Editorial Roundup: Michigan

Detroit News. Nov. 20, 2021.

Editorial: Panel must obey clearly written redistricting law

There’s no wiggle room in the language of the constitutional amendment that established the Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission. The law states plainly the commission “shall conduct all of its business at open meetings.”

Shall, not may.

And yet the 13-member panel redrawing the state’s political boundary lines seems perplexed by that unequivocal mandate, as do some of the purported experts who are offering it advice on how to conduct its business.

Thursday, the commissioners heard from Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians, who suggested they should take secret votes on the maps instead of voting in a public meeting.

“As you go towards the final vote…we hope that you will adopt best practices like putting all the maps on the same ballot and voting by secret ballots,” Wang said.

Wang’s voice carries influence because her organization led the ballot initiative that brought the “People Not Politicians” proposal before voters. She should know better than to advocate against the transparency the law demands of the process.

Secret votes are not a “best practice” under any circumstance in which the people’s business is being decided.

While we hope and expect the commission to ignore Wang’s urgings and adhere to the law, our confidence is not high, given the panel’s track record.

On Oct. 27, the commission abruptly closed its meeting, ushering out the media and public while it discussed a report from its attorneys on the Voting Rights Act. While the panel has not met in secret again, it also has not responded to demands to make public the information that was discussed behind closed doors.

State media organizations are weighing a lawsuit to force the panel to adhere to its commitment to transparency. Attorney General Dana Nessel has yet to issue an opinion that could avert a legal showdown.

Taxpayers of Michigan, as well as the newsrooms of Michigan, have better uses of their resources than fighting in court over a mandate plainly spelled out in the Michigan constitution.

In addition, earlier this month the redistricting commission ignored the advice of its own legal counsel and set limits on when members can submit individual proposed maps. This appears to conflict with the language of the constitutional amendment as well.

“We’re clarifying our interpretation of the statute, or of the constitutional amendment,” said commission chairwoman Rebecca Szetela. “We are not rewriting or redefining the constitution. We’re just defining how we’re going to interpret it.”

That sounds a lot like the chairwoman is just fine with “redefining” a clearly written law, and it’s not her place to do that. Such flippant comments undermine the credibility of the commission.

This new process for redistricting has every ability to be just what was promised — a transparent and non-partisan exercise that will help restore confidence in the electoral process.

That won’t happen if members flee into the backrooms where cronyism and self-dealing have prevailed in the past.

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Traverse City Record-Eagle. Nov. 21, 2021.

Editorial: We all know what needs to be done to crush the curve

It looks like we’re on our own.

The “we” refers to Michiganders. And the “on our own” is anything that needs to be done to curb the now-explosive surge of COVID-19 that’s has spread like wildfire in our state during the past few weeks.

That spike shows no signs of letting up — hospitals statewide, including Munson Healthcare facilities, report an alarming rise in patients needing hospitalization for COVID-19. State data shows record-setting daily positive test results, and a week where positivity rates hovered above 17 percent statewide.

During the same period, dozens of hospitals reported near- or at-capacity patient counts — at least one Spectrum hospital in Grand Rapids enacted a plan to convert a cafeteria into space for patients last week.

These are milestones that a year ago would’ve triggered a deluge of state or local public health orders, a stack of public notices from state agencies and speeches from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and her top public health officials.

Yet, last week, both state and local health officials and the governor stood largely silent. State officials issued a public health advisory encouraging mask wearing at holiday and family gatherings during the coming weeks — a measure they remind us helps mitigate the spread of the virus at times when it saturates our communities.

No universal masking order for schools or public places. No recommendations for schools to suspend in-person learning as classrooms become hotspots for virus spread. No restrictions on large events.

No, the only substantive statement from the governor was a statement encouraging those who qualify to get in line for booster doses of the three vaccines available — the most effective tool available capable of preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus.

This wild swing in leadership is jarring and sends the clear signal that we’re on our own, that the trajectory of the now-worsening surge is solely in our hands, that we all know what needs to be done to mitigate the worst-in-the-nation rise in COVID cases we’re witnessing.

Some communities will do little or nothing to combat that spike. Their inaction may sicken droves, overwhelm local health systems and some — mostly unvaccinated — will become gravely ill and possibly die. Others, through decisive local leadership and collective sacrifice, will tamp down the surge before it’s too late.

Some will argue this new approach to the pandemic, one that emphasizes a Darwinian approach to personal responsibility, should’ve been state leaders’ march since the start.

Others will argue the leadership void will swallow innocent people whose preexisting conditions or vulnerabilities make them cannon fodder for others’ experiments in autonomy.

We all know what we can do to head off the already crushing swell of COVID patients swamping hospitals in our state.

And if we care about the wellbeing of the people who care for us when we’re sick, and the vulnerable people in our lives, vaccinated or not, we will do what needs to be done.

Wear masks in gathering places, get vaccinated, and stay home if we’re sick or exposed to someone who is ill.

We all have a role to play in ensuring everyone around us enjoys a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Our collective actions during the coming weeks will determine our collective outcome.

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The (Marquette) Mining Journal. Nov. 19, 2021.

Editorial: McBroom deserves honor bestowed by Detroit News

We were exceedingly pleased to see recently that state Sen. Ed McBroom was named one of several Michiganians of the Year by the Detroit News.

McBroom, 40, a Republican farmer from Wacedah Township, made the list because of his chairmanship of the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee, tasked to closely review the 2020 election in the state of Michigan.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the GOP-dominated panel did not find evidence of widespread or systematic fraud in the balloting.

“I wanted to have the answers that I felt people were asking for and deserved,” McBroom said for a Detroit News story on the matter. “It was hard to get them. It was hard to dig into things.”

McBroom took an ugly, partisan beat down because of his work on the committee. Many conservatives condemned the committee’s findings in general and McBroom in particular. Even former President Donald Trump got involved, issuing a statement alleging McBroom, and fellow senate Republican Mike Shirkey, were working to “hide the truth” about the election.

It was, of course, nonsense but that didn’t prevent the piling on — in Lansing and here in the Upper Peninsula. It was unfair, spiteful and 100 percent undeserved.

The Detroit News quoted Shirkey in describing McBroom: “McBroom is a man of great integrity and resolve.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Sen. McBroom did the right thing when doing the wrong thing was the easy play. He stood up for honesty when many in this state and beyond did not.

Have we agreed with all of his policy decisions? No. And going forward, it’s likely we will continue to disagree with the senator as matters arise.

On this issue, however, he earned our respect and support.

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