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This includes issuing delinquent tax notices and, when necessary, foreclosing on properties with unpaid taxes. There were 111 foreclosures at the height of the recession; last year there were 24; and she foresees the trend declining to the level of 12 or so which was the typical number in the 1990's. The Treasurer's office has systems in place to help delinquent homeowners avoid foreclosure and even has a social worker on staff to provide counseling.
MCFN's work to assist the public in understanding the role that contributions to politicians play is critical to the healthy operation of a democratic system of governance. The primary tools of this effort are transparent, timely and fact-based research and analysis made available to the general public, voters, policy makers and those people and organizations who are attempting to shape public policy.
For panel bio's and resources for more information, go to RESOURCES
Or read a Member's Impressions
The idea of choosing the President by national popular vote had proponents at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but the Electoral College system won out. Since then there have been five elections (1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016) when the winner of the popular vote lost in the Electoral College. Eliminating the Electoral College system will require amending the US Constitution, a difficult process. Alternatives to an amendment have been proposed over the years, most recently the National Popular Vote Compact.
What is the National Popular Vote Compact? "The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among a group of U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their respective electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who wins the most popular votes is elected president, and it will come into effect only when it will guarantee that outcome. As of March 2017, it has been adopted by ten states and the District of Columbia. Together, they have 165 electoral votes, which is 30.7% of the total Electoral College and 61.1% of the votes needed to give the compact legal force." (Wikipedia)
To date, 9 states and DC have passed the compact giving a total of 165 electoral votes of the 271 required for the Compact to be put into effect. In 11 states, including Michigan, one branch of the legislature has passed the Compact for 96 additional electoral votes. And in 2 states the Compact has had committee approval.
Supporters of the NPVIC say that it would lead to candidates campaigning nationwide rather than focusing on "battleground states". Voter turnout at the state level would matter more. And, in general, electing the President by popular vote is perceived to be more "fair" by a majority of Americans according to recent polls.
Opponents of the NPVIC say that small states would lose influence, it would impair the effectiveness of non-compacting states, it is a political compact and requires congressional assent, states have different rules and policies for elections, if there are more than 2 candidates voting results could be problematic, and the opt-out provision of the Compact is poorly designed.
If the Compact is adopted by enough states to go into effect, it is certain to face challenges on a Constitutional basis.
Professor Chamberlin suggested that a version of the runoff system is worth considering. He gave an example of this in which candidates were ranked by the voters according to preference. The top two vote-getters were allotted the second choice votes of unsuccessful candidates. This system was used briefly in the 1970's in Ann Arbor mayoral elections.
In summary, given the time elapsed since initial full or partial approval of the NPVIC by states, plus the fact that Republican support will be necessary to gain the required number of participating states to implement the Compact, it is unlikely that the Compact will be implemented any time soon.
Michigan state revenue sharing policies and budgets have a significant impact on local governments. This was the big take-away from the panel discussion co-sponsored by LWV-AAA and the Ann Arbor District Library. LWV-AAA member and moderator Harvey Somers gave an overview of the topic and then opened the floor to the government representatives present. Kelly Belknap, Washtenaw County Finance Director, described how basically flat revenue-sharing and changes in the allowed timing of tax collections have led to cuts in staffing, pay and services. Tom Crawford, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Ann Arbor, said that shared revenues are 13% of General Fund revenues, second only to property taxes. And having state revenue-sharing means that no local sales/entertainment/or similar taxes can be used to raise revenue. Mandy Grewal, Pittsfield Township Supervisor, said that the taxing jurisdictions represented in township tax collections lost $11 million because of the manufacturing exemption passed by the state. During Q&A, a member of the audience asked what citizens can do to help remedy this problem. Panel members agreed that it is important to contact State Representatives and Senators tell them to look at improving how local governments are financed. And get involved in local government - as an observer or as a candidate for office. They all agreed that the dollars going to local governments are the most accountable of all tax dollars.
THE DISCUSSION WAS VIDEO-TAPED BY THE AADL AND WILL BE AVAILABLE TO VIEW "ON DEMAND" ON THE AADL WEBSITE IN APPROXIMATELY SIX WEEKS.