This past week, two of Michigan’s alternative weeklies published their endorsements for the six proposals on the ballot. Unlike the Detroit Free Press, Detroit News and Lansing State Journal, which favored the status quo by telling their readers to vote “yes on 1, no on the rest,” the alternative weeklies recommended voters cast their ballots for change.
Last Sunday, City Pulse included its recommendations in a massive editorial covering offices at all levels as well as proposals. The Lansing weekly urged no votes on Proposals 1, 5, and 6 and yes votes on 2, 3, and 4.
On Friday, it was the Metro Times turn. The metro Detroit alternative paper agreed with City Pulse on voting no on Proposals 1, 5, and 6 and yes votes on 2 and 3. They had second thoughts about Proposal 4 and urged their readers to vote no.
In its opinion on Proposal 1, the Metro Times called for the repeal of Public Act 4, the Emergency Manager Law. It compiled a list of unfavorable about the legislation, saying it would be “difficult to imagine a more undemocratic law” and calling it “extreme and unfair, a draconian measure that needs to be repealed.” It also pointed out the racial aspects of how this law has been applied and how it doesn’t fix what is really wrong with the affected municipalities–a deteriorating infrastructure and tax base–instead concentrating on mismanagement by elected officials. For its part, City Pulse isn’t “convinced giving gubernatorial-appointed emergency managers the power to break union contracts is legal to begin with, but we can short-circuit a court decision on this by just voting no on Proposal 1.”
“The ability to establish strong unions and collectively bargain is fundamental” wrote the Metro Times before urging a yes vote on Proposal 2. The paper called attention to the connection between Proposal 2 and Public Act 4, noting that the legislation allows emergency managers to void union contracts. It noted that “Proposal 2 aims to guarantee that can’t happen by enshrining in the state constitution the right of private and public sector employees to organize and bargain collectively.” The proposal would also head off right to work laws, a point echoed by City Pulse, which pointed out that Governor “Snyder claims ‘right to work’ isn’t ‘on his agenda,’ but neither was signing into law a bill banning universities from offering benefits to same-sex couples — and he signed that. The governor is on video telling a Tea Party screening committee he would sign ‘right to work’ if it got to his desk, which is reason enough to support the imperfect Proposal 2.”
Metro Times seemed wary about including Proposal 3 in the state’s constitution. Just the same, it thought that “we don’t have time to waste another decade fighting the state’s powerful electric industry to move things forward.” City Pulse agreed, saying “it’s a long shot to believe Consumers Energy or DTE will come to embracing expanded wind and solar energy on their own.” Both urged a yes vote, with the Metro Times saying it’s up to “the people, to make Michigan a leader in alternative energy.”
The two papers split on Proposal 4. City Pulse urged a yes vote, noting that “if there is any worker who deserves union representation, it’s Medicaid-paid home care workers.” The Metro Times disagreed, quoting the Center for Michigan’s Truth Squad, that the proposal would not “ensure higher wages for home aides,” as their pay is set by Medicaid, not collective bargaining. The paper cited the Citizens Research Council, which pointed out that “the state’s Home Health Care Program will remain in place regardless of what voters decide on Nov. 6.” Metro Times then recommended a no vote.
Both alternative weeklies agreed with the mainstream dailies that people should vote no on Proposals 5 and 6. In fact, the Metro Times made a point of that in their editorial, saying the following of Proposal 5.
“When you have the state’s top Republican and the man who challenged him for the job, Lansing’s Democratic mayor, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in opposition to something, you can be pretty sure that something is a very bad idea. When you have the conservative Detroit News and the lefties at the Metro Times lined up in opposition, you can be absolutely certain it’s a very bad idea.”
As for Proposal 6, the Metro Times also called attention the wide ideological spectrum of people who opposed the measure, saying “[f]rom business leaders to organized labor to L. Brooks Patterson, the Republican executive in affluent Oakland County, to Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, there is near-unanimous official support for the new bridge. It is only the Morouns and the people on their payroll who want to stop the project.”
City Pulse was even more unstinting in their derision, mocking both ballot questions by saying, “Proposals 5 and 6 are the spawn of an unholy union between an ultra-right busy body group and Michigan’s most shamelessly self-serving billionaire. Vote no on both.”
Both City Pulse and Metro Times are read by people who question authority. In the case of Proposals 5 and 6, the papers are telling them that authority is right.