You and four friends decide to buy a $20 extra large take-out pizza from a local restaurant. Everybody's fair share should be $4 each, but your friend Colin feigns poverty, so the rest of you chip in $5 each for the pizza. Col says he'll do his part by going to pick up the pizza, so grabs the four $5 bills and heads out.
Col comes back later with half of a pizza, four slices. When asked, Col informs you that he was worried that eight pieces couldn't be evenly shared by 5 people, so he sold three of the pieces on the way back home and ate his piece because he was hungry. When asked about the money he got for selling the three pieces, Col feigns poverty again and informs all that he used it to top off his car's gas tank.
Most people would agree that Col is a jerk, or even a stronger term, for taking advantage of his four friends, but this pizza parable is analogous to how the City of Ludington (COL) has taken advantage of the general public as regards to their lease with Harbor View Marina (HVM). Let's take a look at the background, here is a view of the taxes paid by Harbor View LLC, a private company that used to run HVM until December 2019 (tap on it to see it bigger):
As you can see, summer and winter taxes for the LLC amounted to nearly $80,000 for 2019. That money is going to be totally lost in 2020 because the LLC defaulted on a 25 year lease with the State and forfeited their title to the facilities they had at HVM to the State, the value of that property was nearly $1.4 million. The assessed value of the state's portion of HVM has not increased since 2019, in fact it remains today almost exactly where it was in 2015, at slightly under $2.4 million even with the defaulted $1.4 million property added on.
The beneficiary of that $1.4 million worth of property appears to be the City of Ludington, who has zero property tax liability, yet this also means that the $80,000 in taxes (paid over the last 20 years) is gone. Oddly enough, the State of Michigan has about that same amount of taxes it pays to the City of Ludington each year due to DNR Act 513 despite the $1 million difference in value.
The tenant COL is actually getting paid $6000 per month to exploit the State's property, while the State stands ready, willing, and able to spend millions of dollars to make the necessary repairs and upgrades to that neglected 21 year old property through gifts and grants paid by your taxes and fees, while the City caters to the slip holders and hopefully maintains a surplus.
So if we call HVM pool and clubhouse the pizza, the COL has gotten it without any cash down, just for driving to the DNR Pizza Shack and costing the tax base $80,000, which ultimately gets paid for by the citizens of Ludington either in increased taxes or decreased services. The COL has sold slices of this pizza to wealthy boat owners only, many of whom pay no local taxes. The COL has pocketed that money, in order to pay their own employees and expenses.
So you and your fellow citizens put in $80,000 each year (and more) to get the pizza with extra marina sauce, but your pal, the COL, takes that money and divides the pizza you bought among the slip holders at HVM, so where does the original analogy fail?
None of you get even one slice of the pizza. You bought it, you can't set foot within the clubhouse, the swimming pool area, or any of the many other places they have marked 'private'. They have even went out of their way to mark certain areas as private since it actually became fully public. The nerve.
All of this happened after that November lease was signed by both public entities which said in clause 24:
"Lessee (COL) may peacefully and quietly, have, hold, and enjoy the premises (HVM) provided that the use of the premises (HVM) by lessee (COL) is maintained open to the general public"
All of this happened in spite of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment which determines that:
"Generally, the question of whether the Equal Protection Clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in an activity yet denies other individuals the same right."
Therefore, at the end of the day, the COL has not only robbed everybody of their pizza money and sold the pizza slices to their wealthy and elitist friends, they have robbed everybody from the opportunity and constitutional right to ever get a slice of that pie.
Good posts all.
X, would it be a good idea to keep using the pool instead of picketing? If they issue a citation they would have to prove your presence would be an illegal act and if your correct that would prove them in the wrong.
This may be a good way to inform people exactly of what is going on and how badly the city acts towards the people who actually pay the bills. I appreciate your efforts, time and sacrifice.
As far as the city manager is concerned, one of his jobs is to please his bosses on the council and if he wants to remain Ludington Manager he has to do a lot of butt kissing to keep his job so we have to realize which side of the equation he’s on,
I too, thought Mitch was great in my one on one interactions with him. He has always been available to talk and in conversation he smiles, nods and seemingly agrees with what I say.( Comments like , my wife and I moved here to make it a better place, I understand your frustration exactly and so on...) I left my meeting with him about short term rentals and zoning feeling he had the citizens backs. But, with this decision... and with others, the final word came down from the council with exactly what was originally intended , despite the opposition of the neighborhood folks. SADLY, I just think he is a really really good politician. There is really no bite there behind his sweet face and bark.
Lake, I'm coming to a similar understanding of our current city manager, unfortunately he can talk out both sides of his mouth. Seemingly empathetic to the citizen at coffee, but like Willy says, he's bound by his bosses. That may be a flaw in our government style of a CM appointed by the mayor at the council's recommendation. I think deep down MF may feel that way, but can't make much difference in a thoroughly entrenched administration. I was just contemplating how difficult it would be to be a young man working in with an administrative staff of momma bear-like staff (at city hall), especially those used to getting their high-falutent mentality way through manipulation (I'll spare more graphic details).