MCRI did not commit fraud in gathering signatures
MCRI did not commit fraud in gathering signatures
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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