Monday, February 28, 2011

Tuesday's county meeting

Update 5:29PM:
Very little of consequence today.
The commission made some moves that saved money and listened to two women who wanted to keep the county's computers available to citizens and businesses who need them in the county building.
A bit boring but a day to see the commission working for the taxpayers.
After the meeting we all also had a nice conversation with county executive Hammersley and commissioners Scolnik and Jager.
A nifty bonus!
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Interesting that chairman John Snider's Courts/Public safety committee said they do not have an agenda planned and so will not meet.

The Human Resources committee has a very interesting item but the site is down now.

I'll add more info if they open up tonight or tomorrow.
Check later on this post.
I'll be at Carmen's at 2:20 for anyone who wants to talk to an old guy who cares about our county.

Muskegon Tea Party at Carmen's downtown every Tues. and Thurs. 2:20-3:20!


OK,
It will mostly be just me, a local Muskegon Tea Party member, some friends and ...you?
Anyway, I'll be at Carmen's Cafe at 2:20 every Tuesday and Thursday before the county commission meetings at 3:30.
If you want to talk about county doings, you're invited!
Ask the management where I'm sitting or just hollar out "hey Riley"!
That'll work.
See ya there!

Redistricting meeting tonight Monday 5:30 4th floor County bldg.

http://muskegontaxpayers.blogspot.com/2011/02/dont-let-muskegon-apportionment-screw.html
Read this for more info:
http://muskegontaxpayers.blogspot.com/2011/02/we-dont-need-fewer-muskegon-county.html

Friday, February 25, 2011

Muskegon Tea Party meets Monday Feb. 28, 7:00 PM @ Whitlow's

Muskegon Tea Party Meeting MONDAY February 28th, 7pm Whitlow's Banquet Hall (on Airline Rd.)
The Tea Party Meeting for February will be held on Monday Feb 28th at 7pm.
(Call Jim 231-557-9912 with questions)


We try to have the meetings on the 4th Tuesday of the month, but we also have to work around the generosity of Whitlow's as they are donating the hall for our use, they had a banquet on our regular day, but could accommodate us on the 28th.

Meeting Agenda
Call to Order
Pledge of Allegiance
Welcome
Information on Upcoming Events
* Tax Day Rally - Committee/Groups needed
* Re-Districting Muskegon County
* County Board of Commissioners

Tea Party Projects
* Petition Drive
* Community Awareness
* Candidate Recruitment
* Ideas and Suggestions

Action Group Activities
* County Commission Meetings
* Elected Officials
* Spread The Word
* Who do you know?
Comments from the group / Q&A
Meeting adjourns to meet and greet with fellow Tea Party Patriots
Hand outs will be available.

Norton Shores, Fruitport Township initiate plan to leave Muskegon Heights' water system

Norton Shores, Fruitport Township initiate plan to leave Muskegon Heights' water system MLive.com
"Norton Shores and Fruitport Township have given verbal notice to Muskegon Heights that they intend to leave the Muskegon Heights-owned water system."

This sounds to me to be the first shot in a short war that will lead to the Heights finally acting like a good partner and not the thug it has been lately.
Let's hope!
And kudos to Norton Shores Mayor Gary Nelund and Fruitport Township Supervisor Brian Werschem.
Showin' some leadership dudes!

Don't Let Muskegon Apportionment Screw You

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dont-Let-Muskegon-Apportionment-Screw-You/191985697491162

Muskegon County union contracts-the fix is in!

The fix is in.

Imagine you only had 1 week to determine how you would spend 75% of your entire budget.

And imagine that you would be locked in for 2 or 4 or even 6 years of spending. Spending that would automatically go up every year in three different ways.

Well, that's what our county commissioners have planned for the union contracts that account for 75% of all county discretionary spending.
All contracts will come due the same day and will be negotiated in secret (as always) from us taxpayers until the unions ratify them.

We then get 1 week to contact our commissioners to try to have any say in the never ending increases that have set our county on the brink of more taxes, bankruptcy or both.

And then we are locked in for the duration of the contracts.
As you can see, only 4 of the 10 current union contracts are posted on the Muskegon County website (link below)
The plan to have all county union contracts come due on the same day is already finalized.

County administrator Hammersley assured me, personally, that all the county union contracts were to be posted on the county website.That was over three months ago.
The county's link has only four contracts that are currently in force.

The other 6 contracts are expired or perhaps continuing until some date that us poor taxpayers don't understand.


But the plan to have EVERY union contract expire...and be reset on the same day is the union's holy grail!
The scheme is to have all union contracts due and re-approved on Sept. 30 2011.
 Imagine the luxury of only having to explain and atone for 80% of the county budget once every 4 or 6 years.
Rather than have contracts be examined by citizens (those who PAY for the contracts!) every 6 months or so.

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/humanresources/laborcontracts.htm

Brookhaven AFSCME                          4/22/08-9/30/2010
Brookhaven LPN                                  3/9/10-9/30/2010
CMH Aide Unit                                   12/7/10-9/30/2011
County Sheriff-corrections unit              9/14/10-9/30/2011
County Sheriif-Command unit               2/6/06-12/31/2008 (the new contract was authorized on 12-21-2010...they musta just forgot to post it?)
County Sheriff-Deputy unit                    9/28/2010-9/30/2011
District Court Unit                                 6/24/2008-9/30/2010
General Employees Unit                        10/26/2010-9/30/2011
Michigan Nurses Assoc.                        8/21/2007-9/30/2010
Wastewater Professional & Clerical       11/22/2005-12/31/2008

And don't forget that sub-RINO GOPers John Snider, Bob Scolnik and Marve Engle voted FOR every one of these contracts.
Just as every one of their big union supporting democrat friends on the county board did.

More to come!

How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment DVD

How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment DVD Michigan Taxpayers Alliance
"How to Appeal Your Property Tax Assessment Workshop DVD

Learn how to appeal your property tax assessments by ordering the DVD of our Property Tax Assessment Workshop."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No Muskegon county meeting Thursday

They've worked too hard so they need a 6 day vacation.
I've got a funeral to attend so I'm glad.
I won't be at Carmen's either on Thursday.
See you next week Tuesday and Thursday at 2:20-3:20 just before the commission meets to spend more of your children's future income (they've already spent all of our taxes so borrowing on our kid's backs is the new "new" for our leaders)!

We don't need fewer Muskegon County commissioners

Letters: We don't need fewer Muskegon County commissioners MLive.com
Redistricting, reapportionment, gerrymandering.
Whatever you call it, in Muskegon County, it really means that the Muskegon Democratic Party controls which county commission district you will live in for the next 10 years.

The commission consists of Democratic Treasurer Tony Moulatsiotis (chairman), County Clerk Nancy Waters, Prosecutor Tony Tague and Democratic Party boss Steve Keglovitz.


The lone Republican, GOP chair Christina Achterhoff makes it 4 to 1 Democrats over Republicans on the board.
The voters gave the Democrats the votes and the power to redraw district lines in any manner they choose.


But this commission isn’t only about gerrymandering your district for purely partisan purposes.


They will also consider reducing the number of commissioners from the current 11 down to 9 or even 7.
You might ask the Democrats why 7 or 9 is a better number than 11.
So far they haven’t offered a reason.


Although there is talk that the reduced number of commissioners would quietly split the current group’s total pay by the new, smaller number, thereby giving themselves a stealth pay increase.


I think that the reduction is a terrible idea for additional reasons.
The most obvious reason is it would effectively disenfranchise every voter in the county.
With fewer representatives, your vote and voice is worth less.
And their power increases.
County regions will lose a voice concerning issues specific to their areas.
Some commissioners currently have as many as six municipalities within their districts.

Fewer commissioners will mean an increase in the different cities and townships they must represent.
It will make connecting with their residents more difficult.
And it will surely make it harder for those residents to communicate and connect with their commissioner.


Fewer commissioners will require increased workloads for the remaining commissioners.
The increased workload of this part-time job would make it less attractive to new candidates. Or the work would simply not get done.
It likely could eliminate full-time workers from the candidate pool with only the lazy, independently wealthy or retired able to find the time to adequately do what would become a far more challenging job.Do we really want to put in place a policy that restricts the pool of possible candidates and effectively eliminates the citizen legislator?
Finally, as a friend in the restaurant business told me, “If I reduce the number of servers in my restaurant, my customers will have worse service.”
Well, duh!
We the people of Muskegon will suffer the same reduction in service if we allow the Democrat controlled board to shrink our representation.


Call your county commissioner and the redistricting board members and tell them we need greater representation, not less.


Before it’s too late!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

County "work session" today 1:30

Our county commissioners are having another "work session" tomorrow at 1:30.
Same location as last month's meeting.
We need you there to show the commissioners they can buy all the laptops they want for themselves but we will still report and remember what they did!
I'll be at Carmen's at 12:30 for any who would like to chat before the meeting.
See you there!
Jim
231-557-9912



2011-65 SCHEDULE A WORK SESSION FOR THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONER
FOR TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2011 AT 1:30 P.M.
Moved by Derezinski, seconded by Snider, to schedule a work session for the Board of
Commissioner for Tuesday, February 22, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. in the Training Center
Building.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Public safety on the line with millage elections Tuesday in Norton Shores and Egelston and Cedar Creek townships

Public safety on the line with millage elections Tuesday in Norton Shores and Egelston and Cedar Creek townships MLive.com
"“This millage is the opportunity for the residents of Norton Shores to pick what quality of life they want,” said Norton Shores Mayor Gary Nelund.
“Further cuts in public safety are really going to have long-term damaging effects on the city.”"

Vote NO tomorrow!!!!!

Muskegon County board's new district boundaries being drawn by group

Muskegon County board's new district boundaries being drawn by group MLive.com
"Moulatsiotis requested public input on redistricting.
The commission set its next two meeting dates for 9 a.m. Wednesday and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 28, both in the county commissioners’ board room in the Hall of Justice."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Do the republicans on our Muskegon County Commission always vote with the big union democrats?

Well,
They certainly did on EVERY budget busting union contract in 2010 and so far in 2011.
Those union contracts account for 70-80% of the entire county discretionary budget!
The dems, at least, are open and honest about their support for more pay, benefits and spending on county union employees.
But our republican representatives Marve Engle, Bob Scolnik and John Snider......... well, their votes sort of speak louder than their words.

Are they proud of their votes?

Our county is out of money and all of those union contracts have triple pay/compensation increases EVERY year.

Are they proud?

Call them.

Ask them!

Those contracts are killing our county!
http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/board_minutes.cfm

Muskegon County Board of Commissioners October 26, 2010
Full Board Meeting 3:30 p.m.
2010-599 APPROVE THE CONTRACT SETTLEMENT WITH THE TEAMSTERS
GENERAL EMPLOYEES UNIT
The Ways and Means Committee Recommends, moved by Nash, seconded by Engle, to
approve the contract settlement with the Teamsters General Employees Unit and authorize
the County Board Chair and County Clerk to sign the labor agreement subsequent to
signatures being obtained from union representatives.
Discussion ensued regarding more information and that an impact schedule would be
appreciated in the future.
Roll Call
Ayes: Engle, Gill, Mahoney, Nash, Scolnik, Snider, Wade, Buzzell, Collins, Derezinski
Nays: None
Excused: McMurray
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Muskegon County Board of Commissioners September 14, 2010
Full Board Meeting 3:30 p.m.
2010-514 APPROVE THE CONTRACT SETTLEMENT WITH THE SHERIFF

TEAMSTERS CORRECTIONS OFFICER UNIT
The Ways and Means Committee Recommends, moved by Collins, seconded by Engle,
to approve the contract settlement with the Sheriff Teamsters Corrections Officer Unit and
authorize the County Board Chair and County Clerk to sign the labor agreement
subsequent to signatures being obtained from union representatives.
Roll Call
Ayes: Buzzell, Collins, Derezinski, Engle, Gill, Mahoney, McMurray, Nash, Scolnik,
Snider, Wade
Nays: None
Excused: Wade
Absent: McMurray
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
2010-545 APPROVE THE CONTRACT SETTLEMENT WITH THE SHERIFF
TEAMSTERS DEPUTY UNIT
WM10/09-172
The Ways and Means Committee Recommends, moved by Collins, seconded by Engle,
to approve the contract settlement with the Sheriff Teamsters Deputy Unit and authorize
the County Board Chair and County Clerk to sign the labor agreement subsequent to
signatures beings obtained from union representatives.
Roll Call
Ayes: Gill, Mahoney, Nash, Scolnik, Snider, Wade, Buzzell, Collins, Derezinski, Engle
Excused: McMurray
Nays: None
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
2010-152 APPROVE THE CONTRACT SETTLEMENT WITH THE BROOKHAVEN
SEIU LPN UNIT
WM10/03-53
The Ways and Means Committee , moved by Nash, seconded by Engle, to approve the
contract settlement with the Brookhaven SEIU LPN unit and authorize the County Board
Chair and County Clerk to sign the labor agreement subsequent to signatures being
obtained from union representatives.
Roll Call
Ayes: Engle, Gill, Mahoney, McMurray, Nash, Scolnik, Snider, Buzzell, Collins, Derezinski
Nays: None
Excused: Wade
Commissioner Gill explained his abstention, since he did not get an agenda and did not
have his notes from Committee, he did not want to be inconsistent with his previous vote.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

2010-700 APPROVE THE CONTRACT SETTLEMENT WITH THE CMH AIDE UNIT
WM10/12-208
The Ways and Means Committee Recommends, moved by Collins, seconded by Engle, to
approve the contract settlement with the CMH Aide Unit and authorize the County Board Chair and
County Clerk to sign the labor agreement subsequent to signatures being obtained from union
representatives.
Roll Call
Ayes: Mahoney, Nash, Scolnik, Snider, Wade, Buzzell, Collins, Engle
Abstain: Gill
Nays: None
Excused: Derezinski, McMurray
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Muskegon County Board of Commissioners December 21, 2010
Full Board Meeting 3:34 p.m.
2010-747 APPROVE CONTRACT SETTLEMENT WITH THE SHERIFF COMMAND
UNIT AND AUTHORIZE COUNTY BOARD CHAIR AND COUNTY CLERK
TO SIGN THE LABOR AGREEMENT
The Administrator recommends, moved by Snider, seconded by Engle, to approve the
contract settlement with the Sheriff Command Unit and authorize the County Board Chair and County Clerk to sign the labor agreement subsequent to signatures being obtained from union representatives.
Roll Call
Ayes: Snider, Wade, Buzzell, Collins, Derezinski, Engle, Gill, Mahoney, Nash, Scolnik,
Nays: None
Excused: McMurray

Friday, February 18, 2011

Group Calls For More Transparency in Redistricting

Group Calls For More Transparency in Redistricting Eyewitness News 9
"The redistricting collaborative wants any proposed map to be posted on the Internet 30 days before adoption so citizens can study it and offer their comments."Contact your county commissioner and every member on the Muskegon county redistricting board today!

Tell them you want TRANSPARENCY!

Phone calls ALWAYS get better results!
Commissioners phone numbers and districts:
http://co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk/brd_comm.cfm

Commissioner's e-mail address:
www.co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners

Apportionment board members:
Christina Achterhoff (R) (231) 744-2454
Steve Markel (D) 231-722-2254
Tony Tague, Prosecutor (D)
Phone: 231-724-6435
email: archerwe@co.muskegon.mi.us
Nancy A. Waters, County Clerk (D)
Phone: 231-724-6221
email: clerk@co.muskegon.mi.us
Tony Moulatsiotis, Treasurer (D)
Phone: 231-724-6261
email: moulatsiotisto@co.muskegon.mi.us

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Muskegon County group charged with drawing up commissioners' districts to meet

Muskegon County group charged with drawing up commissioners' districts to meet MLive.com
"The commission’s organizational meeting, which is open to the public, is set for Thursday in room G203 of the Central Services Building, 141 E. Apple.
The commission is expected to elect a chairperson at the organizational meeting."

9:00 AM tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NS millage to cost $12,000

I'm just back from the Norton Shores city council meeting.
Mostly dull except for a question about the cost of next week's millage election.
It is expected to be about $12,000.
Don't forget to vote next Tuesday!
(enter "NS" in the search box, top left, for more info and links)

Editorial: Laptop dilemma: Efficiency, cost savings vs. appearances

"A proposal to purchase laptop computers for Muskegon County commissioners needs close review."

A well balanced editorial from The Chronicle.

An additional perspective:
Best Buy has a high power (3 GB ram) laptop for $350.
The county estimate for each laptop for the commissioners is $1391 with warranty and MS Office.
Open Office, a free version of MS Office is free.

The county's only stated reason for the taxpayers to foot the bill for commissioner's laptops is that it will provid savings on printing and mailing costs.
The county reports $2000 in mailing costs.
The commissioners are in the county building twice a week.
Why are they mailing ANYTHING to commissioners?
Can't they simply pick up all paper when they are in the building?

They can start saving taxpayer's money today.

The county reports printing costs of $3857.
That is because the current policy is to print everything for every commissioner.
Commissioners have told me that many commissioners go to their county mailbox and dump most of it in the trash.
If the commissioners cared about cost, they would only print what they need.
They can start saving taxpayer money TODAY.

Not to mention that most of what is printed is already online for those commissioners who have home computers.

Our county commissioners are paid $16,000/yr plus full medical benefits, including dental and vision care.
And for those who qualify, lifetime medical and pension.
A total cost to the taxpayers of about $25,000 per year.

And these part-time employees want us to pay for free laptops?

Most commissioners already have desktops and laptops at home.

We've heard no cry from them that important information has been unavailable.

They already have the tools.

If laptops would provide such great efficiencies, why has no commissioner brought theirs to county meetings?

(yes, one commissioner brought his last week and flailed around with paper during the meeting.)

Their actions speak louder than their words.

Free laptops are not a "tool" for these part timers, they are a statement from our elected commissioners to us.

I hope we listen to them very carefully!

Update on "the Rosemary Woods moment"

Well,
We finally got a copy of the audio of the Feb. 8 meeting of the full county commission board.
Excerpts will be posted soon.
But it did take four visits to the county clerk's office, after I had already paid for my disk.
We had to use our own flash drive to get the recording so my $5 went to...who knows where.
It must be noted that my first request was to have the file sent to me via e-mail.
A savings to the county.
In a county that tells us they are working HARD to reduce costs.

I'm told that county clerk Nancy Waters has been "stung" by citizen complaints about the clerk's office.

Imagine if our local Best Buy provided similar service:

Day one-I buy my software but ask if they could e-mail it to me. I am told the boss must make that decision and I leave my phone number and ask to have it e-mailed or if it can't be e-mailed, to call me so I can pick it up later in the day.

Day two-No e-mail or call so I go back to the store and am told the only person who can help me is in a meeting. I leave my phone number again and ask that she call me.

Day three-No contact at all from the store so I return, am told that the boss still hasn't ruled on sending me my software via the web, so the nice lady makes me a copy on a disk.
That evening I find the disk is corrupted.

Day four-I ask a friend to return to the store with his own flash drive and try to get the software.
It easily uploads.
Store manager openly laments that unfair complaints about service have been made by customers.

Day 5?-Muskegon County commission opens hearings on "outrageous customer service" by Best Buy.

County Directory - Board of Commissioners

County Directory - Board of Commissioners
"MUSKEGON COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS"

Personal phone numbers and home addresses of our county commissioners.
A good start.
With all the talk of free laptops for commissioners, why don't they list their personal e-mail addresses?
Give your commissioner a call!
They tell us that citizen input is important!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I just wanted my CD.....

Last week our Muskegon county commission voted on an enormous smorgasbord of spending items, including a 9 month SEIU contract that included a retroactive, across the board pay raise and 4 EXTRA days off for all of those union members.
That's in addition to the two months off each year they already get.
Read the memorandum for specifics:
The union contract information that has been given to the commissioners (and us taxpayers) is 2 pages (scroll to pg. 13-14):
(http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/waysmeans_11_02_03.pdf)


During the meeting, there were some very interesting questions and answers about the spending that totaled well into the millions of dollars of American taxpayer's money.
And a very important explanation of his "NO" vote on the union contract by commissioner Alan Jager.


But, at the end of the meeting, there was a particularly obnoxious and thuggish call-out of a citizen sitting quietly in the peanut gallery by commissioner Bob Scolnik.


A loss of composure that made clear his contempt for any citizen who would dare criticize county commissioners.

That citizen being ....me.


The official minutes of meetings as published by county clerk Waters have recently and mysteriously "disappeared" any comments by citizens and even by commissioners who want to explain their vote on an item.

So, I thought us citizens of Muskegon ought to be able to hear the exact words of our county leaders.

As spoken by those leaders.

The county has a policy of voice recording official county meetings so the next day I went to the county clerk's office to buy my copy of the recording.


Not too expensive, $5.

But I asked if I could have it sent to my via e-mail and the nice lady said that might be possible.

So I left her my phone number and asked if I wasn't going to get it as an e-mail, would she call me so I could return and pick up the CD I'd paid for.

Next day, no e-mail.

No call.

So I went back to the county clerk's office and asked why I hadn't received my copy of the audio of the county meeting.

And was told that the nice woman was in a meeting.

So left my phone number again and asked if she would call me when convenient.

No call again.

So, the next day I returned again, found the nice lady and asked why the silence to my request.

She told me she hadn't gotten the approval from county clerk Nancy Waters to e-mail the file to me.

Two days had passed since my first request.

She hadn't bothered to call me.

So, I asked if I could get the CD I'd already paid for and another very helpful woman in the office made it for me.

When I got home, I opened the CD, listened and...big surprise!

Everything from about half way, from the start of real commissioner and audience comments was garbled.


Especially commissioner Bob Scolnik's aggressive accusations at a citizen sitting in the audience.

Who'd of guessed?

Now, I'm not a paranoid person.

But this is the third time this has happened to me.

The first was this Rosemary Woods moment:

http://muskegonpundit.blogspot.com/2010/04/rosemary-woods-moment.html

The second was when I asked to purchase an audio CD of a meeting and was told that "the system just didn't work" that day.

And now I see my $5 bucks only bought me everything but the important words of our commissioners.

I'm going back to the clerk's office tomorrow.

I'm bringing a flash drive so they might give it another try.

Maybe this time I'll get the entire audio.

I'll let you know!

"defriended"!


Wow! My county commissioner "defriended" me on Facebook.
I openly criticized the entire commission for voting on spending items without reading them.
I guess that's offensive to my representative.
Isn't it kinda "13-year-old-girl-hissy-fit-ish"?
The skin is thin for those used to slavish adulation, isn't it.
Sad, because he was a real friend....sorta.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Carmen's tomorrow at 2:30-3:20 Meet me!

It looks like a mostly dull commission meeting tomorrow....so it will likely MAKE MY DAY!

Anyway, if you want to chat about local politics, old Gordo will be at Carmen's every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:30ish to 3:15ish.

I'll buy you a nice glass of water!

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/cd_11_02_10.pdf

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/pworks_11_02_10.pdf

NS millage public meeting this Sunday!

I would like to formally invite Norton Shores voters to attend a question and answer forum, sponsored by the Citizens for Norton Shores Committee.
This will occur on Sunday, February 13th from 1-4pm, at Pints and Quarts.
The Mayor, council members, administration, department heads and staff will all be there to answer questions you may have.
Capacity is limited to 250.
I look forward to meeting all of you on here.
Joe Kinnucan

Searchable PDF-"waive the hiring freeze"

Muskegon County Board of Commissioners
"Click here if you have a high speed internet connection and would like to view/search all 2011 meeting minutes in one PDF document."

This is an excellent tool.
Simply enter a term in the search box, click and voila!

I entered "waive the hiring freeze" and got 52 items for 2010.
And this is for Muskegon county, the county whose commissioners have voted for a "hiring freeze".
Jepers.
52 hits.
52 weeks in a year.
Who'd of guessed?

Downtown needs to shovel its walks, now

Letters: Downtown needs to shovel its walks, now MLive.com
"In response to your news story, “Downtown Muskegon Now Broadens Promotion” (Feb. 6), I have a fabulous idea: Provide pathways for pedestrians, especially around the Frauenthal Theater.

We attended the concert on Friday night, and Muskegon was not rising.
Instead, everyone was struggling to stay upright.
Very narrow pathways made walking treacherous.
I know Muskegon has been blessed with much more snow than we need, and finding a place for it can be a problem.
However, if the idea is to promote the downtown area, then a solution must be found for making the walks safe and accessible.

And what about the sidewalks around the old Chronicle building at Fourth and Western? Shouldn't someone be responsible for clearing those sidewalks?

It seems to me these are obvious glitches that could have simple solutions.

Marilyn Nygren

Muskegon"

Lot's of talk from city leaders.
But no one to shovel the snow.
Bummer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My comments at today's Muskegon County commission meeting

Please understand that I never commented on the SEIU contract itself. (even though it is so awful you ought to read the synopsis with a drink in hand..or maybe a whole bunch of drinks....link http://muskegontaxpayers.blogspot.com/2011/02/thoughts-on-tomorrows-union-contract.html)

During the first "public comment" time I asked the commissioners two questions:

"Have any of you commissioners read the entire contract that you will be voting on today."

And "Have any of you commissioners ever seen a full copy of the printed contract?"
There was a "deer in the headlights" response from the commissioners which I took as a "no".

But immediately after my questions, as I waited for the "deer" to blink, commissioner Marve Engle leaned over to County chairman, Ken Mahoney and said "questions are not allowed".
And Chairman Mahoney responded "oh yeah no questions" or something like that.

The official minutes as published today by the county:
(from the minutes- http://co.muskegon.mi.us/clerk/02082011_board_minutes.pdf:
"2011-71 PUBLIC COMMENT (ON AN AGENDA ITEM)
Jim Riley made comments relating to the union contract agenda item.""

And they moved on.

The commissioners then mostly (except for Jager) voted for every spending opportunity and the big union contract.
Again, except for Alan Jager.

So, at the end of the meeting when the gorging at the public trough of spending was over, public commentary was allowed once again and I spoke to my commissioners for the second time:

"In deference to commissioner Engle's aversion to questions from taxpayers, the questions in my statement are rhetorical."
(I didn't want to be stopped in the middle of my comments because of some new prohibition of questions!)

The "deer" look returned, and there was no love that I could detect.

Anyway, here's what I then said, verbatim:

"I have a heavy heart right now.
Today you commissioners, all save one, voted on a very expensive union contract.
And all of you voted "aye", save one.
And yet you tell us all that none of you have read the contract in its entirety.
You haven't even seen the full contract in written form.
And yet you voted "aye".
All of you, save one.
Here is a copy of the memorandum, a "summary outlines the changes in the tentative agreement reached on January 7,2011, between the County of Muskegon and the SEIU Public Works Unit."
But this summary doesn't compare this new contract with the previous contract.
This summary doesn't provide you with any information about whether this will cost the county more or less than the old one.
Whether the employees are giving back or taking more or it's the exact same as last year.
This summary provides words like "county pays 100% for employees with 25 years."
1000% of what?
What will it cost?
What did it cost last year?
Did you know before you voted?


This summary says "county pays 12.99% toward the defined benefit plan".
12.99% of what?
What is the real cost to the county?
How does it compare with last year's expense?
Did you know the answers before you voted today?


And it goes on with more fuzzy vagaries.

Many of you have owned or run businesses.
You would never...never! sign a contract so expensive without fully reading and understanding every detail.
But that would be your money you'd be spending, wouldn't it?


You all have families and households.
You would never enter into a costly agreement without reading and understanding it.
And budgeting so that you could afford it.


But this vote, like so many before, was a nice quick "aye" times eight.

Well, we elected you all to represent us.
We gave you our trust.
We expected you would do the heavy lifting.
That you'd read, do your homework, ask the hard questions and in the end you would be knowledgeable and we would trust in your judgement.

And this is how you reward our trust?


It is a sad day in Muskegon county."
Well, have you ever seen a really ANGRY deer?

Or 8 of them sitting behind a big line of connected desks with microphones?

Well, I saw that today.
But it gets "better".

Commissioner Scolnik, took great umbrage at my comments, responded that he had in fact read a comparison of the two contracts, that the commissioners worked real hard at their jobs and who was I to criticize them when I never ran for election ...and then went on from that.

The official minutes from that exchange:

"Jim Riley addressed the Commissioners regarding the union contract agenda item."

I'll try to get the audio of the meeting that is required by the county board to be made available for all meetings so that I might more accurately recount what was exactly said.

I have offered commissioner Scolnik my public apology if he can produce the comparison report that he told the audience he'd read.

I'll let you know.

No one said that going against the establishment was gonna be easy.

Thanks to my peanut gallery supporters Paula, Sue, Nancy, David, Susie, Eric and us other "great unwashed" Tea Party members!

My heroes are county commissioner Alan Jager, Sarah Palin and Michigan proposal 2 heroine, Jennifer Gratz.

Viewpoint: Why I voted to repeal and replace the health care law

Viewpoint: Why I voted to repeal and replace the health care law MLive.com
"The law was written behind closed doors and passed before anyone, even those voting on it, had time to figure out the true cost or consequences of its 2,000-plus pages.
Now that it is law, we are discovering it includes a lot of negative consequences and ever-increasing costs."

Sounds a bit like the methods used by our county commission.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Commissioner Bob Scolnik delivers again!

Hey, hey!
My county commissioner,

Bob Scolnik came through with the county's elusive study that "proved" giving free laptops to commissioners, in perpetuity, is worth the money expended!

Kudos to Bob for getting the info before the vote.

And double kudos to Bob Scolnik for being the ONLY commissioner to get this info to the public!

Bob has attached an EXCEL spreadsheet that I haven't yet figured how to add to this post but I'll work on it.

Perhaps the county will add it to the agenda?

My quick reading of it suggests that "free" computers for county commissioners is a bad idea.

But I'll also remind us all that communication from us great unwashed with our representatives is important.

And not all of our representatives understand that concept.

Bob Scolnik does.

But I'll still blast him on this votes, if necessary......which is becoming more often.....

Keep Bob on the Job......as long as he keeps us on his mind.

Thoughts on tomorrow's union contract

A few last minute points on the union contract to be voted on tomorrow:
 1. The union contract that will get its final vote in tomorrow's full board meeting has never been seen (much less read and understood) by any of the commissioners I've had contact with.
I suspect none have seen/read it.
2. The union contract information that has been given given to the commissioners (and us taxpayers)  is 2 pages (scroll to pg. 13-14):
(http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/waysmeans_11_02_03.pdf
Note that this "information" doesn't even compare the new contract with the old contract nor does it include any analysis as to the increase or decrease in absolute cost of the contract year over year.

NO normal business would EVER vote on an expensive contract with so little information.
We expect our representatives to do the job, do the research.
And yet, they don't seem to be doing it.


Only if we taxpayers stand tall will we get commissioners who actually read, understand and question union contracts.

Do we care?

Are minutes hiding county commission votes?

Letters: Are minutes hiding county commission votes? MLive.com
"Anyway, unless we citizens attend the meetings, we have no way of finding out how our elected representatives voted on any committee vote and on many of the full board votes.

I think this a policy that only increases the suspicion of the voters that our county leaders have something to hide.


If the votes are hidden, how the heck do we make informed decisions on election day?"

A brilliant letter to the editor....heh.....

Muskegon county just bought Wilbrandt farms?!!!!!

Recently we have made some changes to the Muskegon County Recreation Plan.
The changes include the addition of the development of the Rotary property adjacent to Heritage Landing and the YMCA, the acquisition of parts ofthe Owassippi Boy Scout Camp property in Blue Lake Township and the acquisition of the Wilbrandt Farms in North Muskegon.
In order to be eligible for receiving grants for such projects, they must be included in the MDNRE approved Muskegon County Recreation Plan.
We need to hold a public hearing on the amended Recreation Plan to receive comments from the public. Staff requests that the Board establish a public hearing date of February 22, 2011, at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

This is a shock.
First thoughts are:
1. Where they going to get the money?
2. How much did we pay? Was it fair market?
3. How long has this been in the works?
4. What are they going to do with the land.

5. I assume that wilbrant farms paid property taxes. Who makes up the difference?
In the absence of any info from our commissioners, I say this has a smell about it. 

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/fullboard_11_02_08.pdf
scroll to pg. 7

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Holy shiitake!

A friend found this gem from county commission minutes of this last summer.

Muskegon County Board of Commissioners July 13, 2010


Full Board Meeting 3:30 p.m. 194

2010-398 CONTRIBUTE $3,500 TO SPONSOR THE MUSKEGON AREA LABOR MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE’S 33RD “TRIBUTE TO INDUSTRY & LABOR” DINNER

Moved by Wade, seconded by Collins to grant the request to contribute $3,500 to sponsor the Muskegon Area Labor-Management Committee’s 33rd “Tribute to Industry & Labor” dinner.

Roll Call
Ayes: Buzzell, Collins, Derezinski, Engle, Gill, Mahoney, Nash, Snider, Wade
Nays: None
Excused: McMurray, Scolnik

Motion Carried
 
If this doesn't clue the taxpayers in, nothing will!
Our county board is run by the unions and spends taxpayer money like drunken......Chrysler union thugs!
We've got to take back our county before the current commissioners and their union supporters destroy what's left!

Norton Shores City Manager clarifies millage issues

Letters: Norton Shores City Manager clarifies millage issues MLive.com
"The new revenue generated from a public safety millage would be placed in a separate fund.
It would only be used for police and fire services.
It would not be used to “free up” General Fund monies for nonpublic safety services."

So, they spent all the money that should have been for public safety on other things.
Just what were those "other things"?

Michigan teachers union puts pay raises on hold, cuts staff

Michigan teachers union puts pay raises on hold, cuts staff lansingstatejournal.com Lansing State Journal
"Scaling back on raises and freezing pay marks a change for the state's largest teachers union.
Two years ago, some union staffers and officials received pay boosts ranging from 6.8 percent to nearly 15 percent for Salters"

So what's good for the MEA is unacceptable for our local school budgets?

Muskegon County commissioners consider buying laptops for themselves

Muskegon County commissioners consider buying laptops for themselves MLive.com
"Jager voted against soliciting bids, requesting that the board hold off until specifics can be researched.

He also pointed out that he bought a computer after he was elected in November because he figured it was his responsibility.
“I shouldn't run if I don't have the tools for my job,” Jager said
."

Why do we have only one county commissioner who understands the concept of personal "responsibility"?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

New 60" TVs for the county commission!

Muskegon county commissioners approved 4 big screen TVs for their meeting room!

Two to face them and two to face us taxpayers sitting in the peanut gallery.

Well, they're now installed.

No commissioner has a clue of the cost and none has a clue why they're there.

Just another day at our Muskegon county commission.

Why support republicans who always vote as democrats?

OK, I'll admit that I don't go to every Muskegon county commission meeting.
And the official county minutes don't always (ever?) reflect the accurate votes of our elected GOPer commissioners.
But I do go to the meetings and I do read the agendas and minutes as published by the county clerk.
That said, John Snyder, Marve Engle and Bob Scolnik have voted with the union supported democrats on every union contract.
Those contracts account for 70-85% of all county discretionary spending.
They have voted with the union supported democrats on almost EVERY vote taken by the county commission.
Why should any republican support our three RINOS?
My golly, they're not even RINOS.
If we examine their votes, they are hard core union democrats!
Isn't it time we take a really honest look at who we republicans are supporting?

Muskegon county board censors citizens.....again! Part 2

"Stop spending" is something our county doesn't want to hear or acknowledge!

This was my second public comment pleading with the commission:

The county commissioners chose to keep this from the official minutes.

Will this censorship be supported by our taxpayers?

Here's what I said at the commission meeting:

"Back again.

I see that Human resources needs a new operations manager and wants to give the new hire more money than the previous ops manager.

The reason given is that the job is open because the old manager took a higher paying job within the county.

Needless to say, if the county hadn't increased the pay at the new job, this job shift wouldn't have happened.

But now, and I quote "in order to attract and retain a good candidate with the necessary skills" we gotta pay more money.
No mention at all that this job has been posted and advertised with no bidders.

Well, in the real world, our real world of 15% + unemployment I'd bet a qualified person could be found at the current pay level.

Maybe even at a lower level.

This is, after all, a management position in a county with depression level unemployment.

In private business, when someone leaves for a better position, our first thought is to replace that person at the same or lower compensation.

If that doesn't work, then we look at other options.

So, I ask, you the commissioners, to reject this pay raise and tell the HR folks to work harder at getting the job done with the precious resources, our precious resources, they already have."


The result of my brilliant plea:

WM11/02 - 17 It was moved by Engle, supported by Mahoney, to authorize the salary range adjustment to the Operations Manager BPN#59901 toNX00290.
Motion Carried.

Only Jager and Snyder voted against.

Muskegon county board censors citizens.....again!

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/minutes/waysmeans_11_02_03.pdf
PUBLIC COMMENT/AGENDA ITEM
Mr. Eric Rothof discussed motion #WM11/02-12. He requested a copy of the projected return report and requested Commissioners review the report as well.
Ms. Paula VandenBosch approached the Board and discussed specific items for consideration on the agenda.

The above is our county's official minutes for last week's commission meeting.

What was left out was my two comments made during the public commentary time allowed for citizens.

My comment about the free laptops for the commissioners was to simply ask that they not initiate any purchase process until they read the report that was the main impetus for their purchase.
All of the commissioners rejected the idea of reading the report before ordering a county employee to do a cost estimate.
Except for Alan Jager.
Don't they get Best Buy ads?

These comments were deemed by the county board as unworthy of inclusion in the official minutes:

"Administrator Hammersley and commissioners,
A little more than a week ago I attended your planning session where Mrs Hammersley and some commissioners, suggested the possibility of significant cuts to county income if projected revenue sharing from the state was to be reduced or eliminated.
And the likelyhood that our county might be forced to incur major expenses to repair or replace the county jail.
A possible financial Armageddon.
So it seems to me that every spending decision ought to be made with great care for the scarce dollars that may not be available tomorrow, if we spend them today.
And that leads me to today's agenda item, that recommends the county purchase 10 laptop computers for commissioners use.
I assume one commissioner isn't gonna get a free laptop.


But most importantly, there is a projected return on investment of 2.4 years.
In other words, if we spend it now, we'll make up the entire cost with savings in 2.4 years.
Now I don't know if spending taxpayer dollars on free laptops for you is a good idea or a bad idea.
But I do know that the county put together a study that promises a projected return on investment of exactly 2.4 years.
A very precise number.
So this study exists and ought to be available for all of you to review.
And I think that before you, our county leaders, approve the spending of so many thousands of dollars of taxpayer's money on yourselves, that before you move ahead, that you stop, take a breath and make sure the promised savings really exist.
Read the study before you vote.
Do the job we elected you to.
You are all politicians and as such, you are leaders.
And you lead by your actions.
You tell us times are tough.
You tell us decisions must be made with the best information available.
Do the job you promised us that you would do.
I ask you to postpone this vote today, this rushed vote to purchase laptop computers for your own use, until you have read and understood the study."

The result of my brilliant plea:

WM11/02 - 12
It was moved by Engle, supported by Longmire, to authorize the Finance & Management Services Director to solicit proposals for laptop computers for the Board of Commissioners.
Motion Carried.

County leaders must declare 'pension crisis'

EDITORIAL: County leaders must declare 'pension crisis' - Opinion - fresnobee.com
"Not surprisingly, Fresno County's pension obligations have skyrocketed, while county leaders have done little to contain the cost.
The Bee just reported that the annual retirement contribution will increase 30% to $180 million on July 1.

This only adds to the county's budget crisis.
The Board of Supervisors didn't make plans for the added costs, even though it was known they'd be increasing."

There has been a belief by the voters that our elected officials have the best interests of entire population of their county in mind.

And they are using generally good judgement.

This simply isn't true any more.

Especially in Muskegon County.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What are the issues? Norton Shores public safety millage

What are the issues? Norton Shores public safety millage MLive.com

Very good info from the public.

Who'd of guessed?

What a concept?

Listening to those who will pay the cost of the 3rd NS millage in 4 years.

More on the SEIU contract to be approved today.

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/waysmeans_11_02_03.pdf

Today's county commission agenda is so larded with porky badness that it takes my breath away.

Click the link and scroll down to pages 12-14 to see the new SEIU contract that strangely expires on Sept. 30 of this year.

I doubt there is ANY private company in the country that has benefits this out of whack!

Annual leave-24 days (that's almost 5 weeks off each year-fully paid!).

Sick Leave-18 days/yr (that's 3 1/2 weeks/yr. of paid sick leave and they get to keep the money if they don't use it!)

Retiree medical-County pays 100%!

Retirement-County pays 13% per year!

And on and on.

Read it and weep.

Or get in touch with your commissioner and tell them they have to stop bankrupting our county!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tomorrow at the County Commission meeting-big stuff!

In addition to the free computers for the commissioners, take a look at:

the new contract for SEIU members

and the nifty "Authorize the Salary Range Adjustment to the Operations Manager BPN X59901 to NX00290".
Gotta love the clarity, right?
5. Items for Consideration (Continued)

WM11/02 -16 (Human Resources) Approve Contract Settlement with the SEIU Public Works Unit and Authorize County Board Chair and County Clerk to Sign the Labor Agreement

WM11/02 -17 (Human Resources/DET) Authorize the Salary Range Adjustment to the Operations Manager BPN X59901 to NX00290
 
See you at Carmen's at 2:30 cuz this is BIG stuff!


http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/agendas/waysmeans_11_02_03.pdf

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Free Laptop computers for Muskegon County commissioners!

This will be voted on Thursday 2/3/2011 at 3:30!
 
"(Administration) Authorize the Finance &Management Services Director to Solicit Proposals for Laptop Computers for the Board of Commissioners"

Well, isn't that nice?
The county has so much EXTRA money that we're gonna buy a nifty new laptop for each commissioner!

Funny how most already have laptops and I've NEVER seen one used by a commissioner but that's not the point, is it?

We are being told "it will actually save money".

Let's see an analysis BEFORE we spend any money.

Wow, what a concept!

Contact your commissioner to support his/her free gift from the taxpayers!

Lot's of posts on the Norton Shores millage vote on M-Live

Just enter "NS" or "Norton" in the search box.

And this:
http://muskegontaxpayers.blogspot.com/2011/01/more-ns-millage-links.html

And the NS union contracts:
http://muskegontaxpayers.blogspot.com/2011/01/norton-shores-union-contract-links.html

County commission today at 3:30

http://co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/committee_agendas.cfm

Not too much going on today.
Courts/Public Safety and Human Resources meet today at 3:30.
The only item of interest is this:

"HR11/02 -13 (Public Health) Authorize Public Health to Reclassify Community Nutrition Specialist (N20703) to Community Nutrition Counselor"

My question is why the need for reclassification?
I see this often and am suspicious that it is simply a way to give a raise without actually "giving a raise".

Only if our representatives know we are watching them will we have ANY power at all over them.
I'll ask at the meeting.

See you at 3:00 at Carmen's!

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