Dove Issue Shows Granholm is a Pushover
Published June 23, 2004. Oakland
A lot of residents had their noses rubbed in what passes for reality in Lansing when Gov. Jennifer Granholm reneged on her public promise to veto a dove-hunting bill that lacked a referendum provision.
A healthy majority of residents opposed the bill. The special interests wanted it and got their wish.
Represented largely by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, the pro-dove hunting people gave Granholm a transparently phony promise to compromise on the issue by at first limiting the hunt to a few counties along the state's southern border.
But nothing in the law demands that. A lot of people would faint if the experimental hunt was followed by a resumption of the century-old ban on shooting doves in the state.
A public opinion survey in 2000 found that two-thirds of Michigan residents either opposed or were indifferent to a dove hunt. In other words, there has been no grass-roots clamor for a hunting season for what is a songbird.
The survey also revealed most of the state's residents would not be inclined to punish their representative or senator in Lansing for voting against their constituents' wishes on the issue.
In other words, the majority of lawmakers who voted for the dove hunt were not braving expected wrath at the polls from opponents of a season, nor were they doing the bidding of a majority.
That leaves the special interests, including not just the MUCC but the U.S. Sportsman's Alliance, which is described as a trade association for the makers of guns and ammunition and the National Rifle Association.
Dove hunting is a big consumer of shotgun shells.
You can assume those with a financial stake in dove hunting would not be as forgiving as voters in general to lawmakers who defied their demands.
But what was she thinking?
No one wants to believe Granholm actually fell for the "experimental hunt" ploy. If she did, there are a lot of other flim-flam artists scurrying to line up outside her office in the Romney Building.
The only interpretation left is that the governor was intimidated politically by what might be described as the gun interests.
Even at that, the better compromise would have been to create a season for non-native birds such as starlings or sparrows, which already can be shot at any time anywhere one can legally fire a gun.
A season for them would concentrate the activity and give hunters an excuse to get out of town for a few days, a cherished aspect of the sport for a lot of people.
No matter how the governor has justified her action to herself, she has proven unreliable on an issue that should have been a no-brainer. Participants in the political process must assume Granholm is easier to intimidate than they thought, especially when it comes to the general public versus special interests.
Now no lobbyist can tell his or her clients they would be wasting their time and money trying to persuade the governor to do their bidding on virtually any issue, no matter how firmly she may have seemed to oppose their goals.
- Songbird Protection Coalition