Races I Was Watching

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.

Author: Rob Goodspeed


  1. I was a little mixed with eminent domain but then I started to think of the times that its been imposed to disenfranchise low income and Black communities. That was why I voted yes, but there are some forms of eminent domain that I do support. Care to provide me with an enlightened perspective? How would have voted on that Michigan proposal?

  2. Even less talked about were the Measure 37-like (passed in the last elections in Oregon) referendums that require governments to compensate landowners for so-called “regulatory takings”. They apparently want to reincarnate Henry George’s “givings” ideas. Indeed these backlash measures could completely gut the planning establishment’s beloved Oregon growth management system. Governments simply can’t pay for their regulations. People don’t seem to understand that that’s why they make them. Looks like their was mixed results…

  3. Dumi, you can’t blame urban renewal policies on their face for black displacement. Like any regulation or government program, it was frequently badly implemented. However, it was also frequently implemented with strong support from black community activists. The Ann Arbor NAACP was foursquare behind urban renewal in Ann Arbor, for example; it was the property owners who stopped it here.

  4. Anyone with an interest in Ann Arbor and/or great music should check this out! a friend of mine has a new show on the Ann Arbor area’s own internet radio network, a3 radio. The show is called Notes from the Motherboard and features some local and rare music. here’s the link to the page where you can listen anytime you want.


    His show is at the bottom left. Cheers!

  5. Kevin Chapple has not been elected the ANC 2C chair. The general election race was for the four commission seats. The commission’s officers are elected by the commissioners at the January public meeting of ANC 2C.

  6. Affirmative action is racial discrimination by definition. Racial discrimination is wrong. This notion that the legacy of racial discrimination can be undone by yet MORE racial discrimination is disturbing.

  7. Dale,
    I’m not blaming eminent domain for displacement, I’m blaming implementation of them. Let’s look outside of the box/bubble of Ann Arbor. I could debate on the merits of the NAACP representing Black interests in the city (cause I know they don’t represent poor black folks in A2) but that’s unnecessary. I’m thinking about its use in places like Detroit or even New Haven where I’m from. If we went at look at major metro cities and compared “Black support” for eminent domain versus “black disenfranchisement” by eminent domain, I think we’d come out with a negative perception of it. But do tell me if there’s data otherwise.

  8. http://chappleanc.com/public/index.php/YourGovt

    Although Kevin Chapple (why can’t folks spell his name right?) is not ANC Chairman, he has gone the extra mile by having ANC business (meeting agendas, minutes — official and not, bylaws, bill of rights, leadership bios, etc.) posted on his web site in order to serve the demands of his constituents (and the rest of ANC2C) better.

    The current ANC Chair is very resistant to providing her constituents with this rather basic information, she doesn’t even give out a direct email address much less a phone number to reach her directly if one were to have questions.

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