Will commissioners put their Pensions ahead of our Safety?

Except that the commissioners aren't begging...just taking...

Except that the commissioners aren’t begging-just taking…

This week the Shiawassee County Commissioners will consider a resolution that will end their pensions and benefits.  In accordance with state law this will take effect after the next election.

The commission will be forced to decide whether or not their pensions are more important than our safety.

If you can make it to any commission meetings this week, please do!!  You will be able to see for yourself who is in this for a paycheck, and who is here to make this county a better place!!!!

FYI-at least one commissioner is currently not accepting benefits and donating his pay to local charities.  If we could just get the rest to follow his lead we would be fine.

Rest assured that I’ll make it my life goal to end the political careers of anyone who votes to keep their pension.  Your free ride ends now!

WatchingYou

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Let It Be Known

Let it be known that the following commissioners voted to cut the Sheriffs department budget by 1.5 million dollars eliminating your police protection:

commissioners

As you can see three of them still remain in the new year.  These folks refused to give up their county benefits while deciding that we simply couldn’t afford a road patrol.

Come back to this website in November of 2016.  These commissioners will lose their benefits-not because they voted to, but because the people will vote to send them packing!

Tell them that we will remember!

Email Me Anytime

Email Me Anytime

Actions Speak Louder Than Words [Updated 12/15]

action-louder-than-words

[12/15-Updated to reflect that the county is track to make a $413,000 profit this year.  No cops-just cash!]

Today I’m here to ask you to stop listening and start looking.  We’ve heard a lot of talk from our county commissioners lately, but at the end of the day Actions Speak Louder Than Words.

So what have we seen over the past year?

  • We’ve seen an exaggerated millage-2.5 million dollars to cover a 1.5 million dollar need.  A commissioner tells me that the reason for this was “so that other departments wouldn’t have to make cuts”.
  • We’ve seen commissioners vote to keep their pensions.
  • We’ve seen commissioners NOT release budget information to local officials, myself, and EVEN EACH OTHER.  Commissioner Schneider filed a FOIA request to see how veterans funds are being spent because he can’t get straight answers out of the commission.  They tried to publicly shame him for this at the last meeting.
  • We’ve seen commissioner Plowman refuse to answer the very simple question “What is the amount of our deficit?”
  • We’ve seen our commission decide to most likely make a $413,000 profit this year, instead of putting a few more cops on the road.
  • We’ve seen members of the public and community belittled by the commission for asking questions.
  • We’ve seen two commissioners (Holzhausen and Schneider) take a vote of NO CONFIDENCE against FINANCE  and administration chair Plowman and commission chair Bartz.  
  • We’ve seen serious discrepancies in numbers reported to the state versus numbers represented in the public.

Actions speak louder than words.  My requests for detailed budget info to be posted on the county website still have not been fulfilled.  

This is why we need to petition the state for a Preliminary Financial Review-If they won’t give us transparency then we will take it.  When we are done a comprehensive, unbiased report will be posted on the State Treasury Website for the world to see.  Once we identify the truth, we can remove those who have been untruthful.

Make your actions speak louder than words.  Help Us By:

  • Spreading the word!  Let your friends and neighbors know that the commission eliminated your road patrol due to a “deficit”.  The only problem is they either don’t know, or refuse to answer, how big that deficit is?  The safety of our children has become a political game.
  • Get a copy of our petition and start collecting signatures!

Now, let me answer a few questions that people are asking:

1. “Couldn’t this result in us getting an EFM, and all sorts of bad things happening to county employees”?  The short answer is No.  You do realize that as of right now our county is on track to MAKE around $413,000 this year.  We don’t have a deficit.  In fact, we may have a lot more money in our fund balances than the commission is letting on to.

2. “Then why are you you using the EFM law to do this?”  I’m using it for something that nobody has every used it for- To fix the transparency issue in Shiawassee County.  The state will come in and perform a complete audit, find all the money, and post their findings on the treasury website.  When it’s revealed that our County is doing just fine, those who spread “doom and gloom” will be held responsible for their actions.  When we’re done, we won’t have to recall them, they’ll resign.

The Lawyers are Watching us

lawyerzone

This morning I noticed that my one of my social network profiles was checked out by an employee at a law firm that the County has done business with in the past.  This could be a coincidence as she may just be a concerned citizen of Shiawassee County who just wants to keep her family safe, or it may not.

If it’s not, I have to ask why our county is wasting money on a lawyer for this?  Just to be clear:

  1. I do not have any previous “axe to grind” with the county.  Up until they decided to pink slip the entire road patrol I had never had a negative experience with the county.  I simply want my children to be safe and my property values to continue going back up.  End the targeted attack on public safety, and I’ll go away-I promise!
  2. A lawyer can do nothing to stop our EFM petition if we decide to proceed with it.  According to the Department of Treasury, and Office of the Great seal (which surprisingly exists), I could literally write this petition on a bar napkin and it would be valid.  However to prevent any litigation I’ve mostly modeled it after a standard recall petition.  I’ve created a draft copy of this petition which I have posted Here.
  3. Everything that I’ve posted to this site has been factual to my knowledge at the time of posting or distribution to the media outlet that publishes it.  The county has been asked by many people on multiple occasions for the latest budget data-which they have not provided.  They’ve also been asked many questions by local officials which they have not answered.  I have also asked the commission for any/all feedback that they would like to provide their efforts to restore our public safety-again, they have not responded.  So on one side we have John being as open as possible, and on the other side we have what appears to be the complete opposite approach.
  4. If the county would like to attempt to take legal action against me for exercising my freedom of speech, freedom of protest, and freedom of press, they obviously may choose to do so, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  Though my friends at the ACLU did not want to get involved in a county issue, I’ve been a card carrying member for years and think that they would be up to protecting my freedom of speech, protest, and press.  If they won’t, my next call would be to Geoffrey Feiger. (And much like the EFM-I don’t think any of us want that.)

I would ask the county not waste our money on lawyers, and provide adequate funding for our road patrol.

As my father said last week “You’re just calling it like you see it”.  If you’d like me to “call it differently”, please provide me with the data that I requested so that I can do so.  I would be happy to publish any updates that the commission wants to share on this site.  Part of me was hoping that as part of the process I would find a commissioner who was “on our side”, but so far that hasn’t happened.  It’s a shame, because I would be the best ally that person could ever have!

Detailed Budget Leaked!!!

Whatcha' Gonna' Do When They Come For You..

I received a wonderful gift in my email last night.  A Draft Copy of the Detailed Budget.  Don’t get too excited-This appears to be been last revised in November of 2014.  Judging by how the “work packet” is arranged, it appears that this was the meeting where the commission told the Sheriff that he was losing 23% of his budget.

Click Here to Download the Draft Copy of the Detailed Budget

The person who was kind enough to send me this info believes in Transparency.  Here’s a great mlive article on what that means: A Michigan township sets the standard for government transparency.  If you’re a member of the County Commission, you could learn a lot from this article!

In case you’re keeping track of the Lack of Transparency in our Shiawassee County Government, here’s what they still owe you:

  • The most recent copy of the Detailed Budget.  I’m hoping that my actions compel them to post the latest copy of this on their website immediately.  One paragraph from now things are going to get really compelling….
  • The amended copy of the 2014 budget.  How can you amend the budget without sharing it with the public?  Does anyone know if that’s even legal?
  • An explanation of why these cuts are truly necessary.  The commissioners should be out in the community explaining why these cuts are necessary, right?  Silence isn’t working very well for Bill Cosby, and it’s not going to work for the commission either.

Let’s hit some of the highlights of the detailed budget:

  • They ADDED EMPLOYEES to several departments.  That’s great news-unless somebody is robbing your house, because your safety is not as important as their pet projects.
  • They Decreased the amount that they take out of their fund balance (savings) by $270,000...There goes 1/4 million dollars!!!
  • The Delinquent Tax Revolving Fund is another money maker for the county.  Last year it made $1,223,631.  From this, the commission transferred $1,200,000 to help fund the county.  This year they decreased the amount that they take from that fund by $748,470.  There goes 3/4 million more!  This Fund currently has $8.5 million dollars and has averaged $765,000 per year over the last 10 years.
  • Knowing that without a road patrol, the court house would be much less busy; they slashed Attorney Fees, Court Fees, and Processes serving by a total of $309,000.  There goes more than 1/4 million.
  • They decided to create a “capital projects fund for infrastructure” in the amount of $504,926.  There goes a 1/2 million more.  Worse yet, check out page 28 to see what projects are More Important than the safety of your family.  Here are few examples:
    • A 1.3 million dollar air conditioner for the courthouse!
    • A $119,000 generator for the courthouse!
    • New Carpet, New Lighting, and $450,000 in roof and sheet metal repairs on the courthouse.
    • Refurbished elevators, generators, and much, more!
    • You’ll notice that some of these were listed as “low priority items” yet they seem to have been funded anyway.
  • If you’ve been keeping track we’ve made it to a 1.8 Million Dollar “Deficit” just in those few items.  In my mind this budget has clearly been manipulated to create a deficit!

“It’s a HUGE deficit. Huge!!”

Now is the time to act!  Call your county commissioner!  Demand transparency into the budgeting process!  Tell them that Public Safety, not Air Conditioning, should be their priority.  Tell everyone you know what is going on in Shiawassee County!  Send this website to your friends.  Hang flyers in public places.  Volunteer to circulate the EFM Petition if the commission continues down this path of destruction!

Together we can make the County Commission fix this!

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

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.

Part Time Pensions not Police

HoardingMoney

Here’s a fun excerpt for a November 13th article on WLNS news:

At tonight’s Board of Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Les Schneider suggested the board cut commissioners health benefits to help keep those deputies on the job.

According to Commissioner Robert McLaren, the damage has already been done.


I’m not sure-but I think that’s a nice way of saying “We’ll keep our Pensions and Healthcare for our part time elected positions, while you lose your police coverage”

In their defense, the commissioners pensions are a very small part of the budget, however this is indicative of a bigger problem-fifedoms. The folks at the county commission have made it clear that this is a targeted attack on Public Safety, and that they are more concerned about themselves than those that they represent.  When you look at the county budget between 2011 and today, a lot of departments budgets have increased, yet public safety must take a cut of almost 25%.

Why not “across the board cuts?”

If the commissioners are prioritizing their pensions and healthcare over our safety, what else are they prioritizing?