Idiot’s guide to voting

Jul 25, 2001 at 12:00 am

News Hits thought Detroit voters should know that Councilwoman Kay Everett doesn’t have much confidence in your judgment. At least that’s what we gleaned from her convoluted ramblings at a council session last week regarding the Living Wage Ordinance. Here’s what went down:

The Detroit Regional Chamber argued before the council that the city law — which requires companies doing $50,000 or more in business with the city to pay their employees $7.70 per hour plus health benefits and $9.63 per hour if health benefits are not provided — should not apply to small businesses and nonprofits because it will make it too costly for them to operate. Jeffrey Hunt, senior director of public policy for the Chamber, also implied that the ordinance is fundamentally flawed since it was the voters — and not council — who enacted it through the initiative process.

“Only in the city of Detroit has that legislative process been ignored,” said Hunt, who claimed that nowhere else in the country has such an ordinance become law by ballot initiative.

Hunt suggested that businesses may leave Detroit because of the law and that city officials should discuss how to “best tweak” it.

Councilwoman Maryann Mahaffey, a staunch supporter of the ordinance, reminded Hunt that the public has the right to enact laws at the ballot box.

“I hope in the future you won’t refer to that petition campaign as one that violates the democratic process by the fact that this did not emanate from the council,” chided Mahaffey.

But Everett sided with Hunt. “Since we have to deal with the fiscal responsibilities of this city, it’s incumbent upon us to make those decisions,” she said. “The citizens don’t understand what our budget is about. I dare say that many of us don’t understand all the nuances that go in the budget.”

Let’s see if we got that straight: Citizens should stay out of the legislative process because they don’t fully grasp budgetary issues, but its OK for council members to take on the challenge even though they often don’t get the financial fine points either?

If you get that logic, maybe you could help us decipher this bit of wisdom offered up by Everett: “So you have to understand what’s going on before you make a decision and put it in someone else’s hands that doesn’t understand what’s going on with city government and what it takes to run this government and what it takes to work with businesses.”

Bottom line: If Everett doesn’t think you’re astute enough to decide a ballot initiative, maybe this coming election you should consider whether she deserves your vote.

Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]