DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) Michigan State University Professor Chris Corneal stumbled into one of the most divisive court battles in Michigan history — let’s call it “font-gate” — when he decided the rules were followed on a petition to recall the state’s emergency manager law.
Corneal, a graphic design expert, weighed in on the Charlie Langton 1270 Talk Radio show on an issue that unfolded — again — Thursday before the state’s Court of Appeals. At issue is whether a petition that garnered more than 200,000 signatures to repeal Michigan’s emergency manager law is legitimate.
State law says language on a ballot petition must have 14-point font. Supporters in the group Stand Up For Democracy say the font is correct, opponents in Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility say it was too small. The Board of Canvassers vote was split 2-2 in April along party lines, with Republicans opposing the repeal and Democrats supporting it, and the battle moved to the courts.
Corneal issued a report saying the font was the correct size, but his report was somehow lost before it got to court and wasn’t part of the decision-making process.
“I guess (I was) a little frustrated when I heard that,” Corneal said. “I was asked by the Secretary of State (for an opinion), then they didn’t use it.”
At stake is whether Michigan voters get to decide at the polls whether to repeal the emergency manager law that puts the fate of distressed communities in the hands of a state appointed manager who is able to negate union contracts, consolidate departments, and more, to balance the budget.
Corneal said the petition in question was sent to him as a pdf and he circled through type faces and font sizes until he came up with an opinion on what exactly it was.
“When I compared it to 14-point, I felt it was consistent,” he said. “I let the Secretary of State know … He said ‘thank you’ and then I was contacted by the petitioners and asked to put it in writing.”
“We’re splitting hairs, literally on this point font size here — is this really boiling down to politics?” Langton said, later adding, ‘What’s disturbing to me is that this professor’s opinion that was asked by the Secretary of State was not considered by the Board of Canvassers.”
Corneal responded: “To me it seems a little odd, but I leave it up to the lawyers to decide those questions.”
Judges on the Michigan Court of Appeals said Thursday they will decide the matter soon. Read more on that here from WWJ 950.