Traverse City Record-Eagle


November 11, 2012

Electorate must remain vigilant

I awoke somewhat bleary-eyed on Wednesday morning dealing with a small political hangover. I had stayed up to see what the results were regarding the six proposals that we were asked to vote on this election.

Now understand, I am in favor of collective bargaining, renewable energy and cities acting on behalf of its citizens with fiscal responsibility. I just didn't believe they were issues that warranted an amendment to the Michigan constitution.

In the 50 years this current iteration of the constitution (this is the fourth) has been in use, it has been amended 12 times.

Now we were being asked to amend it five times in one election. I was thrilled to see that all five went down in flames and that the citizens of Michigan told special interest groups that our constitution wasn't for sale no matter how much money and malarkey you try to shovel down our throats.

I was also thrilled to see that Proposal 1, asking voters to uphold Public Act 4, Michigan's emergency manager law, was turned down. As I said, I do believe that cities must act in a fiscally responsible fashion and that our elected officials should be our stalwarts in all financial matters that are for the public good.

But when your major tax base picks up and leaves your city for greener pastures or your property values plummet and your property tax revenues are eroded, those we elect might not be able to eradicate the situation. I get it, but the destruction of the democratic process that was perpetrated by Public Act 4 wasn't the answer.

The emergency manager act is so repugnant to me that I equate it with the highest form of socialism, almost bordering on communism, where a dictator has ultimate control and power and answers to no one.

Even in its weaker form, passed by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, I found it an attack on democracy. So why now after the election where Public Act 4 was resoundingly repealed am I writing about it? Because it isn't over.

Those in power believe we were wrong or misguided and they in their benevolent parental mode know better, the will of the people be damned and full speed ahead.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, the man who decided that the medical marijuana law wasn't good for us and single-handedly scuttled it, has vowed that Public Act 72 (the weaker version of Public Act 4 passed in 1990) will be back on the books. Gov. Rick Snyder also said that if Public Act 4 were repealed, he and his Republican-controlled legislature would re-enact the law no matter what we the electorate had to say.

I find it amazing that the party that demands smaller government and less government control is hell-bent on expanding government control over its citizens and local governments.

I also find it amazing that those we elect to reflect our views in Lansing seem to ignore those who sent them there and goose-step right along with the governor with whatever he wants even if it's in direct opposition to their constituency.

On Tuesday, we spoke and made it clear that we reject the notion that Big Brother has the right to negate the will of the people and take our vote away from us.

Now we will have to say it again in the event that the governor and his "boys" try to do an end run and reinstate a new version of Public Act 72 or Public Act 4.

Government cannot be run like a business. It isn't meant to make a profit — a surplus maybe, but not a profit. It takes in taxes and revenue and it spends those dollars to provide services for its citizens.

Belt-tightening and restructuring are part of the process, but wholesale elimination of a rightfully elected official isn't what 52 percent of we Michiganders expect from our government.

Democracy is a fragile thing, which must be watched over with vigilance.

Let those we have sent to Lansing know we are watching.

Fred L. Goldenberg is a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) and the owner of Senior Benefit Solutions, LLC, a patient & consumer advocacy and financial services organization in Traverse City. If you have any questions or comments about this article or any other senior issue, he can be reached at 922-1010 or

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