Friday, July 11, 2008

Drafting Errors May Stop Reform Michigan Government Now Ballot Proposal

I will admit, this ballot proposal was appealing to my dark side. The thought of slapping Arlan "Get those welfare mothers first" Meekhof with a pay cut was just delicious. Made me smile. Watching Saul and Bill Nowling throw a fit about "reforming government", after running around and screaming "reform government" for the past few years, was hysterical. And after all the deception and games the far right had pulled with Prop 2s the last couple of times out, this was perfect. Payback, man. Payback is such a bitch, isn't it Saul?

But, like all things that appeal to the dark side of human nature, the flaws in logic start to become apparent when you want to act out of vengeance alone. As more was revealed in a barrage of negative media, I started to grow cool to the whole idea. While there are a lot of good things in this ballot proposal, I can't get behind the secrecy involved, and the convoluted do-it-all-at-once-and-they-won't-notice enormity of the thing.

Looks like we won't have to worry about it anyway.

A review of the controversial ballot proposal to rewrite many of the political provisions of Michigan's Constitution has turned up a potentially fatal drafting error -- a reference to a section of the constitution that does not exist.

While technical and apparently inadvertent, the mistake is not unlike a drafting blunder made in 2002 by a group attempting to relax drug crime laws in Michigan. That proposal was denied a spot on the ballot by state courts because it sought to add a section to the constitution where one already existed.

Oops. That's a problem, and according to the Citizens Research Council, who is reviewing this with a fine-tooth comb, not the only one.

The mistake in the ballot proposal petition is contained in a section that prescribes how a new director of state elections would be selected. It calls for procedures "as provided for in Article II, Section 11" of the Michigan Constitution.

The problem is there is no Section 11 in either the current constitution or the proposed ballot amendment.

The mistake was discovered during a preliminary review of the 21,000-word proposal by the Citizens Research Council, a nonprofit research organization that provides independent analysis of public policy questions in Michigan.

CRC Director Earl Ryan said Thursday the mistake was one of several identified in an initial reading but could be the most troublesome for backers of the Reform Michigan proposal.

It's too bad, really - all the money and time spent on this could have been put towards an open and honest reform movement, convincing the public of its necessity, and still achieved the majority of the goals within. Granted, this has been a major distraction for the Republicans and that is always a good thing, but wouldn't it be better to get real results instead?

Maybe next time.