State reps and senators are partisans. They run as Democrats and Republicans, each with an agenda. Those two agendas are quite different and it often results in partisan battles over policy. But it now appears that legislators in Lansing, or at least some of them, are trying to protect one of their own. In an apparent show of arrogant self-preservation, a House Resolution has been offered to condemn the acts of voters to place a member of the legislature, namely Speaker Andy Dillon, on the ballot for recall. While this resolution seems to be supported by virtually all Democrats, it was offered by a Republican! Here is an edited essay from Michigan Taxpayer Alliance Chairman, Leon Drolet about the issue:
The Michigan House of Representatives concluded this week of session in a most unusual manner. While House Speaker Andy Dillon was vacationing in Mexico, the Secretary of State concluded the first phase of the process that certifies petitions forcing Dillon to face a recall election on August 5th. House Democrats, along with some Republicans, scrambled to try to help Dillon avoid being the first Speaker in U.S. history to be recalled. They offered an official resolution of the House, which is a vote by the House which expresses their 'official' opinion. According to HR358, introduced by a Republican, it is that the Michigan Constitution is unfair because it gives citizens too much power. These politicians also believe, according to HR 358, that elections are bad for our democracy and having the right to fire politicians who they believe no longer represent them is "chilling" to politicians.
Lets take a look at HR358. It starts with:
"A resolution to express the sense of the House that recalls should be based on specific misconduct, criminal activity, or abuse of office and should not be based on a single vote and to denounce the effort to recall Speaker Andy Dillon."
The problem with the first sentence of the resolution is that it contradicts the Constitution, which states very clearly that:"The sufficiency of any statement of reasons or grounds procedurally required (for a recall election) shall be a political rather than a judicial question." Article II, Section 8. In other words, criminal acts go to courts, recalls are for challenging the policy (political) decisions of politicians. But House leaders don't like the Constitution giving citizens so much power over politicians.
HR 358 further states:"The threat of recall for reasons other than some measure of misconduct undermines the foundation of our democratic republic." What? Recall elections undermine democracy? A recall involves citizens collecting the highest percentage of registered voters' signatures of any petition process allowed under law, and then requires a vote of the people in a scheduled election. How is that damaging to democracy?
What happened to the vote on HR 358? I'm told that some legislators were actually concerned about challenging the Constitution. The other rumor is that Democrats freaked out after hearing that a Republican legislator was planning to offer an amendment to the resolution addressing removal of another politician from office - someone named Kwame Kilpatrick. Democrats quickly removed HR 358 from the agenda.