Monday, November 29, 2021

Senators should act more like role models

April 16, 2001

Legislators may not be athletes, and they may not be superstars.

You won’t find many elementary kids with a poster of U.S. Rep. Dave Camp or U.S. Sen. Carl Levin in their rooms.

You won’t find an 8-year-old who grows up thinking, “I wanna be the speaker of the House.”

But in many ways, legislators do need to be role models like athletes. For the most part, a lawmaker is an intelligent man or woman with a college education, an outstanding community service record and an upstanding citizen who follows the rules and law.

But there is one state senator who doesn’t fit this mold and brings shame to his co-workers, the Legislature and his constituents.

I’m speaking of Sen. David Jaye, R-Washington Township.

Jaye has a reputation around the Senate as being highly controversial, and he pushes the envelope on policy. He has tried to rid Michigan of affirmative action, allow for the execution of Michiganians convicted of first-degree murder and push for fewer restrictions on carrying concealed weapons.

But Jaye’s actions away from the Senate floor are what really cause sparks and lead to, what I believe, should be Jaye’s resignation or removal from office.

The residents of Macomb County have been without representation on several occasions during the past seven years. Jaye has been arrested three times on drunken driving charges - once while in the House, twice as a senator. He’s been picked up for violating probation and reportedly hitting his fiancée, although he never went to jail for that one - until last week.

Jaye was arrested and held overnight Thursday in a Florida county jail on charges he assaulted his fiancée. He allegedly hit Jameela Kloss with his fist. She suffered cuts to her chin, bridge of her nose and jaw, according to police reports. Jaye was arrested on a charge of domestic violence and battery.

Six months ago, Jaye was stopped by Michigan State Police outside of Atlanta, Mich., after a witness reported seeing a man shoving and kicking a woman at a gas station - who turned out to be Kloss.

Kloss told The Associated Press she still plans to marry Jaye and will drop the charges.

How effective can Jaye be as a senator when he’s continually behind bars? An even better question is why on earth do his constituents keep re-electing him? I cannot accept that a woman-beating, raging alcoholic with no regard to the law represents the people of Macomb County.

Senate Majority Leader Dan DeGrow, R-Port Huron, suspended Jaye from Senate committee service Friday after the most recent charges. DeGrow also stripped Jaye of his travel and mailing privileges.

That’s not enough.

Last June, after Jaye was arrested for drunken driving for the third time, DeGrow stripped Jaye of all committee assignments and barred him from state-paid business travel for the rest of the year. He obviously didn’t learn his lesson.

Like last time, Jaye will continue to receive his annual salary of more than $70,000 throughout his punishment and while in jail.

DeGrow’s punishment seems more like the castigation of Jaye’s constituents, not the lawmaker.

They disciplined him and made him stay away from his committee meetings, but I think the constituents got it worse than Jaye. Jaye still got a paycheck; the constituents didn’t get full representation.

As it stands, Jaye is the only Michigan legislator in history to serve time in jail and serve his constituents simultaneously on four separate occasions.

But vindication would be served - in an eye-for-an-eye kind of way.

Not long after he was arrested for allegedly beating his fiancée again, an inmate disfigured Jaye with a telephone last week. The cell mate apparently wanted the phone Jaye was using, and after Jaye didn’t give it up, the inmate punched the phone while Jaye was using it. Jaye’s ear was repaired with 24 stitches, but he will require cosmetic surgery and faces permanent disfigurement.

Can anyone in his or her right mind feel bad for him?

Any man who beats a woman and endangers the lives of innocents by driving drunk at least three times does not deserve sympathy.

More importantly, such a man does not deserve to be a state senator.

Dan Austin, political theory and constitutional democracy and journalism junior, can be reached at austind1@msu.edu.

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