Monday, January 25, 2016

Vantage Apartment Project Causes Dissension Part II

Got to thinking this morning about my post from last night.

Was curious about something?  It's about those homeowners who have stereotyped apartment residents as not having a stake in Shawnee.

Do they consider city staff that live in apartments as not having a stake in Shawnee?  You know, cops, firefighters, EMS who might someday have to save their lives, and/or protect their property.  Or what about public works folks that keep the roads functional, plow them during snow storms, maintain the sewer system?  Let's not forget parks employees who go out to make sure that these folks have well maintained and equipped parks for their kids and grandkids to play in.  The list goes on.

Then again these folks are really a class act.  Like the individual who mouthed obscenities at members of the governing body at the last meeting, or threatened them with physical violence.  Or who shouted down folks who spoke who disagreed with them.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Vantage Apartment Project Causes Dissension

Tomorrow night the Shawnee City Council will again consider the rezoning request for this proposed project.

I’d like to address the attitude of many of those homeowners in the area who have been objecting to the construction of the project.  First, they do have every right to object.  This is America.

What bothers me is what appears to be the negative stereotyping of apartment residents by these protesters.  They seem to feel that apartment residents do not have a stake in Shawnee (a philosophy once endorsed by Councilmember Jeff Vaught. Has he now changed his mind on that?). 

Apartment residents have just about as much of a stake in Shawnee as individuals who reside in private homes.

Let’s look at a few things:

1.  Apartment residents comprise approximately 25% of the city’s population
2.  Apartment residents pay property taxes.  They are included in their rent (no landlord is going to be so magnanimous as to waive them)
3.  Apartment residents pay city franchise fees on utilities (and taxes)
4.  Apartment residents pay city sales taxes on their purchases in the city.
5.  Apartment residents pay personal property taxes when they buy vehicles, a portion of which comes back to the city
6.  Apartment residents pay fuel taxes when they “gas up” a portion of which comes back to the city.

Some other bits and pieces.  The State Representative for the 17th District, the area where Vantage would go is an apartment resident.  Does he not have a stake in Shawnee?  I’ve been writing this blog for a long time.  Do I not have a stake in Shawnee?

I have attended more city council and committee meetings than six members of the governing body,  The only three who have attended more are Mayor Distler and Councilmembers Pflumm and Sandifer.  I’ve been going to these things for about ten years now.  Have these homeowner protesters ever attended any other  council and/or committee meetings?  There are lots of subjects that are important to Shawnee, not just this rezoning request.  How about the budget sessions for one?  Where are or have they been?  What about civic involvement?  Let’s try the Citizen’s Police Academy and/or the Community Emergency Response Team.  How many of these protester folks have attended these?  If they had, then they might be volunteering to assist our PD at various events, or learn how to help folks in case of an emergency and/or disaster. Nahhh, it’ll probably be some apartment resident who bails their butts out of an emergency.

Now let’s get to one of what I call a major indicator of involvement and stake holding in the city.  Voting.  How often do these protestors vote in local (city elections)?  I’m not talking about voting for president or governor.  I’m talking about voting for city council and mayor.  Shawnee, in the last election had less than 15% of its citizens vote for mayor/council.  Which category do most of these protestors belong in?  The 15% who voted for somebody for city government, or the 85% who sat on their asses at home.   Guess what?  The information is available.  Not who they voted for but whether or not they voted.  All one has to do is get a copy of the protest positions (public record, available by KORA) and match that up with the voter lists which show historical voting (also available by KORA).  Could prove to be interesting to see how these “civic minded” individuals participate in the process.  We know they hardly ever, if at all, other than this subject, get involved at city hall.

So, now it’s my turn to stereotype.  These protestors, when stereotyping apartment residents are, IMHO, arrogant, self absorbed hypocrites. For the record, I personally preferred the original project for that area, “Cobblestone”.  Now, I’d like to see this project go in just so they have the opportunity to learn to live “with their neighbors”.


Monday, January 04, 2016

Interesting Council Committee Meeting Tomorrow Tue 1/5/16

First let me wish everyone a Happy New Year.  Really enjoyed my holidays with the kids and grandkids.  I will say this, Sault Ste. Marie, MI was above average in temperature and had minimal snowfall.  Not good as their tourist industry depends on it.

Anyway, tomorrow will be an interesting council committee meeting.  Councilmember Eric Jenkins (Ward II) had made some suggestions regarding the method to present the budget to the council and accordingly the public.  The suggestions were geared to make it more understandable to all.  The city's Finance Director, Maureen Rogers will show what the new presentation will look like.  Budget presentations can be hard to understand and dull.  Hopefully a presentation that is easier to understand will get more individuals involved in the process.

Also, as a result of a suggestion last year, there will be a discussion about setting aside unused project monies for matching funds.  Some projects come in at amounts lower than projected.  These surpluses could be used towards matching funds for other projects where there is funding from county, state or federal agencies that require matching funds.  Now, the term "matching funds" can be misleading, as usually the match is not dollar for dollar.  Example: There could be a project that costs $600,000. The state may pay $500,000 for it and require the city to pay $100,000 to get the state's money.  The percentages vary, but usually the city's share is quite small compared to the amount by the other entity. 

Click here for information from the agenda packet.