Wednesday, March 24, 2010

John McNally reports on the 1:00 County planning meeting!

This is a classic example of citizen input in our county government.

John showed up. He was respectful. And he had a camera!

Oh the sunlight that so frightened those so used to the cover of darkness!

John, you are the MAN!

We now have a core of "citizen reporters".

Who will step up next?

Fellow Patriots,

I wanted to thank Jim Riley for inviting me to a County Board meeting. It was interesting to say the least.

At one point one of the commissioners suggested that they streamline the process for starting new businesses and get more proactive to develop small businesses. Another commissioner replied if I may paraphrase that almost 80% of new businesses fail so what is the point? Wouldn't we (the board) just be helping them to fail? I felt like reminding him these businesses help pay his salary.

There was a presentation on the process for the Indian Gaming casino. I am not sure what your opinion is on this matter but the board was all for it. At one point the attorney for the tribe commented he was the one person happy to see that unemployment went up in the county. The commissioners got a big laugh out of this one.

Discussion of wind farms: The board's role appears to be minimal; either an endorsement or a "kick in the pants". They are waiting for the state to issue the guidelines and updating themselves on the issue.


Donna Stokes (The Equalization Director) gave a presentation including a chart. A commissioner asked about the foreclosure issue. She said there was misinformation in the paper's editorial page and that foreclosures were no where near 2/3rds of the sales. I spoke up indicating that I wrote the opinion letter and the 2/3rds figure came from a freedom of information request which was responded to by Kelly Sobel the Executive Admin. for the State Tax Commission. I also asked her how many foreclosures were included in her data. She did not know.


The commissioners were given a copy of a budget. There seemed to be an atmosphere of gloom. A lot of talk about strategic planning and the need to work together took place. There was some talk of across the board cuts but it seemed to be a last resort solution.

Camera: I filmed quite a bit of the meeting. One thing that Jim mentioned is that the board has felt that there was no one watching them. I think they were surprised by the camera.

Idea: Jim is doing a great job finding out about these meetings and attending them. The more we show up for these meetings the better. I would also like to form a group of people focused on reviewing all the county expenses and other documents. If anyone is interested in this project let me know.

John McNally

Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Expenditure Detail ...

Recipient, Amount, Description, Date. Friends of Kenneth Mahoney, Montague, MI, $350, Non-Federal Ken Mahoney (MI-D), 10/27/06 ...

Update on Tues. 3-23-2010 Full Board County Commission meeting

Everything I hi-lighted in my earlier blog post passed with no dissenting votes:

So we got:

1. $3000 free money for the Heights festival board to do with as they please.
NO other city or township in the county gets any money at all for their festivals.

2. A total of $6,500 of porky earmarks to favored/connected groups (including Muskegon Heights) from the Convention and Visitor's Bureau fund that is supposed to fund out of our county advertising. Just more special interests taking from most of us and giving to their special friends.

3. More trolley trolley riders. And no commissioner dares to ask for an accounting of riders vs cost.

4. The "waives" just keep on rolling. This is one tsunami of waives that keeps on rolling ....and it's entirely created by the commissioners who voted for the "hiring freeze". Gotta love the freeze!

5. I never even got to ask about the "retiree dental benefits". Done deal for them....and our pocketbooks. Doesn't EVERYONE have full dental benefits in retirement?

6. The worker's comp amount was an oversight but I was the only one to spot it. And I don't get a vote. Neither do you. None of the commissioners who voted "aye" noticed it either. I wonder how often this happens. Do you?

No Thursday meeting this week Mar. 25 or Tues.Mar. 30 next week..

See you (I hope) all next week Thursday, April 2.

The agenda isn't posted yet but why don't we all keep checking out the site:

I can't do this entirely alone.

Join me!

Jim Riley

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another County board meeting today 3:30 at County building

Another County board meeting today 3:30 at County building
Today (3-23-2010) there will be a full board meeting of the Muskegon County Commission.

Among other items I found these most interesting:

1. I'm against ANY porky funding for this type of public event but especially when our financial future is so bleak.

But look at the funding for the Heights "Festival".

Does the county board "spread the money around" to the other cities?
Or is the heights just "special"?

Either way, it ought to stop.

They've already spent us broke.

They shouldn't have the fun of spending us broker.

CD/SP1 0103 -03To approve the financial contributions be made and that the funds be utilized from the CVB's Community Promotions (902020) line item:
Muskegon Heights "Festival in the Park" -$3,000.00;
The Associationof Concert Bands 2011 National Convention Committee -$500.00;
the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant -$3,000.00.

2. Most every trolley I've seen was empty or mostly empty.

Has there ever been a study of ridership vs cost?

Wouldn't it be nice to see that report?

TRlO/03-12 Move to approve operation of a 2010 Trolley Route Program as proposed.

3. They "waive" just about every meeting.

Maybe we citizens ought to get an explanation?

To waive the hiring freeze and allow the Human Resources Department to fill the vacant Human Resources Analyst position #N39502 at step 1 and change the funding from 100% 1010-0226 to 75% 1010-0226 and 25% 6770-0203.

4. Wait-a-minute!

County retirees get dental benefits??!!!!

What's that cost?

Do you get retirement dental?

Gimme a break!

To approve Professional Benefits Services (PBS) for the Third Party Administration of the Muskegon County retiree dental plan from 4/1/2010 -9/30/2012 at a rate of $1.90 per line item.

5. Probably nothing here but anytime I see vague wording, I get the ginchies.

"..grant the authority to sign NECESSARY contracts....

"I'd just like a bit more info sir.....

To grant the Chairperson of the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners and the County Clerk the authority to sign necessary contracts with Web Tecs, Inc., and Ottawa County.

6. This one is minor but says volumes about our state.

They want to hire a kid and pay him about $5,700 but the worker's comp is $1,011 for this part timer!!!!!
No wonder jobs keep leaving our state.

Requested Position Class/Pos. Description WATER SYSTEM ENG AIDE/SEASONAL Requested Table/Grade/Hourly Range $850~/HR~ Salary and Wages Social Security Hospitalization Ins. Life Ins. Retirement
Worker's comp$1,011

Come on and join me in these meetings!

Every Tues and Thurs at 3:30 at the County Building.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Big meeting tomorrow 1:00PM!

There will be an open "planning session" meeting of the full Muskegon county board tomorrow from 1-3:00 PM at the Muskegon County convention and visitors bureau building.
That's the old train station across from the Eagles, corner of 7th and Western.

All citizens are legally entitled to attend.

On the agenda will be discussion about:
1. Equalization and assessments.
2. The new casino in Fruitport.
3. Long range financial planning for the County.
4. The county commissioner's travel budget.
5. County purchasing policy.

This is where much of the real policy info is discussed and in the past, the commissioners have had the luxury of little citizen attendance or input.

So they could do just whatever they and those with their hands out wanted.
With little public scrutiny.

Let's change that!

I'll be there tomorrow at 12:45, outside by the front door to greet any of you patriots who will stand tall and attend.

It is YOUR future and your money they will be talking about!

See you there!

"It's the SPENDING Stupid!"

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -Patrick Henry, revolutionary (1736-1799)

Government meeting tool kit!

Muskegon County Commission Citizen Action Toolkit!

If you are interested in learning about how our Muskegon county government works, it helps to attend the county commission meetings.

If you want to see "change you can believe in", you need to provide your own citizen input.

Or it will continue to be the same old, same old.

Here is a "toolkit" of links you can use to see what happened last time and what will be discussed at the next meetings.

All meetings are held in the Board of Commissioner's Room:
4th Floor of the Hall of Justice (County building)
990 Terrace Street, MMuskegon, MI
3:30 p.m sharp!

Agenda for full County Commission Board Meeting:

Past full County board minutes:

Standing committee minutes and agendas:

Future meeting full board and committee schedules:

Be an educated citizen!

"It's the SPENDING Stupid!"

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." -Patrick Henry, revolutionary (1736-1799)