Having come to this page from a Facebook Ad or from an on line link posting means you care about what is going on in
our city. My opponent Arlene Robinson, while a very nice lady engaged in many volunteer efforts around Jackson,
has not been effective in addressing the serious issues confronting our community and in particular the First Ward.
You may agree or disagree with what I stand for and what Arlene stands for but I am glad you care enough about
the City of Jackson to visit us and see what I am about
My name is Andre Aikens and I live on Woodbridge St. in the 1st ward.
MY AREAS OF CONCERN
There are many issues facing the citizens of the Jackson and particularly the 1st Ward. The crime and weekly shootings
and murders are unacceptable.
Our streets go unswept for most of the year. The gutters and storm sewer inlets are clogged and the streets flood causing
more and more pavement failures. Residents living in the first ward are not flush with cash to replace bent and broken rims,
blown out tires and realignments resulting from potholes.
The city collects taxes to provide basic service such a street repairs, maintenance of water/sewer and storm water systems,
police and fire protection.
The city also receives grants to fund various services from the federal government funneled through the state.
The city has used our taxpayer dollars to purchase property, demolish buildings and give the land to developers for $1.00
and abate the taxes on new building for 8-9 years. The tire store downtown and the Comedy Club were purchased for almost
$400,000 and then the city paid a demolition company $190,000 to tear the building down. What followed is disheartening.
The land was sold to a local LLC (secret) for $1.00. The land where the Lofts on Louis and potentially the new
location for Commonwealth Associates was horse traded back and forth with Consumers Energy and a private realtor with the city ending
up paying over $600,000 for the spaces. Again, sold to developers for $1.00 with a generous 9 year tax abatement.
The city has used our tax dollars to rebuild the downtown main street ostensibly to attract new businesses.
The water and sewers were replaced using tax dollars and water/sewer reserve funds that were accumulated in accounts
dedicated to maintaining these infrastructure elements throughout Jackson. To make up for the deficit created, the city council
passed an increase in water/sewer fees last year and another one more recently.
When water/sewer lines are replaced on your street, or the street is repaved or rebuilt, every property owner
is included in a special assessment roll based on the frontage lot width. This can amount to thousands of dollars
for hard working homeowners. The property owners along Michigan Ave. who benefited immensely from the rebuilding of Michigan Ave.
were not charged a special assessment because Burtch and the council wanted to avoid the confrontation that would have
resulted. They need the business people on board so they can stand before the council and say how great this is.
And we foot the bill while driving over crumbling roads that are pounding our cars to pieces,
The council majority voted to pay for and install a closed circuit TV monitoring system around the downtown
park and in storefronts along the newly reconstructed main street. This is needed Burtch says to prevent crime
so the coveted "Young Professionals" Burtch hopes swill stream into Jackson, will feel safe and comfortable
in all the new apartments being built downtown with tax funded subsidies of up to $40,000 per unit being paid to
to the same property owners who were exempted from the Special Assessment rolls.
Jackson has a crime problem disproportionate to its size. There are two contributing factors.
First is the fact that we are a prison town. People who are sentenced to prison here, often cause the
relocation of their families and loved ones to be nearby. The culture of crime in many cases follows these
families and results in Jackson having to deal with the consequences. The burden on our police is born by
us taxpayers while many of the criminals and their loved ones com from all over the state.
Second, the fact that many of those sentenced to our prison are accused of committing drug related crimes
and they bring that drug culture to our area. The guy gets prosecuted for dealing in Detroit and the courts
sentence him to 5 years in Jackson. His friends and family follow, easily relocating to Jackson. With the stopover
location established, the Detroit to Chicago dealer run takes a break in Jackson.
When I take my seat as 1st Ward Councilman, I will introduce a resolution demanding that our local Representatives
and Senators author a resolution to force the state to reimburse local governmental agencies for the total costs
incurred in hosting a state prison in their vicinity.
We need more police on the streets patrolling hot spots and resident officers living in the communities they patrol.
Witnesses will be much more inclined to offer up information to a familiar neighborhood face. We had this system some
years ago funded by federal grants. We are tearing down city owned homes in high crime areas that could be
rehabilitated to serve as community policing centers and scattered stations.
The CCTV crime monitoring system approved by the council has hidden costs. How many policemen will be taken off patrol
to sit in front of TV monitors watching for crimes commited in the downtown core which endanger the bar hopping young
professionals while families go unprotected and neighborhoods resound with the sound of gunshots nightly.
We need more police on the streets, not in front of CCTV monitors protecting a small segment of the population
wandering the 3 block long resurrected downtown.
If I am elected I will introduce resolutions proposing these solutions to part of our crime problems and demand
necessary funding be reallocated from overstaffed and unnecessary programs. What does Burtch's pet "Information Officer"
contribute? Another police patrolman is far more necessary than a city propagandist.
HOME OWNERSHIP AND FAMILY STABILITY
Home ownership is a fundamental building block of financial security, family stability and individual success both in
school and the market place.
Our city manager and council have over and over dedicated funds not to helping low income and minority families
purchase salvageable homes, but to the destruction of those assets. This activity denies the opportunity of
home ownership and all its advantages to low and moderate income families in the minority areas of Jackson.
No one on the council, not Robinson, 1st Ward nor Frounfelker 5th Ward have stood up against this demolition program
and its disparate impact on minorities.
If elected to the 1st Ward sear on council, I will argue passionately against this discriminatory program.
FIXING DECAYING STREETS
Burtch, a failed developer from Dundee, has this vision of single handedly resurrecting Jackson from the ashes
of closed industrial and manufacturing facilities which have plagued many parts of the country for many years.
I say single handedly because that is what is going on. He is a smooth talker and runs the council majority
to his liking. The council mindlessly goes along with every proposal, every oppressive new ordinance and every
tax giveaway he proposes. Everything he bring forth is rubber stamped by a council which has lost its way.
The reckless spending and tax giveaways threaten the financial viability of the city and its ability to fund
basic services and infrastructure needs.
Hence the streets away from the core of the city are left to decay while the 2 way loop demanded by the developer
of the Lofts on Louis goes ahead costing millions in state and local tax dollars. The streets feeding the downtown
are rebuilt and repaved a few blocks either side of "main" street to provide a deceptive vision to visitors.
The current traffic jams all over central Jackson will not abate when the two way conversion is completed. Vehicles
will follow the preferred routes along Ganson and Morell to avoid downtown.
If I am elected to represent the 1st Ward I will propose to reintroduce our tax funded street cleaning, leaf pickup,
catch basin cleaning and reopening the city leaf recycling facility on Cooper St. I will introduce a resolution
to stop all future expenditures on street, sewer and water system repairs excepting those in areas previously neglected
and prioritized based on need.
The city is carrying a huge debt burden due to the agreements made by earlier
councils to "keep" Consumers Energy downtown. We owe $18.5 million for the parking structures we built for C.E.. The parking space rent
that C.E. employees pay covers only about $250,000 of the almost $800,000 yearly cost. The DDA Tax Increment
Funding Area was supposed to attract new businesses whose taxes would go to retire this debt but this has not
happened. We pay for it with our property taxes. This is the same philosophy guiding the current efforts
to attract developers to the downtown with massive tax abatement's and other subsidies.
If I am elected I will help correct this injustice by pushing for a renegotiation with CE whereby they would take over
the debt and operations of "their" parking structures.
Other areas of significant debt include massive unfunded retirement and retiree health benefit funds.
Double dipping by city retirees when they retire and are immediately hired on in the same or other city
jobs at the whim of Burtch and without a proper performance evaluation history must stop. No more patronism
at city hall.
Now that you have an idea of what I stand for and what I will try to address if elected, please give
serious consideration to casting your vote for me.
ANDRE AIKENS WILL PROVIDE INCREASED VIGILANCE WITHIN THE COUNCIL ON ISSUES EFFECTING EVERY CITIZEN
WRITE IN ANDRE AIKENS ON NOVEMBER 7th FOR 1ST WARD COUNCILMAN