Recent activities of National, State and Local LWV
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
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.
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.
For more information from AAATA(the Ride) go to: TheRideYourWay.org
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
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-AAA MEMBERS MET AND VOTED ON THE CHANGES AT OUR JANUARY 18th, 2014 PROGRAM PLANNING MEETING. OUR CONSENSUS OPINION HAS BEEN SENT TO LWV-MI TO BE INCLUDED IN THE STATE-WIDE REVISED EDUCATION POSITION.
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.
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."
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.