Plowman tries to use “facts” again

9In this weeks independent John Plowman tried to use “facts” to explain why he would like to raise your phone bill by more than $14.64/phone/year.  (Seriously-he really want’s to do this!)    Here is the article:BOCArticleLet’s look at a few of Mr. Plowman’s “facts”:

John Plowman further explained the need for the increase, which would raise the county’s 9-1-1 surcharge from $1.22 per month per phone line to $2.65 per month per telephone line.  He said the combination of diminished use of land lines, the counties decreasing population, and increased operating and and equipment expenses have forced this move.

Let’s take these “facts” one at a time:

This is caused by diminished land line use.  FALSE!  This has NOTHING to do with diminished use as it applies to ALL phones including all of your cell phones.  According to the CTIA, the Cellular Trade Industry Association:

  • 90% of American homes have cell phones.
  • 39% are wireless only.
  • 16% are wireless mostly.
  • As of 2011 there are more cell phones than people in this country.

Ask yourself.  Do you have more phones, or less than you did 20 years ago?  This definitely isn’t caused by less phones. Trying to blame landlines is a lame excuse.

This is caused by the counties decreasing population.  Mostly FALSE!  According to US Census Bureau the County’s population decreased by 2.4% between 2010 and 2014.  By this logic our bills should be increasing by around 2.4 percent, right?  WRONG!  Plowman wants to increase it by Two Hundred and Seventeen Percent!!!

Increased operating and and equipment expenses have forced this move.  TRUE!  They totally just want to spend more of our money.

Everything that Mr. Plowman says may sound like a fact, but just remember the old adage:

Know how to tell politicians are lying?

Their lips are moving.

Until transparency is provided regarding:

  • How current money is being spent
  • How future money is going to be spent
  • Who is going to monitor and audit this spending
  • How the heck they can justify raising the your phone bill by more then $14 per phone

Just VOTE NO!

 

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words [Updated 12/15]

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[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.

Still Waiting for Transparency

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As you may know, Jiquanda Johnson from Mlive Media group recently interviewed Commissioner Nordbeck as part of her story on the road patrol cuts in Shiawassee County.  I sent her a thank you email for running the interview and asked her one last question: “Did the anyone that you spoke to address any of the concerns with transparency?”

She responded:

The commissioner I spoke with said that if someone requested the budget they could get a copy.

Really?  That’s odd because my sources indicated that they have requested this information on multiple occasions and have gotten nothing!   That being said, since commissioner Nordbeck stated that, it seemed like an invite to me.  On 12/3 I sent the following email Commissioner Nordbeck and CC’d the entire County Commission, and the mlive reporter:

Subject: Request for Publication of Budget

Hi Commissioner Nordbeck,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with Jiquanda Johnson from Mlive about our budget crisis.  As you are probably aware, the people of the county have some concerns about transparency of the current budgeting process.  In speaking with Jiquanda, you stated that all we need to do is request a copy of the budget and we will get it.  This email serves as a request to do exactly that.  I would like a copy of the:

-2014 Amended Budget

-The latest copy of the 2015 Proposed Budget Detail

It would be wonderful if this could be posted on the county website so that everyone in the community could easily view it.  Otherwise, I would be happy to post it on the saveourpolice.wordpress.com site.  (PDF preferred).

Please CC Jiquanda on correspondence regarding this request.

Thank you for any help that you can provide, and for any efforts that you are making to save our road patrol,

John

saveourpolice@yahoo.com

P.S.  I would be happy to update the site with any progress that the commission has made in saving our road patrol.  Please feel free to share any updates that you have.  

Now, you would think that:

  • Given all the claims that the county is hiding something, and how heated this issue is becoming in the community, commissioner Nordbeck would at least respond back saying “they’re working on it”
  • Given my P.S. line above, some random commissioner would respond back saying they are fighting to save our road patrol, and that public safety is important to them.
  • Given that I copied Jiquanda Johnson, the mlive reporter, on this the commissioners would know that “the media is watching” and respond back to my request.

But Guess What?  No Response!  Nothing!  An email sent to all commissioners on 12/3, and still nothing!

I’m very disappointed in them.  We deserve better.

In speaking with a deputy the other night, there is some interest in recalling the commission.  This isn’t a step that I want to take, but given the lack of transparency that I’m seeing, perhaps we should consider it.  At least then we wouldn’t be paying for pensions and benefits for folks that don’t work for us.

Something About The Budget Smells Funny

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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

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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.