NEW AD CALLS M.C.R.I. 'DISASTER', RESPONSE: 'IT'S SICK' A new radio ad calls the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative a disaster for Michigan that can only be averted by voters defeating Proposal 2006-2, but officials with the MCRI said the ad's reference to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and Hurricane Katrina are tasteless and unconscionable. "It's just sick," said Amy Hagerstrom of any attempt to draw a comparison to the proposal that would end affirmative action to two events that left thousands of people dead. "Who's going to lose their life if Proposal 2 passed?" she asked. But Dave Waymire, spokesperson for One United Michigan that posted the ad, said there is a real danger that people could die if the proposal passes if it means health care programs are cut back in urban areas. In the 60-second ad, an African American male voice asks: "If you could have prevented 9-11 from ever happening, would you have? If you could have prevented Katrina from ever happening, what would you have done?" The ad goes on to say that on Election Day "a national disaster" is headed for the state in the guise of Proposal 2006-2. The proposal would end affirmative action on the basis of race and gender in state universities and local governments. The ad says that defeating the proposal will keep programs for women and racial minorities in place for "equal access to jobs, public contracts and, most importantly, education." But Doug Tietz, campaign manager for the MCRI, said passage of the proposal will in fact make Michigan a better place by ending all special preferences. He also denied that its passage would harm health programs aimed at specific populations. But it was the reference to the terrorist attacks and one of the worst hurricanes in history that raised the group's ire. Ms. Hagerstrom called it "heinous" to equate the proposal with those disasters. "I call on the collective conscience of those who for whatever reason oppose this proposal to think about all the people that lost their lives" in the attacks and hurricane, Ms. Hagerstrom said, and withdraw the ad. Asked if, considering the number of people killed during the Civil Rights movement, if it wasn't fair for opponents to draw the connection, Ms. Hagerstrom insisted that Proposal 2006-2 actually continues the Civil Rights movement. But Mr. Waymire said: "Apparently they think changing the Constitution in Michigan to take away equal opportunity programs for millions in this state that give hope and education is not very important." It is, he said, "a big deal" POLL: The latest opinion roll conducted by EPIC/MRA shows that the proposal is now supported by 50 percent of those questioned. With 608 people asked, and an error rate of 4 percent, the poll showed that 50 percent of those polled said they were supporting the proposal with 41 percent opposing it. On a separate question of whether it should be illegal for the state to offer selective programs based on race, sex, color or national origin, 55 percent said yes. Ed Sarpolus said it appeared ads and mailings to residents in the Detroit area questioning additional state payments to Detroit schools when teachers there went on strike may have helped build support for the proposal.