From the Port Huron Time Herald:
Democratic process is lost in decisions made at national level
Those required “Problems of Democracy” classes you took in high school are long on theory, but very short on reality.You saw it again a week ago. After several previous attempts, the Bay Mills Indian Community sought approval of a Michigan land settlement plan. The tribe would relinquish any claims to contested land at Charlotte Beach in exchange for the right to have property put into trust in the city of Port Huron.
HR 2176, the bill to approve the land-claim settlement between the state of Michigan and Bay Mills, was offered by U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, whose district includes the contested land. It was co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, whose district includes the property to be put in trust as part of the settlement. The arrangement has the support of former Michigan Gov. John Engler and Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
Who was responsible for pressuring House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., into pulling the bill and thereby preventing it from being voted out of committee – let alone an up-or-down vote by the House and Senate? Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. The Senate majority leader pressured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to pull the plug.What has our government become when a senator 2,000 miles away can reach down into the belly of a House subcommittee and kill a bill that would provide staggering benefits for Port Huron? After six years, Bay Mills has yet to be permitted a vote -even by a subcommittee of either branch of Congress. That’s absolutely astonishing to any American who still believes in the precepts of American democracy – “one man, one vote.”
In small-town America, the democratic system actually works pretty smoothly. If you’re a county commissioner, school board trustee or village or city council member, all you have to do is make a motion, get just one other person to second it, and you get your day in court – an up-or-down vote.
In Congress, however, the system has been corrupted beyond belief. It’s a system where power is granted to members not based on “one man, one vote,” but on an anti-democratic arrangement where certain members can block a bill, giving them power way beyond their single vote.
What has the corruption of the democratic process in Congress cost Port Huron? As a community facing an economic depression, one of the highest unemployment rates in America and a federally-funded Blue Water Bridge Plaza project that is on the brink of annihilating Port Huron, Congress is six years into blocking a $500 million casino development that would provide 3,000 to 6,000 union jobs with the spin-off developments.
Who’s benefiting from this obvious attempt to block competition for Detroit’s good old boys? Along with Reid’s Nevada crowd (including Detroit’s MGM Grand Casino, with its record $55 million earnings in October), is the newly-crowned “Most Dangerous City in the Nation” – Detroit.
Think the battle for the Port Huron casino is over? I think not!
Cliff Schrader is a radio columnist on WGRT-FM 102.3. His Friday columns are part of a cooperative agreement between the radio station and the Times Herald. His opinions are his own and not those of the Times Herald or WGRT.