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March 23, 2004 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2004-03-23

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NEWS

The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 23, 2004 - 5

INITIATIVE
Continued from Page 1.
infrastructure, dividing the state into 18
regions and recruiting coordinators to
campaign in these areas. The initiative
currently has about 60 coordinators
and 314 petitioners.
MCRI officials also said the group is
in desperate need of more funding to
run its petition campaign.
It has set a fundraising goal of $4
million for the petition drive and cam-
paign. MCRI is currently soliciting
donations from citizens across the
state.
State Rep. Leon Drolet (R-Clinton
Twp.), who is an MCRI co-chair-
man, said at the meeting that for
every $20 donated, the initiative can
obtain 15 signatures.
United Michigan has proposed a
similar plan for its "internal cam-
paign," a quiet opposition movement
to the MCRI petition drive.
The group will recruit local leaders
to spread its message of "Decline to
Sign," mainly through mail-in dona-
tions. It continues to expand its coali-
tion and seek more funds, Rice said.
"We're growing the base and we're
keeping people informed," Rice said.
MCRI is taking highly public steps
toward its own goal of 400,000 to
425,000 signatures by June 15. Many
signatures are not valid, since unregis-
tered voters often sign petitions. If
MCRI receives filled petitions early,
they can count signatures to ensure a
high validity rate.
Earlier this month, the group pub-
lished an advertisement in the Detroit
News and Free Press Sunday edition
asking citizens to "help MCRI end all
racial discrimination in Michigan."
The ad contains testimonials from
four citizens and one family, includ-
ing state Rep. Jack Brandenburg (R-
Harrison Twp.).
Saturday's meeting was the first
meeting of its kind, drawing a crowd of
about 50 people. MCRI unveiled a short
video with information on the history
and future of "racial preferences."
The video contains testimonials from
students, professors and families of all
races but rarely refers to gender prefer-
ences, even though gender is included
in the proposed amendment.
The final screen reads, "Courage!
The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
End Race Preferences."
Greeted with a standing ovation, Con-
nerly gave a speech toward the end of
the meeting. "Freedom from race. Free-
dom from race," he said. "It is one of the
most debilitating preoccupations of the
government today -race, race, race."
Outside the hotel, BAMN and con-
servative student groups clashed as
both asserted their position. Marching
in a circle, BAMN members chanted
'MCRI, we say no. Racist attacks have
got to go."
Members of the Young Americans
for Freedom and some college Repub-
lican organizations stood silently for
most of the time, holding signs and
occasionally commenting on the
BAMN protestors. One sign read
"Character not color. Yes to MCRI."
Campaign manager Tim O'Brien
spoke at length on the "art of peti-
tioning."
Suggestions ranged from not accept-
ing post office box numbers as address-
es and not abbreviating towns and cities
to "resisting the urge to debate" and
"keeping your eye on the prize."
When approaching someone to
sign, O'Brien advised petitioners to
ask, "Would you like to sign a peti-
tion to end race preferences?"
Other suggested phrases included
"to end race and gender discrimina-
tion" or "to end affirmative action,"
though the group has continually

asserted that it is not opposed to
affirmative action.
Petitioners were advised to ask
friends, families and members of
their civic organizations to sign.
"They'll sign it because they like
you," O'Brien said.
ECONOMY
Continued from Page 1
is projected to grow by 4.7 percent
this year - the largest increase in
20 years - and 3.8 percent in 2005.
Crary said that the government is
currently utilizing expansionary fis-
cal policy, meaning increased gov-
ernment spending, which is causing
the economy to grow.
The outcome of the presidential
election in November will not alter
the forecast, as changes in fiscal
policy are gradual, she said.
In addition, the forecast for infla-
tion and interest rates is positive,
the report says. Inflation is expected
to be low this year, according to the
economists.
The consumer price index, which
is a measure of the change in prices
paid by consumers for an assort-
ment of goods, is expected to rise
1.4 percent compared to a 1.5-per-
cent rise last year.
It is expected to pick up in 2005,
increasing to 2.2 percent next year

This be the verse

MASING
Continued from Page 1
people (so that) abortion is the last
choice a person would make." His plat-
form includes tax incentives to help
small businesses and regulation of gov-
ernment programs to monitor cost-effec-
tiveness. Masing's campaign as an
independent candidate allows him the
flexibility to draw from Republican and
Democratic views, but he said he may
have to run under a party affiliation.
"One thing that's going to keep me off
that ballot is that (as an independent) I
have to get three times as many signa-
tures as Republicans or Democrats," he
said. "I'm thinking about maybe running
(with a party) just to get onto the ballot."
Masing said it is unfortunate that
moderate candidates do not have a place
in American politics, which he believes
are controlled by a bipartisan system
closely tied to special interests. "You
can't win as a moderate in this country
because the extreme left or right will
paint you as wishy-washy"he said.
Even if Masing does make it on to the
ballot, he may not have much luck,
political science Prof. Kenneth Kollman
said. "Third parties very rarely win seats
in the U.S. House," Kollman said. "Peo-
ple that do what he's doing are trying to
promote a set of ideas." Currently,
Bernie Sanders of Vermont is the only
independent congressman in the House.
Dingell said he is confident that.his
service has met the needs of the 15th

District and for this reason, voters keep
electing him back into office. "We don't
worry about our opponent. We just carry
out our own campaign," he said.
Even Masing will be the first to
admit that Dingell's name recognition
alone could win him the election
without running a single ad. He, on
the other hand, "has to solicit every
penny he raises."
So far, Masing has been running the
campaign largely from his own pocket
with the help of a few small donations.
To continue in the race, Masing said he
needs to raise between $80,000 and
$100,000 and gather 3,000 signatures
within a six-month window.
Despite these obstacles, he said he
refuses to bow to interest groups and
emphasized the need for new leadership
for the 15th District. "When you look at
where (Dingell's) money comes from,
you wonder if he knows what the 15th
District is about anymore," he said.
Masing said involvement, in the
political process has exposed him to
the dirty side of politics, with its
"back deals" and "slick answers" -
aspects of the congressional race that
he said have been disturbing. That is
why at the end of the day, Masing is
content teaching "Programming I"
and working on the Coursetools Next
Generation revisions for the Universi-
ty while spending time with his two
children. And if his political aspira-
tions go unrealized, he's always got
his gig with the Witch Doctors.

BRETT MOUNTAIN/Daily
Poet Scott Withiam reads selections from his book "Arson & Prophets" at Shaman Drum b
Bookshop yesterday.

- ~,.

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