Aug 27, 2007

Drolet’s intimidation attempt is bringing the political parties together

State Sen. Valde Garcia, R-Howell, is doing the right thing in the face of rightwing wacko Leon Drolet’s attempt at intimidation of Michigan lawmakers willing to make the hard choice and invest in Michigan.

Drolet is a former Republican state Representative, current Macomb County Commissioner and executive director of something called the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance (MTA). He has been in the news for months trying to intimidate lawmakers from voting to keep the state government going and avoid even spending further cuts with the upcoming budget facing a $1.8 million projected deficit.

According to the AP and others news sources, Drolet began filing paperwork to recall state lawmakers who may vote for tax increases, including Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, D-Redford; Marc Corriveau, D-Northville; Mary Valentine, D-Muskegon; Gino Polidori, D-Dearborn; Ed Gaffney, R-Grosse Pointe Farms and Richard Ball, R-Laingsburg. The Senate members are Glenn Anderson, D-Westland; Dennis Olshove, D-Warren; Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores and Valde Garcia, R-Howell.

Drolet said anti-tax organizers on Monday filed or intended to file with local clerks nine statements of organization setting up potential recall efforts, with another one against Garcia to come later this week. The moves will take care of paperwork so recall language can be proposed quickly if lawmakers vote to raise taxes, Drolet said.

Garcia, a conservative Republican from my hometown, said he’s researching the legality of how the paperwork for his potential recall was filed. “It’s an attempt to intimidate state legislators into not voting for a tax increase,” he said.

I agree, and I’m also very curious to see how he will try and pull this off. In my 12 years as a reporter I have seen a few attempted recalls of local elected officials, including a successful one – the only one I have ever seen – against the township supervisor in Hartland Township. Most never get past the petition stage if they get their recall language approved by the local election commission. It should be very difficult to launch a recall, and it should only be used if they are abusing their office or have committed a crime, not for a decision you don’t like. But I have never, ever seen a preemptive recall, or a recall for something that has not yet happened.

I’m also in the dark on how this intimidation campaign by Drolet and the MTA is not against Michigan campaign finance law.

The MTA claims it’s ”a true alliance in that its members are dedicated to stopping the state from increasing taxes from any segment of Michigan citizens. The MTA is a federally registered 501(c)4 organization dedicated to taxpayer education and advocacy for reduced state spending and a reduced overall tax burden.”

It seems to me meddling in state elections and overturning the will of the voters goes well beyond the scope of “taxpayer education and advocacy.” They are also taking monetary donations on their web site, and they are not listed as a Political Action Committee (PAC) or a ballot committee, and they are clearly playing both roles. I’m sure one of Drolet's flunkies will set me straight, but it does not pass the smell test. It’s just one more attempt, just like the deceptive named Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, for outsiders to come in and meddle in Michigan politics and elections.

The only good to come out of this is Drolet is truly bringing both sides of the political spectrum together to condemn him for what he really is, a bully and a wacko. I hope he does attempt his recalls. I don’t see eye-to-eye on much with Garcia, but he’s a nice guy. If he does the right thing and votes to invest in Michigan’s future I look forward to helping him fight off this ridiculous recall.

Fellow Republican and Macomb County resident Rep. Jack Brandenburg, R-Harrison Township, even thinks Drolet is a wacko. But veteran journalist Jack Lessenberry had the best take on both the budget situation and on Drolet.

“Do we want to build a future for Michigan?
If so, we need to support our legislature by raising taxes in the most sane and sensible way possible. There is no other choice.”

I think most sane and reasonable Michigan residents agree with that statement.

“Our lawmakers indirectly taxed poor young people who are trying to improve themselves. That’s partly because they fear a guy named Leon Drolet, who travels around with a pink fiberglass pig and threatens to recall any lawmaker who votes to raise taxes. Drolet, by the way is a taxpayer-funded government employee.”

Very true. In fact, according to undisputed facts provided by the Michigan Democratic Party, “during his six years as a State Representative, Drolet cost Michigan taxpayers $1.1 million, including more than $91,000 for mileage reimbursements and $72,000 for his "expense allowance" – in addition to the $477,900 spent on his salary.
Drolet currently still has his nose in the public trough where he serves on the Macomb County Commission, earning $34,069 a year. He also pays himself $39,000 as executive director of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance. He also receives free health care for the rest of his life at Michigan taxpayer expense for his entire six years of service. Ask someone who spent 20 years in the military how much health care they get.


WCTaxpayers said...

OK Mr. Investing in Michigan - I have been investing in Michigan (paying taxes)for 45 years. When I was 14 I was to inexperienced to know that my money was being misspent. I worked my heart out over the years trying to pay my way through school, idealistically trying to help some people who had no desire to help themselves, helping to opperate a business and getting married and having a baby.

What I discovered around 30 years of age was that I was working myself ill and each year was giving government a bigger portion of my income, which they were misusing. Let me make this perfectly clear - I am no ones flunky nor do I expect somebody to be mine.

You on the other hand seem to believe that I should be yours. You believe I should give my money to you for your purposes and belittle my right to object. I know, it was all Gov. Englers fault. I have news buddy, this was going on long before and during his tenure.

Leon Drolet may be a catalyst but it takes thousands of agreeing voters to carry a recall off. Leon wasn't anywhere around the last time this happened in Michigan but I was. Pesonally, I hope it doesn't have to happen.

Job loss, home loss and the loss of children who are migrating to other states to find a job have nothing to do with my money, only poor management.

Rose Bogaert, Chair
Wayne County Taxpayers Assn., Inc.

Communications guru said...

Thank you for your comments, Ms. Bogaert. I too have worked and paid taxes since I was 14. Perhaps the money has been mismanaged at times, but that’s no reason to do this. I don’t know who or what you are referring to when you say you are “trying to help some people who had no desire to help themselves.” I would venture to say you probably drive on our roads and bridges everyday or use other things paid for by tax investment. However, I don’t know how you can claim that when you were 30 you discovered the government was taking a bigger portion of your income when taxes in Michigan have been cut every year for the past 15 years, and we have less state employees now than we did in 1973, despite having more residents.

I don’t want you to be my flunky, nor do I want your money. The only way to get this state out of this situation is to invest in it, not to disinvest in it and shut down government. I am not belittling your right to object, but this is wrong and disgusting, recalling somebody for what they might do. Hopefully they will do the right thing and vote to invest in my state and keep it solvent. You, on the other hand, are free to do what you want.

Like you, I wasn’t around either when a state recall occurred. I will this time, and if you do this ridiculous threat, I will also be working, for the first time, for Republican candidates.

WCTaxpayers said...

First, I think you misread what I had to say. I was around and even involved in the recalls of 1983. We had unsucessfully tried to recall Sen. McCallough. We thought we had collected more than enough signatures and a big enough safety margin to recall him. We found out that along with harrassing us the MEA and others took time to sign our petitions more than once and invalidated both signatures on a large number of our petitions.

Secondly, If you wanted your roads and bridges fixed you should have said something earlier before they took transportation money and diverted it to something else.

As far as the Republicans and Democrats working together, that is the way it is suposed to be. The problem is, they should be working for us instead of Lobbyists and themselves.

I notice that you still continue to call taxes an investment. There are good and bad investments. A business that is run like our state would be out of business in a heartbeat. Pesonally, until the management improves or is changed I will choose to hold my investment.

Communications guru said...

I apologize for misreading that you were around in 1983. I was in the military then. This is a clear abuse of the intent of the recall law, in my opinion, and most recalls are. Like I said before, it should only be used if they are abusing their office or have committed a crime, not for a decision you don’t like. Certainly, not for some decision they might make. This is the worst abuse of the recall process I have ever seen.

Good idea. I guess I will be signing lots of petitions. “If you wanted your roads and bridges fixed you should have said something earlier before they took transportation money and diverted it to something else.” What are you talking about? Roads and bridges are just one example of what taxes are used for. They are also used for schools, police, fire, ambulances, parks, clean water, clean air and the list goes on and on.

I don’t necessarily think Democrats and Republicans should be working together all the time when they have major differences, but this will bring them together, at least for me.

Correct, I do call taxes an investment and will continue to do so because that’s exactly what they are. Of course there and bad investments, and what you should do, like I am, is to urge people to stop that particular investment, not stop all investment. We are wasting billons of tax dollars every single day in that useless civil war in Iraq, and I am trying to stop that. If I stopped paying my taxes to support that folly how soon do think it would be before the IRS was at my door? Another problem is the other good my tax dollars go toward, like school lunches, Medicare, aids to the states and hundreds of other necessary things.

I guess I’m just more patriotic than you, so I will choose to pay my taxes.