Senate Joint Resolution S is about restricting your right to recall to criminal offenses and misconduct. Recall is more than that. The State Constitution provides a tool to the electorate when your representative refuses to represent you or does something illegal and that is recall. Recall requires that you collect the valid signatures of 25% of the number who voted in the last election for governor in the district. This is not an easy task. After the signatures are gathered and certified, the person to be recalled gets to put a rebuttal on the ballot.
In the early 80's two recalls occurred. Senators Mastin and Sarotkin were successfully recalled from office from Michigan's state legislature for voting for a 38% increase in income taxes. Having decided that it had to be stopped, the third senator, Patrick McCollough was prevented from being recalled.
As one of the instigators of that recall, I can accurately describe what happened. There certainly has been enough misinformation to go around. This was truly a grass roots movement. We had next to no money and we only had our anger to keep us warm in one of the coldest winters I can remember. The ability for politicians to curb their spending was not even a consideration. Why should they when the taxpayer could pick up the tab?
So how did they end it? Of course they made us look like the bad guys. We were all volunteers. They harassed us as we stood out in the cold collecting signatures. They followed us door to door. They signed false names and addresses on our petitions. They held cameras close to our faces and took pictures. They signed our petitions more than once, knowing that both signatures would be discarded based on a previous court decision disenfranchising even those who may have accidentally signed twice over the three month signature collection period. They tried to block access to the tables we set up to collect signatures. They became so disruptive that we had to call the police numerous times to stop them.
So who were these people? Well some of them were Sen. McCollough's relatives or so they said. There was also MEA union members who were also the largest contributors to his committee. His mother was head of the House Education Committee and had a great deal of influence. There were others union and non union members involved in the disruption. The Democratic Party was deeply involved because they pushed for the tax increase. Many of the rank and file union members were on our side.
Years later in 2007, the propaganda continued with a program sponsored by MGTV Michigan Political History Soc. with plenty of representation by those who are not supportive of recalls including McCollough himself who continued to call us names and tell lies about us.
Apparently, I'm a slow learner and a true believer. In 2007 I again attempted a recall with the help of others. Rep. Andy Dillon voted to increased our income tax by 12% and enacted a surtax of 22% on business that was passed down to us. He voted to increased General Fund Spending more than 8% and called it a cut. He voted to increased their legislative budget by over 7%. He did all this at a time when Michigan families are struggling to pay their mortgages and keep their homes.
Again the same suspects tried to disrupt the efforts with their money and influence. That effort failed as well. But in both instances, it slowed them down by causing them lots of money and personal effort that they could have used for mischief elsewhere. It also makes them think twice about their decisions and their consequences.
So why go through all the trouble? Because good government doesn't just happen. Because it is your obligation to pay attention. The less you pay attention the weaker you become and the more intrusive government becomes. I believe that the tax increases have hurt the people and the business climate of this state. So take a position, whatever it is, and get involved.
I am frequently asked why recall is necessary when our elected state officials are term limited and will be up for re-election or moving on. The most important thing I could say is that a lot can happen in six months. It did not take them six months to raise our income tax 12%. It did not take them six months to enact a 22% surtax on business. ( May I remind you that the tax gets passed on to the consumer.) It took them less than six months to increase General Fund spending more than 8% for 2008. They succeeded in increasing the legislative budget by over 7% for 2008 in less than six months. Now add to that the cost of borrowing money at 40 cents on the dollar for the failed 20th Century Jobs Fund in 2005, which was a flop, and will take a long time to pay back with future revenue.
The next question is always ," What about the cost of the election?" It is minor compared to the damage they can do.
Please contact Senators Meekoff and Richardville and tell them you do not support the proposed change. Then contact the Committee on Government Operations with the same message. Don't Forget your legislators as well.