURT

One vote (incumbent) / one candidate.


24. GENESEE COUNTY HEALTH CARE SERVICES MILLAGE

Yes!

With exuberance.

Yes on this proposal would make Universal Health Care a fact in Genesee County, uniting us with San Francisco (and getting us bragging rights to be the first community in Michigan) to guarantee this basic human right. It is criminal that poverty is exacerbated by insurance privation, and vice versa, and a lack of medical provision for the poor is a huge chunk of visciousness in poverty cycles. Opponents might tell you that Universal Health Care does not work... but most of the industrialized world (Canada, Great Britain, France, all of Scandenavia) has made it work quite effectively (ie. how many Canadians are rushing to our border for medication?) This comes down to an issue of basic humanity: if you have an income of some odd hundred a month, you cannot afford medical bills in the tens of thousands, cannot send your children to college, cannot afford the resources to move, to train, to advance in your career, cannot salvage your credit, in short, cannot escape from poverty.

Passage of this bill would be a moment of triumph for Flint and for Genesee County.

I would like, now, to feel something to be proud of from my hometown and state.

END OF POST.

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