Cross-posted on Right Michigan at www.RightMichigan.com.
Today Michigan's Mackinac Center for Public Policy made public an incredible document from a union Web site that appears to expose a so-called "Reform Michigan Government Now" ballot initiative sponsored by unions as a blatant attempt at - the document's title tells it all - "Changing the Rules of Politics in Michigan to Help Democrats."
This is a major embarrassment for both the United Auto Workers and the other backers of the initiative, including the AFL-CIO and the state Democratic Party, who have argued that the initiative (on which nearly $2 million has already been spent) is just a package of "good government reforms." It may be a bit premature to say, but this exposure of the measure's true purpose could sound it's death knell.
And it all came about due to the research and a blog post by a "lowly" intern at a free market think tank! Here's the story:
Jim Vote is a Wayne State University grad student currently serving as a summer intern in the Mackinac Center's Labor Policy Initiative. This year Jim and his fellow Mackinac Center interns started a blog site called "Trying Liberty" in which they express news and views on "the value of liberty." Naturally, many of their posts are informed by the important work these principled and talented young idealists are doing for the nation's premier state-based free market think tank.
And how! While performing research Jim struck gold regarding the deeply flawed "Reform Michigan Government Now" initiative. RMGN would rewrite vast portions of the Michigan Constitution in ways that unambiguously benefit Democrats. Most notoriously, it would impose a form of "reverse court-packing" to tilt the state Supreme and Appellate Courts in a manner perceived to be more friendly to union and Democratic Party interests. To make it more attractive to the public these changes are packaged with a variety of populist "loss leaders" like lowering legislative salaries and benefits. (More analysis and descriptions of the initiative here.)
The proposal has been panned as transparently partisan by editorials in the state's leading newspapers, both liberal and conservative. It is transparently partisan, but of course it's proponents claimed that it was just a package of good government measures, and no one could prove that their intentions were something different.
No one could prove it, that is, until Jim Vote uncovered a shockingly candid Powerpoint posted on the United Auto Workers Region 1-C Web site called "Changing the Rules of Politics in Michigan to Help Democrats." the presentation outlines a series of changes to remove "structural obstacles to Democratic control of state government." The document also includes polling data and details of a $4.9 million budget for passing the initiative, which is described as "less than half the cost of trying to beat an incumbent GOP Supreme Court Justice."
Jim Vote blogged about this in "Trying Liberty," but several days passed before a closer look at the document revealed its true nature. By then the Powerpoint and any reference to it had been scrubbed from the UAW Web site. Fortunately, the enterprising Mr. Vote had saved screen captures of all 34 slides.
The reverberations are just beginning to tremble through Michigan's political establishment, and it will be days or weeks before the full impact of this major union gaff can be assessed, but it's safe to say that the RMGN backers are not having a good day!