It is easy to overlook some
shortcomings as Ann Arbor does when the city is booming, the streets are filled with
shoppers and there is generally positive atmosphere.
In Jackson which was devastated by the closing of numerous factories
and the building of outlying malls that sucked the retail business out of downtown, we
are faced with very different problems. The tax revenues which once supported adequate
police forces and fire protection personnel have dwindled and with it the
attractiveness of the city to new businesses,
In an effort to turn the economic stagnation around, the previous
mayor Martin Griffin and his supporters at city hall engaged in a massive giveaway to
Consumers Power under threat of their leaving downtown. promises were made and promises
broken Griffin would argue that we had no choice but to take on the burden of enormous
debt to keep C.E. in town. The plan was that new businesses would open downtown
attracted by the new C.E. campus and the taxes from those new businesses would pay the
debt service on all the bonds the city sold to support C.E. staying in place. No now
businesses, no new taxes, we pay the debt service and are facing a huge increase in
that debt service over the next few years.
In 2011 Larry Shaffer was hired as the new city manager to save the
day. He was soon ousted in a coup orchestrated by Schlecte, Greer and Dobies to replace
Larry with smooth talking Patrick Burtch, hired as Larry's assistant at the same time.
Burtch immediately went to work with his plan to restore Jackson to it once great
position among American cities. This involved concentrating expenditure of city money
and grants on creating a dynamic downtown bustling with crowds of shoppers and young
professionals employed by the numerous employers relocation to the new paradise at the
crossroads of Michigan. All these new YP's who were waiting in the wings to move to
Jackson had nowhere to live downtown so the plan was to demolish the "excess" housing
units in Jackson's non-core area. This would entice developers of downtown housing to
more readily gamble on the future of Jackson.
With limited funds available for all these grandiose plans, something
had to be done. Money spent on these projects led our police to be understaffed and the
crime rate soaring to put Jackson at number 50 in America's most crime riddled cities.
Money spent on these projects led to reductions in fire personnel and closing of fire
stations. The response time increase and so do insurance rates. Money spent on these
projects led to insufficient funds for street maintenance and repair. The city tried to
work around this by imposing an illegal Storm Water Fee. That resulted in a lawsuit
which the city lost and was ordered to refund one years worth of illegally collected
taxes. The city spent over $600,000 fighting this lawsuit with a high prices law firm.
When Griffin ran in 2011 he said the tax was illegal and would rescind it. His lack of
leadership cost the taxpayers over $1,000,000. Out of spite, when still mayor, Griffin
canceled leaf pickup, street sweeping to pick up debris, canceled catch basin cleaning
and the associated storm sewer maintenance resulting in clogged drains, storm sewers
and flooded streets. That in turn caused accumulated water to penetrate through cracks
and joints, soften the subgrade material and allow passing cars to break up the paving.
It is unknown at this point that actual incremental cost of this decision by Griffin
which allowed further destruction of the streets but it may be millions.
We want to thank Marty Griffin and all the council persons who have
voted repeated to throw other peoples money around with no accountability on ill
conceived programs while out streets deteriorate, destroy our suspension and drive
potential employers and residents to other more welcoming locations.