Time to Turn Up The Heat

TurnUpTheHeat

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!  Now that the Turkey is cooked, it’s time to turn up the heat on the County Commission.  This weekend we:

  • Sent Out A Letter to the Editor to several local papers.  The 400 word limit was a pain! [Update-The Letter now appears on the Argus Press Website.  I’m interested to see if it makes the paper!]
  • Hung up a few Flyers around Owosso/Corunna
  • Created a online form where folks can volunteer to collect petition signatures if it comes to that.  (And I hope it doesn’t).  The key is that we need the County Commissioners to understand we are fully capable of successfully petitioning for an EFM if necessary.

Thank you for everything that you’re doing to share this site with others.  Our popularity is growing, and with that so is our strength!  Together we can save our Road Patrol!

Email Me Anytime

Email Me Anytime

How You Can Help [Updated]

sad_christmas_child_1

For 15 families in our county, this Christmas won’t be so Merry.  Thanks to some truly vindictive decisions by our County Government 14 hard working Deputies will be will be without a job on January 1st.

We need to help them.  Name one other county employee who is willing to take a bullet for you, or even cut their lunch break short to help you?  Can’t think of any?  That’s what I thought.

We need to spread the word before the December 11th board meeting, so I would ask you to:

  • Post THIS FLYER anywhere that someone might see it.  Gas stations, grocery stores, township halls, etc.
  • Spread the word: Share this site with your friends on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Go to the December 11th board meeting and make your opinion known.
  • Call your commissioners and share your opinion.
  • Volunteer to collect petition signatures if petitioning for a Preliminary Financial Review becomes necessary.

Right now the county could save one Deputy’s job for FREE, yet they are choosing to cut them all.  Why would they do that?  There’s really no logical reason because this decision isn’t driven by logic.

Together we can save Christmas for 15 families!

Email Me Anytime

Email Me Anytime

Something About The Budget Smells Funny

quote-don-t-cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face-proverbs-309392

As pointed out by Owosso Mayor Ben Fredrick, the proposed budget doesn’t quite smell right.  Check out this graph that shows how much our county spent each year, and how much of that spending was “deficit” spending.

Interesting

A few things to point out:

  • In 2010 we actually made about $200,000 which we deposited in our fund balance.  We’re going to spend it over the next few years.
  • From there on out our deficit held steady around $250,000/year until 2014.
  • In 2014 our county government blew their proposed budget by overspending on Health & Welfare and General Government to expand our deficit to $505,000, otherwise this number would have been right around $250,000 as well.

So here’s my question, based on the chart above Shiawassee County has a deficit of:

a. $250,000-$500,000   -or-   b. $2.163 million dollars

If you choose “b”, there might be a seat waiting for you on our county commission.  Now, a followup question.  Based on your first answer we should cut public safety by:

a. No more than $250,000.  -or-  b. $1.5 million dollars.

If you picked “b” you really should consider running for office.  You’re obviously smarter than the rest of us.

Time for the bonus question!   Based on the graph above and the proposed budget why is the county having to cut spending so much?

a.  Because the County Sheriffs Department Generates a Substantial amount of revenue for the county.  -or-

b.  Because it’s just the right thing to do.

If you answered “a”, you’re right again!  Notice a few huge decreases in the proposed budget:

  • 4% less state Revenue and Grants-I’m sure this probably includes the SRP grant I mentioned yesterday.
  • 11% less in Fines and Forfeitures.
  • 17% less in Charges for Services citing a reduction in court charges.  Makes sense-they’ll be a lot less people going to court.

The County Commissioners are so intent on punishing the voters of this county that they would “cut off their nose, to spite their face.”

I should note that all these numbers are available from the county website, so feel free to do this same exercise yourself.

Meanwhile, help out the cause by sharing this site with your friends.  Together we can fix this!

Also feel free to contact me at anytime if you’d like to share something privately.   I can be reached at:

Email Me Anytime

Email Me Anytime

$82,530-The Cost of Cutting our Road Patrol

burning-money

Aside from the fact that cutting the Road Patrol will:

Today I learned that cutting the Road Patrol will cost the county an additional $82,530 per year.  Yes, you read that right.  By completely cutting the road patrol, the Sheriff and County Commissioners are costing the county an additional $82,530 per year.  Why would they do that?  There is not logical reason-just politics and paybacks…

Some background-In order to partially fund the mandatory road patrol requirements set forth by MCL 51.76 the legislature implemented a “SRP” grant program.  SRP stands for “Secondary Road Patrol”.  This program is administered by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.

As you can see in their annual report, they gave $82,530 to support our Road Patrol in the 2013 budget year.  This money is contingent on, big surprise, actually having a road patrol.  Today I called the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning and confirmed that this money will indeed go away when the road patrol goes away.

Call your commissioner and tell them that the law requires, and the people deserve police protection! Tell them their budget is unacceptable and that if they can’t find the money we’ll bring in someone who can.

The Sheriff Called Me Back

Today I spoke with Sheriff Braidwood-he apologized for the lack of call back.  He seemed pretty disheartened by the budget situation and said the the public would have to “feel the pain” before we would find funding.

The Sheriff claims that the county “is broke” and that “there’s no money to be found”.  This obviously differs from Owosso mayor Ben Fredrick’s assessment of the budget situation.

He also told me that he felt that the millage was handled poorly, and that he didn’t see the petition language until the week before it was due.  This was also the theme when I asked him about the lack of detailed budget: he stated that he hasn’t even seen his budget yet.  It seems that with no county administrator, things aren’t getting done in a timely manner.  The county has become reactive instead of proactive.

When I asked him about MCL 51.76.  According to him other sheriffs have tried to sue the county for funding but there has always been a question in the courts as to what “adequate” means.  He was also concerned with the county having to deal with the legal costs involved in doing this.  In other words, Option 2 has been eliminated from our plan below.
He agreed that cutting our road patrol will roll out the welcome matt to criminals and predators.  When asked about how state police coverage would compare to our existing patrols he stated that the state police have really stepped their patrols to help, they couldn’t do this for long.  In other communities they have done the same thing, then slowly reduced patrols as other communities needed their help.
In a nutshell-I talked to a disheartened man who was stuck in a no win scenario.   I will update a few sections of this blog later tonight to included his comments.  I feel sorry for both the Sheriff and all of the public safety workers who will lose their jobs.  I just hope the Sheriff doesn’t stop fighting for us!
I told him that we are here to help, and to please let us know what we could do.

The Plan and the Goal

Before reading this post, you might want to scroll down to the bottom of this blog and read through the individual posts.  There’s plenty of background on what I’m about to discuss below.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

I didn’t realize why they are not responding to my emails, until I saw Owosso Mayor Ben Fredrick’s post on the budget.  Now it is crystal clear: they’re scared.  I inadvertently called their bluff.  There were two main themes to my emails:

  • To the commissioners: Either fix the county budget to restore our road patrol, or I will collect enough signatures to initiate a Preliminary Financial Review under PA 436 of 2012.
  • To the sheriff: Either sue the county for failure to provide legally mandated public safety programs, or I will collect enough signatures to initiate a Preliminary Financial Review under PA 436 of 2012.

My assumption at the time was that the county was either:

  • Financially Insolvent-In which case better to force them to fix it now than later -OR-
  • Had a lot of misplaced priorities-In which case the thought of having to undergo a state audit and possible Emergency Financial Manager, would prompt them to quickly adjust their priorities.

Just a note on my personal opinion of EFM’s-I believe that Emergency Financial Manager is the most anti-democratic concept in the history of our state.  The very concept makes me nauseous.  However, based on my research, and contrary to what our county commissioners are telling us, we are not in bad enough shape to warrant an EFM.  In fact, I don’t believe we’re in bad enough shape to cut public safety by a single dime.  I think our commissioners are greatly exaggerating our budget issues as part their personal agendas or vendettas.

So why are they scared?  Because a preliminary financial audit of our county finances will reveal the truth and make a lot of politicians look really bad.  That final report would be public information: compiled by the treasury and posted on the State website.  Our County government would have no input into the process, and no ability to “spin” the information!  Up to this point the county has yet to release a detailed budget for next year.  Why do you suppose that is?  My guess is that they’re trying to hide the “true numbers” until after the budget is approved.  The transparency provided by this preliminary financial review could end political careers, and even if it doesn’t-nobody likes to be audited right?

At this point you’re probably wondering why we don’t just try to recall the Commissioners or Sheriff?  Because recalls are hard and they take too long: There is complicated ballot language, approval issues, and thousands of signatures required to make it happen.  We need to get our Sheriffs back on the job ASAP.  We don’t have time for elections, appeals, and litigation.

Requesting a preliminary financial review under PA 436 is easy: There are no language/ballot requirements, no means of appealing or fighting the petition, and all we would need are the signatures of 5% of the number of people who voted in the gubernatorial election. That’s only 1213 signatures.  Compare that to the 6062 we would need to prompt a recall election!

With only 81 signatures per “pink slipped public safety employee”, we can fix this.  I am prepared to do exactly that.

That being said-Let’s hope we don’t have to!

Our first and best option is that the our County Commissioners realize that this isn’t going to end well for them and decide to go back and take a realistic approach to budgeting.  This is a good possibility now that Mayor Fredrick called them out on their questionable budgeting practices.   That should draw a few hundred people to the commission meeting on December 12th!

Our second option is that Sheriff Braidwood realizes that cutting the road patrol will ensure that he never holds another public office again and decides to take legal action against the county commission for failing provide funding for mandatory services.  As of January 1st, 2015 he will be failing to carry out his duties as Sheriff as required by MCL 51.  It is important to note that the Sheriff, not the commissioners, can be sued for this.

Call your Commissioner and Sheriff.  Tell them to stop playing games with our safety.  Tell them that if they don’t, you will sign the petition for a preliminary financial audit under PA 436 of 2012.

If that doesn’t work, help me gather the 1213 signatures that we need.  I will have the petition ready for signatures on December 11th.  If the commission decides to approve the budget, we will immediately begin to gather the signatures necessary to Save our Road Patrol.

Thank you for helping me protect those who protect us!

Mayor Ben Frederick Exposes The Truth About the Budget

truth-has-no-agenda

Mayor Ben Frederick of Owosso is officially my hero.  In today’s Durand Independent Mayor Frederick wrote a scathing review of the County’s budget.  You can click here for the entire article, otherwise, here are the highlights:

If you’re watching the slow motion meltdown of the Shiawassee County government since the Nov. 4 election and believe it doesn’t have to be this way, you’re right.  Sound budgeting principles combined with a bit of political will over the next few weeks can save our road patrol while giving a new Board of Commissioners time to work on the reforms necessary to right the ship.

If you’re beginning to wonder if the whole targeted attack on public safety is just a game of political retribution, you’re right.

The mayor goes on to say that:

It is absurd that the deficit is being framed in terms of cuts from a “requested” budget.  A request budget represents a “wish list” prior to an actual budget proposal.  I may “want” $30 instead of $20 next year, but if I instead only get $15, I’m not being “cut” $15 – I’m being cut $5…

This false cut serves to mask real cuts being made to our road patrol…

Last year’s budget was adopted at $16.336 million, which is a reduction of $1.113 million, not the $2.163 million figure that is being thrown around.  With a $1.113 million reduction, it is hard to understand why there is a $1.5 million cut proposed to the Sheriff’s Office.  This reduction is more than the entire budget hole! …

Increases in revenue sharing should exceed $285,000 according to the Department of Treasury.  It is unclear how much of this increase is budgeted …

Property tax collection increases are estimated at over $100,000…

The approval of the veterans millage replaces the $157,000 in prior General Fund expenditure…

The county’s Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund has generated a 10 year average of $765,000 in revenue and its $8 million dollar fund balance has remained largely steady…

No, the fund has not been “exhausted.”  Transferring the 10 year average …would add $314,000 to the general Fund.

Yes-Mayor Fredrick estimates that instead of a $2.163 million dollar shortfall, the county is instead only facing a $399,500 shortfall.  This is a huge difference!  If this is true, the taxpayers of this county are being lied to.  If this is true, this is FRAUD.  Our Deputies are pawns in a game of politics and it needs to stop!

The mayor also points out that:

The board of commissioners is to be commended for their recent change to non-represented employee pensions.  The board has estimated that this will save $300,000 per year once fully implemented.  With $300,000 in projected savings, why lay off people now?

County Commission-If what Mayor Fredrick said is true, then why are you misrepresenting the budget?  Why are you using our officers as pawns in a political game?  These Sheriffs work hard everyday for the people of our county.  They have children to feed and buy Christmas presents for.  What have they done to you?

Sheriff Braidwood-You now have no choice.  You must sue the County to adequately fund your department.  You can no longer allow this fraud to be perpetuated.   Under Article VII, Section 6 of the Michigan constitution you can be held personally liable for not doing so!

I will leave you with one final quote from Mayor Fredrick’s editorial today:

the budget summary was released later than promised and left little time for a complete exhaustive review.  The budget detail remains unreleased.

Why would they be waiting to release the details of the budget until after they vote on it?  Because they don’t want us to know until it’s too late!  The people of Shiawassee county deserve better.  Let’s hope that our newly elected commissioners can give us the representative democracy that we deserve.

How Will Crime Effect Your Property Values

We are about to engage in a viscous cycle

How will higher crime impact your property values?  There’s plenty of good research on this, but you can already guess the answer.

Here’s what I’m predicting is going to happen due to the Road Patrol Cuts:

1. Crime will Increase

2. Property values will decrease, and the cost of homeowners insurance and auto insurance will increase.

3. The county will receive less in property taxes (which is based on the value of your property).

4. Cuts will continue.

5. This will continue until the county is bankrupt.

Stop this before it happens.  Call your county commissioner today!

Sheriff’s Plan Violates Law

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I keep talking about MCL 51.76 for a darn good reason-the Sheriffs plan to eliminate our Road Patrol violates it.  He was informed of this on November 15th, but proceed with layoffs anyway.  Here’s what the law says about the Sheriff’s plan:

2) Each sheriff’s department shall provide the following services within the county in which it is established and shall be the law enforcement agency primarily responsible for providing the following services on county primary roads and county local roads within that county, except for those portions of the county primary roads and county local roads within the boundaries of a city or village; and on those portions of any other highway or road within the boundaries of a county park within that county:

(a) Patrolling and monitoring traffic violations.

(b) Enforcing the criminal laws of this state, violations of which are observed by or brought to the attention of the sheriff’s department while providing the patrolling and monitoring required by this subsection.

(c) Investigating accidents involving motor vehicles.

(d) Providing emergency assistance to persons on or near a highway or road patrolled and monitored as required by this subsection.

That seems pretty clear cut to me.  Why is the Sheriff ignoring it?  Update 11/24: Per the sheriff, he is ignoring this because there is there is some argument over what “adequate funding” means.  I am working with Representative Ben Glardon’s office to get some clarification on this.

Why isn’t our County Commission providing funding for mandatory services?

Perhaps we are financially insolvent?

Commission’s Plan Puts Children at Risk

FreeCandy

As the parent of two beautiful children I can’t begin to express how much the Shiawassee County Sheriffs plan to eliminate our road patrol concerns me.

Under the Sheriffs plan the only cars patrolling our county will be one or two state police units-if we’re lucky.  Within 1 mile of my house there are several registered sex offenders and a few paroled violent criminals.

Our Sheriff and County Commissioners are rolling out the red carpet for criminals and child predators.