ESCANABA - Last year's elected promise keepers have already flipped on upholding the principles found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They are acting more like King George III.
The Michigan Senate in Lansing introduced a bill formalizing the hypocrisy of last summer's promise keepers. Senate Bill 119, cosponsored by Senator Casperson, mandates instruction of selected parts of the nation's founding documents.
Not having an official title, Senate Bill 119 could well be entitled The Hypocrisy in Government bill. The bill designating the week of Veteran's Day "Celebrate Freedom Week" restricts academic freedom.
The bill requires each school district during the week of Veteran's Day or another designated week to mandate every social studies class in its district to include instruction on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution including the Bill of Rights.
It did not matter to the Senate that the Michigan curriculum already requires schools to teach the Declaration and the entire Constitution. It did not matter that it it may be more effective to cover those subjects at different times of the year with different age groups. It is like telling football teams that they must call a long pass 4 minutes into the second quarter.
The bill omits teaching Constitutional amendments past the Tenth Amendment. Apparently the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage was not important to the senators.
Bill 119 requires instructors teach that the Declaration of Independence led to the abolitionist movement, that the abolitionist movement led to the Emancipation Proclamation and women' suffrage movement. So much for the academic freedom. Cause and effect of events is always hotly contested by historians, perhaps our senators found themselves to be historically infallible.
The bill requires grades 3-12 students study and recite the small portion of the Declaration that says all men are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The senators omitted recitation of the sections of the Declaration that enumerated King George III's abuses, probably because it would remind the students of the senators' vote on the emergency financial manager law.
Patriots were upset with King George III because he "dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people." In the manager law our legislators gave bureaucrats the power to sweep aside elected school boards, township boards, and city commissions along with their executive officers if those bodies are found to be in financial stress as determine by the state treasurer and superintendent of public education, unelected appointees.
If a school district, city or township government is deemed to be in financial trouble the treasurer or superintendent appoint a manager to run things, including selling public property, and local citizens pay the bill.
The signers of the Declaration were concerned with this precise abuse when they objected to the King George III "... suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever." Our legislators who expressed devotion to the Declaration and the Constitution metaphorically shredded those documents once they were seated.
The manager scheme allows appointees with connections in state government to run your government/school district at your expense and for profit.
The governor's office said that managers will only be appointed under specific conditions. Not so! Although the law lists several circumstances for appointing a financial manager, they are meaningless because the law empowers the state treasurer, in the case of municipalities, and the state superintendent, in the case of school districts, "sole discretion" to decide whether the local governmental body is in financial stress and gets swept aside.
Unlike elected officials managers cannot be recalled. Unlike private business they cannot be taken to court and to compensate citizens for mismanagement. The manager law makes managers immune. George III would be proud.
The Senate referred Bill 119 to committee. It will give senators time to study the entire Declaration of Independence, the entire Constitution with all it's amendments and reflect upon their their promises last summer and their vote on the financial manager law.
EDITOR'S NOTE - Richard Clark, Escanaba, practices personal injury law throughout the Upper Peninsula. He can be reached at uppermichiganlaw.com/richard-clark.html