This is the story of a mindset.
This week, five county commissioners (Bob Scolnik, Marve Engle, Ken Mahoney, Anthony Longmeyer and Scott Plummer) voted to have the county buy themselves "free" laptops (using a fund intended to purchase flower's for the deceased.) and double the cost with "free" software and professional setup.
The same laptop you or I could buy at Best Buy for $350, they found available for $800.(thankfully the motion failed)
This purchase was necessary, the "freebie-five" tell us, because "We need to move to the 21st century", "this will save money in the long run", "it will protect the environment" or even "computers are a tool just like a shovel and our employer must supply us with free tools".
Well, pretty compelling arguments.
But county leaders tell us that times are tough, cuts will be made, taxes may go up.
Our county currently has over $100 MILLION dollars in unfunded pension and health benefits for county employees. That means we ain't got the money to pay for all those retirees!
And the commissioners just voted to spend $44,000 (and up to $160,000) for a consultant who will undoubtedly consul them that we need a new multi-million jail.
So if it were me or you, we'd realize we're just about BROKE!
And those "compelling" arguments of the commissioners......well maybe you'd see some of them already using computers during the meetings. But you wouldn't because none do.
Funny thing is, most of the commissioners already own laptop computers.
Only Bob Scolnik has even brought his to a meeting and discarded it early in the meeting to go back to the more convenient paper agenda.
His poor laptop never saw a commission meeting again.
The fact is, if the "freebie-five" commissioners were really serious about cutting costs, they'd demand an end to the wasteful mailing of county paper to their homes. They are in the building TWICE every week! Why are we mailing them ANYTHING?
If they were really serious, they'd move themselves "into the 21st century" with the laptops they already own. But they haven't done that.
If they were really serious about saving the county money, those that don't already own laptops would buy one with the $35,000+ per year compensation they already receive. But they haven't.
If they were really serious about protecting the environment, they'd demand an end to the wasteful mailing and excess printing of documents. But they haven't.
If they were really serious, they wouldn't pretend that six or seven meetings a month is the equal of a full time job. But they have.
If they were really serious, those who already have laptops would already be using them at every county meeting to save the planet, save Muskegon taxpayer's money, show that THEY are in the 21st century and prove how much more efficient the laptop is than paper. But they haven't.
If they were really serious, they'd see that even though this is only a few thousand dollars, the symbolism of their own actions would be a positive motivator for all of the county to realize that times are tough and we all need to do our part. But that's not what they did.
Sadly, their actions belie their words.
They're not really serious at all.
They are just like little children in a toy store, demanding more and more "free" toys from a hardworking Mom who is simply out of money.
And it is just that mindset that has our county in such a perilous financial situation.