Happy 151st Birthday, Ludington!  In celebration of our city's 151st year of existence, the Grassroots Operation: Ludington Democracy (GOLD 151) project has officially begun.  Our city council, along with other city officials, have been taking Ludington in the wrong direction, and we hope to correct the course by having contested councilor elections in all wards of the city, and ultimately change out some of the bad eggs pushing bad policies with good citizens advocating for the right policies.  

How can this happen with only half of the council up for re-election this year?  GOLD 151 initiatives have secured three recall petitions against the even-numbered wards, who would normally serve until 2026, and if our efforts are successful we will have them all on the November ballot going against energized alternatives that do not agree with their actions and decisions over the last year.  We also hope to find quality candidates to run against councilors in the odd numbered wards who are seeking reelection this fall, candidates who will fulfill their duties better.  

Why should you be upset enough with your councilors to support this effort, or consider running for office yourself or consider circulating recall petitions?  I have supplied six reasons why you might want to consider before making your choice to do anything.  If you see one of our petition circulators, he will have a handout with these reasons on it (four are on the recall petition), this handout is shown below in its entirety:

Thank you for considering this recall petition. This handout develops the four reasons on the petition for better understanding and offers two bonus reasons. If you agree your councilor has generally voted against the public interest, or specifically your interests, in several of these decisions, please sign to have the opportunity to vote in a better choice in November:

1) In 2023, Headlee rollbacks would have reduced tax rates in the city and kept city hall's income increasing at the inflation rate. Instead, with six votes your councilor nixed the rollback and increased the property tax burden on citizens by a city estimate of nearly $300,000. This was within a year of the cruelest tax, inflation, being at a 9% rate, twice stripping our pocketbooks.

2) In 2020, State Senator Curt VanderWall's company contracted with city hall in direct violation of the state constitution prohibiting legislators from contracting with local governments in their jurisdiction. VanderWall did not have the low bid but was still awarded the contract and had actually been paid for the year before having a contract or doing any work. This was done again by your councilor in 2023, with the exception that the city failed to invite 2020's winning bid to the table.

3) In 2023, your councilor approved broad tax relief via the Commercial Rehabilitation Act for Foster School's playground, claiming it as property used historically for commercial purposes. The county commission, who had veto power in this case, saw this as a ridiculous abuse of discretion in using taxpayer money by your councilor and rejected it unanimously.

4) City accounting has been spotty at best, but two enterprise funds ran by the city (the city marina and Cartier campgrounds) were infused with around $500,000 each from the general fund for new floating docks and bathhouses in 2023. These public-ran businesses are expected to compete with private-ran businesses fairly on their own user and service fees gained, not through subsidization by the city taxes paid by the competing private businesses and everyone else.

5) In January 2023, your councilor voted to not hold a $20,000 deer cull by the city. By October, your councilor changed their mind and used your tax money to hold a deer cull in Cartier Park, where many tourist and locals go in order to check out the wildlife. Your councilor offered no compelling reason why they changed their mind during that period, they just did.

6) In February 2024, your councilor voted to allow vendors to sell alcohol at Stearn's Beach. While alcohol is permitted at the beach if you bring your own, city agents selling alcohol without providing liability insurance for the city and without closing areas of the beach in accordance with the law, are just some of the problems they did not consider with their careless vote.

In the comments, could you honestly assess the various reasons and explain how many you are in agreement with?  Each even numbered councilor supported the above, as have the 1st Ward Councilor Ted May and Fifth Ward Councilor Wally Cain.  Third Ward Councilor Jeanne Oakes was appointed in November 2023 and actually voted against #6 and had not voted in the other five, so GOLD 151 has no beef with her.  

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