High on the hog

Group brings giant hog replica to Marquette

A giant hog visits downtown Marquette on Wednesday courtesy of a group opposed to efforts to end the state of Michigan’s current term limits of six and eight years. Shown here is Jeff Tillman, a member of a group called Don’t Touch Term Limits! (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

MARQUETTE — An 18-foot hog — an artificial one — stopped by Marquette on Wednesday morning to symbolize what one group called a “gluttonous attempt” by the Michigan Legislature to keep “feeding at the public trough” by ending term limits.

“Nothing makes lobbyists squeal like losing legislators to term limits,” said Scott Tillman of Grand Rapids in a news release.

Tillman is state coordinator of the organization, Don’t Touch Term Limits! — a nonprofit formed to defend the 1992 vote by Michigan residents for term limits.

“We want politicians like Greg Markkanen to know the people of Michigan love our term limits,” Tillman said. “Term limits were introduced by citizens, not politicians. It is a conflict of interest that they dare to meddle with the people’s term limits.”

Markkanen, a Republican, is state representative for Michigan’s 110th District, which includes Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties as well as Powell and Ishpeming townships in Marquette County.

Markkanen called Don’t Touch Term Limits’ an outside group trying to influence Michigan politics and affect the Upper Peninsula way of life.

“We have to work within the system that we have, and right now we have term limits, and people voted them in,” he said.

However, Markkanen mentioned the influence of the late Dominic Jacobetti, who holds the record as the longest-serving member of the Michigan House of Representatives. He held office from 1955 until his death in 1994.

“Without his goodwill and his efforts, where would Marquette and the U.P. be today?” Markkanen asked.

He said his position on term limits is to “do whatever people want,” although people must remember how term limits have hurt and helped the state.

Markkanen also pointed out that state legislators have to learn the political system.

“If people don’t think you are, you can be voted out or voted back in,” he said.

A post from Markkanen’s Facebook page indicated he has no intention to change term limits in Michigan.

The post read in part: “I am not a career politician. I am not stealing anything from anyone, ever. As I stand up for Western U.P. values here in Lansing, I cherish the time that I have here to defend our way of life.”

On Nov. 20, a group of lobbyists and former legislators filed a lawsuit to overturn Michigan’s term limits. Scott Tillman said this is proof term limits are working.

“When lobbyists and career politicians team up to overturn term limits, we can be certain we have something worth fighting to keep,” he said.

The organization pointed to a new poll conducted from Oct. 29-30 by Pulse Research and commissioned by U.S. Term Limits that discovered 69% of Michigan voters oppose changes to term limits, which would enable legislators to stay in office longer.

Bringing the pig to Marquette on Wednesday was Tillman’s father, Jeff, of downstate Fremont.

Jeff Tillman said the Nov. 20 lawsuit is contradictory to voters’ wishes.

“Our voters don’t want our term limits touched,” he said.

Jeff Tillman believes in leaving term limits alone.

“They’ve really done Michigan well,” he said. “They’re not the overall cure for all of state government woes, but all state government deals with woes.”

The pig that was on display, Jeff Tillman said, was made with an iron frame and spray foam, with an artist carving it. The pig, which weighs 800 pounds, then was coated with epoxy.

The pig was scheduled to make Wednesday stops in Houghton, Ironwood and Iron River.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.


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