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Tag: Traverse City
By JGillman, Section News
For about 5 years the Pavlovian expectation of a cigarette followed every meal.
In about 11 months, I celebrate my 20th anniversary of being tobacco free. In the first 5 years of that, it was a fight to stay off the nicotine, and the body and mind played tricks to try and get me puffing again. Stress, the after dinner reach for a pack, drive time, all of those things I thought of as pleasurable for so long, reached up from the depths often, in order to regain its hold over me. Its hold from a time when I was its slave, and it was my benevolent master.
As long as I fed it, the habit made me relax for a time, and I was allowed to live in my skin.
Some folks have compared tobacco addiction to that of heroin, or other narcotics. Others, to its oft used partner, alcohol. Though I have never experienced the withdrawal effects of those, I believe I understand them as a result of having had been a smoker for well over a decade. The 'habit' was more than that. It was an unchangeable lifestyle; a daily thing that demanded my attention, or the consequences would be hellish.
There is a drug that is worse however.
And it won't be your body or mind reminding you how bad its going to be without it. It will be active little monsters who also get a high from it, and want you hooked for as long as it takes for THEM to live THEIR lives.
(12 comments, 793 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section News
Strangely, it seems Google has algorithms that remove opposition to complete streets A21 type legislation to the end of the results.
Too bad. There is so much to say that addresses the broad based policies that complete streets encompasses. So much that brings an appropriate negative light on the issue and its implementation. Roundabouts, suicide bike lanes (like the one in the video of the last story), spending large sums of money for rural areas where only the transient bike through (tour bikers) might use, and perhaps even other reasons like private property.
Silly stuff like that.
In fact, we have one of those bike lanes in Traverse City. The bicyclist is broken away from the right shoulder, and directed into the left turn where the lane abruptly ends (no warning) forcing the automobile into the bicycle, or mating them inappropriately. Somehow, no one has yet died on the corner, though some close calls have occurred. I suppose the smarter cyclists avoid it, which would explain why I never see anyone using the bought and paid for streetscape as planned.
So imagine the excitement in finding out the Grand Vision folks up here (A21 implementation team) were sponsoring a traveling road show to each of the rural townships. The effort of course, was to have neat little picture show, and included in the packet of trustees would be a ready made resolution in support of 'Complete Streets'. Ready to serve; just add moronicide.
In my own township, I didn't see it making much sense, so I prepared a statement.
Continued below the fold
(1056 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section News
Curiously, Michigan Capitol Confidential has a story about school millage advocacy.
"In an effort to drum up support for an upcoming millage, Alcona Community Schools Superintendent Shawn Thornton is quoted in a local newspaper claiming teaching and support staff have been cut almost in half."Which was of course misleading.
The first line says 'curiously' because today is the day I received the response from the SOS to my complaint of advocacy by TCAPS (Traverse City Area Public Schools) for its millage request. It included the district's denial that they were violating campaign finance 57. It claimed they didn't know that there was a violation. But interestingly, as they were denying the charge of violation, it should be noted they significantly re-worked their literature when 'caught' by the original complaint and a subsequent newspaper article highlighting the complaint.
Right up to that line without stepping over it is typical for school systems begging for more, but this was pretty clear. The Superintendent approved the mailer, but then had it changed when caught. Then had their hired guns respond to the complaint. Then another 'curious' event where the public relations manager resigns an $84k/yr job out of the blue.
I have 10 days from the date of the SOS response to add anything. The SOS response was dated Dec 21, 2012. (Envelope shows to be mailed the 27th) I suppose the violation should/could stand on its own, but will an additional argument weigh on the process any?
(2 comments) Comments >>
How many times must the community be betrayed by its school board before an appropriate response is meted out?
The governing body which resides over the largest public budget in the Northwestern part of the state continues to thumb its nose at taxpayers. A recent (probable) violation of the open meetings act, adds to a list of actions that are not only indicative of sloppy governance, but more likely sanctioned acts of deception and perfidy. A scheduling ruse used by the board to hide its 'open' retreat worked to its advantage with no public present, with no recordings made of the retreat activities, and no option of challenge by the public, plans that will likely be rubber stamped in future open meetings which the board normally schedules.
Examples of deceptive practices are not exactly limited to what I write here. This particular story however, notes a growing disdain for the concerns taxpayers might have for the appropriate management of their resources. There are concerns that remain unanswered.
A recent bond issue was a catalyst in engaging some of us in the Grand Traverse region with regard to the actions of the local board for Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS) The $100 million bond issue came on the 5 year anniversary of another like it in 2007. Part of the issue that inspired opposition of myself and others was the inclusion of a $26.5 million 'performing arts center' in the bond which many see as wasteful and unnecessary. The timing also coincides with one of the worst economically difficult times the region has seen.
The bond was defeated by nearly 60-40%, which might make some think it would have failed no matter the opposition.
The sad reality is that it would have likely been a reversal in percentages seen without organized resistance and the sunlight provided by that resistance.
more below the fold
(1801 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section News
Using current events and local interest, it was not hard to script another free market minute.
Last week we discussed this particular issue.
No district or constituency is immune to the effect of pay-for-play politics.
How do we stop it?
(4 comments) Comments >>
By JGillman, Section News
~ In cronyism part I, the connection between government and business interests was discussed, with focus on state and federal tax dollars being used to pick winners, or at the very least recipients of government largesse. This continues the discussion on a more local level, yet ought to touch anywhere there is a school district. ~
The election was two weeks ago.
All of the study of what happened, the consequence, and the long term effect politically, has to date been pretty much reserved to the national contests. Punditry since November 6th has dissected, analyzed, and made best guesses as to why certain election had any particular results. Something generally not discussed however, has been local initiatives and issues. At least not the part where there is a conflict in government's management of our resources.
One of those issues in Northern Michigan was a bond request made by the board of Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS)
Underneath the perceived troubles in funding public education is an emerging reality. Because of the nature of taxpayer funding, and the struggle for local school districts to grab their 'fair share' of Michigan's education budget pie, expenses that were once built into operating budgets are now separated from them, and allowed to be levied through millage requests. These building fund requests allow for purchase of new infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance.
Unfortunately, once the funding had begun in this direction, it quickly became a running operative mechanism that allowed all manner of abuse to begin. Routine maintenance became the recipient of improvement monies, and improvement requests increased to fund facilities that went beyond necessary functionality. The latest request including a component that would have built a $26.5 million performing arts facility. (including all aspects of construction) The proposal for a declining student population at a cost of was easily declined by voters.
(1441 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section News
Traverse City Area Public Schools are asking for a $100 million dollar bond approval. At great expense and use of time, I have been in opposition of this continued abuse of the taxpayers. This is a Re-post from GROW.TC
The election is upon us.
Voters will decide if it is worth forcing property owners to pay an additional 0.8 mil in taxes for the luxury of a Performing Art Center, destruction of wealth, and an open ended slush fund for the school district's physical desires. Part of the plan is of course to extend the FULL 3.9mil an additional 5 years.
~ If the bond request passes. ~
The Performing Arts Center
Sunday's (November 04, 2012) Record Eagle ad and also similar postcards sent out by TCAPS Citizens for Students in its pie graph uses the term "CHS Renovation" to represent its current version of the $26.5 million Performing Arts Center. This language is now consistent, and closely matches that of School board member Scott Hardy who advised the TCAPS board to deceive voters with the language "renovation" rather than face an obvious backlash for a perceived and very real luxury of "Performing Arts Center".
The pie shows it as a 16% component of proposed projects, which is also misleading in the way it suggests that it is a 'small part' of the overall project. The 16% figure is arrived at by taking the already approved and remaining from 2007 $65 million bond, and adding it to the requested $100 million on this go-round. $26.5 million is exactly 16% of $165 million.
The other deception the TCAPS board and its shill organization (TCAPS Citizens for Students - which is coincidentally run by a finance director for the schools, and funded by the local chamber) attempts, is the canard that it is ONLY $18 million that is being spent on the auditorium. They explain that the other amounts are for "school improvements, office moves, and new entry areas." Though all of those can be verifiably true, they also gloss over the fact that without the auditorium, NONE of the additional improvements would be necessary.
The Performing arts Center is in fact, the sole source of the "CHS renovation" expense.
(3 comments, 1084 words in story) Full Story
By JGillman, Section Multimedia
While we are waiting for the Biden-Ryan debate, I figured you might like a little entertainment.
As many of you may know, the Traverse City Area Public Schools have a board lacking any critical dissent. There is no representative of the taxpayer present in each of its monthly, or special meetings. Thus it should come as no surprise that a $26,000,000.00 Performing Arts Center (auditorium)is considered an essential educational tool.
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