Cliff Yankovich Posts His Answers to the Detroit Free Press Voter Guide

These are the questions and my answers to a Voter Guide that will be published by The Detroit Free Press.
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How should the state assist other municipalities and school districts whose solvency is threatened by its financial obligations to current and future retirees?
The emergency manager plan clearly does not work. I would like to see a more cooperative method put in place. One that would allow the State to have oversight while at the same time respecting and empowering the local officials who were put in office by the people of the particular municipality or school district. By this I do not mean creating the illusion of empowerment, but keeping the power intact with assistance from the State official(s) sent to assist the situation. I believe we need to do away with Us vs Them thinking and work together for solutions for the good of all concerned.

Is the way the state funds our cities adequate to ensure safety and service delivery? If not, what changes would you support to our municipal finance model? 
I make no claim at expertise on this subject. The best answer at this time would be to make any and all bills regarding financing limited in their scope to just the issue at hand. The current practice of attachments obfuscates the issue and is done many times to actually impede any progress intended by the drafting of the initial bill.

When cities are struggling, what is the appropriate way for the state to intervene? Should state intervention – through the emergency manager law or some other avenue – come with dollars attached? Why or why not?
As I mentioned in the first question, my focus would be on a more cooperative level. Party politics must be put aside because the failure of a municipality or school district has a debilitating effect on the entire State. Like it or not, the failure of a school system on one side of the state does have consequences all over the Mitten. As a Green Candidate who cannot accept PAC or Corporate monies, I am confident that I will be able to keep the greater good of everyone concerned in perspective to help my District and the State move forward.

How would you rate the state’s response to the Flint water crisis?:
Poor - this is my answer from these choices.
Below average
Above average

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the state’s response.
Flint demonstrates my point about the failure of the EM model. At this point I think the State should spare NO expense to address everything than can be addressed including the replacement of all the pipes ruined by the total mishandling of the situation. Lead in water will have terrible long term consequences - children have been poisoned. If it take millions to replace the pipes, then so be it. If we can find millions to give billionaires for stadiums, then we have enough money to address this NOW.

How would you rate the federal government’s response to the Flint water crisis?:
Below average - this is my answer from these choices.
Above average

Explain your answer and what you would do, if anything, to improve the federal government’s response.
This is a tough question. When you have a State government that thumbs its collective noses at Federal government UNTIL it needs financial help it creates an adversarial set of conditions. My method to improve on a situation like this would be to foster more of a cooperative method of doing business from the outset. Government was created to provide and insure things we cannot do on our own - water and other infrastructure are prime examples. Safety and health need to be the priority - not cronyism and party politics. By refusing PAC money, Green candidates can look out for the interests of the people, not whom ever wrote a big check.

Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? If so, explain.

Have you ever filed for personal bankruptcy? If so, explain.

Do you believe Michigan’s tax system is generally fair? If not, what changes do you support?
The biggest change I would like to promote is the recognition from everyone that taxes are not The Great Evil. If we want to have safe drinking water, sturdy bridges, smooth roads, and other infrastructure which benefits everyone, those items need to be paid for. That being said, gasoline taxes should build roads and bridges - by that I mean we need to keep the purpose and use of taxes easily understood and tracked. I do NOT favor tax breaks for billionaires and huge corporations. e.g. Nestle does not need 13 million in savings to come and drain our aquifers for a pittance in order for them to make more millions.

Would you support the establishment of a Detroit Educational Commission that would have authority to site, open and close traditional public and charter schools?
Yes, I believe the local authorities need to be given more power. They have the knowledge of the area far better than a hired gun sent in to oversee from Lansing would.

What changes, if any, would you support in the way Michigan authorizes and regulates charter schools?
As a former Republican the concept of charter schools had initial appeal to me. The luster is long gone. After observing charter schools in our state, I believe it is simply a grab for profit and little else. When you combine the push for standardized testing with the inclusion of teachers with little or no training it becomes clear that the end game is to create schools devoid of the creativity and the potential of reaching the individual student who might learn differently and just create an assembly line to line the pockets of a few. If we truly value our children, then professional, qualified teachers should be celebrated with well paying, secure jobs.

Do you favor amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity?
Yes. The will of the people in Michigan and across the country is clear. We can no longer discriminate against any group of people for any reason.

Do you support state-level laws modeled on the federal Restoration of Religious Freedom Act?
Not when they are used by a particular religion to oppress the rights and freedoms of other people.

Have you signed any public pledge to support or oppose any organization’s public policy objectives, such as outlawing abortion or barring any increase in taxes?
No. This is the beauty of being a Green candidate who cannot and will not accept PAC money from any group. Candidates from both of the big parties constantly point out the "special interests" that fill the coffers of the other side. (Even when many times money is given to both by the really wealthy donors.) The voters in my District can put full faith in my clearly stated position:"I will put the best interests of the tax payers of Michigan as a whole, and the 86th District in particular, ahead of my own interests and ahead of the interests of large corporations and companies."

Do you support legislation to minimize or eliminate the influence of political parties on drawing lines for legislative districts?
Yes indeed. The answer lies in total elimination or total cooperation. I do not think cooperation between the big two parties is likely, so elimination is the answer. Gerrymandering is a stain on our system, no matter who puts it in practice. This is more true now than ever because of the technology that allows lines to be drawn down the center of a street if need be. Putting men and women from the Green Party or simply a group of empowered citizens from all parties in charge of this activity would eliminate the problem. The result of tossing out all the partisan blockages could mean Districts with easily understood boundaries which would save a lot of time and money for everyone concerned.

Do you support decriminalization of recreational marijuana?
Yes. I favor it for a number of reasons. Michigan can look to Colorado for the tax revenue benefits.But beyond that it is time to end the travesty we call the War on Drugs. People in Michigan and in America use marijuana at the same rate across racial, social, and income lines - but the ones who end up in prison for the same tend to be the poor and people of color. Marijuana should be treated like alcohol. The will of the people of Michigan was demonstrated in the recent campaign, which was blocked, to get this matter on the ballot this fall.

Do you support and will you appear at campaign events with your party’s presidential nominee?
Certainly. I was pleased to hear Jill Stein and her vice presidential pick Ajamu Baraka speak in Detroit when they visited in September. Their vision for lessening our military budget and their push for creating an economy based on Green energy creation and consumption gave me a renewed sense of purpose. They are not blinded by big money, their hearts are on fire for the regular men and women of this country. They have a sustainable long term vision involving energy, education, and health care that I completely support.

Do you support the renewal and/or expansion of renewable energy mandates for Michigan energy producers?
Without a doubt. What a shame that we argue this in Michigan and America in general when second and third world countries are moving forward in leaps and bounds. (Never mind what Germany and other first world countries are doing.) Bangledesh is providing rooftop solar power to thousands and Chile is producing an immense amount of solar power. Once again, the specter of PAC money comes into the picture - Big Oil has a lock on Lansing as demonstrated by the existence of Pipeline #5 under two of our Great Lakes. The time has come to walk away from the technology of the last century and move forward. The more renewable energy we use and demand, the lower the price for it will be.

Do we incarcerate too many people in Michigan? What would you change in the criminal justice system?
Yes. First and foremost drug offenders need to be returned to freedom - by that I mean those who have done no harm to anyone else. The first step would be to decriminalize marijuana and grant amnesty to those imprisoned for the use of it. Secondly, the model of For Profit Prisons is a massive failure. The Federal government has recognized this. Incarceration should be a last resort reserved only for those who harm or demonstrate a clear intention to harm others. Imprisoning people is EXPENSIVE and self-defeating.
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