Why did a member of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers bolt from the room and halt the discussions regarding a policy change being advocated for by a marijuana legalization organization?
Was it a floral emergency?
Norm Shinkle has faced his share of tough votes on the Board, including delivering decisions on petitions that would expand the number of casinos in Michigan, require a vote of the people before raising taxes, decide the fate of an international bridge and Michigan's broken Emergency Manager program.
On April 25, the four-member Board was convened to roll out a proposal created by Board staff which would allow an easier method for validating signatures collected on initiative petitions that are older than 180 days; the current policy dates back to the 1980's and desperately needs to be updated. Asking for the update is the MILegalize group and anti-fracking organizations who have already been collecting signatures on petitions.
The Board was called into session with only three members. One of the two Republicans was at a meeting somewhere else, and the remaining Repub- Shinkle- could be out-voted by the two Democrats on the Board. As if suddenly realizing he was outnumbered and at a disadvantage, Shinkle stood up amid proceedings and "rushed out of the meeting," reported MLive Media Group journalist Emily Lawler.
Without a majority of members present, the Board meeting was ended abruptly after Shinkle's mysterious departure. With it, the advancement of the policy update was also placed on hold.
Reporter Lawler rushed after Shinkle and joined him in the elevator. "He said he didn't have a minute because he was heading to a meeting with an important client he didn't want to lose," she wrote. Oddly enough, although Shinkle has a law degree, Wikipedia reports that he is a florist.
Board of State Canvassers meetings are lengthy and involved sessions. Shinkle having set a meeting with a client that was during the BOSC meeting time slot is unlikely, at best. Lawler reports that Shinkle was so flustered during the elevator interview that he got off on the wrong floor and tried to push the responsibility of setting Board petition policy off onto the Michigan legislature.
Marijuana legalization has been the catalyst for the proposed change, but the anti-fracking petitions would be enhanced by the policy update, and big business does not want to see the people vote on either issue. Speculations have been that conservative lobbying interests have influenced people like Shinkle to slow down the inevitable use of electronic data bases to verify signatures in hopes of halting the anti-fracking and marijuana legalization campaigns this year.
Shinkle is a long-time conservative and Republican party leader. How did he vote on those significant issues listed earlier?
On the bridge, tax and casino issues (all measures opposed by Republicans), Shinkle stopped the petition drives by being absent for the vote. Emergency managers? He voted to disqualify the petitions because Republicans claimed ONE WORD of the petitions was in an incorrect font size, despite testimony from the printer and font experts arguing that the petitions were correct. The other Repub on the Board at that timeresigned his post just two months later; Shinkle is still there.
Shouldn't the Board act in a nonpartisan way? Yes, it should, but with members like Shinkle there it won't happen any time soon. MSNBC program hostess and famous political commentator Rachel Maddow blogged in 2012 about this, and the discussion brought this Norman Shinkle quote to light:
"I have and for all my life been a Republican," Canvasser Shinkle replied.
Although there is no Internet history illustrating Shinkle representing clients on behalf of a law firm, one of Shinkle's Republican friends included a page about Stormin' Norman and his political history as a part of his law firm's site.
REPUBLICAN POLITICAL ACTIVITY
Chair of the Ingham County Republicans - January 2003 through 2008 and 2011 to present. Monroe County Republican Chair 1978 - 1982.
Member Michigan Republican State Committee -1980-1982 and 2007 to present.
As a Member of the Republican State Committee:
Chair of Michigan Republican 08 Presidential Committee 2007 - 2008.
Chair of County-Grassroots Committee 2009 to 2010.
Secretary of the Issues Committee 2010 to present.
Michigan Republican Party, Deputy Chair - March 2009 to present. Responsibilities included working with county Republican Committees, recruiting legislative candidates, and Election Day operations.
Member of the Republican Delegate to the National Convention 1980, 2008, and 2012. Member of the Platform Committee in 2012.
MICHIGAN BOARD OF STATE CANVASSERS
February 1, 2009 to present; Current Vice Chair.
Shinkle's friend, attorney Tom Fredericks, listed this as an accomplishment of Shinkle's while on the Board of State Canvassers: "Accomplishments include defeating the Democrat's 'fake' Tea Party from becoming a political party in Michigan."
Certainly not the act of an impartial Canvasser.
Source: The Compassion Chronicles