Michigan, oh Michigan, that you never fail to amaze me is both a constant joy and a rash on my…
Yet, I still do love you, Mitten State.
Yesterday, the Michigan State Supreme Court dropped a ton of bricks on the odd behavior of Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was refusing to release audio and notes from a meeting back in October. Michigan’s top court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the commission must immediately release those documents.
One of the groups that I follow that covers these types of transparency issues, Michigan Rising Action, broke this yesterday via Twitter…
Moments ago, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered our state’s “Independent” Redistricting Commission to release the secret memos and a recording from their closed-door meeting on October 27. The Court ruled that the Commission’s decision to keep the documents concealed from the public violated the state Constitution, and the ruling requires the Commission to release the documents immediately.
“Michigan’s Constitution clearly states that all business must be conducted in public, not behind closed doors,” said Eric Ventimiglia, Executive Director for Michigan Rising Action. Ventimiglia continued, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant, and today’s ruling will cast a bright light on the Commission’s botched process and lack of transparency.”
When Ventimiglia says botched process and lack of transparency he is not kidding. As I wrote here back in October, this group and their deliberations have been a bit of a mess from the start. They have been dragging thier feet and seem to have no sense of urgency with an election less than a year away.
This system that Michigan has adopted is loosely based on a similar one in California and is being executed about as badly as everything in California is. Except for the ineffective Governor with too much hair gel — ours has too much hair spray.
Even if, by some miracle of God, this commission — which has so far shown a severe lack of urgency — were to get this done by the November 1st deadline (today is Oct 1st mind you) there is still the 45-day public hearing portion to contend with. Once the commission completes that task, which would be in the middle of December, and during the holidays there is no way they would have this ready to go until next January. Then, with the inevitable lawsuits of different groups expressing outrage over the non-gerrymandering, gerrymandering from “independents,” we land so close to the candidates’ deadline for filing in April 2022, you can see what a complete mess this is.
Back when the legislature handled this task, you had scheduled hearings that the public could attend and you could voice your support or objections or add some sage commentary. Elected officials, like them or not, get paid to handle these types of things and have staff to help handle the load. Now we seem to have a random group of people that have zero experience in drawing district lines and all that goes into it and we are currently way behind the curve with the November 2022 elections just 11 months away.
Michigan is losing a congressional seat next year and this commission has prolonged the musical chairs election dance of what area will get expanded or shrunk. This delay is also putting on hold all of the state elected officials’ districts who represent us in Lansing.
So, here we are just a mere 10 days away from the beginning of the new year, and this commission was just ordered to release information that they discussed in a closed-door meeting that violated the Michigan State Constitution and they have not yet given any idea how this process has gone. Except for all the deadlines missed and the court order saying the Freedom of Information act is kinda important.
Maybe they are telling us how it is going.
This commission is scheduled to have a final vote on their plan a week from today on December 28th and I’m not feeling all that swell that this will be the final say in this process. Even if they make this deadline (which I doubt), the court cases will begin and the voters will be left scratching their heads about what in the hell is going on.
Which, quite frankly, in Michigan is not all that unusual when it comes to what our elected and non-elected officials are doing.