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Fact Checking Baseless Claims About Detroit’s Proposal P (Charter Revision)

An organization called “Detroiters to Protect Our Future” has been applying the “Big lie” tactic of public persuasion to scare voters into voting against Proposal P. The idea is that if enough people publicize a baseless claim often enough, it will be perceived as true.

One of the baseless claims appears in an 8.5″x11″ color glossy pamphlet. It reads “Now a Charter Commission has proposed radical changes that would Demand $2 billion in new spending – but no way to pay for it. * 47 New Elected Politicians…” This falsehood is being repeated by the Detroit Free Press editorial board which has brazenly repeated these easily refuted falsehoods: https://www.freep.com/story/opinion/editorials/2021/07/02/reject-detroit-charter-revisions-editorial/7802492002/

First of all there is nothing in the document calling for $2 billion in new spending. Furthermore the only specific claim given to support this number is the claim that the revision calls for “47 New Politicians.” The actual increase in elected offices is 12.

Clearly this group thinks Detroiters are stupid. They think we won’t read the document or do basic arithmetic. I will present the numbers here, but if you don’t believe me, good! I welcome all of you to be fact checkers. Just read through the document here: https://sites.google.com/view/detroitcharter2018/
The current charter (not the revision) allows for the following elected municipal officers: 1 Mayor, 1 Clerk, 9 City Council members, 7 Police Commissioners and up to 35 Community Advisory Council members. 1+1+9+7+35 = 53.

The Proposed Charter revision would call for 1 Mayor, 1 Clerk, 9 City Council members, 7 Police Commissioners, up to 35 Community Advisory Council members, 9 Fire Commissioners and 3 election Commissioners. 1+1+9+7+35+9+3 = 65.
So 65-53=12.
Yup that’s 12, not 47!

Honest mistake? Well I have trouble believing a group of people, who appear to have access to limitless advertising funds, can’t do basic arithmetic. They probably don’t care. This is a campaign based on fear and repetition of the big lie, not facts.

It is worth noting that the best known personality featured on the flyers is Horace Sheffield. He previously attempted to use voter suppression to defeat the proposal. He was one of two people who filed a lawsuit to deny us the right to vote on it at all. This is a sad blemish on the legacy of a man who has been such an asset to the community in the past, but he is just the front man. Who are the people behind the curtain?

Full Disclosure. I am biased. I helped write provisions pertaining to civilian oversight, but I’m not asking anyone to accept what I write on faith; I want to be fact-checked. If someone tells you something about the Charter Revision that sounds important, ask that person for specifics. Ask “Where does it say that?”

I fully respect people who disagree with me and wish to vote “No on P,” but their arguments against it should be based on what it actually says, not baseless or blatantly false claims backed by nothing but mysterious money.

Note: None of these 12 new officers would get regular salaries and the fire commissioners only receive a stipend for attending meetings, so their budgetary impact would be negligible. Also there are already 7 appointed fire commissioners, so converting appointed positions to elected ones makes no fiscal difference. In which case the financial impact is nothing more than small stipends for 5 more positions.

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