Tag Archives: politicians

Three Reasons Prop 1 Failed In Michigan

Yesterday May 5, 2015 Michigan voters rejected a statewide ballot proposal to increase taxes for road and infrastructure repair by a 4-1 margin. That’s 80% against, 19% for. It’s the biggest loss for a statewide constitutional amendment ballot proposal since the Michigan constitution was written in 1963. How does a ballot question fail 4-1 at the ballot box?


The Facts:
Michigan’s roads are in horrible shape. Everyone acknowledges this.

Voters are demanding action on roads. This has been a legislative issue for well over a year.

Why Prop 1 Failed, Reason One: Prop 1 was a textbook example of everything voters hate about politics, politicians, and the political process.

The proposal was presented as a tax increase to repair Michigan’s crumbling roads and bridges. In reality it was  $2 billion tax hike containing a slew of special interest giveaways. When sausage, Er, I mean legislation is made, lots of back door and under the table deals occur. Horse trading, vote trading, and earmarks; huge bills are written where individual legislators get their pet projects funded and their friends get state contracts and family members get state jobs. The wheeling and dealing results in omnibus bills and hundreds or thousands of pages in a single piece of legislation that politicians haven’t read and nobody understands completely. A fancy feel good title is slapped on and the politicians shake hands all around. Sometimes it’s republicans, sometimes democrats, and when it’s really bad, it’s bipartisan. Voters know this, and voters hate this. Voters want a simple choice, they are not legislators. Legislators will horse trade to pass legislation because they can collect later. Voters don’t wheel and deal on legislation, they vote yes or no, they have nothing to gain later.

Why Prop 1 Failed, Reason Two: The more issues you add to a ballot question, the fewer people will support the ballot question. Voters look for reasons to oppose a ballot question.

There are a few people around the country who work with ballot questions on a regular basis.  It’s a specialized field in which I happen to have some experience. People working in this field full time will tell you, there is an inverse relationship between number of popular subjects you can include in a ballot question and the amount of support you’ll see at the ballot box. Take an issue like term limits, 75% support, all day long, across party lines. Take an issue like redistricting reform, very popular, 60%+ support across the board. If you put those issues together, support for both will go down, not up. Why? Voters like to vote against things. They default to voting against measures when they are uncertain, even if it looks good. If Prop 1 had been about gas taxes for the roads, or sales tax increase for the roads, or sales tax increase for the schools, or sales tax increase for earned income tax credit, or any single issue it would have been much closer. Legislators like this method, include a little something for everyone. Voters saw it differently, voters went to the polls with a half dozen specific reasons to vote against this measure.

Why Prop 1 Failed, Reason Three: The campaign for Prop 1 was insulting to taxpayers.

Proponents of Prop 1 spent big money, over $9 million dollars, while opponents spent about $300,000. Anyone who doesn’t live in a cave has heard the arguments about big money buying elections i.e. Citizens United and the Koch brothers, yet it’s glaringly obvious big money hurt rather than helped this ballot question. Parading a crushed school bus around the state and running commercials about kids dying because of the roads didn’t help. Voters were insulted. Give us money or children will die in the streets, was clearly over the top.

Prop 1 should have never made it out of the legislature. It was a perfect storm created by lame ducks who have no business in office after an election, lobbyists who took an opportunity to grab for everything knowing voters would drive to the polls on potholes and cold patch, and a republican governor who is trying to show how centrist he can be by giving money to schools rather and raising the earned income tax credit.

The real solution is for Governor Snyder to lead by being a tough nerd. Sharpen the pencil and find room in the budget for the needed road repairs. Budgets are tight nationwide. Families are required to live within their means, they’ll support leaders who find ways to provide services without higher taxes.


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Filed under Ballot measures, Ballot Question, politicians, Uncategorized

Canada’s New E-Petition

E-Petitioning is coming. In the near future we can expect politicians to enact some creative laws to allow for citizens to sign petitions electronically. A few trial versions have been talked about, but no game changing legislation has yet been proposed. Plenty of non-binding online petition websites are currently offering people the opportunity to sign and show their support for an issue. However these are not legally binding.
In Canada a new e-petition initiative process has been proposed. Formal have been adopted a recent article in the International Business Times said this:

Under the e-petition system, new rules allow citizens to propose an initiative on anything– federal funding, new demands, even views on controversial issues according to its proponent Stewart.

In e-petition, the stipulation is that it must be sponsored by an MP and must be backed by 500 signatures, if it is an online submission, in 120 days before it can be read in Parliament. Also, the minister in charge of the matter should respond to a successful initiative within 45 days.

The law makers are hoping that e-petitions would help reverse many troubling political trends. It may also help in arresting the sagging political participation. The voter turnout dipped to 61 percent since 2000 from the 73 percent in the 1980s. Many burning issues of people get ignored in the heat of party politics by MPs under the pressure of excessive partisanship. They have little freedom to vote on their own convictions or honour the wishes of their constituents. The e-petition may anull that predicament.

Another non-binding petition process in the EU is often used but the politicians rarely obey the will of petitioners.

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Filed under Initiative, Petition Drive, politicians, Uncategorized

Dispersed Power or Central Authority

Term limits is one of the most divisive political issues in existence. People love term limits or they hate term limits.

On one side we have supporters of term limits. They want citizen legislators, accountable officials, responsive government, and power dispersed into the hands of many to avoid authoritarian government. This is the citizenry, the general populace, republicans, democrats, greens, libertarians, about 75%-80% of everyday people support term limits.

On the other side of this divisive issue we have those who oppose term limits. They want aggressive legislators who know the system, legislators who answer to them, government that gives them advantages, and more time for their people in office. This is the elected few, the lobbyists, the two party establishment, a minority of about 15% who directly benefit from controlling legislation and tax dollars.

To be sure, there are some crossovers, citizens who oppose term limits and officials who support term limits. But between these two sides division is clear. People who want power dispersed, and people who want more time (always more time) in control.

The establishment opposes term limits by talking about voter choice and elections, they downplay the incumbent advantage and political machines. They claim every election people choose to keep electing the same candidates because they really love those candidates. In Kennesaw, Georgia we can see a typical example.

From the Marietta Daily Journal:

Kennesaw Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh said Thursday she won’t run for re-election, but she has three policy changes she wants to see before leaving at the end of the year.“My philosophy has always been that we’re never meant to be career politicians. That’s kind of what the country was founded on was part-time legislators. You’re supposed to come in, accomplish your job and groom someone else or encourage someone else and then move on,” Eaton-Welsh said.

Eaton-Welsh brought her proposal to Mayor Mark Mathews and the other council members Wednesday evening at a work session and received pushback from Mathews.

“You don’t think the voters already control that by leaving us in or taking us out of office?” Mathews asked Eaton-Welsh.

Eaton-Welsh said because incumbents are heavily favored in elections, “I really don’t think that they do.”

Mathews responded: “Wow.”

Mayor Mathews may be a great guy, but if he’s being honest and doesn’t think incumbents are heavily favored he’s out of touch with reality.

Term limits is very divisive, and it’s also very lopsided, voters support term limits by huge margins. If only politicians were in it for the people rather than the power.


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Filed under Ballot Question, charter amendment, pension, politicians, Term limits

Many Good Ideas

Former libertarian party candidate for governor of Virgina Robert Sarvis suggested a list of citizen friendly solutions to our two party system’s lock on political power.

Instant runoff voting

Easier ballot access and equal treatment in ballot order

Non-partisan redistricting reform

Term limits

Larger representative bodies

Inclusive debates



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Filed under politicians, Term limits, transparency

What Does The Public Think

The Arkansas Independent Citizens Commission (7 political appointees,) was recently formed to evaluate pay for Arkansas’ elected officials. They have decided to give the politicians a 1.5x raise. The commission has been taking public comments, here are some samples: (Some editing issues have resulted in misspellings and poor punctuation as I cut and pasted the comments, attribute those errors to me and not the public commenters.)

“How stupid! I taught 40 years and barely made 40000 when I retired. This included a 60 plus hour work week.You all should be ashamed to use tax dollars for this increase for only a part time job. I could understand a raise of 2 or 3 percent but a raise of this size is absurd. I know that all teachers and state employees would like to have a nice raise also!”


“I do not take the Sunday Democrat Gazette but a friend who does told me about the proposed salary increases for state legislators, governor, judges, etc. I was sure she had the facts wrong since I knew the legislature was in session every other year for only 60 days. I also know that most senators and representatives have either retired from the work force or still hold a position in some kind of business for which they are well compensated. They return to a paying job when the legislature adjourns. As the legislators work only 2 months or one-sixth of a year the pro rated salaries would be $236, 400.00! So, I did some searching online and found the proposal for the salary increases. I am 67 years old and worked as an RN 40 plus hours a week for 20 years. Then, my husband and I opened a retail store which became quite successful, but, we both worked 14 hours a day seven days a week to insure that success. Right now, I am actually sick to my stomach after reading the recommendations. Little did I know when I voted for the constitutional amendment to create this commission that I was opening up the state treasury to be looted by our elected officials. A sad day for Arkansas.”


“I do feel as if the last increase for State employees being only one percent was at best insulting. State employees work hard for every dollar that we earn and the cost of living, as well as minimum wage has went up and minimum wage went up more than one percent so why did the States wages not. I know that at our level we can do better than this and would hope that someone would stand up and fight for us. Thank you for listening,.”


“I do not believe that anyone at the higher end of state level i.e. the governor almost doubling his salary is a joke. This is opposed by so many voting Arkansas that it should not pass. This is an outrage to anyone has ever voted an elected official in to office and who do you people that are asking for these increases think you are. I work for the state for DHS and we got a 1% cost of living increase so that the jokers on the hill can almost double their salaries. If this goes through I will not vote anyone that is an elected official at this time back into office so enjoy our pay bump because if it’s in my power you will not see another one as you will no longer be in office.”



“I’ve was against this issue when it came up last year. I’m against your recommendations now. Not only was the Ballot #3 title/synopsis at the voting booth deceptive so is your 5-state comparison now. Tennessee is in sessio45 days a year, Louisiana 65, Iowa 110, Oklahoma 120 and Missouri 150. Arkansas averaged is 30 days a year Except for Iowa their population is 2 and 3 times that of Arkansas. Do you think this ballot issue would have passed if the terminology at the voting booth had read “increase the legislature’s term limits” instead of setting term limits? Or a bill to “increase the pay of our elected officials?”In the executive branch, do you think we could get the Governor to buy his own groceries, do his own cooking, drive himself to and from work and reduce the expense of the plush Governor’s Mansion we put him in if we raise him from $87,000 to $140,000 annually? In conclusion I think our General Assembly should have the intestinal fortitude to make these salary/expense decisions. Not an autonomous 7-member committee they hand pick.”


“I am AGAINST the proposed pay increase for Arkansas legislators. While many Arkansas programs that benefit children, families, veterans, and the elderly are constantly being asked to “cut back” because there is “not enough money”, you request that your pay is more than doubled for part-time public service? Most working professional in the State are being looked over for cost of living raises year after year, and when it is received, it is likely 1.52%! Arkansas social workers, DCFS employees, teachers, and mental health therapists working in Community Mental Health Centers, all with bachelors degrees and many with Master’s degrees, do not make $39,400. per year working 50-60 hours per week, many times 7 days/week, all year long! Additionally, DCFS CPS workers are imbursed for mileage at 0.42/mile. Why do legislators receive 15 more cents per mile than the DCFS workers running the city streets and back roads of the state every day of the week? This proposal is a slap in the face to hard working Arkansans and will not stand. It is shameful! Please reconsider.”


“I am opposed to the salary increases. I do not believe the amount of salary indicates the level of intelligence you will get through an elected official. I think the higher salary could be the deciding factor to run for an office opposed to the desire to help the people in the great state of Arkansas. Do not insult the majority of the working people by voting yourselves a raise that most of us haven’t had in years.”


“Hello… I think you all know the TAXPAYER VOTERS were DECEIVED with issue 3 . I hope you all will take into consideration that TAXPAYERS were deceived with issue 3. I think most TAXPAYERS would be very happy if the whole thing was trashed and let the elected officials but the panel on the ballot in 2016 by its self. Also do the term limits the same way. The AMERICAN and ARKANSAS people are so fed up with being DECEIVED FROM WASHINGTON TO LITTLE ROCK. I for one hope the voters will trow the whole bunch out and start over.”




One in favor

“You have been tasked with a decision that is uber political and will incite strong opinions from both sides. Thank you for your willingness to take this on.I fully support your findings! There are tons of folks that have life experiences that would be invaluable in state offices – whether the legislature or other offices -that simply can’t afford the sacrifice. Literally.The changes you have proposed will hopefully encourage business owners, general workers and folks with great plans for the state that otherwise couldn’t afford to be elected and forgo their pay an opportunity to serve.Arkansas does not have “lifelong politicians”, rather, we have elected volunteers. Let’s encourage the best of the best to volunteer to serve.Thank you for your due diligence. Let’s resemble our comparable states. That is our best bet to move AR forward.”


Another asking for the Supreme Court to be paid an additional 20k annually.


“It never ceases to amaze me at the sheer ludicrous ideas that you people come up with. First, in comparing us to  surrounding states, you leave out the one that more closely matches us and has been our constant companion in the cellar of just about everything, Mississippi. Secondly, these “public servants” do not do this for the money, but for the “honor” of being able to serve the public. The only people that can actually be a legislator are retired people, owners of their own business or farms and lawyers. There are a few other exceptions, but the point is that your regular worker’s boss is not going to let them off for 60 days to vote on the state’s business. This is a part-time job. The salary needs to reflect that. If you need to suggest raises, then why not try your state employees, that’s the backbone of our Arkansas government.”




Additional comments can be read here.

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Filed under Arkansas Term Limits, politicians