The agenda packet for the September 11, 2023 meeting of the Ludington City Council had an array of tasks to be performed as the city itself transitioned from hectic summer tourism to mostly normal, as sure as the snow fences (or are they sand fences?) being installed in Stearns Park indicate.
Before the meeting, I talked with citizen Connie Vlahos, a delightful lady who was seated in my traditional seat when I arrived, and sounded a lot like me in her dislike of city hall giving away more tax abatements-- the council had two public hearing this evening establishing Commercial Rehabilitation Districts-- and she wanted the council to hear her warning of overusing these growth schemes that affect the regular taxpayers. She would tell the assemblage in public comment her beliefs and tell the story of a couple she knew that were forced to lose their home because of our government throwing money at millionaires rather than using that money for normal government services we expect.
I was briefly interrupted by being served a court document from Councilor Les Johnson. As you may know, I submitted a recall petition against Johnson for shamelessly raising our taxes by nearly $300,000, and had the language approved by the county's election commission. Johnson appealed that decision and a hearing was set to occur on September 19th in front of Judge Sniegowski, with me as the appellee along with the EC, who would have been represented by the county prosecutor, Lauren Kreinbrink.
This would have been interesting as Sniegowski's husband has worked his career for the City of Ludington and Kreinbrink earns a paycheck of around $15,000 each year for representing the City in criminal prosecutions. Would there have been some problems with the blatant conflicts of interests the city and these county officials had? Probably, but the reason I have been using the past tense in this paragraph is that the page I received was a motion to withdraw the appeal. The good news is that I can circulate the petition amongst my fellow Third Warders and if I get enough signatures I can get this on the ballot, the bad news is that the stalling maneuver has made the election doable only in May 2024, not this November.
Earlier today (Friday, 9-15-23), I received two self-contradictory letters from the circuit court. One was an order allowing the appeal's withdrawal, the other was a "Notice to Appear" telling me that the appeal hearing was moved to October 4, 2023 (shown). A look at the date on the letters explain how this could happen. The notice was issued 9-12-23, the order (once the judge became aware of Johnson's withdraw motion) was dated the 13th.
Had Johnson not withdrawn, the court would have pushed the hearing back beyond the 40 days that they had to determine the issue. Consider, Johnson appealed the August 4 decision on August 14th, 40 days after would be Sept. 23rd. Was the court and prosecutor helping the City and Johnson to prevent me getting this on the November ballot? It sure looks suspiciously like they may have, but I wasn't in a big hurry anyway.
Being a meeting that fell on the 22nd anniversary of 9-11, the mayor and invocation took a little time to emphasize that sad point in history where we were attacked by surprise and our citizens would have many of their rights eventually taken away by the Patriot Act and its successors in bright sunlight.
The comment period was variegated, with Verna Chavalia leading off and asking about the letters from the city assessor discussed here, asking most of the questions I had and wondering how the assessor would utilize the rents when assessing market value. These questions would not be addressed in the meeting, a point I would start off with on my second comment. But I followed Verna and got in front of the issue in a big way.
XLFD: (13:15 in) "In July, a first ward resident suggested the City once again look into spending $60,000 on a deer cull within the city limits, there are likely a few dozen others in the city who may feel the same way but do not come before the council to say so. The issue should be put to a humane death, as it would require the money to come from the citizens at large, and most citizens are aware enough to know that such a cull would be unfeasible and inefficient.
For one, safety does not allow for it; in Michigan, discharging a firearm or a bow is prohibited in or within 150 yards of a developed recreation site, a residence, or any place where people are likely to be, without express permission of the property owner. This safety precaution prohibits culling operations everywhere in the city limits, even Cartier Park. Any culling operation will present a hazard and establish potential liability for the city and the cullers, even if they declare governmental immunity protects them.
But as important is that you just don't get the bang for the buck. You spend $20,000 each year to maybe get 10 deer if you're lucky, while hunters in Mason County, many who are visitors and spending a lot of money at our businesses, report harvests of about 5000 deer inside the county. These are among the deer that wander into our city. So a fairly successful cull would manage to kill only two-tenths of one percent of the county's deer harvest, while the 99.8% of the deer killed in the county would make the city money overall. Culling for Ludington is folly.
This city council passed meaningful legislation to make feeding deer harder last year, they wisely reconsidered taking part in a cull on elementary school grounds, you can still make a difference by encouraging citizens to deer hunt in the county and encouraging the schools to promote hunting, like they used to. If you do any research on why the deer population in Michigan is growing, you will find that no source says that it's due to too many municipalities refusing to do costly culls inside city limits, but each will attribute the main cause as the decline of deer hunting among the populace. Politely, explain this to those who would suggest culling as an option, and explain to them it's nearly archery season. [END comment]
Afterwards, Connie Vlahos spoke against abatements and subsidizing the wealthy while poor folks in Ludington suffer, Karla Cain patted herself and Councilor Wally Cain on the back, by trumpeting the Ludington Petunia Parade volunteers (which they are part of and do a good job at) and their accomplishments over the year, and Joe Zimmerman confused the council for the county board in wondering why they weren't taking part in the opiate settlements with drug companies. Very healthy public comment period when five people talk about five different topics and they are only hinted at on the agenda.
Especially my talk on the deer cull, I had expected a push by the cull cult, but it came even earlier than expected. The agenda was modified to put two items on the mayor's action items, including the notion of controlling the deer population. Later on, Mayor Barnett read a prepared motion that would have the council once again looking into using a cull within the city limits in order to control the deer population and have that come back before the council at the November meeting. It shocked me that they would try this again knowing that it was crazy, would start the process so covertly by adding it to the agenda at the last minute, and have formerly anti-cull Councilor Stibitz second it, but this council has a hard time learning things. Ironically, somebody's cell phone went off during his reading, and it was crickets chirping, symbolizing that nobody is listening.
The other add-on was to read a letter from the Anti-Defamation League of Michigan objecting to the banner hanging on the Chesapeake Bay Car Wash, shown first in this thread. The MI ADL's objective is to go after anti-Semitism when it rears its ugly head. I just do not make a quick correlation here, but I do see seven elected councilors and a mayor not defending their small business owner against such an overblown allegation.
The two public hearings took place to create Commercial Rehabilitation Act Districts. This is the first step towards earning a CRA tax exemption certificate and a way for the City to subsidize the two parties looking for this relief. The Andrew Riemer project (AndyS at the corner of Rath and Ludington) to create a dining experience was well within the statutory guidelines, but as I have noted before when these same greedy developers tried (and may have succeeded) in getting OPRA certificates, the former school building and playground does not meet the qualifications, as I explained in the hearing:
XLFD: (27:30 in) "In the resolution before you to pass tonight for the establishment of a Commercial Rehabilitation District for the former Foster school property, it states that : "the city council of the City of Ludington determined that the district meets the requirements set forth in sections 2(b) and 3 of Act 210". The proposed district objectively does not meet the requirements of Act 210, consider:
Section 3(1) says that this body can create such a district if at the time the resolution is adopted the property under consideration is a "qualified facility". A "qualified facility" is defined in section 2(h), in relevant part it says: "Qualified facility is a building or a group of contiguous buildings... previously used for commercial or industrial purposes, obsolete industrial property, and vacant property which, within the immediately preceding 15 years, was commercial property."
All of you councilors know, including Attorney Jack Bulger where this district is to be located, that just two years ago on this very day Foster School was being used as a public school, their playground was being used as a playground, both were full of students, just as it had been for the prior 13 years when it was zoned as government service. Ergo it has not been a commercial property for the last 15 years, the playground doesn't even qualify as commercial property under the act, and this attempt at giving serial exploiters Nathan Gillette and Ryan Garone another opportunity at swindling our supposedly learned public officials at the expense of the public at large should fail as it is unlawful and fraudulent.
If you want to brazenly break the law in order to take more money (by extension) from me and my fellow citizens, in order to subsidize your crony out-of-town developers, there will be repercussions. Deny this district because it's the lawful thing to do." [END comment]
Before they voted to approve this unanimously, Councilor Winczewski asked City Manager Foster to explain why this district was eligible, and he explained in more words that the assessor had said it was and so it became a qualified facility. After that, Winczewski carried on about how these projects required the whole community to pitch in and they needed to approve it or else properties like these will never be approved. She didn't explain why the city didn't intervene with the couple that Connie Vlahos talked about so that they could retain their home, but the rest signed on to the fraud.
In other business, the council:
- Set a public hearing for paving an alley on the north side of town (see packet for particulars)
- Set a public hearing to consider the two CRA applications for October 9th (as the districts were established, this is the next step towards getting the subsidization for AndyS and DPRE.
- Received a report from LPD Chief Jones, who noted Sgt. Fort would move to the sheriff's office and that current SRO Morris would become the new sergeant, the new SRO would be Connor Gallihugh.
- Approved an easement for Consumer's Energy in Cartier Park due to recent improvements including the $1.4 million outhouse.
- Approved funding the remaining ARPA projects found within the packet
- adopted a resolution establishing an early voting precinct (at city hall, needed due to passage of initiated law in 2022 requiring same).
- Approved Pep and Homecoming Parades for the evening of October 6
- Accepted Jeff Beilfuss resignation from Planning Commission (he winters in the south), and appointed Chris Burns and Jordan Miller to the Planning Commission to fill the new and an old vacancy.
In the final comment, Jordan Miller would introduce himself, noting he's more commonly known as Brandy's husband. Joe Zimmerman would comment on the area's drug problem and reiterate the need to combat the opiate epidemic. Gene Kyl seconded his concerns for opiates. Chuck Sobanski applauded the council action on Foster School and looking into the deer problem. I spoke next and wondered how the assessor could retroactively make public school property into commercial property.
Of course, it was never addressed. Fortunately, I did attend the county board meeting held on Tuesday and will hopefully have the appropriateness of this district looked into further, as I am certain that it does not qualify. Councilor Jack Bulger was also present and his silence about the legal issues present in this designation and his vote to commit fraud troubles me greatly.
Thanks for the interesting City Council meeting report. Every time these Government officials and their supporters present their ideas or make comments I can't help but wonder what sort of educational system produced all of these numbskulls. Not a single person representing the Government or support it's corruption makes a lick of sense. Just the opposite. We have to scratch our heads wondering how they could possible think, let alone, agree with what they are advocating. From the Foster school fiasco to the deer cull, the million dollar toilets at Cartier, the Assessors attempts to squeeze landlords for personal information and the Council adding $300,000 in tax burdens to the citizens. What in God's name is going on in their walnut sized brains.
I FOIAed the letter from the ADL of Mi and found out an interesting thing. The letter mentions that they are in solidarity with the people of Ludington who find the car wash banner offensive. Problem is, nobody has spoke at a LCC meeting against these banners and the City has no such written complaints in their possession (this was part of the FOIA request).
What likely happened here was that one of the enlightened board members of the ADL vacationed in Ludington and had it ruined when they saw the placard comparing the current FBI with the Gestapo, and when the FBI and 'justice' department goes after parents speaking up at school board meetings and seems to have orchestrated covert political operations (J6 and the Whitmer kidnapping plot) to secure power, it's not really that far of a stretch for those paying attention. To infer that the car wash owner is somehow Anti-Semitic or hateful for making the comparison is a lot bigger stretch. Where was the MI ADL when major media outlets were portraying Trump as Hitler, when the governor of Michigan was taking every single right of theirs? Oh, they were defending her from being associated with the Nazi leader.
Had I been on the council, I would have defended the owner's right to fly the banner and express disgust at the way it was presented, as an 'action item' under the mayor's section, rather than as correspondence during the public comment period. The mayor effectively shows he endorses the letter and with the council remaining mute, they show their tacit support of the ADL and the true political direction of the council. Walnut-sized brain is a compliment.
I completely agree X. It appears that the ADL has joined the dark side just as the ACLU has done. Both organizations are now controlled by the Left. The ACLU was formed to protect and uphold the Constitution and to fight for our freedoms and rights but if you have listened to their adds on radio and TV regarding raising money for the ACLU origination, they mention the rights for all sectors of society but left out any mention of the rights for folks with white European ancestry. I refer to the ACLU as the "Anti Caucasian Liberties Union" which has been undermining the Constitution for many years now. The ACLU has been twisted to conform with the Woke agenda and to promote anti white sentiments, specifically, anti white male sentiments.
The ADL which I refer to as the "Anti Democracy League" is also embracing Wokism. The reason for the creation of the ADL [anti defamation league] in 1913 was to counter antisemitism and later Nazi-ism, so it's laughable to read a letter from the ADL admonishing a citizen for being anti Nazi. BIden's name was used to illustrate that what he is doing with the Justice Dept. and FBI is typically what the Nazi party did when the Nazi Party ruled Europe. The ADL must make itself very clear. Are they for, or against what Nazis stand for even when our own politicians are in the act of mimicking how the Nazi controlled the politics and people by subversively and treacherously undermining and weaponizing Government agencies to diminish or eliminate the rights of a free people. The ADL is also, openly, trying to eliminate free speech, the cornerstone of our Constitution. It's odd that the ADL is criticizing people for using their Constitutional right to use free speech but say nothing about the abusive behavior of Biden, Whitmer and the Democrats. Remember Whitmers executive orders forcing businesses to close, schools to close and forcing people to stay at home and not travel. Where was the ACLU on this issue? Where was the ACLU and ADL when the Justice Dept. and FBI interfered with the 2020 elections? Not a peep about the Government trashing our Constitutional freedoms and rights. Not a word from the ADL about how offended they were.