Jun 01

New SPMI Website

The Socialist Party of Michigan’s new website is now live.  You can find it at the same address – https://spmichigan.org.  If you have any suggestions, questions, comments, or concerns about the new website please direct them to web (at) spmichigan.org.

All content for the old website has been moved.  We expect there to be some broken links, if you find any, please let us know by sending an email to web (at) spmichigan.org.  The old site is still accessible at http://old.spmichigan.org.

May 31

Socialist Party of Michigan Set to Begin Statewide Ballot Access Petition Drive

Click Here to Fill Out our Petition Circulator Volunteer Form

Click Here to Make a Donation to the Socialist Party’s Michigan Ballot Access Petition Drive

Click Here to Download the Socialist Party of Michigan Petition Sheet
(Note: all petition sheets must be printed on 8.5″ x 14″ standard legal-size paper when circulated for signatures).

Due to the relatively small size of the SPMI’s state office mailbox, we ask that petition circulators please mail their completed petition sheets to SPMI State Secretary Matt Erard at the following mailing address:

Matt Erard
400 Bagley St. #939
Detroit, MI 48226

In the event that you are unable to pay the necessary postage costs for mailing your completed petition sheets, please contact the SPMI State Office by phone or email, and we will make our best effort to provide you with prepaid postage in the needed amount.


Beginning on Saturday May 28th, 2011, the Socialist Party will be conducting a statewide petition signature drive to finally return the Socialist Party’s long displaced party column and vignette to its rightful space on the Michigan ballot, and to restore the right of all Michigan voters to cast their votes for a socialist alternative at the ballot box.

In order to successfully satisfy the state of Michigan’s petition requirements for obtaining qualification as a “new” party for next year’s 2012 election and beyond, SPMI petition circulators will need to collect valid signatures from at least 32,261 registered Michigan voters, including at least 100 valid signatures from voters registered within each of at least 8 of Michigan’s 15 congressional districts. Since Michigan’s party qualification rules also bar the countable validity of any signature collected more than 180 days before the petition’s filing date, and correspondingly require that all of the signatures included within a party’s petition be filed together on the same date, we will need to complete the circulation and filing of the SPMI’s petition drive no later than July, 2012 in order to avoid having any of our earliest collected signatures invalidated due to their collection date.

While imposing a significantly massive undertaking upon any “new” political party seeking Michigan ballot access, Michigan’s political party qualification regime is made most exceptional by its highly contrastive lack of any substantive re-qualifying burdens for political parties once they have successfully obtained Michigan ballot status. Through the applied operation of the Michigan legislature’s 2002 amending changes to the state’s party status retention requirements (enacted only through arm-twisted political dealing), Michigan’s governing party access statute now serves to provide qualified parties with effectively permanent retention of their ballot status, as long as they continue to nominate candidates for any of the eight partisan races for statewide educational control board seats elected at every Michigan general election.

In contrast to many other states where a newly qualified ballot line can only be retained for one or two general elections, our investment into the successful qualification of a Socialist Party ballot line in Michigan is one that we can be quite reasonably certain of holding and sustaining for the long-term foreseeable future. Moreover, even in the event that the SPMI does not directly succeed in raising the full 32,261 signature threshold in the necessary time-frame, our ability to come as close as possible to reaching that signature threshold will serve a tremendous benefit to the SPMI’s position on several different grounds when we correspondingly commence a new federal district court challenge to Michigan’s current ballot access regime during the coming months ahead.

In order to succeed in this tremendous challenge to establish a Socialist ballot line for the state of Michigan, it is imperative that we receive a substantial level of direct support and assistance from supporters, sympathizers, and allies, which must extend beyond the SPMI’s own present card-carrying membership alone. In addition to our critical need to recruit the greatest possible number of additional volunteers to help circulate our petition sheets, we must also raise financial contributions on a sufficiently measurable scale to enable us to hire additional paid petition circulators whose supplementary usage served as an indispensable prerequisite to the successful petitioning campaigns of all four of Michigan’s presently qualified minor parties.

As officially published and affirmed by the Michigan Secretary of State’s office, the Michigan Campaign Finance Act has no application to contributions made toward a party’s ballot access petitioning efforts, and we are not required to record or disclose such contributions. Unless otherwise directly authorized for disclosure by a given donor, all public financial contributions to the SPMI made during the course of our current ballot access drive will be kept fully confidential. Whether you can help assist this effort by volunteering your time to help petition, or by contributing a portion of your hard-earned income to help finance its vitally necessary expenses; your help is both greatly needed and appreciated!


Suggested Events for Petitionining

Below is a list of upcoming public events that would be particularly conducive to collecting petition signatures. We encourage folks to collect signatures at as many events as they can, but not to limit petition circulating to event locations only. Follow the links for event info. All listed events are indicated to be free unless otherwise noted.

Sat. 9/10 (Detroit): Dally in the Alley Street Fair. 11am – 11pm in the northern Cass Corridor area between Forest St. and Hancock St., west of Cass Ave.

Thurs. 9/15 – Sun 9/17 (Troy): Troy Family Daze Festival/Fair. Thurs: 4pm-9pm; Fri: 4pm-11pm; Sat: 11am-11pm; Sun: (Pancake Breakfast only): 8:30am-12:30pm at the Zion Christian Church grounds (3668 Livernois Rd.).

Fri. 9/16 – Sun. 9/18 (Ferndale): DIY Street Fair. Fri: 5pm-2am; Sat & Sun: 11am-2am, on E. Troy St. (off Woodward Ave. – one block south of E. 9 Mile Rd.) in downtown Ferndale.

Fri. 9/16 – Sun. 9/17 (Lansing): Old Town BluesFest. Fri: 4pm-12:30am; Sat: 1pm-12:30am in the Oldtown area near Turner St. and E. Grand River Ave.

Fri. 9/16 – Sun. 9/18 (Muskegon): Michigan Irish Music Festival. Fri: 5pm-late evening; Sat: 11am-late evening; Sunday: 11am-early evening in the Heritage Landing area of downtown Muskegon.

Sat. 9/17 – Sun. 9/18 (Oscoda): Paul Bunyan Festival. Sat: 10am-6PM; Sun: 11am-4pm at Furlaw Field (Paul Bunyan Park) in downtown Oscoda.

Fri: 9/23 – Sat. 9/24 (Kalamazoo): Kalamazoo Irish Fest. Fri: 4:30pm-12am; Sat: 10:30am- 12am at the Arcadia Creek Festival Place -$8 admission ($4 with student ID).

Wed. 9/21 -Sun. 10/09 (Grand Rapids): ArtPrize. Opening Day: 6pm-10pm; Mon-Thurs: 5pm-8pm; Fri & Sat: 12pm-10pm; Sun: 12pm-6pm, at various local venues.

Sun. 9/25 – Sat. 10/1 (Hillsdale): Hillsdale County Fair. Sun-Sat: 1pm-10pm at the Hillsdale County Fairgrounds (115 South Broad St.).

Fri: 9/30 – Sun 10/02 (Trenton): Trenton Scarecrow Festival. Fri: 6pm-10:30pm (approx.); Sat: 10am-10:30pm (approx.); Sun: 11am-5pm, at the instersection of W. Jefferson and West Rd. in downtown Trenton.

Sat. 10/1 – Sun. 10/02 (Caseville): Caseville PumpkinFest. Sat: 10am-late evening; Sun: 10am-early evening at various town locations.

Sat. 10/1 – Sun. 10/30 (Hell): Hell-o Hollow Weekends. Live entertainment, costume parades and other activities each Saturday in the central Hell, MI business area around Scream’s Ice Cream on Patterson Lake Rd.

Thurs: 10/06 – Sun: 10/09 (Alpena): Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival at various times and town locations.

Fri. 10/7 – Ongoing: (Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Marquette): Local People’s Occupations Ongoing Throughout Michigan. Click here for links and info.

Fri. 10/14 – Sun. 10/16 (Charlevoix): Charlevoix Apple Festival. Fri: 12pm – 6pm; Sat: 10am-6pm; Sun. 10am-4pm in downtown Charlevoix

—More Suggested Petitioning Events to be Added—.


A Few Tips and Reminders for SPMI Petition Circulators

1. Always ask Signers Which County they Live/Vote in Before they Sign the Petition: Michigan’s party ballot access statute prohibits voters from different counties from signing on the same copy of a petition sheet. Consequently it is necessary to write the name of one Michigan county on the “County of ______” line at the very top of each petition sheet, prior to asking voters sign it, and to only use that sheet to collect signatures from voters who reside within the particular county named on the top of the sheet. Note that it does not matter which county a voter happens to be in at the time he or she signs the petition, as long as he or she signs on a sheet designated for his/her county of residence. For example, you certainly can complete a sheet of signatures from Wayne County voters while circulating petitions in Ingham County, just as long as you have such Wayne County voters sign on a separate sheet with “Wayne” written on the “County of” line at the top.

Accordingly, it’s always advisable to carry some extra fully blank petition sheets (i.e. without any county designation yet written at the top) with you while circulating, so that you can directly designate such sheets with the county applicable to any out-of-town Michigan voters who you happen encounter while circulating. This often also applies to student voters who are still registered to vote at their prior non-school residence, as well as voters who have recently moved from another county, but have still yet to change their voter registration from their prior address.

2. Be Mobile and Directly Approaching: The vast majority of people will automatically dismiss and/or ignore anyone who appears to be soliciting passersby from a stationary position on the sidewalk. You will always have vastly greater success when personally walking up to each potential signer, rather than counting on their willingness to stop and pay attention to your request for a petition signature at the point they happen to pass by the spot where you may be standing. Correspondingly, the very most reliably likely signers tend to be those who are themselves in a stationery position (e.g. sitting on a bench) at the point you approach them to request their signatures.

3. Remind each Signer of the Current Date While Signing. It is highly important to remind each petition signer of current date when they get to the final “date of signing” column at the end of the petition signature line. Otherwise you will almost surely find that as many as half or more of the people who sign your petition sheets will mistakenly put down their dates of birth rather than the current date. Since every preceding box on the signature line asks signers for some type of standard identifying information about themselves (i.e. their city/township of residence, signature, printed name, street address, and zip code), signers routinely tend to focus only on the word “date,” and assume that it’s asking for a form of individually specific information as well – i.e. their birth date.

4. Always Begin Each Signature Request with Reference to the Approximate Number of Signatures Needed: In other words always begin by stating something along the lines of “We need to collect thirty thousand signatures to….” Many potential signers are more likely to sign simply on account of the excessively daunting nature of the requirement.Additionally signers who are concerned that their signature may place them on some form of list they don’t want to be on (e.g. a party membership/registration/mailing list or some form of FBI list of subversives) tend to feel much less apprehensive when informed of how many signatures are needed, due to the effectively anonymizing impact of such a large number.

5. Use a Succinct and Issue-Directed Request Line: The substantive content on our petition sheet is limited only to the name of a political party, rather than any directly political statement or policy measure, as one contrastingly finds on petitions to qualify public ballot proposals (e.g. recalling Snyder, decriminalizing medical marijuana, etc.) Consequently, most people who have no formed opinion on, or meaningful familiarity with, the Socialist Party (much less the seemingly peculiar nature of a party ballot access petition), will generally be reluctant to sign – if only on account of the fact that they’d rather not be bothered to spend a whole minute or two filling out something that holds no meaning to them.

Consequently, you are much more likely to obtain a given stranger’s signature if you directly and initially request it in the context of highlighting a particular issue and position taken in the SP Platform. Whenever possible, of course, the specific political issue/position that you emphasize should be one of particularly prevalent importance to people within the local community and/or event in which your petitioning (e.g. abolishing EFM’s, ending U.S. imperialism in the Mideast, fighting budget cuts and school closures, establishing full marriage equality, mandating, universal student loan forgiveness, guaranteed employment, ending the drug war, building real mass transit, etc.).

6. Uses the Language of Voter Choice and Inclusion: Particularly when making direct reference to the Socialist Party in the course of requesting signatures, it’s best to always emphasize that signatures are needed to allow for the Socialist Party’s candidates to be included on the Michigan election ballot – or to allow voters to have the option of voting for Socialist Party candidates if they wish to do so. With simple respect to how the question is phrased, many voters will be much more likely their signature in support of allowing the Socialist Party’s candidates to be included on the ballot, then for adding the Socialist Party to the ballot.

7. Rebut Politically-Based Objections By Highlighting Support for Democracy as the Only Relevant Factor: Though it’s almost always a waste of time to get into any drawn-out arguments with people who decisively choose not to sign, those who are merely ambivalent should always be reminded that the petition has nothing to do with whether or not they support the Socialist Party or intend to vote for its candidates in any election. Rather, the only pertinent question is whether they support our right to be listed on the ballot so that our voters can exercise their right to vote for Socialist candidates if they wish to.

In other words, anyone who supports democracy should be willing to sign the petition, regardless of whatever other political party or divergent viewpoints they may personally align with or subscribe to or favor. When noting this you can also point to the language we’ve added along the free space in the far-right-hand column of the petition sheet, noting that signatures do not constitute any signer’s personal political support of the party listed.

8. Always Remember to Complete the Circulator Certificate After You’ve Finished Circulating Each Petition Sheet: A petition sheet is not valid until the person who circulated it for signatures has filled out the circulator certificate in the bottom right hand corner of the petition sheet. The circulator certificate can be filled out without completing all of the available signature lines on a given petition sheet, but no further signatures may be added to a that particular sheet after its circulator has filled out the circulator certificate portion of the sheet.

9. An Invalid Signature does NOT Affect the Validity of Other Signatures on a Given Petition Sheet: There is a commonly repeated myth that the presence of an invalid signature on a given petition sheet will result in the entire sheet being thrown out, regardless of the validity of the other signatures it contains. In some instances, petition signatures who are erroneously led to believe this myth, become excessively over-cautious about ensuring the validity of each signature they collect (e.g. refusing to collect signatures from people who have recently moved or not recently voted, etc.).

Fortunately, this widely believed myth is entirely false. On Michigan election petitions, an invalid signature does not affect the validity or countability of any other valid signatures that happen to appear on the same petition sheet. Correspondingly, while it is true that some types of Michigan election petitions impose a maximum limit on the total number of signatures that can be submitted on a given candidate’s petition, there is no such maximum limit imposed on the number of signatures that can be submitted on the ballot access petition of a Michigan political party.

Matt Erard

400 Bagley St. # 939

Detroit, MI 48226

Apr 16

Erard elected to Citizens’ District Council

For Immediate Release
April 16th, 2011

DETROIT – Socialist Party candidate Matt Erard was among five candidates elected to a three year term on the city of Detroit’s Downtown District Citizens’ District Council in the municipal election held for that office on Tuesday April 5th. Erard and other successful candidates in last week’s citizens’ district council elections gained their first opportunity to learn of their elected status this week, due to the unavailability of any unofficial results from the city’s election department prior to the release of its official post-election canvass. In particularly notable congruity with Erard’s election this year, all candidates elected in Detroit’s April 5th citizens’ district council elections will formally begin their terms of office on this year’s international labor holiday of Sunday May 1st.

Though Detroit’s city charter rules prohibit any candidate for city office from being listed with a party label on the ballot, Erard entered the 2011 race for Downtown District Citizens District Council (“CDC”) upon receiving the Socialist Party’s official nomination for that office at the February monthly membership meeting of the Party’s Detroit Socialist Party local and correspondingly centered his campaign materials around both the platform and banner of the Party. Erard’s election on April 5th marks the first time since 1976 that a Socialist Party candidate has been elected to public office in the state of Michigan….

While each of the candidates who submitted the requisite number of valid district-voter signatures to qualify for 2011 Downtown District CDC election ballot were ultimately successful in winning election to office in this year’s race, the city elections department’s rules and procedures also provide voters in each CDC election with the option of casting valid write-in votes for any other registered voters who reside within their districts, rather than limiting voters’ choices to only those candidates whose names are printed on the ballot.

Notwithstanding such exceptionally wide-ranging voting options afforded to city voters who do cast ballots in CDC elections, however, Erard also expressed significant concern over the greatly limited voter turnout in each of the nineteen CDC elections held last week, following the apparent absence of any city advertised or website-published information concerning the election date, candidates, or irregularly designated polling places. Accordingly, Erard strongly suggested that an effort to initiate the development of new department of elections polices, aimed at making CDC elections far more reasonably transparent and accessible to city voters, should be among the top priorities of the all-CDC representative Coordinating Council on Community Redevelopment (“CCCR”) during the coming year, pursuant to the specific authorization given to the CCCR in this context by the Detroit City code.

Each of Detroit’s nineteen citizens’ district councils is composed of twenty-four members, with six members annually elected to three year terms and the remaining six members appointed by Detroit’s mayor. As mandated under both state law and Detroit city ordinance, the Detroit City Council and Detroit Planning & Development Department are required to continuously consult with, and seek approval from, each applicable CDC prior to the implementation of any proposed development project, ranging from sidewalk construction to residential re-locations, intended to take place within a given CDC’s jurisdiction; and to incorporate CDC recommendations to the full extent feasible. Each CDC is correspondingly empowered to delay implementation of such projects through a vote of disapproval, and to request and obtain information from any city department on matters of concern to district residents.

While pointing to the present city administration’s principal development goals of residential “urban downsizing” and accelerated downtown gentrification, Erard argues that low income residents of the city now face a greater threat to their well being from “urban renewal” policies than at any time since the mass displacements of poor and minority residents imposed during the city’s first major wave of “urban renewal” projects during the 1950s. While committed to staunchly opposing any proposed measure serving to inhibit poor and working class residents’ access to affordable living spaces or city services, Erard has also centered his campaign around a myriad of proposed new measures aimed at fundamentally shifting the city’s present priorities away from the interests of the city’ downtown “partnership” of local aristocrats and Wall Street firms, and toward those of the city’s oppressed and working class majority.

Included among such urgently needed measures, Erard contends, are universal downtown and city-wide rent control, city termination and reversal of all residential utility shutoffs, mandatory hiring of under/unemployed city residents for all Detroit Land Bank Commission housing rehabilitation and neighborhood revitalization projects, and elimination of the city’s nearly $137 million annual handout to corporations in city grants and tax breaks.

At the same time, Erard hopes to use his elected seat on the city’s downtown citizens district council to help actively support all measures, grass roots organizing campaigns, mobilizations, and mass actions, that can help lead the way to Detroit’s working class majority, and that of other struggling cities, taking control of its own political system and economic institutions.

“Rather than continuing to subordinate the political will of the people of Detroit to the economic will of our city’s Wall Street- and Grosse Pointe Shores-dwelling overlords, the working class population of Detroit now stands exceptionally primed to lead the way in demonstrating what it means to bring the economy under the political will and democratic control of the people,” Erard said.

Erard for CDC campaign site: http://erard2011.spmichigan.org/

Apr 06

Matt Erard for Detroit Downtown Citizens’ District Council

Matt ErardDetroit Socialist Party member and current SPMI State Secretary-Elect Matt Erard has officially qualified for the ballot in the upcoming April 5th, 2011 election for the city of Detroit’s Downtown Citizens’ District Council, following his receipt of the Detroit Socialist Party’s nomination for that office at its February 2011 local membership meeting, and subsequent submission of the requisite number of valid signatures by the petition deadline earlier this month.

Since their initial establishment in the late 1960s, Detroit’s citizens district councils have been charged with the task of representing the interests of poor and working class city residents within each district of the city where “urban renewal” development and rehabilitation projects are intended to be slated. As mandated under both state law and the Detroit City Charter, the Detroit City Council and Detroit Planning & Development Department are required to maintain continuous consultation with each applicable citizens’ district council on all aspects of the planning process for each proposed development project prior to its approval, and to incorporate all citizens’ district council recommendations to the maximum extent feasible. Likewise, Michigan state law further empowers each citizens district council with the ability to delay the implementation of any proposed project that it votes to disapprove, and to additionally call upon any city department for information it seeks to obtain on behalf of its district residents….

Each of Detroit’s citizens’ district councils is composed of twenty-four members, with six members annually elected to three year terms and the remaining six members appointed by Detroit’s mayor. The Downtown Citizens District Council represents all residents living within Detroit’s central business district, bounded by the Fisher Freeway (I-75) to the north, the Chrysler Freeway (I-375) to the East, the Detroit River to the south, and the Lodge Freeway (M-10) to the west (except for the portion of the area lying south of Michigan Ave., which additionally extends a few blocks west of the Lodge.) [district map].

Detroit’s Chrysler Elementary School Church, located at 1445 E. Lafayette St. [map], will serve as the sole polling location for Detroit’s downtown district during the city’s upcoming Citizens District Council election on Tuesday April 5th, and polls will be open from 7:00AM-8:00PM on that date for all eligible voters who have not voted by absentee ballot. Although Matt Erard is running as the Socialist Party’s nominated candidate in the April 5th Citizens’ District Council election, neither he, nor any other candidates in the race, will have a party affiliation listed with their names on the election ballot itself.

The official website for Matt Erard’s 2011 Downtown Detroit Citizens’ District Council campaign can be found at: http://erard2011.spmichigan.org

Mar 25

Drop All Charges Against SPMI State Organizer Raph Thurin and the Rest of the Lansing Thirteen!

Drop All Charges Against SPMI State Organizer Raph Thurin and the Rest of the Lansing Thirteen!

On March 16, SPMI State Organizer Raph Thurin, along with 12 other demonstrators from around the state, were arrested during a mass protest at the Michigan Capitol against the Snyder regime’s intertwined budget and receivership bills, which slash state funding to cities and schools, raise taxes for the elderly and the working poor, provide a $1.7 billion dollar tax cut to corporations, and allow the Governor to place unelected “emergency financial managers” (EFM’s) in absolute control of cities, counties, and school districts across Michigan, with full power to dissolve both union contracts and elected local governments.

All thirteen protesters were arrested during an attempt by the Capitol Post Police to clear the Capitol grounds, during the very same evening hours that Snyder chose to sign the EFM bill into law. As a consequence of their refusal to provide Snyder with the opportunity to formally and ceremoniously effectuate this sweeping assault on democratic rights amid the backdrop of surrounding protests concluding into abeyance, all thirteen arrested protesters now face trespassing charges, stiff fines, and potential jail time. Please help them by calling, faxing, and/or emailing the offices of Gov. Snyder and the prosecuting attorney to demand that all charges against protesters arrested on March 16 be immediately dropped!…

Contact:Governor Snyder:
Email: Rick.Snyder @ michigan.gov
Phone: (517) 373-3400 or (517) 335-7858
FAX: (517) 335-6863

Contact Prosecuting Attorney Stuart Dunnings
Email: sdunnings @ ingham.org
Phone: (517) 483-6108

Also, please help show your support by packing the Lansing 54-A Courtroom for the Lansing Thirteen members’ arraignment at 9:30 a.m. on March 30!:

Lansing 54 A District Court
124 West Michigan Ave
Lansing, MI 48933 (map).

See also: SPMI statement on the 2011 Snyder-Dillon Crackdown