Emergency Manager Law — April 26, 2012

BREAKING: Mich Board of State Canvassers votes that Emergency Mgr law petitions are NOT valid – UPDATED x2

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Democracy not upheld

[NOTE: This post has been updated HERE.]

After hearing testimony from both sides, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers voted by a vote of 2 to 2 NOT to validate the petitions to repeal Public Act 4 — Michigan’s Emergency Manager law. By doing so they threw out the signatures of nearly a quarter million Michigan citizens.

The vote was followed by chants of “SHAME! SHAME! SHAME!”

UPDATE: This is the panel that made the decision. Jeffrey Timmer, the Republican with Sterling Corp is on the left facing the room. His Republican colleague Norman Shinkle is on his left.

When Stand Up for Democracy members including Brandon Jessup have testimony, they “stood up” and asked the crowd to do the same. They did:

The vote was to certify the petitions, not, as I mistakenly thought, to rule on the challenge. Therefore, they needed three votes. Both Republicans voted no, despite compelling testimony regarding “substantial compliance” precedent and detailed information about font size from printing experts.

After the vote, the room erupted. I apologize for the blurriness of this photo but it was pandemonium.

Attorneys for Stand Up for Democracy say they will file an appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals “soon”.

This is a clear attempt to force repeal proponents to spend their money in court rather than on getting the referendum passed in November.

This is democracy subverted.

UPDATE: 2 Now that I’m not working from my iPhone, here are some further comments.

John Courage attorney for Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility testified that the previous court cases involving “substantial compliance” should be ignored and that the word “shall” in the petition rules should override precedent on this matter. He repeatedly pointed to the fact that Stand Up for Democracy did not get prior approval, giving coverage to the two Republicans on the Board.

Stand Up for Democracy attorney Herb Sanders brought the printer from Inland Press, Bruce Hack, along with another font expert, Michael Migran (sp?), to testify about much of the same things I’ve been writing about with regard to difference in appearance of fonts of the same size and the fact that the law does not specify type size. Hack said the font is Calibri and again stood by his Printers Affidavit swearing that the font is correct.

Sanders called the challenge by Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility “disingenuous and borderline perjury”. He finished by saying, “If we are wrong then democracy is wrong!”

After their testimony, a number of repeal supporters gave impassioned testimony about upholding democracy and not allowing the voice of the people to be thrown aside based on a concocted technicality. The final speaker, Eric Mays, told the panel that he had signed a petition and, “I need you to know that I KNEW what I was signing!”

James Waters, one of the Democrats on the panel, moved to certify the petitions. He was seconded by Julie Matuzak, the other Democrat. However, Norman Shinkle and Jeffery Timmer pointed to a single other time when font size was used to disqualify a petition. This was a case when Democrats tried to create a new political party called “The Tea Party”. On their petitions, the word “the” was only in 8-point font rather than the required 24-point. Previous testimony and staff comments brought up the point that the creation of new political parties is covered under a different part of the state constitution. This is, however, what they hung their hat on. Ignoring the fact that the petition printer who had given testimony and submitted a sworn affidavit declaring the font was correct, they voted “no”. Since, as I’ve said, three votes were needed to certify the petitions, they deadlocked and the petitions were not certified.

There have been suggestions that Matuzak has a conflict of interest on this issue since she works for the American Federation of Teachers, members of which circulated petitions. However, unlike her Republican counterpart Jeffrey Timmer who works for the company fighting the repeal, Matuzak does not work either for Michigan Forward or for Stand Up for Democracy. This is not the case with Timmer who clearly DOES have a conflict of interest. It’s one thing to be in support of an issue. It’s entirely another to have a financial interest in it as Timmer clearly does.

At the end of the day, the voices of a quarter million Michiganders was thrown out the window based on a fabricated issue. With a sworn statement and direct testimony of the printer of the petitions in front of them proving the font size was accurate, the two Republicans voted “no” as a purely political act. It is the first time the Board of State Canvassers hasn’t voted unanimously on something only three times since 2006.

There is simply no other way to characterize it.

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