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Elect Jason Gillman To The County Commission

Reaching out

I have walked, bicycled and called to over twelve hundred households in the sixth commission district.  Not bad for someone who is running a small business, writing daily, and just plain living.  However, there are many more whom I have not yet reached, and time is short before election day.

This information is for those of you whom I have not yet had the pleasure to meet.

HeadWhat the county commission  does.
The county commission oversees operations of the county, and is charged with establishing and maintaining a budget for the clerk, courts, sheriff, health department, parks, and a few other departments.  There are a number of other departments which may or may not be listed with these as priorities.  The county commission also sets the tax rate which pays for the necessary components of county government.

The commission also sets wages for elected officials in the county, appoints the road commission members and establishes responsibilities for a number of boards and some elected positions.  For example, the parks board is a mandated board by the state, but the county commission can determine the size of the board and the scope of its mission.  There are other areas in which the board has oversight as well.

Why Jason Gillman?
As a former board member, I have the experience necessary to get up and running immediately.  I also have the ability to craft and argue for as-yet unconsidered solutions to upcoming fiscal problems facing the county; one of those problems being a pension obligation in the tens of millions of dollars, of which there is no immediate plan to reduce or eliminate. Continue reading

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Watch This Space

HeadOver the weekend, I intend on making a final statement supporting my candidacy for county commission.

For many of you it will be like Deja Vu all over again. I have made many of the arguments on your doorstep, and hope you still stop back by for a final look.

See you then.

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Get Your Signs!

Call the house 929-2067 and let me know where you would like us to place a sign to show your support for smaller more efficient government.

Leave a message if we don’t answer, including a call back number and an address so we can get one to you!

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AV Chase

AVMany elections are decided a little earlier than the primary date.

Absentee voters make up a substantial part of the electorate, and many of THOSE folks based on the materials and information at hand by the time the ballots reached them.  Politicians generally try to make their case for election with the AV voters by timing the arrival of cards or literature within a day or two on either side of the AV ballot arrival.

This is why absentee voters will receive piles of electioneering items all at about the same time.

This image represents a container of nearly 1000 mailing pieces going out to absentee voting households in the 6th county commission district.  It describes the qualifications and some of my  history to give the voter an idea of what I stand for and what they might expect if I am honored with a return as Grand Traverse County Commissioner.

I hope to see the rest of you at the polls on Aug 5.

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What This Site Is All About

Sign-artMost campaign sites are ‘cookie cutter’ and somewhat predictable.

Usually there will be the splash page, a fundraising page, and an ‘about me’ section that might even give a little insight as to what might be important to the candidate.  A generic pledge for accountable government, responsible decision making, and lower taxes if the site is for a Republican candidate even.

THIS SITE however, is different.  It is a running history of sorts.  Some content will have all the information in a single post that others spread throughout their sites, and some content will be informational on other topics.  Its not updated too frequently either.

It will be done a little more often now that a new campaign is underway.

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Another Term?

I hope that I am able to sit on the Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners again.

The sign is on the side of the truck, and the campaign is ready to go.  truck-signIn 2012 I had decided not to run for the county commission spot. This year its different.

There is a clear need however, for a limited government fiscal conservative to influence board decision making going forward.   Typically there are few who are willing to stand up to over planned, complicated and expensive government.  It doesn’t have to be that way.

Not everything being done by government is necessary, and some programs take on a life of their own as certain departments try to grow their importance.

Commissioners need to be able to balance the truly appropriate functions of government with wishful thinking.

For too long our governments both locally and otherwise have had too much money.  It has made fiscal managers lazy and unable to prioritize.  It has made it easy for the growth of government to continue and have adverse effects on your pocketbook as well as in other areas that are not appropriate.

I am looking forward to another term of  being the voice of responsible governance.

Here’s to seeing you all at the voting booth August 5!

 

 

Cutting The Fat Of Parks ‘Programming’

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.”

Doh!

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.”

Imagine that.

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.

Press Release – Gillman congratulates TCAPS on new China deal

For Immediate Release

Sept 09, 2013

A plaintiff in an Open Meetings Act case against TCAPS, today says the schools board seems to be now “doing it right”.

Former county commissioner Jason Gillman says “The process now being used meets the expectations of taxpayers and parents alike. This time they are doing it right, and have opened up the deliberative process for full public transparency. Specifically, TCAPS has posted on to its website, a proposed Memo Of Understanding, as part of the information packet for tonight’s September 9 regularly-scheduled board meeting. Not only is the public able to examine in full detail all the terms of this new deal (see attachment), but also the board is not rushing through and signing onto contracts that haven’t been fully reviewed by appropriate legal counsel and financial management.

Transparency was not the case with two agreements signed in China by administration on November 6 and 19th respectively, before being presented to the TCAPS board for the first time for their discussion and approval/resolution on November 26, 2012. The Record Eagle in an editorial titled “TCAPS board needs oversight” on the 25th of November, noted this. They said “Taken alone, the failed millage, the mailer and the China trip all would have been costly in terms of public relations. Together, they painted a picture of district officials who were out of touch with voters and unwilling to be up front with the public about public business. .. Cousins said after the trip the district didn’t want to “muddy the waters with anything” before the election. “Looking back, I think we should have done a press release,” he said. No kidding.

Gillman notes that as important as openness in the governmental decision-making process is, there also are major improvements in substance, too.

Specifically, how differently the risks and costs of potential liability are dealt with by TCAPS “then”, vs. “now”. At the bottom of page 3 of the MOU, indemnity and limiting its exposure are in stark contrast to the Cooperation Agreement dated and signed November 11, 2012 between TCAPS and the High School Attached to Dalian University of Technology which stated ”The host schools should assure the absolute safety of the students and teachers.” A contract which seemingly had no board oversight, and if so, was done so out of sight of taxpayers according to Gillman: “This is the basis of my current complaint,” Gillman says Its good to see that they are now acknowledging my concerns and that of district taxpayers with a far superior process and MOU. The light was turned on and the board saw the writing on the wall; that the potential for multimillion dollar liability claims existed without protection for taxpayers. Curiously however, all BOE members and TCAPS attorney STILL take the position that the first China contracts didn’t need BOE approval or consent.”

Gillman points out the relatively small Bodily Injury / Property Damage and Personal Injury liability insurance is limited to one million-dollar maximum/occurrence, and TCAPS general fund balance is only about $7 million total. He further notes this modified MOU likely provides protections from increased premiums for general liability insurance as well.

Gillman further notes that this proposed and now made-more-transparent plan might have a significant financial benefit to the schools as well. “There’s a potential to the district of potentially seven-figure $/year in new revenue. This is good,” He said. “Without this deal it seems TCAPS is facing an ongoing structural deficit which could bankrupt itself within the next two school years. What once was a healthy fund balance has been depleted by several years of structured operational deficits, which now threatens TCAPS’ credit and bond rating; a risk that carries additional cost that is always passed along to taxpayers. “

And it matters, as since the ‘bubble years’ of higher property valuations, operational revenues have declined. Other local governmental entities (such as TADL, on whose Board-of-Trustees Gillman currently serves) have been reducing their expenses through attrition and cost-savings projects, so as to keep “operating in the black” every year. Even though its millage revenue was also shrinking during those years. TADL’s board has committed strategically to “living within its means” financially, and maintains a safe 15%” rainy day fund” balance as a percentage of its operating annual budget. TCAPS has chosen not to cut costs to balance its operating budgets, in contrast.

Gillman sees this deal as a possible way back for TCAPS “This new China deal could substantially reduce if not eliminate the annual operating budget deficits that TCAPS has been incurring, which is at least a starting point for regaining good fiscal stewardship and respect for the local taxpayers.”

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Enclosed: Weiming MOU