COLDNews, Chief Barnett Thinks It's Important for You to Know This Information

I'm always amazed at the incredibly unbiased (for City officials) coverage of the City Council meetings by the City of Ludington Daily News (COLDNews).  I expect as much from a yellow rag that stated three times on the front page in October 2011 that then-City-Council-Candidate XLFD had decided not to attend a candidate's forum, when the record shows a City of Ludington policy prohibited me from setting foot on the property without written permission of the City Manager, which was asked for and never received.  Anyway last Tuesday's newspaper pretty much summed it up, if you don't believe in common sense or the rule of law, but believe in Mayor Henderson, Councilor Holman, and Police Chief Barnett.

I continue to be upset with the COLDNews disrespecting the dead, Lingyan Zou, by continuing to misspell her name, even when its on all the documents; don't they even care?  My own comments, limited to five minutes in the beginning of the meeting, did point a provocative finger towards the City Council and the Mayor of Ludington, primarily because I put a picture to the front of the lectern of both people that died as a result of an unsafe policy decision made by the folks in front of me:

"Tom Rotta, 137 newly remodeled East Dowland.

Mayor Henderson made reinstating the lifeguards at Stearn Park a cornerstone of his campaign way back in 2001, and he was able to get a lifeguard crew and equipment together the summer after his election. He pointed to it as the main highlight of his first year.

In June of 2009, three lifeguards saved two teens from drowning at Stearn's Park. Mayor John Henderson said “Sarto brought in one of the boys while Lindbloom brought both the other boy and a local man who was trying to help in to shore. This is why we have lifeguards at the beach, to provide life-rescuing service,” “I think it is one of the most important programs we have, with six blocks of Lake Michigan beach, it needs to be protected by lifeguards.”

A little over two months later the city council met in a special session to quietly approve a new project costing nearly one million dollars of public monies. A new 1,000-foot transient dock along the north wall of the city marina.  The Mayor's idea.

Nearly three months later, the budget for 2010 called for not hiring lifeguards and raising rates for several city fees. This was passed two weeks later, with no public comment from Mayor Henderson either time about the lifeguards who had saved lives that very summer.

He had no accolades for the heroic lifeguards who saved three children and one man just 5 months prior. No quotes about how necessary and important these lifeguards were. No appreciation for all the times the lifeguards had helped with a variety of summertime city projects, such as helping at Friday Night Lives or painting fire hydrants. He just sat in his chair and listened as seven lifeguards were given their pink slips while perhaps thinking to himself what a fine legacy his transient docks would be.

In 2010, on August 15, two days less than two years ago, Anthony Goldsmith visited Ludington with his family. Seeing two swimmers in trouble near the breakwall, he and his son jumped into Lake Michigan to save them. He drowned. Had there been the three lifeguards at the beach as there had been the previous year, Anthony would not have drowned, and the lifeguards would have either corraled the other swimmers back to a safe area, or saved them. The police report I received through FOIA confirms that hypothesis.

Last year, 2011, the City put $40,000 into beach safety and is slated to put nearly $30,000 into the two person 'beach patrol' for 2012-2014. The City spent $23,000 for three lifeguard positions employing 7-9 young area adults in 2009. We would have saved money having lifeguards those five years, instead of what we will spend these same five years. Without at least one of the 2010 deaths.

The beach patrol is there for code enforcement and public safety, not for rescuing and public relations like the lifeguards. They have routinely drove through the beach on an all-terrain vehicle for non-emergency purposes, even though such travel is forbidden by State law. They use that same ATV in non-emergency purposes to drive on city streets even though no local ordinance permits that. We spend more, we get less. We make our beach less attractive to tourism. We make the traffic laws two-tiered.

But what of the One million dollar transient docks? There we have a concrete sidewalk adjacent to a seawall where one misstep, one trip over one of the many tie-downs, will drop you into murky water that will put you in over your head. There is no guard rail for almost all of its length, the lighting at night is poor. Two months ago, did this also claim a life, when a visitor named Lingyan Zou was recovered one morning? I'm sure the ones who thought up, planned and voted for this dock would like to think it wasn't. Dropping the lifeguard program, leaving out safety rails-- two City policies, at least two City deaths. Public safety is the main duty of a local government-- Mayor Henderson, and the Ludington City Council invent new circuses funded by the public, new ridiculous laws, while people die because of the utter neglect of public safety. Thank you."

The regular business of the meeting proceeded without much problem; the City Official sponsored grassroots initiative will find itself on the ballot this fall, Councilor Kaye Holman barely containing herself with Mayor-gasms.   The citizens will vote for whether to extend term limits for mayor from three to five terms this November.  It will affect the current mayor, who is about to enter the last year on his third term.  Kaye Holman, in short order, lashed out at a poor citizen who frequently petitioned City Hall for information.

One of her main points was all the time wasted by City Officials in looking up publicly available information.  I have seen the mayor term-expanding petitions with City officials names at the bottom and throughout, and wondered myself about all the time wasted, and will be wasted in getting this to the ballot this November.  Don't you believe that the COLDNews and all those people who directly benefit from a continued Mayor Henderson regime will not twist the truth and spin the record and spend a lot in an attempt to get eight more years for a guy who ran out of fresh ideas eight years ago?

Anyhow, after Kaye said her piece, Police Chief Mark Barnett said his piece, 'correcting the record' with stuff he thought was important for us to know.  I offer it with my own commentary from the safety of the backseat:

"There were a couple of statements made at the head of the meeting that I think this council has the right to hear some information that has some basis to it [correction: people have 'rights'; public bodies have 'powers', not rights].  First of all, relative to the day dock, that day dock, in terms of access to the water is constructed no differently in terms of access to the water than the other {big number} marina slips that exist from here to Pentwater, Manistee, total.  Every dock gets the same access to the water that's the most important thing than singling out the day dock that some may feel is poorly constructed because it doesn't have a railing [the most important thing is that docks have access to the water?  Such is the nature of a dock, LOL.  I think safety is more important, but that's just me.]  It's a dock, I think that's an important thing to know [got it, Chief!]

The other thing is a comment was made earlier about the safety of the beach.  You need to know [because it's important...] that a month ago Officer Spencer Lindbloom [a former lifeguard, by the way] was one of our seasonal police officers, used one of the life rings which was positioned at a cost to the City that was positioned at the north breakwall, and used that to pull out a gentleman who was drowning [similarly a lifeguard would have been able to do so, and the person wouldn't have had to wait so long.]

And ultimately because he was able to get that piece of equipment, the City Council felt was important enough to purchase [one year after an unprecedented three deaths happened at an unprotected Stearn's Park], and make available, this young man is alive and well today [as would be the case with lifeguards].  You need to know [this is important] that yesterday patrol member Matt Murphy was one of the first on the scene, he's also a volunteer firefighter for the City of Ludington.  He was able immediately to begin CPR on a person who was on the beach.  You need to understand [it's important, dammit] that just because our beach does not have lifeguards that it is not protected [ it was in 2010]  We have officers, beach patrol people from 11:00 in the morning to 2:00 in the morning, more coverage than has ever been present since I've been here [police coverage, that is].

And lifeguards serve a wonderful purpose, did some great work, but you need to know [and this is important] that much of the work still goes on in a different configuration as well as some other safety matters being attended to by beach patrol and seasonal officers.  I think it's important that you have that information instead of listening to one individual who I compare to someone who is hiding under the bleachers and lobbing rocks on the parade [Yikes!  I believe his simile is a little off; I would better compare this someone to a person sitting on the bleachers throwing poop at a passing parade of nazis.]  I think that's important.  I think it's also important that... that... well, I'll stop there.  I just wanted to make you aware of that [and I think you need to know it's important].


Here is the full recording of the meeting that the COLDNews reported on, XLFD spoke (4:00 in), and Chief Barnett replied (31:15 in).


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What's so silly about the Chief's rebuttal is that anyone with common sense knows that a life guards main duty is to save the lives of drowning persons and that they are vigilantly watching the water looking for any signs of swimmers in distress. That is their job. The rent a cops [sorry guys but that's what you are] spend most of their time in the parking area talking with the teens and tourists. The only way they will know that an emergency exists is if someone calls 911 or runs and locates them to inform them of a dangerous situation and by that time they will be to late for the party. When the Chief's speech and Henderson lack of interest are looked at in a critical manner it is clearly obvious that neither of them knows anything about beach safety. These are the people who are responsible for the lives of the residents and tourists who use Stearns Park and the non actions of Henderson and the nonsense spoken by the Chief should make it obvious that Ludington is sorely lacking in leadership. I might add that I have nothing against the Chief. He is a very capable officer of the law but playing along with Henderson's foolishness of  gambling with tourist and residents lives is not going to win him any accolades from those that can clearly see thru the political smoke screens that Henderson and the Council enjoy spreading over the citizens of Ludington.

Good analysis, Willy, and I know you are/were not a big fan of the lifeguards.  But now that we are paying more for glorified seasonal police officers at the beach, the economics actually favors having lifeguards once again. 

And unless Mayor Henderson has another change of heart, he is now putting his your money on the beach patrol.

It's not that I was against the life guards it was that I felt what we had in terms of personnel and coverage was not adequate and really didn't do that much for overall safety so when they were eliminated I wasn't all that concerned and figured it was the swimmers responsibility to swim safely and parents responsibility to be alert and focused on their children. After all there are no life guards on the miles of State Park beach.  But the fact that the lifeguards were replaced by glorified parking attendants at a much higher cost than what was used to finance lifeguards made little sense and seemed like a complete waste of money. The inadequate life guard system we had before was not a complete waste of money but a poorly understaffed program. So I thought it was better not to have an understaffed life guard organization which could actually be on duty and still have drownings. That in itself would subject the City to a major lawsuit.

By the way X. Another fine job of reporting.

Nothing in this discussion refutes the excellent article in the LDN.

That excellent article:

1)   misidentifies Lingyan Zou as Ling Lang Zou repeatedly,

2)  says I blamed the day dock for the death of Lingyan Zou, whereas I blamed it squarely on the ones who thought it up engineered it, and voted for it.  I blame inanimate objects when golfing, however.

3)  it doesn't say that Henderson said a death happened in Pentwater that same day they he was so happy he closed the beach, when that didn't happen (a councilor corrected that later)

4)  Barnett never said anything about there being more "safety" coverage, he just said more coverage.

5)  Barnett never said that the day docks were built just like day docks in other communities.

6)  Barnett never said Matt Murphy was first on the scene, he said he was one of the first on the scene.


And of course it represents all the statements made by Kaye Holman as factual and accurate, even though they are not (check the Kaye Holman thread).  Patti-cake Klevorn has never ever bothered to try to contact me.  Excellent article.


In the paragraph I posted above I refer to "those that can clearly see thru the political smoke screens". I mean no offense CLFD but you obviously are not one of "those." I used to be a long time subscriber to LDN and thought they did a wonderful job reporting the news and information that happens around us. I no longer have that opinion because I have seen first hand how they print misleading information, incomplete news stories, falsehoods, biased and slanted Government business news, and  in general, inaccurately and partially compiled articles which they publish knowing they are providing a product that cannot be construed as the truth. It's so obvious to me that anyone who cannot see this  must somehow be either ignorant of the truth or have personal ties to individuals who receive positive support from these inaccurate LDN news articles. Now I'm not talking about articles they receive off the AP wire. I'm referring to articles about local politics that originate from and are written by LDN's own reporters. It's sad because at one time I truly did love that newspaper.

The COLDNews has grown to be totally disconnected from the public it is supposed to serve.  You have to wonder why a newspaper carries such a grudge against one person (yours truly), that they can't even champion any of my FOIA appeals, all of which have legal merit, or report truthfully when it comes to my appearances at the Council or my non-appearances through the letter of trespass. 

But, as Willy says, even when I am not in the picture, the COLDNews has grown to be a stale shadow of what it once was.  None of the current 'reporters' have any journalistic integrity, those were all fired at the end of last year, the local editorials are out of touch and/or inane, and the slant on the news is very easy to notice.


And as Schilling is a German name, you know there is a connection between that name and Hitler.  Dr. Klaus Schilling did human experimentation in their death camps during WW2, and was hung at the end of the rope after an expeditious trial.  But that's changing the subject even more.


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