Rightwing Fraud Derails Tax Revolt

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Increasing Democracy

Rightwing Fraud Derails Tax Revolt

The libertarian movement backed by a super-wealthy New York developer is proving why it hates the government so much: they appear constitutionally unable to follow the law. Howard Rich and his cronies have been behind efforts to clone Colorado's disastrous TABOR spending cap measure, various knock-off proposals based on Oregon's anti-land use planning law Measure 37, and various assaults on the judicial system.

The bad news for voters in the states where Rich decided to play is that he and his underlings repeatedly violated multiple laws in their attempts to qualify these measures for the ballot. The good news is that judges and state officials are largely doing their jobs and holding Rich and his ilk accountable for their actions. In many states, this accountability has resulted in the disqualification of these ballot measures.

Michigan: Last week, a bipartisan panel removed a TABOR measure from Michigan's ballot after a sampling of signatures indicated such high rates of duplicate and invalid signatures that a startling 40% of the signatures were deemed invalid. The number of duplicate signatures was especially remarkably high -- indicating that many voters who were signing the petitions were either misled or not fully informed about what they were signing, a pattern that has emerged in other states.

Montana: Yesterday, a state judge ruled that three initiatives -- a TABOR clone, a Measure 37 clone, and an anti-judge initiative -- failed to qualify for the ballot because "the signature-gathering process was permeated by a pervasive and general pattern and practice of deceit, fraud and procedural non-compliance." The judge wrote that to allow the initiatives to move forward after the systemic presence of such practices would "manifest taint on the political process." Unsurprisingly, the rightwingers hit back announcing the decision is judicial activism.

Nevada: The state's supreme court knocked down one Rich initiative and cut the most onerous sections out of a second for different reasons. The state's TABOR clone, known as Tax and Spending Control (TASC), was filed with the state in one form and circulated with different language among voters. The court found that to be an inappropriate bait-and-switch. TASC's backers complained that they had only screwed up on some minor details, $1.5 billion in minor details. Meanwhile, the state's Measure 37 clone was, as in most states, embedded in an initiative responding to the recent Kelo decision. The court held that combining the two issues into a single initiative -- a strategic decision recommended by the rightwing Reason Foundation -- violated the state's laws that require that initiatives relate to a single subject. They ended up removing the Measure 37 language, leaving the measure as simply a Kelo response.

Other States: These are the most recent decisions to come down, but they are hardly the only ones. In Oklahoma, a unanimous supreme court decision found that Rich's gang illegally relied on out-of-state signature gatherers and struck the state's TABOR proposal from the ballot. In Missouri, the secretary of state and a judge both found that supporters of TABOR and Measure 37 initiatives had failed to comply with the law, preventing both measures from qualifying for the ballot.

Despite these victories, ballot measures are still advancing in several states. For more on the proposals and the groups fighting them, visit's TABOR, Land Use, and Judicial Assault campaign page:

  • Arizona: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.
  • California: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.
  • Colorado: A judicial term limits measure remains on the ballot.
  • Idaho: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.
  • Maine: TABOR Spending Cap proposal remains on the ballot.
  • Nebraska: TABOR Spending Cap proposal remains on the ballot.
  • Oregon: TABOR Spending Cap proposal remains on the ballot. Two measures attacking the judiciary are also on the ballot.
  • South Dakota: A proposal to allow criminals to sue judges remains on the ballot.
  • Washington: Measure 37 Anti-Land Use Planning Clone remains on the ballot.

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Rewarding Work

IL: Chicago Mayor Vetoes Retail Living Wage Ordinance

In his first veto over 17 years as mayor, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has vetoed the ordinance passed by the city council which would have required large retail stores of at least 90,000 square feet to pay $10 an hour, plus $3 in benefits, by July 2010.

This is the issue where Daley has decided to divide the city, despite polls showing 71% of Chicagoans support the ordinance. But Daley is sticking with his corporate supporters and blocking a decent wage for retail workers in the city.

Daley hides behind the fig leaf of threats by retail stores to avoid development in the City, yet ignores the experience of cities like Santa Fe and San Francisco that have raised local minimum wages-- and yet the businesses keep coming in. Leaders from both those cities came to Chicago recently to testify that higher living wages have been good for those cities' economies. In fact, in Santa Fe, which raised its minimum wage for all businesses with 25 or more employees, Wal-Mart announced plans to open a new Super Center store in that city.

Big box retailers want access to urban consumers-- and the only question is whether political leaders will stand up for their employees or stand in the way. Unfortunately, Daley has chosen to stand in the way of a decent life for low wage service workers in his city.

A move to override the veto failed yesterday.

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Valuing Families

MI: Vaccinating Against Cancer

A bipartisan group of Michigan legislators have made a bold move to fight cancer by announcing new legislation to require a cervical cancer vaccination in students entering the 6th grade. 70% of cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that can now be prevented through vaccination, although the vaccine is ideally administered at a young age.

The vaccine has drawn rightwing ire in the past, when far-right special interests attacked the vaccine for promoting sexual indiscretion. Republican Senator Bev Hammerstrom rejects that line of thinking:

"We're immunizing girls to protect them from cervical cancer," she said. "The discussion that parents have with their kids doesn't even have to go into the whole issue of how you get it. It's a drug against cancer."

Michigan law also allows parents to exempt their children from required vaccines for religious or philosophical reasons.

The simple fact is that we have a solution in our reach to stop 70% of cervical cancer cases. The politicization of medicine is the wrong course. Kudos to these Michigan legislators for rejecting that approach.

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Research Roundup

Mental Illness in Prisons, Immigrants and Language, and Voters and Non-Voters

Here's one of the appalling statistics about our prison system nationwide -- according to the US Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners and 64 percent of local jail inmates suffer from some form of mental health problem. Significant numbers include major depression and psychotic disorders, including hallucinations -- and rather than getting treatment, they end up in our prisons.

Contrary to the hysteria of some anti-immigrant campaigners, a new study co-written by Douglas Massey of the Princeton Woodrow Wilson School shows that Spanish-speaking immigrants rapidly become primarily English speakers by the second and third generation. In fact, by the third generation, any facility with Spanish is largely extinguished-- itself a problem for a nation that would benefit in the global economy from more multilingual Americans.

Voters and non-voters are often very different-- and in California, the non-voting adults are far more diverse and poorer and have very different policy priorities from the more limited number of those participating in elections in that state, according to a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California. As the report emphasizes, "the fact that a relatively small group of voters is making the decisions about elected representatives and public policy can raise serious questions about the legitimacy of the democratic system."

Rightwing Fraud

Ballot Initiative Strategy Center,
Montana 8th District Court, Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Order Invalidating Certification of CI-98, CI-97, and I-154
Progressive States, The Takings Trap

IL: Chicago Mayor Vetoes Retail Living Wage Ordinance

Chicago Living Wage Ordinance
AFL-CIO, "Wal-Mart Wins in Chicago--But the Battle Isn't Over"

MI: Vaccinating Against Cancer

Planned Parenthood, HPV Immunization
The Kaiser Family Foundation, "Merck's HPV Vaccine Produces Stronger Immune Response in Girls, Boys Ages 10-15 Than Women Ages 16-23, Study Says"

Eye on the Right

We've highlighted the role of various rightwing organizations in mobilizing the initiatives detailed in today's feature story. Those organizations include the Reason Foundation, various think tanks, and Howard Rich's various outfits -- Americans for Limited Government, America At Its Best, the Fund for Democracy. It should not be surprising, either, that the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) also played a role in crafting the language for the TABOR measure.

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Matt Singer
Editor, Stateside Dispatch


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