Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Census Numbers, Redistricting, Gun-Free Libraries, Police Negotiations

Due to a very crazy week, I skipped the blog last week. Sorry!

Before the County Commission today, we learned that the Census was released. Ingham County Clerk Mike Bryanton alerted us that Ingham County actually increase population over the last 10 years by about 1500 people. We went from a 2000 census of 279,409 to a 2010 census of 280,895. That's good. The City of Lansing dropped 4% from about 119,000 to about 114,000. I am not sure of any of the other numbers, but you can see them at www.michigan.gov/census. In terms of the county political scene, Clerk Bryanton said there was a tentative decision to reduce the County Commission seats from 16 to 14. They still have to receive the track information for the county, which is expected this week. Once that happens, the Reapportionment Committee has 60 days to meet and make a final decision. The LSJ has opined on this recently and there have been some editorials, so it will be interesting to watch. Contrary to popular opinion, the County Commission has no say in this decision at all.

Today, at the County Commission meeting, we only debated one resolution. We considered a resolution to encourage the Legisalture to add libraries to the gun-free zone list and prohibit open-carry and concealed-carry of guns. We passed an amendment to remove some potentially inflammatory language in the resolution (which passed overwhelmingly). We then considered an amendment that would strip out the concealed language and only make our resolution deal with open carry. This amendment failed on an 8-8 vote. The resolution then passed on a 11-5 vote, along party lines but with one Republican voting yes, and two Democrats voting no. Personally, I voted to support the resolution. In debate, I commented that I am a supporter of guns. I shoot guns (target shooting) and have since I was young. I have also shot guns with my son and teach him to respect guns. I am very concerned, though, about having guns in a library. I am afraid that in such a small space with so many children, something could go wrong. A child could see the gun and try to play with it, or another accident could happen in the confined space. I think about the South Lansing library and wonder what could happen. I agree that people have the right to have weapons in their car or in their homes or even concealed (with a permit) as they go about their day. But I think that places like schools and libraries should not have guns.

We also passed a resolution continuing the existing contract with the Michigan Association of Police. It passed unanimously on the Board floor, but we discussed this last week in the County Services committee. The county staff and labor bargaining team agreed on new language, but the membership rejected it because of the new language on part-time employees. The county committed to not using part-timers to supplant full time deputies, but the deputies want the part time folks to also have fringe benefits. The issue is now going to mediation, and we passed the resolution to keep the old contract in place while negotiations are ongoing.

That's what I have this week. Starting soon, I will also be blogging about campaign events so people can be up to date on those activities as well. I have been attending lots of things as part of the campaign, and it is very exciting. Fundraising is also going very well, as is the incredible level of support that I am receiving from community leaders. Life is busy, but very exciting!


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