MCRI did not commit fraud in gathering signatures
MCRI did not commit fraud in gathering signatures
|Letters to the Editor|
May 5, 2006
Affirmative action excess
At the NAACP’s Fight for Freedom Fund dinner (“No turning back, crowd told: Mich. voters must save affirmative action, officials say,” May 1), Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick welcomed the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative ballot proposal by saying: “We will affirm to the world that affirmative action will be here today, it will be here tomorrow, and there will be affirmative action in the state forever.”
Really now. I once thought affirmative action was meant to redress past discrimination. And that once the so-called playing field was level, then it would end. The mayor clearly believes that equal opportunity is not a goal of affirmative action. Rather, by the mayor’s words, affirmative action is designed to guarantee special privileges for protected classes of people in perpetuity. I believe that the mayor has clearly articulated the true motives of those who will slander the supporters of the MCRI. Undoubtedly, supporters will be called bigots and racists. The tragedy of affirmative action is that it taints the achievements of all minorities. Passing MCRI would be a major step in the direction of true equal opportunity for all.
A double standard
Directing her comments at the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, told attendees at the NAACP dinner that “we must fight against those who desire to take our rights away.”
Proponents of preferential treatment champion racial discrimination as long as the victims are not black. However, they hypocritically believe the same abhorrent practice is sound public policy when the victims are white. Discrimination against anyone based on race is immoral and serves to widen the racial divide.
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|Letters to the Editor|
May 12, 2006
Racism in disguise
Affirmative action is a newer term for an old problem — racism. Shame on Nolan Finley for supporting it (“Is affirmative action a remedy or a right?,” May 7). Two wrongs make two wrongs and discriminating against whites because blacks were once discriminated against will be found illegal, as it should. The people will speak in November on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
Grosse Pointe Park
Columnist seeks Utopia
I see that Nolan Finley has embraced the position of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in Grutter v. Bollinger. This is that “equal protection of the laws” doesn’t mean what is says now, but we’ll take another look at it in a few decades after society has become a “true meritocracy.” Never mind that this is a state of affairs that has never existed in any society in history, regardless of government-mandated incentives and coercions. Pick up a copy of Thomas Sowell’s excellent book, “Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study.”
Richard G. Finch
Equality needs more time
Nolan Finley’s take on affirmative action is both intuitive and correct. I am conservative but agree that more generations need to pass before African-Americans can overcome the equality issues that are so burrowed in the fabric of American history. In the early movies, blacks were depicted as either cartoonish characters or lackeys whose greatest joy was serving white folk. Blacks were nonexistent on television unless targeted by cigarette commercials. These major entertainment outlets promoted a stigma of inferiority that they are just now beginning to dispel.
Time to reduce injustices
I read with interest the touching story of the convicted drug runner who will graduate from Michigan Law School (“From prison to law school grad,” May 5). While I am now even more confused about why Jennifer Gratz had her application rejected at the University of Michigan, one thing I am certain of is a “yes” vote on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative in November. The chances of such injustices occurring again will be greatly reduced.
Beware ‘outsider’ game
Isn’t it hypocritical for Wendell Anthony of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP to be calling Ward Connerly a “California outsider” when he is using U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democratic outsider from Texas, to push his message? The truth is, the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is not led by outsiders. Jen Gratz, the executive director of Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, grew up in Southgate and went to school at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. All signature collectors, by law, had to be registered to vote in the state.
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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
By Cedric Ricks
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: 388-8557
An organizer of a November ballot initiative to amend the state constitution to ban affirmative-action programs urged the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night not to adopt a resolution in support of such programs.
“This initiative is about equal treatment under the law for all individuals without regard to their race or sex,” said Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
“One of the myths that is out there is that this initiative would eliminate all forms of affirmative action,” Gratz said. “That is not true. If you consider preferential treatment to be affirmative action, then, in that sense, it will eliminate programs.”
Ballot language will go before Michigan voters that would “ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin” in public employment, education or contracting.
Gratz spoke to the county board in response to County Administrator Don Gilmer’s request that county commissioners consider passing a resolution affirming the benefits of the county’s affirmative-action plan.
Gilmer said the proposed resolution was removed from Tuesday’s agenda and will be considered by the county board at its June 6 committee-of-the-whole meeting. The county has had some form of affirmative action since 1975, he said.
In the county board’s agenda packet, Gilmer and Jo Woods, the county’s human-resource director, prepared a memo that offered some reasons for supporting affirmative action.
The memo said affirmative action includes identifying and dismantling discriminatory barriers such as biased testing or recruitment and hiring practices, and conducting outreach to under-represented women and minorities by targeting colleges and ethnic, media, women and minority organizations.
Instituting mentoring and targeted training programs, along with addressing hidden biases in recruitment, hiring, promotion and compensation practices, such as addressing unnecessary job requirements, also are examples of affirmative action, according to the memo.
Gilmer and Woods said in the memo that they believed the proposal from the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative is “misleading and will have unintended consequences.”
“It won’t stop the other preferences that permeate state and local hiring, promotion, contracts and education opportunity, and it will immediately eliminate affirmative-action programs that help women and minorities have a fair opportunity in education and jobs,” the memo stated.
“Excluding race and gender while continuing to allow preferences for cronies, legacies, geography, income, military service, musical talent, athletic capability, family background, physical disabilities and other factors would be wrong.”
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By Brian DeBose THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published May 28, 2006
A civil rights group in Michigan will ask voters through a ballot initiative this November to decide whether to abolish affirmative action for college admissions, government hiring and contracting.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) has been trying for three years to pose the question to voters, all while fending off lawsuits and other civil rights groups, Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, a Democrat, and some prominent state lawmakers who oppose it.
The state’s Republican Party chairman, Dick Devos, who is running for governor, has said he is opposed to it, as has Keith Butler, a high-profile Republican state Senate candidate.
The initiative was announced after a pair of U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding the University of Michigan’s admission policy.
One of the cases was brought in 1997 by Jennifer Gratz, now MCRI’s executive director, who was rejected by the university despite her 3.8-grade-point average.
“The Michigan case was based on a points system and the system was heavily slanted,” said attorney Terry Pell, who heads the Center for Individual Rights. “On a 150-point scale, a person could get 20 points based on your race, and in that scale, many people could be denied.”
While Mrs. Gratz won her case, the university’s law school was allowed to keep its points system.
Mr. Pell said the question he and other advocates of abolishing racial preferences has is how long the courts will allow them to be used.
“What happens is each time you bring it up or think you are at the end of the 25 years, the court says we will allow it to go on for another 25 years and the problem is the Supreme Court has never allowed this to come to an end or given an opportunity for it to come to an end,” he said.
Mrs. Gratz said that is the purpose of the initiative.
“This initiative is moving the timeline forward, and I firmly believe the people of Michigan believe in the fairness of law,” she said. “What the courts and these universities have been saying all this time is that if you have good intentions it is OK to do the wrong thing, and taking race into account is choosing winners and losers based on race.”
She said affirmative action policies have gone much farther than they were intended to, when they were created by executive order of President Nixon.
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We’ve gathered 508,202 signatures and the people of Michigan will have an opportunity on November 7, 2006 to amend the state constitution to finally end state-sponsored discrimination.
Consideration of race, color, gender, ethnicity or national origin will be eliminated – in hiring and promotions, in awarding contracts, and in admissions to taxpayer-financed educational institutions.
No more grids, points or “plus factors.” A permanent end to quotas, goals and “set asides.”
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law with the best of intentions and the noble goal of creating a color-blind society.
Have we gotten much closer? The original idea of “affirmative action” — that opportunities be made equally available to individuals of all races — has since degenerated into a divisive, condescending system of preferential treatment based on race.
Our society is more divided because of racial preferences. But the US Supreme Court says we should look forward to at least 25 more years of the same.
Even another 250 years won’t make a difference. When social programs are intentionally color-conscious, how can we expect individuals to not divide themselves by color, and resent other groups for perceived differences in treatment? And how can we expect those who supposedly benefit to not feel that preferences cast a shadow over all their accomplishments?
As long as we allow our government to categorize people based solely on physical characteristics and then treat them differently, we’ll never make any real progress in healing racial divisions.
Even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. If we seek equality, it is long past time that we take the next step down that road.
Monday, June 12, 2006
In the last couple of days it has come to my attention that many of our supporters have received a letter from Shanta Driver. The letter claims that that MCRI has deceived voters into supporting the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
Those claims simply are not true. The Michigan Court of Appeals, the Michigan Attorney General, the Michigan Supreme Court, the Secretary of State, and the State Director of Elections have all reviewed these allegations and all of these official state agencies have found them without merit.
The reason why MCRI collected a record number of signatures (508,202) is because voters believe that state sponsored discrimination is wrong.
But, before I tell you about how our supporters have responded to the letter let me tell you a little bit about who wrote this letter. Shanta Driver is one of the lead organizers of BAMN (www.bamn.com ), a Trotskyite Revolutionary Worker’s Party based out of Detroit. Just as their name implies, By Any Means Necessary, this radical group believes that violence, veiled threats, and intimidation are legitimate methods to electoral victory. This group is even reportedly on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List.
Our opponents are desperately trying to scare and frighten supporters away from supporting MCRI. This “Operation Kings Dream” is merely a front group for BAMN. What they don’t understand is how knowledgeable and principled our supporters truly are.
Our opponents believe that MCRI supporters don’t understand the importance of ending racial preferences. They couldn’t be more wrong. You and our other supporters understand that discriminating against people based on race is wrong and a relic of a bygone era.
In fact, within hours of our supporters receiving these letters, I received dozens of phone calls with the same message of “keep up the good work and I’m sending in another check”. Our supporters are not intimidated by the thinly veiled threats of BAMN.
Again, I want to thank you for your support of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative. We are looking forward to victory in November. If you should have any other questions please feel free to give me a phone call in the office, 517-699-2582.
Today, Doug Tietz, Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Campaign Manager, gave the following statement after Jennifer Gratz, MCRI spokeswoman, was threatened with a switchblade in the presence of others and in a public building while she was in Detroit.
“Our opponents stooped to new a new low today when Luke Massie, BAMN National Chairman, brandished a switchblade while talking with Jennifer Gratz outside the Civil Rights Commission media conference in Detroit,” said Doug Tietz, MCRI Campaign Manager.
“No matter what your political beliefs are intimidation tactics like this are unacceptable. Our opponents tactics of attempting to intimidate Jennifer with a switchblade and verbal threats are despicable,” said Tietz. “Silence is acquiescence. Either you condone this sort of behavior or else you are willing to speak out against it. I look forward to responsible elements of the opposition joining me and condemning this sort of behavior,” said Tietz.
“For the past two years, our campaign has had to contend with the thuggish tactics of BAMN, trumped-up charges of “fraud,” a circus of “hearings” by a politically motivated Michigan Civil Rights Commission, Board of Canvassers members who have no respect for the rule of law, and lies and outrageous distortions from our opponents. Why are these people so desperate that they will do anything to try and stop the people from exercising their will?” said Tietz.
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Committee (MCRI), a Michigan-based Ballot Question Committee, is dedicated to giving the people of Michigan the opportunity to end preferential treatment based on race, gender, ethnicity, or national origin by State or local governments. MCRI will make Michigan a place of equal opportunity for all, not a State that uses discrimination as a tool to create “diversity.” Achieving “diversity” should never be an excuse to discriminate!
Paid for with regulated funds by the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Committee
PO Box 18243 Lansing MI 48901 517-699-2582 www.michigancivilrights.org
Letter states: The administration appears to be blatantly supporting political action and policies that treat citizens of Michigan differently based on their race or ethnicity
Today, as Civil Rights Commission Chairman Mark Bernstein and Jennifer Granholm were holding a fundraiser for One United Michigan, Speaker of the House Craig DeRoche delivered a letter to the State Auditor General and the Attorney General asking them to investigate the Civil Rights Commission’s actions regarding the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI).
“It is no surprise that on the very day that the Speaker asked for an investigation of the Civil Rights Commission by both the Auditor General and Attorney General, Commission Chairman Mark Bernstein is hosting a fundraiser for MCRI’s opposition. Chairman Bernstein has abused the people’s money and trust by using taxpayer dollars to attack MCRI on behalf of the cause he supports. Now he must account for his actions,” said Gratz.
He seems to have a difficult time being honest with the people. He claims that he didn’t hold this fundraiser until after his commission’s report had been released. But, there is no doubt that he had to have requested approval of the governor’s appearance long before the actual date of the event. We wonder what an inquiring reporter would discover if the governor was asked when she agreed to appear. If it was prior to the release of the report, then that is a smoking gun that Bernstein was releasing a report paid for by the taxpayers while he was conspiring with Granhold to raise money for the opponents of MCRI. Bernstein should follow the members of the Board of Canvassers and resign from office,” said Gratz
Important statements from the letter written by Speaker DeRoche to the Auditor General:
“We are writing to request that your office investigate the activities of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (CRC) and Department of Civil Rights (DCR) in their efforts to investigate the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI). We believe the CRC, in conducting its investigation, negligently or wantonly may have exceeded its constitutional and statutory investigation powers.” (June 28th letter to State Auditor General)
Then later in the letter:
“Now, the administration appears to be blatantly supporting political action and policies that treat citizens of Michigan differently based on their race or ethnicity.”(June 28th letter to State Auditor General)
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Committee (MCRI), a Michigan-based Ballot Question Committee, is dedicated to giving the people of Michigan the opportunity to end preferential treatment based on race, gender, ethnicity or national origin by state or local governments. MCRI will make Michigan a place of equal opportunity for all, not a state that uses discrimination as a tool to create “diversity.” Achieving “diversity” should never be an excuse to discriminate!
Racial preference supporters thwart democracy, lack confidence in stance
Douglas A. Kahn
Opponents of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative have tried a variety of ways to try to keep it off the ballot, even though supporters provided more than enough valid signatures. The initiative proposes barring the state, its schools and other units of government from giving racial preferences in awarding benefits.
I have difficulty understanding why many opponents are so determined to squelch an issue that is so ripe for discussion and prevent the public from debating and resolving it. The extent to which they have sought to prevent a vote does not speak well of their commitment to democracy or their confidence in their position.
The passion this issue arouses in its opponents apparently may cloud their own sense of official and ethical responsibility.
A recent example involves the chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, which has issued a report accusing Michigan Civil Rights Initiative proponents of fraud in gathering petition signatures. Several weeks after this, Commission Chair Mark Bernstein held a $150-a-person party in his Ann Arbor home to raise money opposing the passage of the initiative.
This partisanship suggests the commission’s report may be nothing more than advocacy by opponents of the referendum. It is important for government officials to appear to be impartial as well as to be so.
Commission members can have their personal views on issues, but when Bernstein plays an active role in stirring up opposition to a ballot measure, residents can’t trust his judgment when he acts in his official capacity as the Civil Rights Commission chair.
House Speaker Craig DeRoche has requested the state auditor general and attorney general to investigate the commission and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to determine if they may have exceeded their powers by investigating the MCRI’s signature gathering. He wants to know if the Civil Rights Commission used taxpayer dollars to pursue a political investigation it shouldn’t have done.
Other ethical violations
Other unethical breaches have occurred. The Board of State Canvassers initially refused to put the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, or MCRI, on the ballot because of worries about how the signatures were gathered. It did so even though Attorney General Mike Cox made it clear to the board that it lacked the authority to pass judgment on questions of alleged misrepresentations.
Proponents of the initiative obtained a court order requiring MCRI to be placed on the ballot. After a messy hearing in which a group calling itself “By Any Means Necessary” disrupted the proceedings, the board again failed to put the measure on the ballot.
Fed up with the board’s intransigence, the Michigan Court of Appeals then bypassed it and scheduled contempt hearings for two Democratic members who had prevented the MCRI from going on the ballot. Both eventually ended up resigning from the State Board of Canvassers. Both had to pay fines to resolve the cases.
Having lost that round, opponents are concocting other anti-democratic strategies. An officer of By Any Means Necessary is reported to have said that if she and her allies can’t block MCRI through court actions, they will urge city and county clerks to leave it off the ballot even though that would violate their official and legal obligations.
Instead of engaging in anti-democratic practices, opponents should be wrestling with the legitimate questions the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative has raised about the fairness and ethics of using racial preferences.
Wrestling with fairness
The University of Michigan Law School adopted a policy of affirmative action 42 years ago, and I was part of that committee. I was uneasy about basing decisions on racial differences, but I concluded that it was necessary to do so then to stimulate progress for a people who had been repressed for many years.
The affirmative action program has been successful. But the situation today is quite different from what it was 42 years ago.
Many people balk at the notion that racial preferences should continue for 50 or 100 years — or perhaps forever. The issue is whether, after four decades, current circumstances justify continuing the practice in university admissions, state government hiring and government contracting. I suspect that most Michigan voters don’t think so.
But opponents of the initiative are doing their best (or actually their worst) to see to it that we never find out how most Michiganians will vote on this issue.
Continuing racial preferences raises hard questions about ethics and fairness. One can only speculate about why the supporters of racial preferences are so afraid to have those questions answered by the citizens of Michigan.
If the issues are laid on the table and discussed, the public will come to the right conclusion — whatever that might be. Let the debate commence.
Douglas A. Kahn is the Paul G. Kauper professor at the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor. Please fax letters to (313) 222-6417 or e-mail them to email@example.com.
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