Motions for Appeals Court to order ballot placement filed today (Links to all court actions at story conclusion)
By Diane Bukowski
June 20, 2012
DETROIT – A broad coalition of community groups, churches and unions declared today that there will no longer be “business as usual” in Michigan unless the State Board of Canvassers places a referendum to repeal Public Act 4, known as the “Dictator Act” on the ballot during its meeting Tues. June 26.
Backed by a hallway full of supporters, attorneys for Stand Up for Democracy filed two motions with the State Court of Appeals (COA) in Detroit’s Cadillac Building on W.Grand Blvd.
The motions ask that the COA give immediate effect to its June 8 order which the attorneys say mandates that the state’s people be allowed to vote on the PA 4 referendum in November.
“A quarter of a million voters signed this petition,” Attorney Melvin Butch Hollowell of the Detroitbranch of the NAACP said. “The Court of Appeals ordered that it should be on the ballot. Now, nearly a week later, there has been no movement to comply with the law.”
As major TV and print media covered the event, Hollowell said the coalition is already organizing alternate plans.
“We have a full arsenal of options [if court action is not taken], including the right of appeal at both state and federal court levels, and direct action by the people. We intend for this t0 be a full court press.”
The state-wide coalition supporting Stand Up for Democracy has formed committees and is training some members in civil disobedience tactics, according to their literature. Their D-Day for action is June 28, two days after the BOC meeting. Petition language must be ready for the ballot by Aug. 27.
Attorneys Hollowell, Herbert Sanders, Julie Hurwitz, William Goodman and John Philo signed the motions and accompanying briefs.
In their pleadings, they cite the June 8 decision of the Court of Appeals on a challenge to the referendum by Michigan Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility.
“Defendants [Board of Canvassers] have a clear legal duty to certify the petition for the ballot because the petition has the requisite number of signatures and meets all other statutory requirements,” the COA ruled. “Under all of the circumstances presented here, the act of placing the petition on the ballot is ministerial . . . .we direct the Board [of Canvassers] to certify plaintiff’s petition for the ballot.”
The COA panel, however, still ruled that the print font size on the petitions was not legal, but declared it a minor matter. They stayed their order until all 28 Court of Appeals Judges could be polled to determine whether a special panel of seven judges should hear the case. On June 14, the Court of Appeals en banc ruled that it would not do so.
Demonstrating with an outsize petition, Hollowell said the coalition’s attorneys have examined numerous petitions allowed on the ballot, and found that many of them did not comply with a “14 point” type font size. He said that in fact the PA 4 referendum petition does, according to an expert whose testimony the Board of Canvassers and the COA barred.
Public Act 4, passed in 2011, gives unelected “emergency managers” and s0-called “consent agreements” enforced by Wall Street dictatorial powers. It is rapidly dismantling the cities of Detroit, BentonHarbor, Pontiac, Flint,and Inkster, as well as school districts in Muskegon Heights and Highland Park, among other mainly majority-Black entities across the state. It has in effect disenfranchised over half ofMichigan’s African-American voters.
“Governor Snyder should not just be the governor of corporateMichigan,” Rev. David Bullock, director of the Detroit chapter of Rainbow PUSH, said.
“Detroit and Michigan represent a battleground for the soul of the nation. We will not stand by while they destroy democracy and lynch liberty. Some seek to take us back to the days of slavery, racism, and no unions, but we intend to move not onlyMichigan, but our whole country, forward. WE SAY NO!”
Gerald Thompson, President of AFSCME Local 1220, told VOD June 19, “The Detroit [PA4] consent agreement was an opportunity to continue to pay the banks at enormous interest rates and treat life-long Detroiters, poor and working people, as the problem, when in fact they are the solution. Instead of laying off 2566 city workers, why not renegotiate the bank debt? We continue to give Third World countries billions in assistance and then forgive their debt, but why can’t Detroit, a Third World city, be forgiven as well?”
The City of Detroit paid $596 million to the banks this year alone, with a total debt of $12.6 billion. Fitch Ratings downgraded Detroit’s debt to a “C,” the lowest rate possible and the lowest of any major city in the country. They did so simply becauseDetroit’s Corporation Counsel Krystal Crittendon challenged the consent agreement in the Ingham County Court of Claims.
On Friday, Detroit’s City Council is scheduled to meet in a closed session at 11 a.m. to hear Crittendon’s June 20 opinion on parts of the consent agreement that may survive even if Michigan voters void Public Act 4. She had warned the Council regarding that issue in an opinion issued April 1, but the Council’s “Fatal Five” members still voted for the agreement.
It is unclear whether Crittendon will appeal Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette’s order dismissing the lawsuit, not on legal grounds, but on his personal opinion that the mayor, not the corporation counsel, is in charge regardless of Charter provisions.
(See upcoming VOD story on Mayor Dave Bing’s request for Crittendon’s resignation, which she refused, and subsequent support for her at community City Council meeting June 19.)
Click on the following links to read motions and briefs filed June 20.
Click on the following links to read COA June 8 order and COA June 14 order.