Surprise: Big corporate players’ roles stalling the EM repeal referendum
Published: May 23, 2012
But Corneal's opinion only served to create a problem for Thomas.
"Tomorrow morning I will have to attempt to explain why 14 point Calibri is not really 14 point size," Thomas wrote to the professor.
The solution to the dilemma was to not tell the Board of Canvassers anything about Corneal and his opinion.
Instead, the bureau's report to the board before the vote stated that "it would appear to be proper for the Board to render a decision regarding the sufficiency of the referendum petition" based on the font size issue.
As we said, the board split 2-2 along party lines. One of those two "no" votes came from Jeffrey Timmer, a Republican who's a partner at the Sterling Corporation — the same firm that employs LaBrant, who is leading the charge to thwart the ballot measure.
Can you say "conflict of interest"?
Asked why Corneal's opinion wasn't provided to the board, Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson — a Republican who oversees the Bureau of Elections — told News Hits: "We don't issue staff reports based on pretty good guesses."
Greg Bowens, a spokesman for Stand Up for Democracy, has a different take on the situation.
"The fix was in," he says.
When the Stand Up side heard a rumor about Corneal evaluating the petition before the Board of Canvassers vote, its lawyers attempted to obtain an order from the Court of Appeals that would have allowed them to subpoena Corneal and obtain his testimony.
Lawyers for Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility got the court to quash that motion.
However, Corneal himself voluntarily supplied a sworn affidavit saying that he had notified the Secretary of State's office that the font on the petition was 14 point bold. That affidavit was included in court filings.
No matter how the court of appeals rules, though, it is virtually certain the losing side will seek to take the case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
Citizens of all political stripes should be deeply concerned about this. Hell, they should be flat-out irate.
Whatever your opinion of the emergency manager law, it is indisputably undemocratic. Taking away the power of elected officials to do the work voters put them in office to do can't be characterized in any other way.
But then, when people organize in a legal way in an attempt to overturn that law, only to see well-funded special interests playing these sorts of dirty tricks in order to prevent democracy from working and allowing voters to have their say, it has to be apparent just how desperate the other side is to neuter the democratic process.
Now the state is wasting taxpayer money to support a bogus challenge to a legitimate measure that voters clearly have a right to decide. Even more disturbing, though, is how motivated forces on the right are to chew away at the foundations of our democracy.
As attorney Herb Sanders, who represents the Stand Up for Democracy group, told the Court of Appeals:
"This case is not about substantial compliance. It's not about font size. This case is about philosophy and how we're going to govern in Michigan — whether we're going to adhere to their philosophy of making it difficult for people to petition their government or whether you are going to uphold your oath to the Constitution of the United States."
News Hits is written by Curt Guyette. You can contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com.
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