The Board of Commissioners took up the resolution to create a Project Labor Agreement for the Rhino exhibit at the Zoo. If you are a faithful reader of my blog (and I hope you are!) then you already know what a PLA. We had public testimony from the Associated Builders and Contractors saying that PLA’s are for union-only shops and are unfair. Several Commissioners during debate rebutted this assertion, though, reminding that our policy is unique and makes it specifically possible for non-union contractors to bid on projects. Non-union shops would not be disadvantaged, and would only have to allow union level benefits and pay for employees working only on that project. The PLA was passed on a 13-3 vote, and the project can now begin.
We also considered the community agency funding. This was a very tough vote for everyone. As discussed in my blog last week, we have a small pot of money that we give to community agencies in Ingham County who do non-profit work. They help out those in need. Unfortunately, the money that we have available is continuously reducing. We need to pay our own employees without laying them off and reducing benefits, so it is hard to give money away to others. In the past, this money has been $300,000 or so, This year, though, it is anticipated to be about $100,000.
We had a proposal before us to instead send any money available to the Power of We for community agency building (which recently lost a federal grant). After discussing this with the Power of We director and some constituents in my district who contact me about the proposal, I decided that it would maximize the dollars more to ensure that the community agency building program kept on running. Sending few dollars to over 30 agencies would not be as effective as ensureing that the groups are doing their work most efficiently. This was a very tough decision, but I believe that it was the best one. We will try this for a year and see what happens. Next year we will review this and see if it still makes the most sense. We will also have a chance to review the program before we actually send the money (when we do our budget later in the year). The proposal passed on a 9-7 vote.
Finally, we said goodbye to Commissioner Shelby Bupp (D-East Lansing). When Commissioner Marc Thomas (D-East Lansing) resigned, Shelby was appointed to the Board. She held that seat until a special election was held. She did an excellent job and we all appreciate her work. Thanks Shelby!!!
We also will welcome new Commissioner Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) to the Board at our next meeting. Congratulations, and welcome Penelope!
On the political front…filing deadline has passed. I have a primary opponent in the Democratic primary on August 3rd. He has been aggressively campaigning and has been very critical of my leadership for our district. I will continue to work on behalf of the citizens of my district and all of Ingham County, and will continue to talk to my constituents and get the message out about the important issues. If I am successful in the primary, then I will take on a Republican who filed in November. If you are reading this blog and are a constituent, I hope I have earned your vote for another term. Please feel free to email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call me (485-0926) any time!
That’s it for this week.