The politics of parks in Michigan seems to be heating up.
Where else can the feel good elitist Lefties spend taxpayer money anymore with nary a peep from the paying forever class.
Parks programs are a great excuse to build dynasties, develop social connections, ensure a support base for political aspirees. But who can argue against the ‘healthy impact’ a strong parks and rec program has on your local community? The claims are ever-so-common, and made by those who operate such programs, yet would be hard pressed to prove such assertions if actually challenged.
Mission creep within a department assigned to make accessible park and land resources owned by a local municipality, is near guaranteed when operators or directors discover the ultimate weakness of their Parks & Rec degrees. That a degree earned while squandering 4 to 6 years away in our taxpayer subsidized university systems has little to no value in the real world, except where people are too busy to note the difference between government programming and individual initiative.
For SE Michigan, it will be ALL of Michigan’s taxpayers who will be soon footing the bill for programming and access they will never use. In Grand traverse County, the political will to support such ‘programming’ in our parks is about to be tested.
To which I say, “About damned time”.
Go below the fold for the rest of the story.
In 2010, as a commission candidate, one of the missions I embarked upon, was to restore a 62 year old tradition in our local parks. It wasn’t enough that the Director of the parks department had a 40 year old pool, and a few soccer agreements to supervise. He needed more duties to compel a nearly $70K yearly salary with $40K benefits package, and the local Veterans‘ baseball program was just the ticket.
Willing commissioners in early 2010 literally stole the youth baseball program from the veterans and turned it into a government program. Ignoring the fact that the fields used by American Legion baseball were built by veterans decades earlier, and taking advantage of a brief management disagreement within the program, the Director asked the County Board of Commissioners to assign control over to the parks department permanently.
Think of it as a landlord deciding your business no longer belongs to you because you lease the property where it operates.
Now THAT is sincerely messed up.
The one year that youth baseball was a ‘government’ program, participant costs increased, enrollment went down by hundreds of kids, and county overhead involved in the program increased. No one surprised, yet procedural games and timing tricks were still employed in an attempt to keep me from fulfilling the promise of restoring the program to the Veterans. The County Administrator, with the chair of the County Board, each against the reversal, used deception upon a freshman Commissioner with no success. The Admin, claiming I did not need to use a procedural path, which was absolutely necessary, and the Board chair attempting to move back on a vote date to make it impossible for passage with a season fast approaching.
Fortunately, the ability to read both the writing on the wall, and in a more literal sense, the procedural method of handling such an endeavor, was successful. Since the return of the program to the vets, enrollment is back up and three awesome seasons have passed. Though they have seen an increase in field maintenance fees from the county, they have been working earnestly with the parks department to ensure a good relationship with management.
But, the parasite with a Parks & Rec degree is not satisfied. Obscuring a notable change in the rental policy from the Board, he is back with higher calculated rental fees. Even worse, he is promoting a new type of contract that would punish the Legion for having the gall to continue its operations with the county. A “time sensitive” reservation system requiring payment up front from the vets for use of the fields 6 months before any kids even register.
And conveniently, a new customer looking for a place to host a baseball tournament (from out of the county) was already willing to deal.
Did I mention who built these fields and operated on them for 62 years?
The parks [governing] Board had two Members as advocates for this new ‘scheduling plan’ by the Director. One of which in 2011, cursed me out afterward for returning the program to the Veterans, and the other who had been fraudulently representing the county on the Board. The first, an obnoxious Left wing ‘programs’ loving guy, and the other a big government (wanted the county to build a $65,000,000.00 indoor sports complex) lunk who forgot to tell folks he had not been living in the county for 19 months. (a matter that will result in a year and a half worth of parks board decisions being reconsidered)
“A Grand Traverse County parks board member is stepping down from his post because he doesn’t live in the county.
“I really don’t have much choice,” Parks and Recreation Commissioner Scott Robertson said of his resignation.
State law and county policy requires parks board members to live within the county, said Bob Cooney, Grand Traverse County’s attorney.”
In any event, the county, and its Parks Department are now in for a major change.
Like most municipalities in Michigan, money is getting tighter each year. And unless they are the State of Michigan, that means taxpayers are in the process of bailing out Detroit again:
“Detroit’s historic Belle Isle Park will begin a transition to becoming Michigan’s 102nd state park, following action today by the Local Emergency Financial Assistance Loan Board.
The board accepted a lease approved by Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Director Keith Creagh, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Director Kirk Steudle and Gov. Rick Snyder. The lease will guide state management of the park. Under the lease terms, the city maintains ownership of Belle Isle while the DNR assumes responsibility for managing Belle Isle according to the high standards of its award-winning state park system. The Michigan Department of Transportation will assume responsibility for roads and bridges on Belle Isle.
“This is a city-state partnership that makes good sense for the future of Belle Isle and the people of Detroit,” said Gov. Rick Snyder. “Everyone wants this Detroit gem to offer a clean, safe and welcoming park environment, while lessening the financial burden on the city. Those are the driving principles behind this agreement.”
They are NOT likely capable of paying for the Utopian visions dreamed up during college age Doritos fed hallucinations.
Property values once relied upon for an all-the-bells-and-whistles type of operation have been flat for a few years, while the costs of doing municipal business has not. Given the nearly $1.5 million deficit, the Grand Traverse County administration looked first to the biggest line item, though not necessarily at the fat.
However, a brief suggestion at Sheriff’s deputy staffing reductions was summarily rejected by most County Board Members.
” County commission members have strongly opposed a proposal put forward by county administrators last month to save $600,000 in 2014 through the elimination of several Grand Traverse County Sheriff’s Department positions, including five road patrol deputies. Commissioner Dan Lathrop offered a different target for deep budget cuts during a budget meeting last week: the parks department.
“When I look at what happens in the parks, I’d rather have the cops personally,” Lathrop said. “When you look at this the tie should go to the (sheriff’s) department and not the parks.”
Perhaps, cool cities with over-hyped parks planning isn’t as important as public safety? As much as we would like to snap our fingers and have it all, it isn’t in the cards.
Tonight, the Grand Traverse Board of Commissioners will play the annual tug-o-war with taxpayer dollars and priorities. The Director of parks will be fighting to save his position and the status quo.
Everyone else with a few synaptic charges remaining will be waving goodbye to him.