Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Beer Tents, Commissioner Compensation, and Rayner Park...and a political update and clarification.

At the Board meeting tonight, Commissioners McGrain and Davis introduced the resolution to allow for a beer tent at the Ingham County Fair. Because it failed in committee, these Commissioners had to introduce this as a personal resolution. Since I blogged about this last week, I have heard from an interesting cross-section of people. I have heard from 4-H people who are opposed because they think it is immoral to serve alcohol in a place where children are. I have also heard from a variety of people who say that a beer tent will allow adults to enjoy the fair even more, especially at night. I was told that in SE Michigan, even the churches have beer tents these days. And I was told that in our area, there is beer at the Williamston Jubilee (where they serve in milk jugs, the Charlotte Frontier Days, the Mint Festival, and the Eagle days. All of these have children at them, all serve alcohol, and none have seen the dire predictions of the 4-H come true. In the end, it seems to me that we want the fair to be self-sustaining. How can we expect that, then shut down the ideas that they have to actually bring in revenue. If they try it one year and the revenue goes down because people are not coming or because of dangers, then they will stop (or we will make them stop). But I am open to this and other solutions to ensure that we still have a County Fair, but do not have to subsidize it with county tax dollars. The debate was very interesting and passionate, and the resolution passed 11-5.

As mentioned last week, we also considered and passed (15-1) Commissioner Compensation with no pay increase. Commissioner Grebner made an eloquent speech about the necessity to have well compensated elected offiials in order to make good decisions for the county. He argued that if we don't compensate people for the many hours they spend on county issues, then we will not have good representation on the Board. While I understand the argument, I voted against pay raises for Commissioners because I believe that if our employees are not getting pay raises in the future (which will likely happen) and if they are forced to take furlough days, then so should the Commissioners. Our employees work hard and deserve to be compensated. We Commissioners cannot take pay raises if our employees do not. That is also why a few years ago I voted to eliminate the 2009 pay raise and have given back my 2010 pay raise this year (starting in January, before my contested campaign began).

Finally, we considered moving Rayner Park to the City of Mason. As you may recall, in County Services and Finance we agree to a resolution that would require the City to maintain the park as parkland for 20 years. After that, they would be able to change the use or sell it (as according to their charter requirements). But we limited the transfer of property to the park only, and not the woods between the park and the fairgrounds. The City came back to us agreeing to the proposal only if it also included the woods. During testimony, there were several Mason residents and others who talked about the necessity of using the woods for its trails and other purposes. Upon seeing that both the Commission and the residents want to use the property as woods, Commissioner Todd Tennis moved an amendment to re-include the woods in the deal. This amendment passed 13-3. The resolution then passed 16-0. So the entire parkland was moved to the City of Mason for $1 per year, and they cannot use it for anything other than parks for 20 years. After that, the entire thing is the property of the city to do as they wish, and they will answer to their constituents if they try to make any changes. Both the County and the City agreed to this and will sign a legal agreement, and the park will open very soon.

Oh, and the Board unanimously passed a resolution I sponsored commending Donna Olds on her retirement. Donna is the principal at Mt. Hope Elementary (in my district). She is retiring after 37 years in the Lansing School District...and I thank her for everything she has done for our children!!!

On the political front, the campaign continues to go extremely well! While my opponent has attacked me with distortions of my record in an email to Democratic Party members and at voter doors, constituents are seeing through this nonsense. I have a fundraiser coming up to raise money so I can continue to spread the truth about my record and let voters honestly decide if I deserve another term. If you would like to contribute or put up a yard sign or assist in any other way, please let me know!

NOTE: In one of my previous blogs, I said that the City doesn’t allow political yard signs to go up until July 1. When I first ran for office, the city had an ordinance not allowing political yard signs until 30 days before the election. A few years later, the Supreme Court ruled that all yard sign ordinances were unconstitutional and could be ignored. As such, the City repealed the ordinance. Candidates in Lansing, though, have generally observed the spirit of the ordinance and have not put up political yard signs until 30 days before the primary. Neither I nor my Republican opponents have put up yard signs before this time in my other elections. My opponent in the Democratic primary chose to put up his signs about 2½ months before election day. While I know residents don’t like having signs up that early, I had to respond in-kind and get mine up (thanks to all those who are helping with that!). Sorry for any confusion!

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