Thursday, March 1, 2012

Meijer and Free Publications, 911 Service Plan Update

Welcome to the Schor Report. Sorry for skipping a week last week. I had a death in the family and didn't have time to find a guest blogger. This week, I will try to cover the action for the last two weeks.

The County Services committee then the full Board of Commissioner took up a resolution calling on Meijer stores to continue to have City Pulse and other free magazines available in their store lobbies. Meijer's corporate offices recently decided to discontinue this service, and the City Pulse is calling on them to reverse this decision. The discussion on the Board floor was two-fold: (1) is this county business, and (2) is it a good business decision for Meijer. Commissioner Randy Schafer argued that is up to Meijer to decide what to do with their own business, and what makes business sense and what doesn't. He argued that it isn't county business. Commissioner Dianne Holman agreed, saying that she likes getting the paper there, but up to Meijer to decide. Commissioner Vickers argued that the County in the past has told people to go online (apparently he was referring to the Fair Board) and this should be no different.

Commissioner Deb Nolan pointed out that the Ingham County Commission weighs in on community issues all the time. She pointed out that others have weighed in favorable to the opinions of the Pulse, including the Lansing City Council. She said that there are 3,000 City Pulse publications picked up at Meijer locations weekly and Meijer is an important avenue to get this information out to citizens. She also pointed out that this is county business because public notices and Land Bank notices and other governmental information is in the Pulse and needs to get to residents. Commissioner Rebecca Baher-Cook also pointed out that this resolution is county business because the county shares tax foreclosures and RFP's and other county business. This must be available in places where people get public information. The elderly and others may not be in places where the City Pulse and other free publications are located, but they do go to the grocery store. She argued that this is an important resolution because the County is letting Meijer know that this is a disservice to residents. Commissioner Todd Tennis pointed out that we are not mandating anything, but encouraging Meijer to continue to allow free periodicals at their places of business.

Commissioner Schafer said that the main distribution is in Lansing and East Lansing, and the Pulse doesn't reach large portion of the rest of the county so this is just an urban issue. I responded to that saying that Meijer is in Lansing and East Lansing where the population centers are, but is also in Mason. And, I added that the Leslie paper and Stockbridge paper and other papers are free to residents and could also be carried at Meijer for the out-county residents that shop there. I pointed out that this is county business because we are acting on behalf of our constituents. I re-iterated that this is not an ordinance or mandate, but that this this is county business because the information is important to our constituents and Meijer needs to know the views of the community. The final resolution passed on a 10 - 5 vote, with the 4 Republicans and Commissioner Holman voting no and one Commissioner absent.

We also passed a resolution updating the Ingham County 911 Service Plan. The resolution updated the service plan from 1987. In includes areas services, how they all work, technical considerations, public and private agencies services by the network, etc. We had to pull this and vote on it separately from the items on the consent agenda because of state law requirements.

The final action on the Board floor involved appointments. A motion was made to make appointments to the Fair Board. We had interviewed people in the County Services Committee, but had not made a decision. The Democratic Caucus Chair moved to appoint two individuals, but apparently this information did not make it to the Republican Caucus in time. Some objected to being left out of the deliberations and decisions. Others wanted different members recommended. A motion was made to refer this back to committee for a recommendation and that motion passed 11-4. I supported the motion to send the resolution back to committee. After working in the Legislature for Democrats in the minority, I know what it is like to be kept out of the deliberations. The minority party cannot pass legislation or set the agenda, but they should at least be able to be part of the deliberation. When working in the State Senate and State House, there were plenty of times that the Republicans shut us out completely and that was frustrating when the Democrats represent Michigan residents also. As such, I agreed that the Republicans should be part of the deliberation even if the final decision may or may not be changed.

In County Services, we also heard that the Hawk Island snow park is now open. It was opened for 20 hours of service two weeks ago (Saturday for 8 hours and Sunday for 8 hours) and last weekend it was open all weekend. They are making snow at night when it is cold. With the unseasonable warm weather, it is hard to keep the snow made and not melting, but our staff is working on it. We also had a brief discussion about the Road Commission, and Chair Holman said that there will be an item on the next agenda. She said that she expected the mandatory public hearings to happen in late March or early April and expected discussions to commence soon when the Controller starts to bring recommendations.

In the Human Services Committee, we had an excellent presentation from the Greater Lansing Food Bank. I can't list everything they said, but they are definitely doing greater work for our community. They estimate 71,540 people in Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton counties don't know where their next meal is coming from. 1.3 million pounds of food was distributed to the Ingham County Food Bank network pantries from 2010 to 2011. Beginning July 1, 2012, the Greater Lansing Food Bank and the Mid-Michigan Food Bank will become one food bank. This will create efficiencies in the system. We had a great discussion about how we can get the word out. The Food Bank people mentioned the Lansing State Journal editorial and said that many people responded to that. I also mentioned that we need to keep pushing out the 2-1-1 phone number. People can call this if they have extra food they want to donate, or for any other social safety net needs. This prevents every different agency from having to market their own contact information. If you need to know if there are community services to fit your needs, call 2-1-1!

On the campaign front, things continue to be very busy. I have gained a few more endorsements in the last few weeks that I will roll out soon. Some big ones! And the first fundraiser of 2012 is set and ready to go. We have new Host Committee members being added every day. If you haven't already heard about it, block off March 14th from 5:30 to 7:30 and come join us at the home of Jim McClurken and Sergei Kvitko. All the details can be found on my website at .

Thanks for all the sympathy notes, and for all the well wishes for the commission stuff and the campaign!

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