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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Election 2013: Charter Vote Analysis

Of  the 750 total voters at both Precincts almost all tried their hand at the Charter Amendments casting 685 votes on A, 689 on B, 709 on C, and 696 on D.

All the Charter items passed by a wide margin. The City seemed to have a definite interest in their passage and the residents being good eggs tried to be helpful, The Spirit of helpfulness was not however reciprocated by the City,

The City did not publish  ballot language of the Charter Amendment in it's entirety, in any public medium, prior to the election. That includes the City web site, and the City newsletter the Hills Highlight which simply offered "summaries"  snippets, or "in part"  encapsulations . 

One Commissioner (Stuart Sherr) when pressed into a snippet writing detail urged voters to consult the complete text found on the Oakland County Elections Web site before voting. Good legal advice. The Complete text was also available in this publication, the League of Woman Voters Election Guide, and in a mailing by candidate Mark Kapel.

The City in information given to area newspapers, described the Amendments as house keeping items.  A house keeping item in this writer's mind is where you put the manual cheese grater. I would put it next to the Cuisinart but the wife likes it  the gadget drawer. 

In  reality  the Charter amendments were not easy to grasp and two  propositions  were trickier than usual with potential consequences and side effects. Such was the case with a items  A and C. 

Proposition A  asked the voter to acknowledge the election changes City Commission made in September of 2012. One area newspaper that gets it's information from calling City Hall on the telephone  has on three occasions written that the City was seeking the residents approval. Acknowledge and approve are not synonymous. You may acknowledge a sorry state of affairs but you don't approve of it. 

Sad but true The State of Michigan has given City Commissions like ours the right to make election decisions without citizen approval, and over ride existing city charters. That means what was acknowledged last Tuesday could be changed by a vote of the commissioners tomorrow. If the point of eliminating elections is to save money, Why have a useless vote to acknowledge what the people have no control over. Maybe to make everyone feel good.  

Proposition C is about conflict of interest. Our charter already says 
has a section on this topic.The amendment wants to "add a sentence  to the above section" to authorize the commission to implement this sentence by adopting a resolution or ordinance."

The trouble is Proposition  C does  not tell us what the added sentence will say, or what resolutions or ordinances will be written or invoke or implemented. It is thus a blank check.
               currently  in the charter
With little to guide them however 80 voters voted "NO."on A. Perhaps they are familiar with state's arcane election laws and wondered what is  the point ?  Maybe they didn't  feel like acknowledging what they had no say in. It could also be a healthy dose of civic cynicism kicking in.

Only 26 rejected C. At first glance C looks  good. Our City is taking action against conflict of interests. The trouble is the City doesn't  tell you the specifics of what that action will be. They also duck the obvious question  of why a conflict of interest outlawed currently in the City Charter needs additional help in being enforced.

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