With so many candidates and initiatives on the ballots across the country yesterday I thought it would be worthwhile to point out a few items I was watching.
Although it was exciting to watch the Democrats take back the House for the first time since 1994, the evening wasn’t without its disappointments. At the top of that list must be the success of the affirmative action ban in Michigan. Although the full impact will become clear in the next months and years, the ban threatens not only affirmative action policies for university admissions but also scholarships, retention programs, and other policies that assist not only racial and ethnic minorities but also women. A similar policy in California has led to sharp and stark declines in the number of black students at the top campuses in the UC system – as a particularly egregious example out of nearly 5,000 incoming students this fall at UCLA just 96 are black – around 2%. In Michigan this could mean we see the percentage of black students at the University of Michigan drop below 10% in a metropolitan region that is over 21% black. (Although University of Michigan president pledged today in a rousing speech they would use ‘every legal option available.’) My friend Dumi who is a graduate student at the University of Michigan has posted his thoughts about the initiative. (Which he points out was endorsed by the KKK) Also in Michigan, Carl Levin’s son Andy Levin lost his race for State Senate by a tiny margin in a hotly contested race for a Republican-majority district. Democratic challenger Jim Marcinkowski also failed in his attempt to knock off Republican Mike Rogers in Michigan’s 8th. Overall the picture in Michigan isn’t all doom and gloom — Governor Jennifer Granholm and Senator Stabenow won re-election, and Democrats took over the Michigan House. Another Michigan friend Chris Wilcox was helping out Michael Arcuri, who successfully won the contested race for New York House District 24.
Another largely-overlooked outcome of the election was the continuing popular backlash against the Kelo vs. New London case: eight states voted to prohibit or restrict the use of eminent domain for economic development purposes. I have mixed feelings about this. Although eminent domain has had a shameful history, I am mostly worried constitutional amendments and ballot initiatives is an inappropriate way of handling the issue and could lead to unintended consequences down the road.
Lastly, as I have already posted it appears my neighborhood ANC in D.C. will have a new chair – Kevin Chappele. Perhaps now that body will publish a regular agenda, post their meeting location on the web, and do a better job serving the needs of the neighborhood.