Making Democracy Work

Issues and Positions

Recent activities of National, State and Local LWV

LWV-AAA Studies Money in Politics

A dozen LWV-AAA members met Saturday, January 30, 2016 to review study materials and discuss our position on study questions. Our consensus was submitted to LWV-US to be incorporated into the national LWV position.

Then Sunday, January 31 LWV-AAA joined ROAD and IJC to sponsor a public forum on the topic. Rich Robinson, Director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network spoke on the topic of Dark Money in Michigan elections. Rich is Michigan's premier expert on money in Michigan politics and has recently released his thoroughly researched report on the 2014 elections, Citizen's Guide 2014: Independent spenders swamped candidates

Looking At How Michigan Does Legislative Redistricting

Redistricting, in its purest sense, is a question of policy: What is the fairest way to ensure the most equal representation for Michiganders? After every 10-year census, Michigan electoral districts are re-drawn by the Michigan Legislature. The majority party, sometimes Republican and sometimes Democrat, controls the process, with predictable outcomes.

A growing number of Michigan citizens think there must be a better way. The Detroit Free Press Editorial Board, in the August 9, 2015 issue, presented the issues and identified players involved.

Should Ann Arbor local elections be non-partisan?

LWV-AAA has been working to help Ann Arbor citizens explore alternatives to their current, partisan election system for local offices.

At their July 21, 2015 meeting, the Ann Arbor City Council considered the issue, then voted 7-4 NOT to put the question of non-partisan elections on the Fall 2015 ballot.

LWV-AAA will continue to work to inform the citizens of Ann Arbor about this topic. Read LWV-AAA President Nancy Schewe's guest column for more information.

Public Transportation Improvement Millage

The millage proposal, which will be on the ballot Tuesday, May 6 for residents of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, asks approval for 0.7 mills for five years. The increase would generate a total of $4.3 million annually through 2019.

For more information from AAATA(the Ride) go to:

LWV-AAA sponsored a Public Forum on this topic on Monday, April 7, at the Ann Arbor District Library. You can stream the AADL video of this event if you click HERE

More Buses Panelists Jeff Irwin and Gillian Gainsley
LWV Moderator Judy Mich
Better Transit Now Panelists Ted Annis and Luanne Bullington

Citizen Asks a Question
LWV President Nancy Schewe interviewed by journalists from WEMU and the Ann Arbor News
Standing Room Only Crowd


Michigan Daily

LWV Position on Agriculture Is Being Studied

LWV-AAA will be holding a consensus meetings March 29 to discuss and respond to recommended updates to LWV policy on agriculture (see calendar for dates and location.)

In preparation for the consensus meetings, LWV-AAA held a public forum Feb 5, 2014 at the Dexter Library "What's for Dinner: Sustainable Agriculture vs. Affordable Food." Attendees heard viewpoints from four panelists on food and agriculture issues:

Amanda Edmonds, founder and executive director of the Ypsilanti-based non-profit Growing Hope, discussed the issue of food security and challenges of managing farmers' markets ;

Barb McCallahan, SE Michigan regional manager for U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (currently chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee), discussed aspects of the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill;

Elisa Picken, M.D., who owns a small farm in Dundee with her husband and raises cattle and chickens using sustainable agricultural practices and organic feed, discussed the health effects of herbicides, pesticides and other products; and

Mike Schaible, a third-generation farmer involved in the cultivation of 1800 acres and the raising of approximately 3000 head of lamb, talked about the financial realities of modern-day, larger-scale agriculture.

Attendees took advantage of the opportunity question the panelists on topics ranging from crop insurance to the debate of grass-fed versus grain-fed regarding animals. The result was a broad-reaching, thought-provoking, and genial discussion about food -- where it comes from, how it's grown, produced, processed and defined. Click HERE to download the Agricultural Consensus materials.


LWV-Michigan is updating its current position on education to allow us to respond to recent changes in school policy at the state level. A dedicated group of League members has gathered background materials and suggested changes in our current position. The following articles (see links, below) walk you through the substantive changes in the position, which once approved, will be rewritten into a single, coherent document.


NOTE: A new link has been added to the Background information. "Michigan Education Information", compiled by LWV-MI as of 9/3/2013. This .pdf of a PowerPoint presentation is full of information about the current status of education in our state.







LWV US Positions On Issues Currently In The Public Eye


"If you are talking about politics and you are not talking about money, then you are not talking about politics." Rich Robinson

On February 11 2013, LWV Michigan, LWV Ann Arbor Area and UM Law School presented a forum on Dark Money in Judicial Selection. Panelists were Rich Robinson, Exec. Dir., The Michigan Campaign Finance Network, The Honorable Marilyn Kelly, Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, Retired, and MaryAnn Sarosi, senior adviser for Bridget McCormack's successful campaign for Michigan Supreme Court in 2012.

Mr. Robinson presented statistics showing the growth of unreported or "Dark" money in Michigan Supreme Court campaigns. In the 2012 election, total expenditures were $18.4 million or $6.1 million per seat. Of the total, 75.1% or $13.8 million was spent on "issue advertising" which current Michigan Campaign Finance rules do not require to be reported. Such lobbying can be appropriate to electing legislators or state administrative officials, but is not applicable to judges who should not be subject to lobbying. "Issue advertising" is more and more entering trial court competitions as well.

MaryAnn Sarosi spoke about her experience with the pressures to fund-raise in order to respond to increasingly negative "issue ads" during the McCormack campaign.

Justice Marilyn Kelly then outlined the report issued by the Judicial Selection Task Force (JSTF) recommending a series of actions to be taken to improve our system for the election of judges. These recommendations include expanding the requirement for disclosure of sources of campaign funding and changes in the nomination process. To see the full report click here and go to the LWV Michigan website where you will find a link to the report.

Click HERE to see a video of the entire presentation.

Click HERE for the NPR coverage of the forum

To see the Michigan Daily report of the meeting, click HERE

Click HERE to find the Michigan Campaign Finance Network website.

======================================== OCTOBER, 2011 FORUM ON JUDICIAL ELECTIONS LWV, the Washtenaw Bar, the AAUW and and the Michigan Impartial Courts Coalition sponsored a forum on removing the influence of money and politics from Michigan's Supreme Court elections. Representative Paul Condino, Chair of the Michigan House Judiciary Committee, served as moderator of a panel comprised of Judge Edward Thomas, Wayne County Circuit Court (retired); Brian Dickerson, a columnist for the Detroit Free Press; and Rich Robinson, executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. The three panelists discussed the problem of political interference in Michigan courts. The main problem is that the cost of judicial campaigns is out of control--$23.5 million has been spent on Michigan Supreme Court campaigns between 2000 and 2011. In order to raise the huge amount of money necessary to run a campaign, candidates look to special interests for donations and the sources of these donations are often hidden from public view. Contributors often expect special treatment when cases involving their particular interests appear before the Court. Public trust and confidence in the courts is at risk as a large majority of Michigan voters believe that the courts are influenced by campaign contributions. To remain fair and impartial, the Michigan Campaign Finance Network makes the following recommendations:

Full and timely disclosure of all contributions to judicial campaigns, including TV issue ads paid for by "527" organizations,
Objective standards for justices to disqualify themselves from cases in which they have a campaign finance relationship
Voluntary public financing for Michigan Supreme Court campaigns

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has said "Judicial elections are becoming political prizefights where partisans and special interests seek to install judges who will answer to them instead of the law and the constitution."

National League Adopts Position on Privatization of Government Services

The LWVUS Board approved a new position on Privatization of Government Services at its June 2012 meeting. The position is based on responses received from the 227 Leagues across the country that participated in the Privatization Study.

As part of our participation in this study, LWV-AA and the local alumnae group of Delta Sigma Theta co-sponsored a public forum Feb 27 at the Ann Arbor District Library downtown. Panelists were Bob Guenzel, former Washtenaw County Administrator; Lois Richardson, Ypsilanti City Council Member; Susan Baskett, Ann Arbor School Board Member; Sabra Briere, Ann Arbor City Council Member; Andy Fanta, Ypsilanti School Board Member

The ANNARBOR.COM report by Ryan Stanton provides details of the forum and insight into local concerns about this topic.

League Urges Congress to Support the DISCLOSE Act

LWVUS sent a letter to Congress asking Senators and Representatives to cosponsor and support the DISCLOSE Act. Delegates to the LWVUS National Convention also handed this letter to their members of Congress and their staff while lobbying on Capitol Hill.

Ann Arbor City Council Unanimously Passes the Clean Air Promise Resolution

Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed the Clean Air Promise Resolution brought forward by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area at its February 21st meeting. Sponsored by Mayor John Heiftje, Councilwoman Sandi Smith, and Councilwoman Margie Teall, the Promise is a commitment to support clean air policies and protections that scientists and public health experts have recommended to safeguard air quality.