We hear this week that my own State Senator, Rebekah Warren, has become the first Democratic state legislator (to my knowledge) targeted for recall in Michigan this year. The reason? “Warren’s vote against the repeal of the ‘job-killing Michigan Business Tax.’” I could have told you back in November that Sen. Warren, or any Democrat elected from Ann Arbor, would oppose a budget package like that which contained the aforementioned MBT, and I’m fairly confident she isn’t quaking in her boots about this recall effort.
It seems like every time I go to a big event in Michigan these days, whether it be Motor City Pride or the Independence Day fireworks in Bay City, people are gathering petition signatures for recall initiatives. The highest profile one is, of course, for Governor Rick Snyder. You see those everywhere, and when I volunteered for the Obama re-election campaign people were constantly coming up and asking if we had a recall petition they could sign. (We didn’t.) There are plenty of other recall efforts afoot across Michigan, mostly for state legislators who supported the emergency financial manager legislation.
I generally don’t believe in recalling elected officials absent clear evidence of major corruption or criminal activity. If your community elects somebody, people should have to live with the consequences until the next election, otherwise, what is the point of having an election or a fixed term length? I especially don’t believe in it for the Michigan state House, or for other two year positions, when by the time a successful effort makes it to the ballot and is voted on, the next campaign for the seat is already well underway. It’s easy enough to get rid of a bad apple in the next election. I can better understand the reasoning behind attempts to recall officials with four-year terms, like state senators.
I will go a step further by noting that I don’t accept the main rationale for the Snyder and other state-level recall efforts, people’s anger at the EFM bill that became law this spring. I’ve explained at great length on this blog why I think this bill, while imperfect as most bills signed into law are, has merit.
Having made those two points, I do have my own hit list of who I’d rather see targeted and driven out of office. If Michiganders are going to recall anybody, here are a few who deserve it:
State Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandville). I don’t know if I have any readers who live in west Michigan, let alone Rep. Agema’s district, but this guy has managed to churn out a number of nasty anti-gay pieces of legislation in his short time in office. The ones that in particular caught my eye, per Equality Michigan, “would prohibit public employers from providing medical benefits for domestic partners (House Bill 4770) and to make such benefits a prohibited subject of bargaining (House Bill 4771).” You can read more about these bills at Between the Lines. Tim Skubick describes another proposal of dubious value Agema introduced concerning e-verification of employment status. Head over to Facebook to learn more about Rep. Agema’s other “Greatest Hits.” My understanding is this particular House district is safely Republican in perpetuity, so it looks like we’re stuck with Agema. But I can dream.
There’s another special place in hell for all the Republicans in the state legislature who are holding up action on the Detroit River International Crossing. I’ve been keeping a careful dossier of all the coverage I’ve come across related to this project, but it’s getting so overwhelming, and so depressing, that I keep putting off finishing a post on it. While I’ll enumerate a few legislators who I’ve seen cropping up in the news the most on the wrong side of this issue, the plain fact is that most of Michigan’s Republican legislators are in the pocket of the Moroun family and equally deserving of our contempt.
For one, there’s State Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake). He’s been holding public hearings in the Senate committee he chairs on the DRIC proposal, on the pretext of getting the facts on record. The impression I get is that the whole thing is a dog-and-pony show and that he’s just stalling on behalf of the Morouns:
Kowal… told The Detroit News he remains skeptical. “I’m not seeing a lot of support at this point … to vote it out” of committee to the full Senate… Kowall has said even a fall vote isn’t a sure bet.
You also hear a lot of this kind of thing (excerpted from the same Detroit News story):
“Why is government doing this?” asked Sen. Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “Why doesn’t government get out of the way of a private entity that wants to do it?”
Another whose name has come up is Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-Canton). And then there are the many out-state legislators, like Nofs, who couldn’t care less about metro Detroit’s economy and who are willing to let Moroun’s and Americans for Prosperity’s campaign donations make up their minds for them; see Jack Lessenberry’s conversation with State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker.
Do petty homophobes like Agema or the many cynical toadies of the Bridge Company deserve to be recalled? It doesn’t really matter what I think. Voters in their district were stupid enough to elect them the first time, so there’s little evidence any of them are in danger. It’s just ironic how many legislators are fighting recall efforts based on much weaker grounds.