Could Ranked Choice Voting Be Right for Lansing?

1 04 2021

How many times have you felt that voting was a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils? For many of us, in a country dominated by the two-party system, we don’t always feel that either of the top candidates represent very closely what we want in an elected official. There must be a way to offer more choices. A way to vote for a less popular candidate without fear that we are throwing our vote away on a spoiler candidate. Maybe it is time to look at Ranked Choice Voting (RCV).

While most City of Lansing elections are nonpartisan, we still hold primaries to narrow the field of candidates down to just a few. Imagine being able to rank the candidates for Lansing Mayor or City Council in order of your preference. With Ranked Choice Voting, there would be no primary and, in the November election, no candidate would be declared a winner until it is determined that they have a majority of support. In single winner races, that means if no candidate receives fifty percent of the vote, the last place candidate is eliminated and those who cast their ballot for them would have their votes moved over to their second choice, etc. Not only is RCV easy and fair, but the cost of running a Lansing primary election goes away.

Ranked Choice Voting is so good at offering more voices and more choices, that the US Justice Department and officials in the city of Eastpointe MI agreed to use RCV as a compromise to a DOJ lawsuit against the city for conducting city elections in a manner leading to an underrepresentation of its Black population.

In Michigan, RCV is currently in place in Eastpointe. It has also been passed by voters in Ferndale. Ann Arbor used RCV once in the mid-seventies and is considering its return. Across the country, RCV is used in Minneapolis, St. Paul, San Francisco, Santa Fe and many other municipalities. It has even been passed by voters for use in New York City.

In August 2019, an RCV presentation to Lansing City Council was well received and a Council resolution has been drafted by the Office of the City Attorney. Because the use of RCV in Lansing would require a change to the City Charter, it would need to be passed by the electorate. City Council has the power to place it on the ballot.

Let’s all get more educated on Ranked Choice Voting. Go ahead. Google it. Check out and Could Ranked Choice Voting be right for Lansing? Let’s let the voters decide.

Jim DeLine is a retired City of Lansing Internal Auditor and is Treasurer of the nonprofit organization Rank MI Vote.

Is Lansing Set to Ignore Labor Agreements?

20 10 2020

During most of my years working for the City of Lansing, I was a steward for the Teamsters Supervisory Bargaining Unit serving on the negotiating team. In negotiations, we often were willing to accept lower wage increases and sacrifice certain other benefits to make sure we secured good retirement healthcare. To that end, we even allowed the City to withhold a portion of our pay that was to be directed toward those benefits. Other Teamster bargaining units, plus UAW, police and fire units negotiated their own versions of retiree healthcare with varying levels of contribution.

Now we learn that those negotiations weren’t worth the paper they are written on. No matter what level of contributions to retiree healthcare each union negotiated, all retirees are to be given a cookie cutter retiree healthcare plan. And one more costly than we planned on.

Mayor Schor’s slap in the face to labor agreements is unconscionable. And this issue could impact every employee who thought they had an agreement with their employer. Are you next?

A Cruise Will Teach Us How to Retire

4 08 2019

Why are vacations different than retirement? I’m retired and I am trying to be better at it. My cruise this Spring taught me how.

On a cruise, you wake up in the morning with your whole day ahead of you. Let’s see. What will I do? I can go for a jog, workout, or just have a big breakfast including a Bloody Mary. During the day, I can explore the port city, order up a movie, maybe take a nap. I have my choice of restaurants for dinner, can take in a show, or try my luck at the casino.

But then I come home. And it is back to the routine. Why is that?

Once a year, my town (Lansing, MI) has an event called, “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town.” We are encouraged to discover the local sites including museums, the zoo, garden spots, etc. Wait. I’m retired. I can do that every day!

I know. I know. Real life demands things like doing laundry and grocery shopping. But, c’mon. How much time can chores take?

When you are retired, you can get up each morning with your whole day ahead of you. Go jogging, workout, or just have a big breakfast including a Bloody Mary. During the day, go for a bike ride, visit a museum or a garden spot, or do some volunteer work. In the evening, make yourself a nice dinner while listening to classic rock. Or you have your choice of restaurants. Then take in a movie or just binge watch some TV.

I have heard that retirement is where you get paid for doing whatever the hell you want. And it is. Since my cruise, I am trying to remember that every day.

I don’t know how the universe works

6 09 2017

September 2, 1977, was kinda rainy. My friend, Stan, and I spent part of the bicycle ride that day riding “tail,” which meant we agreed to be the last of the many riders. That way, when the repair truck or sag wagon got to us, the driver knew they could turn around in their multiple trips back and forth to ensure all DALMAC riders were serviced as needed.

So, I was among the last of the riders that day. And with only about two miles yet to go to where we all set up camp, I remember riding over a set of railroad tracks. The next thing I remember was waking up about a week later in a hospital. I had been hit by a drunk driver. And it was bad.

Fast forward to the trial. There was plenty of snow on the ground in Roscommon so it had to be February or March 1978. Still on crutches, a man approached me in the hallway. “You’re Jim DeLine, aren’t you?” he asked. Then his tale went something like this:

I can’t believe I’m here talking to you. I can’t believe you’re standing here. I’m a paramedic and I saw you get hit. I just happen to be driving on that road and I saw you get hit. By the time that I pulled over to see if I could help, the three people in front of you were hit. You need to understand my training. I need to tell you. I did not help you. All I did was move your head because you were face down in a puddle. Then I went to help the others. You have to understand my training. Triage tells us to help those who will live. I’m sorry but I really don’t owe you an apology. There was no way you were going to make it.

I get it. It makes sense. I told you it was bad. So bad, in fact, that the ride’s organizers, knowing my dire condition and presumed destiny, announced to the other riders that evening that I had died. Several years after “the accident,” I was on a blind date and as we shared all the usual introductory banter, I told her that I went on occasional bicycle tours. “Have you ever been on DALMAC?” she asked. Well, sure. “Were you on it the year that guy died?” Yep. I’m the guy.

Three days in a coma. Four months in the hospital. When both your tibia and fibula are fractured, there is nothing to keep your leg muscles from contracting. I lost four inches in my left leg. Messed up on the side of the road on a rainy day? My bone infection required so many antibiotics, that for months after my hospitalization, my sister and roommate were giving me injections twice daily. My collar bone was broken in some ball-and-joint way that precluded a cast. My shoulder movement would be limited for the rest of my life. Did you know that it was not uncommon in 1977 to go on bicycle tours without a helmet? Yep. So, my head was pretty scarred up and the concussion / Dilantin drugs kept life pretty fuzzy for a while.

But I’m a lucky guy. Dr. Lanny Johnson, the orthopedic surgeon, lengthened that left leg back out to about a half inch of where it should be. Whenever I buy shoes, I get a half inch of extra sole added to the left one. Few people notice. The bone infection went dormant and has remained so for forty years. At the airport, when the TSA agent tells me to raise my arms above my head, they don’t really care that my left shoulder refuses to cooperate. I’m a lucky guy.

But why? They say, “Well, I guess it just wasn’t your time.” Or, “God must have wanted you around because He had a purpose for you.” I don’t know. I don’t know how the universe works.

Maybe this story belongs under the “Faith” category of my blog. Though I do not stay awake nights developing my theology, I am a faithful person. I believe in both God and science. Science says the universe probably began with the Big Bang. The Bible tells us it was created. Same thing. I believe in ghosts and spirits. Do I understand how they work? Nope. But I believe that I have a spirit and you have a spirit. When my physical body gives up, my spirit will go on. Will it go to heaven? Well, I’m not really sure what that is, but I hope so.

There are universal truths. Murder is bad. Kindness and love are good. Those to whom much is given, much is required. I lived through a bad accident. Much was given to me. I pray that I am living a life of appreciation for all that has been given me. That I am giving back. That I have accepted the grace that was so freely offered.

Can I get an “Amen?”

Vote to Put Money in the US Economy

7 07 2015

The Republicans have this war against working people and they mostly fail to understand American economics 101 and yet their campaigns blaming your problems on “the other guy” seem to keep working.

You probably know that our economy depends on the flow of money. We need to buy things to keep the economy going. Working people do that. For the most part, the rich that contribute so much to the Republican Party don’t.

When you get a raise, you buy food, you buy school supplies, you buy cars and you pay your taxes on it. When corporate and owner profits increase, they hide it in foreign banks. They do not spend it. They do not pay taxes on it. It does not trickle down.

Being against a raise in the minimum wage, being against union wages, being against living wages may be good for the economies of the Swiss and Cayman Island banks, but it is not good for America.

The WPA worked. The stimulus worked. Getting money into the hands of working people is good. The Obama administration has grown the economy such that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of private sector jobs. This would have been helped if the Republican legislature had also passed one or two jobs bills, but they refused. Working people with money spend it and the economy grows. The people in the legislature aren’t stupid. They know that. But working people don’t add enough to their campaign coffers to get their attention.

This next election, don’t vote for the candidates paid for by corporations. Vote for the candidates who grow the economy by placing more money in the hands of workers.

The economy isn’t being stalled by the poor immigrant picking strawberries, it is being stalled by the flag waving Republican congressman funded by Nestle, Monsanto and the Koch brothers.

Stop the Hate

17 01 2015

To my conservative Facebook friends:  We have disagreements. That’s okay. But please get off the Fox News hate train. Not all Muslims are your enemy. The President of the United States is not your enemy. Not all people needing unemployment and welfare are deadbeats. Not all minimum wage workers are dumbass idiots. Income equality is currently at the worst point almost ever. The rich people who inherited their wealth tell you that poor people are lazy, that keeping the minimum wage low and keeping poor people poor is good for you. It’s not. We need to lift up our brothers and sisters. They continually imply that there is a multitude of black teens out there who are lazy, dangerous thugs in hoodies and if they get shot, they deserved it. No questions asked. If you believe that, please unfriend me now. Fox News does not want you to notice the massive income equality between you and rich people. Instead, concentrate on hating Muslims and immigrants and liberals and welfare cheats. Please. I beg you. Get off the Fox News hate train.

You People Are So Weird

4 04 2014

You do know, don’t you, that we accounting types are totally bewildered by the rest of you. I’ve come to accept that some of you don’t balance your checkbooks every other day, and realized long ago that not many of you, when you go down a flight of stairs, are counting them off to yourself. But today, our office manager confided to me that she’s okay with the file folders being boxed with tab positions all grouped together. That’s hard to accept. And, frankly, I suspect that some you guys working out at the gym are not counting your reps and sets. But don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.

Still Love Michigan?

28 02 2014

Okay, it’s February 28 and still freezing cold. Minus seventeen wind chill. I heard a bird chirping this morning and, though I don’t speak bird, I think he was saying, “Why the hell did I come back to Michigan?”

But, c’mon. It’s sunny and, yes, a little nippy. But it’s Winter. And here in Michigan, we also have Spring and Summer and Autumn. I still very much love Michigan!

I have decided …

20 01 2014

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. — Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Not a New Year’s Resolution

4 01 2014

In fall of 2013, I finally faced the fact that a New Year’s resolution to work out more is ridiculous. It can’t be a diet or this year’s fitness regimen. It has to be your lifestyle. So, while this pic was taken on January 4, 2014, it is not to show you that I am keeping a New Year’s resolution. It is to show that I hit the gym several times a week because that is my lifestyle. And (may I say) not a bad one at that.ymca 01.04.14 no smile