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Michigan Taxpayers Alliance Updates: August 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dillon recall making news

Yesterday's federal court ruling rightfully restored the citizen recall effort against MI House Speaker Andy Dillon for his leadership role in raising your taxes.

Channel 4 News, WDIV Detroit, covered the judge's ruling and the restored recall campaign. See video of the story here: http://www.clickondetroit.com/video/17317410/index.html

The Detroit Free Press story is here: http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080828/NEWS06/808280355/1008/NEWS

and The Detroit News coverage is here: http://detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080828/POLITICS/808280377/1409/METRO

There are some important questions about the impact of yesterday's court ruling, however, that deserve answers. Specifically:

1. Can Speaker Dillon be recalled on November 4, yet also win a new term? How would that 'work'? Yes, voters in Redford Twp., and parts of Dearborn Heights and Livonia, CAN vote to recall Dillon and reelect him at the same time. If this were to occur, Dillon would immediately leave office on November 5th, miss about two months of legislative session, and then be reseated for his new term on January first.

This unusual situation was forced by the delay in the recall election that Dillon was able to force by his hiring of petition 'blockers' and other efforts to sabotage the recall petition drive that had targeted Dillon for an August 5th recall election date.

Voters can avoid the above scenario and dump Dillon forever by voting ‘yes’ on the recall and voting for Dillon's election opponent, Sandra Eggers.

2. If Dillon is recalled, will he be eligible for an additional, future term in office under Michigan's term limits law? No. A partial term of office counts as a full term if that partial term is longer than a year. Dillon would NOT be eligible to any 'bonus term' if his current term is cut short by his recall.

3. What does the court ruling mean for future recall efforts? It makes them far easier. The court struck down two state laws that required people circulating recall petitions be registered voters in the district of the targeted politician. These laws only applied to recall petitions, any other kind of petitioning of any sort allowed citizens to hire help or recruit any volunteers from anywhere. Also, existing laws allowed politicians targeted for recall to hire anyone from anywhere to help them fight the recall effort. The judge's ruling levels the playing field for citizens.

Importantly, Dillon's recall on November 4 would continue an important precedent for state politicians: raise taxes and face a possible career-killing recall from office. The precedent was set in 1983 after the last state income tax hike when two state senators were subsequently recalled from office. And yesterday's court ruling sends a chilling message to politicians who thought they could bank on special, restrictive laws they created to stifle citizens from seeking to hold them accountable.

Stay tuned,

Leon Drolet
Executive Director
Michigan Taxpayers Alliance

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


MAJOR WIN! This morning, Federal U.S. District Court Judge Robert Holmes Bell issued an injunction that will likely result in Michigan House Speaker Andy Dillon facing recall in this November's election.

Judge Bell ruled that the MI Secretary of State MUST count the 2,053 recall petition signatures that had previously been rejected because the people who collected them were not registered voters in Speaker Dillon's district. Judge Bell ruled that Michigan's laws restricting circulators were unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment's right to free speech.

From Judge Bell's injunction:

"IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant Terri Lynn Land, as Michigan's Secretary of State, SHALL re-examine the petitions filed seeking a recall election against Representative Dillon of Michigan's 17th House District WITHOUT consideration of the M.C.L. § 168.957 requirements that (1) recall petition circulators be registered to vote, and that (2) recall petition circulators be residents of the legislative district of the official to be recalled.

If upon such re-examination Defendant determines that the required 8,724 valid signatures were gathered, then Defendant SHALL place the recall against Representative Dillon on the November 4, 2008, general election ballot."

Friends, this means that only 776 out of the 2,053 previously rejected signatures are needed to achieve the total 8,724 required to force Dillon's recall election!

Congratulations to Rose Bogaert (the plaintiff)! Congratulations to the Wayne County Taxpayers Association!

While Andy Dillon's and MI Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer's nasty, ugly tactics to stop the citizens and taxpayers successfully kept the recall off the August primary ballot, they still must now face being the first Speaker in U.S. history to be recalled.

This development is huge. The Court has re-affirmed the citizens' right to recall. Politicians do NOT have unbreakable two or four year contracts, they are at-will employees of the citizens they are supposed to represent.

Now, on November 4th, the citizens have the opportunity to fire Dillon for raising their taxes. An opportunity they had a right to have had this past August 5th.

Stay tuned for a further update and THANK YOU to all who supported this recall effort!

Leon Drolet
Executive Director
Michigan Taxpayers Alliance

Friday, August 8, 2008

How to pass a tax hike

Every day, while you're busy at work or taking care of your family, some people are watching your wallet with envious eyes. They covet what remains of your after-tax income. They want it. They believe they need it. But how can they, these government officials and government employees, get you to hand it over to them? Don't underestimate the cleverness of such highly focused individuals.

Take, for example, the proposed "Veterans Tax" that the Macomb County Board of Commissioners will be voting to place on the November ballot this coming Thursday. The proposal would levy a new .04 mill tax on Macomb County property owners that would generate over $1.2 million dollars to support county veterans programs. How could anybody vote 'no' on supporting programs that assist needy veterans? That sentiment is exactly what the tax takers are banking on. You see, they have a plan.

Macomb County Commissioner Pete Lund, who opposes the new tax, calls their plan: "Lottery Scam II". Remember how state lottery revenues were supposed to provide more money for K-12 education? After voters approved the lottery, those lottery revenues DID go to education, but Lansing politicians then took away much of the General Fund money that USED to be spent on education and squandered it elsewhere in the budget.

The lottery scam is being replicated with the proposed Macomb Veterans Tax. The money generated by the new millage WILL go toward supporting veterans. But where will the money that currently funds veterans programs go? You guessed it - that money will no longer be spent on veterans, but spent elsewhere in the budget.

It's a perfect scheme. The new millage proposal will be sold as a small amount that will support our deserving military veterans. It will pass. General Fund support for veterans will then end, resulting in more money for county politicians. And anybody that opposes the millage can be portrayed as ungrateful to our deserving veterans.

What can you expect next? A "Senior Services Millage" that will allow current senior services funds to be shifted elsewhere in the budget. Maybe a new millage for the Animal Shelter? You don’t hate puppies, do you?

As a Macomb County Commissioner, I was the only member of the Community Services Committee to vote 'no' on sending the new veterans' millage to the full Board of Commissioners for approval. If the Board approves the new tax this coming Thursday, then voters will decide on approving the tax at this November's election. Voters will see a proposal to support veterans. County politicians will see a proposal to shift more money to the general fund.

Stay tuned.

Leon Drolet
Executive Director
Michigan Taxpayers Alliance