Michigan Dems make Supreme Court picks

Over the weekend, the Michigan Democratic Party selected three candidates to endorse in a run for Michigan Supreme Court election.

They are: 46th District Court Judge Sheila Johnson, 3rd Circuit Court Judge Connie Marie Kelley, and University of Michigan professor and Innocence Clinic co-founder Bridget Mary McCormack.

There will be three seats open on the court. One seat is a partial term currently filled by Justice Brian Zahra. He was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Jan. 14, 2011 to fill a vacancy created when Snyder recruited Justice Maura Corrigan to head the Department of Human Services.

Justice Marilyn Kelly’s seat will be open, as she is ineligible to run for re-election because she will be 70 years old in November.

Justice Stephen Markman will have to run for re-election if he wishes to remain on the court; his term ends Jan. 1, 2013.

To see the full slate of candidates, read The Detroit News story here.

Keeping Up With The Candidates, Primary Edition

Just five days to go until Tuesday’s primary, and things have not settled.

Not that anything happened, like one of the perceived leaders of the GOP race being accused of being present and participating in the “legend”ary Manoogian mansion party by someone willing to put his name on it. Mike Cox still denies there ever was a party, and has attacked the affiant, a biker who said he was working security for the affair, by saying he has a rap sheet. (A biker with a rap sheet?! What’s this world coming to!!*) Then he questioned the timing of it. Then he compared himself to Shaquille O’Neal. Each time, the defense gets bolder. The tin hats may have switched sides.

* Sons of Anarchy on FX! Best show on TV not involving the 1960s advertising industry!

As for the campaigns, for weeks now, polling has been so scattershot that many weeks, I’ve opted to not even link to it. The one thing that had been consistent, for the most part, was Andy Dillon’s lead in the Democratic race. Note I said “was.”

This week, the Detroit Free Press and four TV stations commissioned a poll that showed that Lansing mayor Virg Bernero has not only pulled ahead, but may be pulling away. Things seem somewhat bleak for Dillon’s campaign, as Michigan political guru Bill Ballanger of Inside Michigan Politics told Frank Beckman on WJR-AM Bernero will win unless Dillon makes a dramatic push. Considering Bernaro’s campaign appears to be low on cash, it’s not an impossible scenario.

The latest poll shows Bernero with an eight point lead over Dillon, 40-28, with 32 percent undecided. Of course, two weeks ago, polling showed Dillon with a 20 point lead, so perhaps we should just wait and see what happens on Tuesday.

MLive asked both candidates for ideas on fixing Michigan’s economy/tax system. Bernero said he wants to create a state bank of Michigan that will loan money to small businesses. Dillon wants to create a coalition of business, labor, teachers and health care industry leaders to create a better tax policy.

On the GOP side, all of the candidates are making their final appeals to potential voters, who appear to not really care that much. Secretary of State and Mike Bouchard running mate Terri Lynn Land expects that only about 1.7 people will actually go to the polls on Tuesday, or, about 23 percent of registered voters. Cox expects only about 700,000 people to vote in the GOP primary.

As the final ads roll out, Pete Hoekstra is fed up with what he calls “factually incorrect attack ads”:

“Attorney General Mike Cox and his special-interest allies will stop at nothing to mislead voters and falsely attack Pete Hoekstra’s record,” said spokesman John Truscott. “Mike Cox should immediately call on these shadowy third-party groups to end these false attack ads and start being honest with the voters of Michigan.”

In May, he successfully convinced three west Michigan stations to drop ads run by “Americans With Job Security” after he showed the ads made false claims. The most recent ad, run by Michigan Business United, said Hoekstra is “absent on right to life” among other things. Not surprisingly, Cox spokesman Nick DeLeeuw denied the campaign’s involvement.

New endorsements this week go to Rick Snyder, who won the public support of Ford board chairman Bill Ford Jr., Hoekstra and Andy Dillon. The latter two were endorsed by The Grand Rapids Press.

Finally, both Detroit papers are pumping out informational stories designed to help We, The Voters, decide based on the issues. (Ha! Like any election is ever won on the issues!) If something doesn’t appear for one candidate but does for the other, it’s either because the Freep hasn’t run the Democratic analyses yet, or I couldn’t find Pete Hoekstra’s Detroit News Q&A through the paper’s awful search function which doesn’t rank articles in chronological order.

Andy Dillon: Positions (Freep)/ Q&A (News)

Virg Bernero: Positions (Freep)/ Q&A (News)

Rick Snyder: Positions (Freep)/ Q&A (News)/Analysis (Freep)

Mike Cox: Positions (Freep)/ Q&A (News)/ Analysis (Freep)

Pete Hoekstra: Positions (Freep)/ Analysis (Freep)

Mike Bouchard: Positions (Freep)/ Q&A (News)/ Analysis (Freep)

Dr. Tom George: Positions (Freep)/ Q&A (News)/ Analysis (Freep)

Keeping Up With The Candidates, July 9

Less than a month before the primary, all of the candidates are ratcheting up the war machine, which means, of course, you are about to be bombarded with commercials. (It would be a good idea to invest in a digital video recorder if you don’t already have one.) At least they waited this long to ramp up the ads. According to Dawson Bell of the Detroit Free Press, the combined candidate spending on ads doesn’t approach anywhere near what Dick Devos spent by this point in 2006.

Not surprisingly, Mike Cox and Rick Snyder have spent the most on this campaign with varying levels of success. Cox entered the race as the leader and Snyder a relative unknown. Depending on what day of the week it is and who is doing the poll, Cox, Snyder and Pete Hoekstra are all relatively close in the GOP race, with Hoekstra usually leading but barely.

Hoekstra’s campaign has been famously hamstrung by taking public funds, thus limiting his ability to buy ads statewide. (Not that he needs to run them on the west side of the state.) But he has run an ad in selected markets titled “Get Out Of The Way” that is noteworthy for its lack of mudslinging. What it is not noteworthy for is any type of specific idea that he has that sets him apart from any of the other Republican candidates. It’s similar to the “One Tough Nerd” ad Snyder used to introduce himself, except that was in January.

Mike Bouchard, who distantly trails the other three in the polls, announced a plan for the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office to share info with Immigrations & Customs Enforcement to try to identify illegal immigrants in Michigan jails or facing charges. Not exactly the Arizona immigration law but some parties have argued it’s promoting racial/ethnic profiling, to which Bouchard responded on WJR [Audio link on the bottom of page.]:

What you’re talking about is someone who is an alien in this country and is arrested for something completely unrelated to status — rather they’re illegal or legal. And people don’t even want us to do that?  That tells you how stunning the disconnect between today’s realities are and the people that oppose that.

Now, I would never accuse a politician of trying to capitalize on an issue that is hot elsewhere but not so much here, except that I think I just did.

Kym Worthy called for parents who fail to appear for parent-teacher conferences to be jailed. The Michigan Messenger contacted all of the candidates for comment. As of Wednesday, only Hoekstra and Andy Dillon responded (TMM has no update on the post). Both expressed support for the idea that parents need to take an active role in their children’s education. However, Dillon questioned both the enforcement and effectiveness of such a policy.

The Speaker supports increased parental involvement in schools throughout the state, but does have some concerns about the implementation and enforcement of the authority requested by the Wayne County Prosecutor. In some cases, a parent who cannot attend a P/T conference does not always mean they aren’t engaged. The real question for parental involvement ultimately becomes more than just a single meeting – emphasis must be placed on maintaining parental involvement throughout the year on a more consistent basis.

After the debates of the last couple week, there wasn’t much news from the Democrats this week. The Livingston Daily did a fact check on claims of both Dillon and Virg Bernero and found, of course, both the truth and exaggerations have been told on both sides.

Bernero did get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood of Michigan and Michigan National Organization for Women.

Kathleen Gray of the Detroit Free Press wrote a piece on the difficulty that U.S. Rep Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick is having running in the shadow of the scandals engulfing her husband and son. (Do I really need to link them?) In addition to representing sections of Detroit, she also represents several Downriver communities like Wyandotte, where she marched in an Independence Day parade.

The piece discusses the difficulty she’s having with her family’s public problems and discusses the five people running to unseat her in the primary.  The fact that she has five opponents could be her saving grace:

But this year could be different, said Detroit political consultant Eric Foster.

“She’s got a very, very narrow margin for success,” he said. “She has a base of about 38% of support in the district. As long as one of the candidates can show themselves as a credible alternative to her, she could have a problem.”

He thinks voters in Detroit may be suffering from election fatigue after four mayoral elections in the last year, and that could help a non-Detroiter.

“A hard 70% outside of the city will break overwhelmingly to whoever is the credible alternative to Kilpatrick,” Foster said. “Right now, Hansen is the person to do that, but if Broad can get up on TV and radio, then it could break toward him.”

“Hansen” is state Senator Hansen Clarke and “Broad” is Grosse Pointe businessman John Broad, whom, the piece says, might have the largest war chest. (Wyandotte and Grosse Pointe? How large is this district?)

The others are pastor Glenn Plummer (not that Glenn Plummer), who has GOP ties (gave money to Bush’s campaign in 2003), former GOP Detroit mayorial and city council candidate Stephen Hume, and Vincent Brown of Garden City, who the piece says “worked in the auto industry for eight years and for the group Clean Water Action for two years.” (Grosse Pointe, Wyandotte and Garden City?!)

Keeping Up With The Candidates

As the August primary election nears, the candidates for Michigan’s statewide offices are ratcheting up the mudslinging and accusations.

But first, in positive news, Mike Cox made news simply by releasing an ad that was, uh, not negative. [The Detroit News]

Attorney General Mike Cox plays up his service in the U.S. Marines in the third major TV ad of his campaign, which was launched today, and it’s the first spot that doesn’t attack one of his GOP opponents.

The ad shows the Republican gubernatorial candidate in his dress blues, and the voiceover says: "At 18 he enlisted in the Marines. He’s never backed down from a fight."

Cox served in the Marines in the United States and Korea from 1980-83. He was honorably discharged at the rank of corporal.

His background as a Wayne County assistant prosecutor is also highlighted with a scene showing Cox ducking under crime scene tape.

I notice this ad wasn’t paid for by “Eagle Strategies.”

That pretty much covers the positive news. The rest is mostly right-on-right crime. This week, ads his campaign had prepared for the inevitable Manoogian mansion party accusations were leaked on the internet. [MyFoxDetroit.com]

The Michigan gubernatorial campaign of Republican Attorney General Mike Cox says four of its unaired TV ads were stolen and posted on YouTube.

Campaign officials said Tuesday they were talking with attorneys to determine how to proceed and to identify who posted the commercials under the tag AnyOneButCox.

The ads feature people including former police officers defending Cox and his role in putting former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick behind bars.

Cox’s campaign was quick to blame his opponents for stealing the ads but without any proof. Kind of like the Manoogian mansion accusations of which he complains.

"None of us in law enforcement or the media found once person who could say they were there, or that a crime happened," Cox said. "What does it matter to running for governor?

"I’m not running (for governor) to talk about rumors from seven years ago."

In other GOP primary news, Pete Hoekstra picked up the endorsement of retiring Rep. Vern Ehlers. [MLive] He also criticized President Obama for not closing the Chicago locks to protect Lake Michigan from the onslaught of Asian carp after a carp was found six miles past the electronic barrier.

Earlier this year, Hoekstra sponsored a bill that would have given the Army Corps of Engineers the authority to close the locks, apply fish poisons and install new barriers.

"Closing the locks is not enough, and the Army Corps has acknowledged that they have no intention to do so," Hoekstra said.

I don’t know what good it would do to give the ACE the authority to close locks when the organization has fought the push to do so. It’s like giving me the authority to watch the Twilight movies. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

It seems Rick Snyder wasn’t really a nerd in high school. (In other words, there wasn’t much news from the Snyder camp this week.) He did pick up a co-endorsement (along with Mike Bouchard) from the Detroit Regional Chamber. The Chamber also endorsed Andy Dillon on the Democrat side. [MLive]

Despite trailing Cox, Snyder and Hoekstra in pretty much all statewide polls, Bouchard is the leader in metro Detroit. [MLive] Then again, these polls are fluctuating so much from day-to-day that I’m trying to avoid references to them. This is interesting because metro Detroit is obviously has a large effect in Michigan elections

The GOP candidates will all be in Grand Rapids tonight for a debate on WOOD-TV. As with the Democratic debate earlier this week, eastsiders should be able to follow the debate online here.

With only two candidates, the Democrats are so much easier to follow, and not at all less exciting.

Dillon and Virg Bernero hurled verbal bombs at each other during a debate on June 21.

Dillon called Bernero a career politician seeking his "sixth office" in 20 years and who was exaggerating his record as mayor. But it contained little of the bite and specificity Bernero aimed at a large swath of a Democratic primary electorate that hasn’t yet made up its mind.

Bernero criticized Dillon for an FY 2010 budget crafted with Senate Republicans that relies on all cuts and no revenues. Casualties have been cities that have lost revenue sharing and college students who lost their $4,000 Michigan Promise scholarship.

Post-budget attempts by Dillon to raise revenue to soften the cuts went nowhere.

"People were looking to the speaker for leadership, looking for him to stand up for those scholarship funds," Bernero said. After Dillon said he’d work to restore the university aid, Bernero said Dillon "now wants to be elected governor to fix so many of the mistakes he made."

Dillon responded that Bernero offered no solutions of his own and that during his tenure in the Legislature, helped create the current structural budget deficit. "The mayor constantly bashes me (for budget cuts) but I don’t hear him calling for a tax increase to fund these programs."

Bernero was profiled at length by the Detroit Free Press. It’s the beginning of a series of profiles. Dillon’s will appear on Friday.

Bernero is also getting a push by the AFL-CIO.

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MDP Chair Brewer slams MSC Justice Young

MDP Chair Mark Brewer

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer

Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer is getting a jump start on the silly season of politics.

Brewer jabbed at Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert P. Young Jr. in a press release issued yesterday. Young, who is running for re-election to the MSC this fall, doesn’t care about the average working Joe or Josephine, says Brewer.

Young, along with a majority of the justices, reversed the Michigan Court of Appeals in Alderman v. J.C. Development Communities, a construction-accident case in which Randy Alderman, a subcontractor’s employee, was badly burned when a crane hit a power line.

MSC Justice Robert P. Young Jr.

Michigan Supreme Court Justice Robert P. Young Jr.

At issue was whether the general contractor was liable to Alderman under the common-work-area doctrine. Under Ormsby v. Capital Welding, Inc., 471 Mich. 45 (2004), the doctrine requires proof of four elements:
  • (1) that the defendant contractor failed to take reasonable steps within its supervisory and coordinating authority;
  • (2) to guard against readily observable and avoidable dangers;
  • (3) that created a high degree of risk to a significant number of workers; and
  • (4) in a common work area.

Judge Edward Sosnick of the Oakland County Circuit Court said Alderman hadn’t made his case, reasoning that Alderman and the other five members of his crew were the only ones in the area. According to Sosnick:

At most, six employees of one subcontractor were exposed to the risk of electrocution. This is not sufficient to establish a common work area.

The COA panel, Judges Donald S. Owens, Deborah A. Servitto and Elizabeth L. Gleicher, disagreed.

Plaintiff presented evidence that this construction project was rather large and that his employer was not the only subcontractor working in the vicinity of the power lines on the date of this accident. …

Plaintiff’s crew may have been the only subcontractors working on lot 273 when the accident occurred, but the power lines did not merely run along the one lot. They ran along several lots under active construction, and electricity is commonly understood to be hazardous.

The crane could easily have torn down the power lines, creating a hazard to anyone within striking distance of the fallen lines, or could have caused a fire. The risk of harm associated with a crane hitting the power lines is high and is not as narrow as defendant would suggest.

The risk at issue is the potential harm to be had if the crane hit the power lines — not merely the harm to be had if the crane made contact with the power lines and someone was involved in the electrical circuit between the power lines the crane.

In an order issued last week, Young and four other justices reversed, using language that generally tracked Sosnick’s when he initially dismissed the case:

The risk of injury at issue here was the risk of electrocution from a subcontractor’s crane coming into contact with power lines above the construction site.

The only employees exposed to the risk of electrocution were two to six employees of one subcontractor, including the plaintiff, and therefore there was not a high degree of risk to a significant number of workers.

Brewer, on the Democratic Party’s website, was quick to pounce, painting Young as a friend of insurance and business interests and a working-class enemy:

On Law Day, which is intended to celebrate the benefits to all Americans of the American legal system, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young again denies those benefits to injured workers.

In an order released Friday, April 30th, Young and his colleagues denied relief to a construction worker, severely burned and nearly electrocuted on the job, because there was “not a high degree of risk to a significant number of workers.” …

“If six employees at risk of electrocution is ‘not a high degree of risk to a significant number of employees’ according to Young, how many workers doing what dangerous job is enough?” asked Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer. …

“To Young, only insurance companies, corporations and their CEO’s, the people who fund his campaigns, are entitled to legal protection.”

But Brewer’s rhetoric proves a little too much.

Could you imagine Brewer leveling the same broadside against MSC Justice Michael F. Cavanagh, who has had the warm support of the Democratic Party in elections past? Not in this lifetime.

But Cavanagh joined Young, and Justices Elizabeth A. Weaver, Maura D. Corrigan and Stephen J. Markman in reversing the COA and reinstating Sosnick’s dismissal. Chief Justice Marilyn Kelly and Justice Diane M. Hathaway would have denied leave to appeal the COA’s decision.

That might make one think that Alderman is not about one justice looking for an opportunity to kick someone when they are down and, instead, is better understood as a principled disagreement about the scope of a legal doctrine that forecloses one avenue of relief.

The silly season of politics is upon us.

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Sleeping judge, the sequel

The “Sleeping Judge” ad campaign that targeted former Michigan Supreme Court Justice Clifford Taylor was criticized, even by Democrats who wanted to see him unseated, as being possibly less than honest, and at the very least a cheap shot which had an enormous impact on the election.

Well, a similar campaign is resurrected, but this time takes aim at Justice Robert P. Young, who is up for reelection this year.

The Michigan Democratic Party’s Web site has posted a contest, inviting participants to guess “How many times has Bob Young fallen asleep on the bench?” and the winner will get a Bob “Sleepy” Young t-shirt.

The site hauls out the statistic: “An insurance industry lawyer, Young has ruled with insurance companies and corporations 80 % of the time,” which would be fair game if it’s true.

But another round of “sleeping judge” ads? Is this how we want to appeal to voters to select a Justice for our state’s highest court?

There is much discussion among members of our legal community about how campaigning and money can influence our judges. And it’s probably fair to say that it’s time to change the way we select our appellate court judges. But it seems somewhat unfair to talk up  (and let’s be honest – it’s generally Democrats who would most like to see the judicial selection process changed)  the unsavory process of judicial elections, while at the same time appealing to the lowest common denominator of the electorate.

Another Democratic Candidate Bites The Dust

And yet another Democratic gubernatorial candidate has opted against running this year. This time, it’s a guy who just entered the fray:

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit was the first Democrat to jump in after Lt. Gov. John Cherry withdrew from the Democratic race for governor. But now Clarke is dropping out as well.

Clarke said Friday in a status update on his Facebook page that he won’t be a candidate for governor this year.

A message was left with his campaign office seeking comment.

The complete list of declared gubernatorial candidates in both parties, per the AP:

REPUBLICANS IN THE RACE:

—Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard of Birmingham

—Attorney General Mike Cox of Livonia

—State Sen. Tom George of Kalamazoo County’s Texas Township

—U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Holland

—Venture capitalist Rick Snyder of Ann Arbor

___

DEMOCRATS IN THE RACE:

State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit

—State Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith of Washtenaw County’s Salem Township

The lack of candidates is probably a good thing for the higher profile prospective candidates as they explore whether they can actually raise the money needed to run their options. This AP article discusses these undeclared Democratic candidates.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The surprising withdrawal of Lt. Gov. John Cherry from the Michigan governor’s race presented a golden opportunity to other Democrats who thought they’d have to wait years to run.

But they don’t have much time to decide if they’re in or out.

Some of the five Republicans in the race are poised to begin running ads in February, giving them the chance to make the first favorable impression on voters. And whichever of the uncommitted Democrats jumps into race first could grab the biggest share of donations and endorsements, leaving latecomers with crumbs.

"You can buy a little bit more time as long as everybody else is still up in the air on this," political strategist Tom Shields of Marketing Resources Group said Thursday. "But when those campaign committees start forming, and people start raising money and getting commitments, that’s when you need to either fish or cut bait."

U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak hears the clock ticking. Although he has a safe congressional seat and powerful committee assignments, the Democrat from Menominee is considering running for governor.

"This isn’t something that presents itself very often," Stupak told The Associated Press. "You have to take a look at it."

He’s heading to Detroit on Friday to meet with party activists and get a better feel for whether he wants to run. At the same time, he is deeply involved in negotiations over the federal health care overhaul bill and language restricting how abortions are covered by insurance.

A run for governor "is appealing, but from a practical point of view, can you do it with this compressed time line we have? Health care compresses it even more," Stupak said. He noted that GOP gubernatorial candidate and fellow congressman Pete Hoekstra faces some of the same constraints, "but he’s at least been out there another year."

Stupak knows his opposition to abortion could prove a hurdle to getting the nomination. The former state trooper also is a gun-rights advocate. But he has spoken with former U.S. Rep. David Bonior, an abortion opponent who ran in the 2002 Democratic governor’s race, and said he’s encouraged so far.

Among the others eyeing the race, University of Michigan Regent Denise Ilitch spent Wednesday evening introducing herself at a Democratic mixer in Grand Rapids after discussing a possible run with White House and Democratic Governors Association officials in Washington the night before.

Although she won a statewide race in 2008 as regent, the lawyer from Bingham Farms isn’t well-known in Democratic circles, despite her family owning sports teams, casinos and the Little Caesar’s pizza chain. She’s working to change that, but could be hampered by a pattern of donating to Republicans as well as Democrats.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports Ilitch gave $2,000 to former President George W. Bush in 2003, the same year she gave $1,000 to Republican U.S. Rep. Candice Miller. Former President George H.W. Bush got $1,000 in 1992 from Ilitch, who gave the Michigan Republican State Committee $1,000 in 2000.

Ilitch also donated $3,300 to 2008 Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton and at least $7,500 over the years to Democrats such as Sens. Debbie Stabenow, Carl Levin and the late Ted Kennedy. The Michigan Democratic State Central Committee received $3,000 between 2005 and 2009.

She did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday to her law office.

Other Democrats considering a run are also on record as donating to Republicans. House Speaker Andy Dillon, who has formed an exploratory committee, gave $1,000 to the Michigan Republican State Committee in 1994, records show.

"We’re going to chalk it up to a youthful indiscretion," Dillon spokesman Dan Mahoney said Thursday.

State Sen. Hansen Clarke of Detroit was the first Democrat to jump in after Cherry dropped out, and Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith has been in the race since last summer. Others looking at getting in are Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, former Genesee County Treasurer Dan Kildee and Michigan State University Trustee George Perles.

One other potential candidate is Robert Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball’s Internet operations and state treasurer in the 1980s under then-Gov. James Blanchard. Okemos public relations consultant Bob Kolt said Blanchard and others are talking to Bowman about getting into the race.

Bowman, who has a summer home in Harbor Springs and works in New York City, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

8.22.08: What they’re saying …

“This is a travesty of justice.”
- Dianne Byrum, frontwoman for Reform Michigan Government Now!, quoted in The Detroit News.
Well, how else would you expect her to respond to the Michigan Court of Appeals decision that halted the RMGN’s ballot proposal dead in its tracks? The RMGN folks promise endless appeals, starting today with the Michigan Supreme Court.

***

“If they wanted to do this legally, they could have come up with eight different proposed amendments. [Michigan Democratic Party Chair] Mark Brewer held a constitutional convention in his basement instead and came up with this.”
- Robert LaBrant, Michigan Chamber of Commerce vice president and chief architect of the opposition to RMGN’s proposal, quoted in The Detroit Free Press.
The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled there is a great difference between amending the Michigan Constitution, which can be accomplished at the polls, and wholesale revisions, which require convening a constitutional convention. The COA said the RMGN proposal was most definitely a revision. The proposal would alter four articles of the Michigan Constitution by modifying 24 existing sections and adding four new ones. According to the common wisdom, Brewer had a big hand in drafting the proposal.

***

“I think it’s been so male-dominated that it’s going to take years to make up that difference.”
- Danielle Hall, career and professional development coordinator for Cooley Law School, quoted in The Oakland Press.
Hall was reacting to the statewide statistic that 27 percent of the sitting judges are women. In Oakland County, the percentage could jump to more than 50 percent on the circuit court bench, depending on the outcome of two judicial contests in November. Nine of 19 circuit judges are women. Two male judges are retiring. In the August primary, the two female candidates looking to fill the openings outpolled their nearest competitors by a 2-1 margin.

***

“You might as well pull the trigger and shoot me now.”
- Nate Craft, former hit man, quoted in The Detroit News.
More than 20 years ago, Craft bargained down a first-degree murder charge and life sentence in exchange for his testimony against his former employer, the Best Friends drug gang. He was released from federal prison this spring but was denied participation in the witness protection program. Worst yet, says Craft, the terms of his probation require him to live in Michigan for the next two years. He spends his days peering out his windows and looking over his shoulder.