Thursday, July 9, 2020

Why Muskegon county needs new leadership at the County Board of commissioners!


The  issues:
1. County finances are dangerously out of control. 
  • Example: Employee retirement plans grossly underfunded, bond debt exploding. Combined total up from: 2002 $24.9 million. 2019: $154.6 million. 620% increase in 17 years! (County budget approximately $48 million/year)

2. County spending is uncontrolled. 
  • Example: "Million dollar bathhouse" at Pioneer Park.

3. County is losing lawsuits at an alarming rate and hiding the losses. 
  • Example: They won't allow us to see any info on lawsuits already settled.

4. County commissioners seem uninterested in spending specifics. 
  • Example: Union contracts (amounting to 90% of total spending) are signed without ANY report of how the new contracts will affect cash flow or pension funding.

5. County commissioners seem obsessed with "trendy" social issues. 
  • Examples: The BLM supported "Racism as a Public Health Crisis" already voted in. "Sanctuary County" being pushed. Planned Parenthood funding on the wish list.

6. County leaders assure us all is well, no need to change course. But outside analysis proves Muskegon county to be one of the worst managed counties in the state. "County fiscal health"-78th out of 82 Michigan counties-Bridge magazine.

















7. County policy is to allow people to ask questions at meetings but STATED POLICY is to NEVER REPLY TO NOR ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS.

My FB Group- "Muskegon County Informed-Local Politics, taxes and politicians" : https://www.facebook.com/groups/381957799366105/

Muskegon county 78th out of 82 counties---From 2018 but things are worse today!!-----MuskegonPundit: A national contagion!-----Search Michigan counties for the biggest budget shortfalls | Bridge Magazine

MuskegonPundit: A national contagion!-----Search Michigan counties for the biggest budget shortfalls | Bridge Magazine

"Ranking the fiscal health of Michigan’s 83 counties
A number of counties are struggling with public pension debt. 
But overall, northern Michigan counties tend to have better balance sheets, with less debt per capita and fewer long-term pension problems, according to financial data analyzed by the state treasury department. 
Several downstate counties, particularly in south-central Michigan, are not faring as well. "

Thursday, July 2, 2020

"Your vote is magnified by 10-20 TIMES compared to the Nov. election."

  • Voting begins in Norton Shores.
  • PLEASE vote and encourage/help your friends and neighbors to vote.
  • Primary elections are where the REAL POWER to the PEOPLE exists.
  • Your vote is magnified by 10-20 TIMES compared to the Nov. election.
  • Roust the RINOs!
  • Call your city/township clerk or use this link to get Absentee Ballot request form mailed to your home: https://vote.michigan.gov/AVApplication

"I am ever vigilant that it does not happen again!"

Your vote can change Muskegon county for the better or confirm the same-old insiders will continue to rule.
Vote soon with your Absentee Ballot or on Aug 4.
We CAN fix the mess that is the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners, but we can't do it with the same people who got us into this fix!
Jim Riley to Muskegon County Informed-National, International, Intergalactic!
As my campaign ramps up, I am honored to announce that I received the endorsement from Right to Life Michigan and Right to Life Muskegon County.
  • I am the only candidate in district #4 to receive the right to life endorsement.
As you may know, my opponent in the county commission race, Bob Scolnik, was instrumental in crafting the sweetheart deal that brought Planned Parenthood into the the Health Department building.
  • I would NEVER have voted to do so and I am ever vigilant that it does not happen again!
  • Please vote, (THIS WEEK with AV or on Aug.4!) if you live in Norton Shores!!
ALL LIVES MATTER from conception till natural death!

Monday, June 29, 2020

Personalized Ballot | VOTE411

Personalized Ballot | VOTE411

VOTE411 Voter Guide

 View My RacesProgress: 10 of 11

Muskegon County Commissioner District 4

The Muskegon County Board of Commissioners is the chief policy-making body of county government.  Its mission is to represent the citizens of Muskegon County and to be responsible for all County services. The board has 9 members, elected to 2-year terms.

James Riley (Rep)Retired financial manager

Bob Scolnik (Rep)

Biographical Information

Education BS Michigan State University.
Qualifications/ Experience Owned various small businesses, Dir. Marketing medium manufacturing company, financial advisor/branch manager Morgan Stanley.

What are your top three priorities for Muskegon County and how would you address them?

James Riley1. Muskegon county has a statewide reputation of poor fiscal management. Repair the damage by: Addressing and FULLY FUNDING, according to American Academy of Actuaries, the underfunding of ALL the county employee retirement funds. Having, on a regular basis, a public, honest analysis of county cash flow and its ability to continue spending at current levels, pay bond/retirement debt and the county's expectation of future millage increases. 2. Muskegon county has been losing lawsuits at an alarming rate. And refusing to explain, or even admit, what is really going on. We need a regular and public explanation. 3. Muskegon county roads are an embarrassment. The county seems to have no public plan to even discuss this mess. We need new voices on the county board to demand an accounting.
Bob ScolnikCandidate has not yet responded.

What policies do you support to increase jobs and help your residents improve their economic positions?

James RileyEmployers want confidence in the ability of municipalities to keep spending/borrowing within promised limits. Confidence that taxes will not increase dramatically in the near future. Open, honest plans to enumerate and reduce county debt, of all types, will attract companies seeking a county with responsible fiscal policies. Those companies will employ Muskegon county residents, pay taxes and provide services for county residents and visitors.
Bob ScolnikCandidate has not yet responded.

What actions or policies do you support to protect the county’s water, air and land for current and future generations while meeting community energy needs?

James RileyMy understanding is the county is currently doing a reasonably good job in this area. But, the county has not publicly presented its future plans nor its past success/failures in this area. Again, a full public, transparent and regular report to the county's residents and businesses is necessary.
Bob ScolnikCandidate has not yet responded.

What initiatives or policies do you support to help increase tourism and recreational activities in your municipality for residents and visitors?

James RileyCounty parks are in deplorable condition. At Pioneer Park in particular, buildings appear to have had little regular maintenance. Fix county park buildings, promote our beautiful parks and focus on funding current buildings and land. Hold off on new spending for new buildings until we bring our parks up to the level of nearby county parks. Ottawa county is an example.
Bob ScolnikCandidate has not yet responded.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

A Citizen's Contract with Muskegon County

See the source imageA Citizen's Contract with Muskegon County

(A note. Currently none of these proposed recommendations are the policies of our County Board of Commissioners.

Nor, has any current commissioner, save commissioner Zach Lahring, requested any of these common sense ideas.)

• We citizens will pay our taxes.

• We expect our County Commissioners will respect our sacrifice and be wise, totally transparent and honest with every spending decision.

Therefore these common sense policies shall be approved by the Muskegon County Commission and become official policy.


1. Before any spending vote, the specific goal, expected

results and funding source will be made available to all commissioners and the
public.

2. After every spending item has been approved, provide a

public review of results vs promises within 12 months.

3. Provide a public, quarterly review of progress in fully

funding all employee retirements plans and borrowed debt.

4. Provide a public, complete report on all lawsuit results.


5. Allow, and encourage, citizen comment AND answers at all

public meetings.

Muskegon county can not attract new businesses, employers and concerned homeowners without the confidence that our county is fiscally solvent and responsive to residents and businesses.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

When county "leaders" care about new "toys" and ignore the job they were elected to do.

My comments to the county board today.
Their response... "are there any other questions?"
They totally ignored all three questions.
Clearly they had no answers.

"Earlier today, I emailed all the commissioners my photos, taken yesterday that show the shoddy condition of most of the buildings at Pioneer Park.
Thick moss, peeling paint, rotting wood, mold on painted surfaces are clearly the result of years of neglected attention.
And their current condition should be an embarrassment to the citizens and commissioners of Muskegon county.
I've been told by county employees the reason for the poor maintenance is a lack of funds.
It is clear that camping rental revenue will be drastically reduced for 2020 and likely in following years.
Yet, I understand that 100% of any expected new revenue from the increase in camping fees is to be diverted to pay for a new storage building and bathhouse at Pioneer Park.
Leaving none of the hoped-for revenue increase to fix the embarrassing state of the current facilities at Pioneer Park.
Today, new caretakers are being considered for a different county facility, Meinert Park.
I'll ask 3 questions that I hope you've already considered and answered among yourselves.
  • Will the new caretakers be shackled with funding shortfalls, like the other county parks?
  • Given current economic conditions, what are the new revenue expectations?
  • Wouldn't it make much more sense to make a best effort to maintain, in a professional manner, the current buildings in our parks, before borrowing over a million dollars for new buildings that will likely suffer from the same maintenance shortfall?
Link to all the Pioneer Park building photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/152989464@N05/albums/72157714298928418

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Why does the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners REFUSE to answer SIMPLE questions from citizens?

It is their OFFICIAL POLICY TO REFUSE TO ANSWER CITIZEN QUESTIONS!

Muskegon county board meeting Tuesday, 5-5-2020 
  • The reason county commission meetings must occur in a public forum is to inform and educate the citizens of Muskegon county.
  • Therefore, it is important that commissioners welcome and respond to reasonable questions from those citizens. 
  • All discussion between a quorum of commissioners MUST by law, be made in a public forum.
  • Therefore, it is unlikely these questions have been fully asked or discussed by the commissioners. 
  • Nor have they been answered.
  • It is simple common sense that NONE of the following "Items for Consideration" should be voted on without complete, understandable answers from the expert in that department.
Reasonable questions from Muskegon citizens that deserve honest, complete answers:
  • Presentation-A)  COVID19-Update by Public Health Director Kathy Moore
1. I have no questions. Should be an interesting presentation.
  • Presentation-B)  2019 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report – Rehmann Robson
1. Muskegon county has many retirement funds/plans for its employees, including various pension plans and employee retirement healthcare plans. What is the combined, net total of underfunding of all the existing plans?
2. Muskegon county has incurred various types of borrowed debt, lawsuit losses and other categories of  borrowing/indebtedness. What was the total of that indebtedness in 2015 compared with the most recent CAFR? 
  • Ways & Means Committee:
1. Please explain why it is the policy to approve payment of county bills AFTER they have already been paid.
WM20/05 – 36  (Administration) to approve payment of the accounts payable of $14,731,775.84 covering the period of April 10, 2020 through April 24, 2020 for checks, PCard and EFT payments covering the period March 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 as presented by the County Clerk. 

2. This is very confusing. Please explain so that we taxpayers may understand.

WM20/05 – 37 (Administration/HealthWest) To approve a budget amendment increasing the FY2020 budget for State Institutions (1010-0650) from $198,000 to $731,000 and authorize paying the invoice of $402,317.41 to the State of Michigan

3. Has there been or will there be a public accounting of exactly how these funds have been spent? If not, why?

WM20/05 – 39 (Administration) To approve the continuation of the local surcharge rate of $2.75 from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, and authorize Muskegon Central Dispatch to provide proper notification of this to the State 9-1-1 Committee. 
  • HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE
1. What is the "general fund appropriation" for this program?
HS20/05 – 12 To authorize Public Health to participate in the WIC Project FRESH Program as the state authorized WIC Market Master, and to enter into agreements with the participating farmers; further authorize the Public Health Director to sign Market Master and related Project Fresh agreements, with no change in the general fund appropriation. 
  • Courts & Public Safety Committee 
1. What will the grant be used for and will there be a public accounting of the goal vs money spent? If so, when? If not, Why not?
CPS20/05 – 19 (Sheriff) To approve the Sheriff’s Office accepting the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) FY20 Corona Virus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program grant (2020-H1466-MI-VD), if awarded.  The amount of the grant request is $58,008.00 or the amount awarded.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Starting the year $688,000 in the hole!

The first video from Nov. 19, 2019 ...shows the Muskegon county finance director explain the county budget for the coming year "...will have a shortfall of $688,000 in the general fund...".
  • Note that every commissioner AND county administrator Mark Eisenbarth is in attendance.
  • One might assume this disastrous announcement would be something worthy of remembering.



The following video, only 3 months later, 2-18-2020, 
...and that disturbing financial bombshell is "disappeared from memory".
  • Notice how EVERY commissioners except Zach Lahring sits silent during the entire discussion?
  • Notice when the county administrator assures EVERYONE there was no shortfall?
  • Notice how the county administrator assured EVERYONE in the room that "... the board approved a balanced budget Oct 1st (2019)...", a date weeks BEFORE the $688,000 shortfall was announced.
  • As if the Board could "wish" bad thoughts out of the room?
  • Notice how both county employees refuse to give understandable answers to a very reasonable question from the representative of the people to a county employee about where the money went?
  • Do you notice that, with the exception of Commissioner Lahring, not one other commissioner bothers to offer follow-up questions?
  • Do you notice how bored the other commissioners appear?
  • Do you now start to understand just HOW MUSKEGON GOT TO BE THE WORST FINANCIALLY MANAGED COUNTY IN OUR STATE?

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Oust the County board!

This should be a "tar and feather" moment!!
Image result for tar and feather"Ways & Means Committee Minutes – January 23, 2018--WM18/01 – 04
"It was moved by (RINO) Commissioner Snider, supported by (RINO) Commissioner Engle, to approve a one-time transfer of $1.7 million from the Senior Millage Fund (1060) to Brookhaven Medical Care Facility (2900) as of September 30, 2017, for services provided to seniors during FY2017 and further authorize the General Fund to transfer any remaining funds needed in FY2017 to cover the deficit."

To "...further authorize the General Fund to transfer any remaining funds..."

What the hell!!
1. Who/what entity, EXACTLY, is getting the money?
2. Was the Senior Millage written to allow this? Was the spirit of the millage intended to allow this?
3. What the heck does "...any remaining funds needed..." mean?!!!
4. How can the county board UNANIMOUSLY (except one) vote for this without these answers?
Recall this board!!!
http://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/committee_minutes.cfm
http://www.co.muskegon.mi.us/boardofcommissioners/minutes/waysmeans_18_01_23.pdf

Friday, February 2, 2018

5-10-2016-----The lies begin-----Muskegon to face county-wide vote on new senior services tax | MLive.com

Muskegon to face county-wide vote on new senior services tax | MLive.com
"...Residents will be asked to approve a 0.5 mill property tax for services to senior citizens. 
The owner of a $100,000 home would pay about $25 a year.
Money collected by the tax - an estimated $2 million a year - could be allocated to services such as 
  • home-delivered meals, 
  • homemaker/chore services, 
  • bathing and personal care, 
  • health and wellness programs, 
  • medication management, 
  • transportation, and 
  • adult day services throughout the county.

The Muskegon County Senior Wellness Committee is seeking the tax.
If approved, Muskegon County would oversee the funds while a committee could review and recommend grant proposals from appropriate agencies, according to a website promoting the tax. 
"An established fiduciary organization would monitor and evaluate the providers, ensuring quality standards and development of future needs, and report back to the community regularly on the use of the millage funding," according to the county Senior Wellness Committee..."
Read on!!

Remember their PROMISE?


From MLive article comments 5-10-2016--Read 'em all!-----Muskegon to face county-wide vote on new senior services tax | MLive.com

Muskegon to face county-wide vote on new senior services tax | MLive.com:
Image result for muskegon senior millageSome comments from supporters...pre-vote.
Good to remember how "severely underfunded" these promised, "absolutely vital" programs were. 
And the hope and trust that supporters lent to the county to do the "right thing":
Muskegon to face county-wide vote on new senior services tax---Posted May 10, 2016

Your attitude is exactly why. Left to their own devices, the citizens would leave these programs-- absolutely vital programs for our seniors-- severely underfunded and unable to provide them. Relying on people like you to step up and fund these programs is the definition of a pipe dream.



The generosity of the community is definately noticed and appreciates. However, consider that the population of seniors is going to DOUBLE in size over the next 15 years. Even with the generosity of the community, there are not enough resources to help people age in their homes.
The County only approves the millage to be out on the ballot. This initiative is coming from a committee of volunteers who know the demand for services as there are already wait lists for services because there are not enough funds to supplement needed services.
Baby boomers planned for retirement and worked hard, but no one anticipated that a major recession would be such a huge set back in people's retirement.
The cost per house valued at $100,000 is $25 per year. Worth every penny to make sure our elders are cared for!

Monday, November 6, 2017


"...why are they cutting by 75% now?"

(2) Jim Riley:
"Interesting. County bigwigs assure us that next Tuesday's $70-80 million, county-wide tax increase is absolutely necessary because MORE money is needed for NEW programs "for the children".
But look at the county's own budget.
They are cutting the current "Child Care Fund" from $4.77 million to $1.2 million.
NEXT year!!
If that fund is soooo necessary "for the children", why are they cutting by 75% now?
What do you think they're gonna do with all the new moolah?"Image may contain: text


Let's see a public accounting of the current "child care fund".

Jim Riley:
"A friend suggested the county commissioners "may be counting their chickens before they are hatched." 
My response:
The problem is they are using county funds to send multiple county-wide mailings and sending county employees to publicly state this is not a bait/switch. 
They assure us It is to fund NEW programs. 
Important, desperately needed programs that, if funded, will actually pay for themselves. 

The county board and all other insiders are simply lying.
They do it often.
They do it in such moronic manner that it is amazing that anyone believes anything they say or promise.
Our county is broke. 

Over $200 million in in underfunded pensions/retiree health ins. (out of a cash flow budget of $45 million/year) 
We are well on the way to becoming Wayne county
Name a business that has moved or expanded to Muskegon county, without public funds as the lure. 
And then make the list of companies who have moved out, expanded elsewhere or never bothered with Muskegon and brought their business to neighboring counties. 
Let's see a public accounting of the current "child care fund". 
If it's not a private slush fund, why aren't we told of all the fabulous accomplishments?
Why the silence?
Let's see their proud list of accomplishments over the 17 years of Scolnik, Snider, Mahoney, Engle and the rest.
The list of financial collapse is already written.
Vote "NO" on Tuesday!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

They know they can ignore us!

From a friend:
"Regarding the Muskegon County Commission Meeting:  
Below is the response to my question asking for the dollar amount allocated to each of the programs listed within the Proposal along with a detailed explanation and purpose of each.  
After the meeting, I asked for a copy of Public Act 179 of 1967. 
I'll let you come to your own conclusion.  
FYI:  If you want to see what is on YOUR ballot prior to going to the polls, you can go to:
vote.michigan.gov and follow the instructions.  
Don't enter www.



---------- Original Message ----------
From: "Vanderhyde, Sandra" <VanderhydeSa@co.muskegon.mi.us>
To:
Date: October 14, 2017 at 1:38 PM
Subject: Information re Millage
Thank you again for asking all of your great questions at the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday regardi
ng the millage! Please find below the statute regarding the millage that you requested, as well as the description that you wanted on the Systems of Care model that is being implemented.

Thank you,
Sandra Vanderhyde 

Systems of Care-Muskegon County received a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration to enhance our “System of Care” for youth with or at risk for complex needs in the community. A System of Care is a spectrum of effective, community-based services and supports for children and youth with or at risk for mental health or other challenges and their families, that is organized into a coordinated network, builds meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and addresses their cultural and linguistic needs, in order to help them to function better at home, in school, in the community, and throughout life.

Systems of Care are evidenced based and non-categorical- no two community approaches look the same. In Muskegon County, we are focusing on the following approaches:
  • Implementing school based mental health, wraparound, and peer support in collaboration with the Pathways to Potential model, Family Court PASS grant, Hackley Community Care Teen Health Centers, and other community service providers
  • Developing county-wide mobile stabilization response for youth and families in crisis to provide earlier, community based intervention. This model has been showed to drastically decrease ER visits, out of home placements, and juvenile justice recidivism
  • Implementing a shared assessment tool across systems
  • Systems transformation including funding structures, shared workforce development, and including youth and families served in decision making processes
  • Engaging, equipping, and connecting youth and families served into leadership and advocacy opportunities
 Public Act 179 of 1967-

YOUTH CENTERS (EXCERPT)
Act 179 of 1967
123.461 Youth centers; financing operations; ad valorem property tax; petition; election; canvassing and certifying votes.
Sec. 1.
(1) Any county, city, township, or village may levy taxes and appropriate funds for operating centers open exclusively to youths under 21 years of age and aimed at curbing juvenile delinquency within the community.
(2) A registered elector of a county, city, township, or village may submit petitions requesting that a unit of government submit the question of levying an ad valorem property tax of not to exceed 1.5 mills on taxable property within the unit for not to exceed 20 years for the operation of a youth center as described in subsection (1) to the electors of the unit at the next general election in the manner provided by law. Petitions that are filed pursuant to this subsection shall be filed not less than 120 days before the election at which the question is to be voted upon. The petitions shall be signed by a number of registered electors from the county, city, township, or village equal to not less than 5% of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected within the petitioning unit of local government. A tax authorized by this subsection shall be levied and collected in the same manner and at the same time as other ad valorem property taxes in the unit of local government.
(3) A petition filed pursuant to subsection (2) shall be in substantial compliance with section 544c of the Michigan election law, Act No. 116 of the Public Acts of 1954, being section 168.544c of the Michigan Compiled Laws. The petition shall be filed with the clerk of the county, city, township, or village.
(4) A determination of the sufficiency or insufficiency of a petition filed pursuant to subsection (2) shall be made not later than 60 days prior to the general election for which the petition was filed by the official receiving the petition. If the petition is determined to be sufficient, the ballot for the question shall be prepared by the official responsible for preparing the other ballots to be used at the general election. The ballot question shall specify the number of mills to be levied and the specific time period that this number of mills is to be levied.
(5) The votes cast for and against the proposal shall be canvassed and certified by the canvassing board responsible for canvassing and certifying the votes cast for offices and other proposals voted on at the general election.


History: 1967, Act 179, Imd. Eff. June 30, 1967 ;-- Am. 1988, Act 342, Imd. Eff. Oct. 18, 1988