Friday, August 20, 2010

NOW They Think of This?

Green Oak Township may start requiring developers to post a bond if they want the township to issue bonds to pay for infrastructure in new developments and then pay off the bonds with special assessments collected in the future.

Now that these special assesment aren't being paid and townships are having trouble making payments to the county for onds, isn't it a little late to start this policy? Republican incumbents on the Livingston County Commission insist there's nothing they could have done to prevent this crisis, which has led to proposed legislation seeking a state bailout for the county. Previous press accounts have said as many as half of Livingston County's townships may have trouble making payments on their bonds. Since the county backed the bonds, county taxpayers are on the hook.

But it appears there is something the Livingston County Commission could have done -- not backed the bonds unless the townships required developers to post a bond.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Who Can You Shoot?

Is there a lot of violence in the United States today?

There certainly seems to be the perception that there is, when a newspaper in a community like Livinston County asks the question, Who can citizens legally shoot?

One possible answer is another question -- Who Would Jesus Shoot?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

New Leaders in Action!

The Democratic candidates for Livingston County Commission presented their platform, "Smart Leadership, Smart Growth," an agenda for getting Livingston County moving again, at their news conference Monday (Aug. 16, 2010).

These are fresh faces, not tired old incumbents.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Watch Democratic Candidates for County Commission!

Livingston County Democrats' candidates for county commission laid out their agenda for "Smart Leadership, Smart Growth" on Monday (August 16, 2010) and now you can watch the news conference yourself!

Video will be coming soon!

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles--Plus Perks!

The seven Democrats for Livingston County Commission laid out an agenda for the county Monday (August 16, 2010) built around the framework of "Smart Leadership, Smart Growth."

The philosophy is simple -- leadership that is transparent, inclusive, and proactive will give us growth that stresses the local economy first, has a vision for the future that addresses transportation needs, and that enhances the quality of life for all citizens.

The candidates -- Thomas Bell of Oceola Township for District 2; Dane Morris of Hartland Township for District 3; Dave Berry of Conway Township for District 5; Keith Tianen of Putnam Township for District 6; Kelly Raskauskas of Genoa Township for District 7; Amir Baghdadchi of Hamburg Township for Distirct 8, and Barry McBride of Green Oak Township for District 9 -- spent nearly all of the news conference laying out proposals for meeting the county's transportation needs, attracting jobs, and protecting veterans. (David Berry was called out of town at the last minute and could not attend.)

The commissioner candiates' platform called for stopping the multi-million-dollar bailout of the money-losing Spencer J. Hardy Airport in Livingston County. The facility has lost $4.7 million over the last decade and has received $2.7 million in public funds instead of being expected to at least break even. Money spent at the airport, the candidates argued, could have been used for improving roads, or meeting other needs.

The candidates also called for more attention to county roads, 41 percent of which have been rated in "poor" condition by the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association.

And they urged the county commisison to at least study the proposed WALLY commuter rail line between Howell and Ann Arbor -- a project supported by chambers of commerce in Brighton and Howell, as well as by the city of Howell and Hamburg Township.

The candidates also questioned why the part-time commissioners, who receive salaries from $15,325 a year, should also received perks such as health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and a pension for part-time work. They vowed to end the excessive perks for part-time work.

They also called for:
--Greater transparency on the part of the commission.
--A promise by the county commission not to back any more bonds for speculative real estate developments. The county commission has discussed a bailout from the state because developers have failed to pay assessments for infrastructure in real estate developments built in many townships in recent years.
--Making the county more welcoming to business with a one-stop shop for new businesses starting up in Livingston County, a county website that welcomes business, more emphasis on local business, including helping them link up with each other.
--An active parks and recreation commission that would develop hundreds of acres of land given to the county for park use but never developed, but instead has been rented out to private interests and posted with no-trespassing signs.
--A promise to continue levying the small millage for veterans relief, a levy that costs the owner of a $300,000 house a maximum of $7 a year. The levy, required by an 1899 state law, was not levied by the county commission for years and it only reluctantly agreed to do so when county veterans pointed it out to them.

It's a complete agenda -- and it shows where the current bunch has fallen short.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Livingston County Dems' Convention Saturday

Livingston County Democrats will meet for their August convention this Saturday, Aug. 14.

The convention will be held at party headquarters, 10321 Grand River Road, Suite 600, Brighton, MI 48116.

Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. and the convention will open at 10 a.m.

The main business of the convention is to select delegates to standing committees of the Michigan Democratic Party's Aug. 28-29 convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit, and to consider resolutions for the platform commission.

Precinct delegates elected at the Aug. 3 primary and members of the party for 30 days are eligible to vote at the convention. Precinct delegates must be party members, but may join the day of the convention.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

How to Campaign as an Incumbent County Commissioner

If you had been on the Livingston County Commission for 14 years, having won election seven times, you could be expected to know a little about campaigning.

You might even know that you should have a flyer that explains who you are that you could hand out to potential voters.

But if you are Dave Domas, the long-term Republican incumbent from Livingston County's 3rd Commission District, that would be expecting a lot.

You see, Republican incumbent Dave Domas showed up at the polls in Hartland Township on Tuesday (Aug 3, 2010) for the primary. Democrat Dane Morris was there greeting
voters, handing out literature he paid for through his campaign account. But Domas had no literature so instead he handed out business cards bearing the county seal. There was no indication that he paid for these himself. There was no political disclaimer indicating who paid for them. Did the taxpayers pay for these?

Surely not. Surely those fiscal conservative Republicans on the Livingston County Commission would not take advantage of their official position to campaign for re-election.

I just would be utterly shocked if that were the case. And so, I imagine, would be the tea party group members in Hartland.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Don't Shoot the Messenger

Today's Press & Argus has a front-page article on Livingston County's liability for township debt.

If you haven't seen it, here are a few key points:
  • Eight LivCo townships are in danger of defaulting on over $100 million in assessment-backed bond debt.
  • The county commission chose to guarantee the township bonds -- they weren't legally obligated to do so.
  • Things are bad enough here in LivCo that a national news agency wrote about us; the MI House has put together a bipartisan package of bills to address the problem of township bond repayment.
  • We need to have an open discussion about the extent of the problem and how we can fix it.
Thanks to the story's, ah, interesting slant, though, the average reader might come away with the impression that County Democratic Chair Judy Daubenmier is raising the issue for purely partisan reasons. ("Chairwoman upset over assessments backing by county" "Party chair slams county board).

Why blame Daubenmier for talking about an issue that affects ALL LivCo residents -- even the ones who don't live in a township that borrowed during the boom years? She's not the first to raise the subject, either: Bloomberg News and even the P&A have written about our toxic debt problem.

Whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, it seems to me that everyone should be concerned about elected officials giving the OK to speculate with taxpayer money.

Shooting the messenger won't solve our problems.

Monday, August 2, 2010

VOTE Tuesday! It's Your Right

Remember to vote in the Democratic primary on Tuesday (Aug. 3, 2010). Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. but if you will be out of your precinct on Tuesday you can still vote absentee on Monday at your city or township clerk's office.

The exciting race between Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero and House Speaker Andy Dillon is the highlight of the Democratic primary statewide. Don't miss this chance to have your say on who will lead the Democratic ticket in November!

And remember to write in Lance Enderle for the 8th Congressional District. The previous candidate's name will be on the ballot, but he has dropped out of the race. To ensure Democrats have an active candidate in November, Lance is waging a write-in campaign. Remember to both fill in the oval and write in Lance's name. Visit Lance's website for full details on how to write in his name.

Exercise your rights -- vote Tuesday!