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This morning at 11:30 there will be a rally in Lansing, Michigan for those who support the repeal of Public Act 4, Michigan’s undemocratic Emergency Manager law. Then, at 1 p.m., close to 250,000 petition signatures will be delivered to the appropriate officials. 160,304 valid signatures are needed to put the citizens’ referendum on the November ballot. Once that many signatures have been validated, the law goes on hold until the election. Also, Republican heads across the state are likely to explode.
Join the Stand Up for Democracy Committee Wednesday, February 29, 2012 as we put a STOP to Dictatorship over Michigan communities. This is the moment thousands of volunteers have been waiting for, to deliver the voice of Michigan voters directly to the Governors doorstep!
On Wednesday, February 29 a buses and caravans from across Michigan will depart to Lansing where hundreds of people are expected to gather at Central United Methodist Church, 215 North Capital for a rally at 11:30 a.m. At 1 p.m. the participants will deliver the petitions to the first floor of the Richard H. Austin building, 430 Allegan St.
Last evening, I spoke with Reverend David Bullock about this historic day. Rev. Bullock is the president of the Michigan Chapter of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and the Highland Park NAACP. His group were primary organizers for the MLK Day march on Governor Rick Snyder’s home and is part of the Stand Up for Democracy coalition.
I asked Rev. Bullock about a rally held in Detroit last night, a kickoff to the delivery of the petitions later today. He told me about 125 people attended and were a very enthusiastic crowd. He and others spoke, letting the audience know that this great achievement is only the beginning and they must “keep on keepin’ on” in the fight to repeal Public Act 4.
The schedule today, he told me, is to meet at the Central United Methodist Church in Lansing at 11 a.m. There they will have a small program where he and others will speak. After that, they will take the petitions in boxes to the Secretary of State’s office.
I asked Rev. Bullock how it feels to have reached this stage on a personal level.
“I’m excited but also concerned,” he said, “Because we’re already hearing reports that people are worried about how the signatures will be counted, if boxes will come up missing and the fact that the Republicans are already at work on a vehicle bill to replace PA 4 with a temporary EM provision. While we have done something many people have said was impossible, we can’t stop fighting now.”
Rev. Bullock said he’s heard that it will take anywhere from 10 to 45 days to validate the signatures. AFter that, he said, it’s onto the next stage: encouraging voters to vote to repeal PA 4 in November, an effort that’s sure to face a headwind and lots of money from opposition groups. “There will be a mobilization and education campaign,” he said. “We’ll form a statewide steering committee with members of the faith community, labor unions, and other interested groups to direct our path forward.”
Michigan Forward under the leadership of Brandon Jessup has done a very thorough job of putting together the petitions, Rev. Bullock told me. He said not only have they done significant self-verification of the signatures but that they have duplicated the information to protect against any irregularities in the handling of the petitions.
I asked about his role at today’s event. “I will speak at the program. And then, I will proudly carry a box of petitions myself to the Secretary of State’s office.”
I asked him if he thought that offering an alternative to the imposition of Emergency Managers would need to be a key component of the get out the vote effort. He said, “I believe that our conversation will need to have a positive solution component. What that is will be interesting to see as our steering committee does its work. Of course, the answer depends on whether it’s a city or a school district. For example, the new Education Achievement System [a school district formed for Michigan's failing schools] will drain students out of struggling school districts. This must be part of the conversation. Divestment vs. investment in cities is something else we must talk about. Spending priorities need to be evaluated. We must raise questions about how we solve these issues in democratic, inclusive ways.”
Finally, I talked to Rev. Bullock about the GOP’s plan to save Michigan but cutting taxes on businesses. I asked him how this will help failing cities with crumbling infrastructure, failing schools and extreme poverty. Isn’t it important, I asked, that we reinvest in these areas in order to make them attractive to new businesses?
“You are exactly right,” he said. “I like to put it this way: ‘A rising tide only helps you if you have boat’.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.