ELi Essay Contest on Income Tax: Deadline Approaching

Sunday, July 15, 2018, 2:00 pm
By: 
Alice Dreger, Publisher, and Ann Nichols, Managing Editor

Update, July 14: We've received five "vote yes" and three "vote no" essays so far. The deadline has been extended to July 15. At that point, we will turn the essays over to the Community Advisory Board.

The Community Advisory Board of East Lansing Info (the ELi CAB) met on June 26 and decided to ask our readers to submit entries for an essay contest on the income tax question. Are you leaning strongly “yes” or strongly “no” on this issue? Consider sharing your reasons with your fellow ELi readers—even if you are not a registered voter in East Lansing.

Why an essay contest?

We explained to the ELi CAB at the meeting that, in the past, readers have told us they want us to help them understand, in advance of an important vote, what other voters are thinking. They tell us they especially want to hear from reasonable, thoughtful people who are leaning a different way than they are.

As we approach the income tax vote on August 7, we considered doing a survey of self-identified voters: “Which way are you leaning on the income tax, and why?” The problem with that is that if we then provided a summary of the reasons, we’d have to do a lot of picking and choosing of which points to present. If we provided the complete survey responses, we’d be stuck having to figure out what to do with factually inaccurate claims, ad hominem attacks, and so on.

So at the ELi CAB meeting, we came up with the idea of instead holding an essay contest and reproducing an equal number of “leaning yes” and “leaning no” essays, chosen by the ELi CAB, to help readers see the reasoning on both sides of this vote.

The ELi CAB talked about limiting submissions to registered EL voters. But on reflection, we (Alice Dreger and Ann Nichols) realized it could be valuable for voters to hear from people who might be impacted by a “yes” or “no” vote even if they personally can’t vote in this election. For example, you might want to hear from East Lansing business owners who live in other towns, MSU graduate students who live in other towns, and East Lansing residents too young to vote.

What should you submit?

We are looking for essays with a strict maximum of 500 words that clearly indicate whether you recommend a “yes” or “no” vote on the Charter Amendment on the ballot for August 7, and that give your reasons. We want your reasons to be factually accurate.

At the end of this article, you’ll find links to ELi reporting that may help you in your response, but you should absolutely feel free to link sources beyond ELi in your response. (If you’re not sure how to hotlink something, just put the link in brackets [like this] in your essay. We’ll turn it into a hotlink.)

Please submit your essay not later than midnight on Sunday, July 15, by email to publisher@eastlansinginfo.org. Remember to keep your submission to not more than 500 words.

In your email, include your name and a 1-2 line biography. (Example: “Jane Choo is a resident of X. During the day she does Y, and at night she does Z.”) If there is anything in your life that should be disclosed to indicate potential motivations for a strong “yes” or “no” position, please seriously consider disclosing it. We will not count your name, biography, or disclosures towards the 500-word limit.

What and who is the ELi CAB?

ELi has two boards. One is our Board of Directors, who have the fiduciary responsibility of running the nonprofit Michigan corporation that funds ELi’s work. The other is our Community Advisory Board (CAB), convened in order to provide us focused advice, feedback, and leads, and helping us find more readers, reporters, and donors.

Members of the ELi CAB are Barbara Ball McClure, Meg Croft, Alex Hosey, Same Hosey, John Kloswick, Michael Krueger, Chris Root, Thasin Sardar, Beth Scanlon, Dana Watson, and Andy Wells. Ann Nichols attends meetings as Managing Editor, and Alice Dreger attends as Publisher.

What ELi reporting might you want to consult as you draft your essay?

ELi’s Voter Guide to the Income Tax

Did Council Follow the Financial Health Team’s Pension Recommendations?

Would an Income Tax Really Solve East Lansing’s Budget Woes?

New Poll Shows Dissatisfaction with City’s Financial Management

Ask ELi: Reducing East Lansing’s Pension Costs

MSU Says No More Money for East Lansing Emergency Services

Income Tax Exemption Was Wrong and Has to Be Fixed

East Lansing Applies for State Waiver of Underfunded Pension Status

East Lansing’s Property Taxes among Highest in State

Click here to see all of ELi’s reporting on City finances and taxes