Monday, December 28, 2015

Some people are never satisfied

Clean up a city, balance the books, get a surplus.  All good things, right? Wrong.  Doing such merely gets you called a "plantation overseer".  Yup.  Pontiac, Michigan is making a comeback after the state revoked home rule for the city.  The Wall Street Journal reported today:

When Mayor Deirdre Waterman wanted to trumpet the economic recovery of this city of 60,000, she couldn’t turn to a municipal public relations worker or community development staffer.

Those positions were wiped out by state-appointed emergency managers several years ago, when the city’s staff of more than 500 was cut to 30. Today most employees administer contracts for essential services such as policing and street cleaning that have been transferred to other districts or privatized.

Instead, Ms. Waterman tapped three interns from Oakland University 6 miles away in Rochester, Mich. The students produced a newsletter that was mailed to Pontiac’s 25,000 homes.

“Those jobs would have been done by city employees—if I had city employees to do that,” said Ms. Waterman, who works out of a nearly vacant City Hall overlooking a resurgent downtown. (Seems like she found a way to get it done with little, if any, cost to the city. Yet she complains.)

The internship program with the university has given the mayor a de facto staff, and the students some real-world experience. But it also points to tensions among the mayor and city council, who have no party affiliations, and state-appointees in this recovering city where elected officials still have little control over daily functions.....

But Pontiac and five other Michigan municipalities, including Flint and Benton Harbor, still are overseen by transition advisory boards appointed by the governor. Pontiac’s board has four members who hold finance-related positions in local, county and state government.

Pontiac, which once had 85,000 residents and played host to the Detroit Lions in the soaring Silverdome, has endured trouble common across the Rust Belt. In addition to the Lions moving to Ford Field in Detroit, Pontiac also lost a total of nearly 3,000 jobs when General Motors shut a truck-assembly plant in 1994 and another in 2009. Today, many residents still work at other GM sites or for the county or a local hospital. Pontiac’s jobless rate was 10.7% in September.

Many residents moved away and property values declined, leaving abandoned houses, bloated expenses and sharply lower revenue. The city had three emergency managers between 2009 and 2013. The last one appointed Joseph Sobota as city administrator and he runs Pontiac on a daily basis.

State officials are now weighing whether to completely hand back power to the city—something Ms. Waterman is pressing. “I’m ready to go back to home rule,” she said.

Louis Schimmel, who served as emergency manager from 2011 to 2013, takes credit for the recovery and yet says it is still not time for business as usual in Pontiac.

Mr. Schimmel sold off the city’s sewage authority for $55 million and drastically cut city jobs. Moreover, he and a predecessor dissolved the police, firefighter and other unions using powers granted by the state’s emergency-manager law for financially stressed municipalities.

“I financially fixed the city big-time,” said Mr. Schimmel who still wields power as an advisory board member. “We don’t feel that we’re comfortable leaving right now, I can tell you that much.”

Today, Pontiac has a surplus of $10.8 million, or about 30% of its roughly $32 million budget, its third straight surplus. Revenues are rising as more residents are paying property taxes and the city has pushed to collect delinquent income taxes, officials said.

Entrepreneurs and developers are returning........

There are lingering tensions, however, at City Hall.

During a recent council meeting, members repeatedly sparred with Mr. Sobota, the city administrator. And several residents complained that Mr. Sobota and the previous emergency managers shortchanged the city. They said properties were sold off too cheaply and that the city doesn’t have enough firefighters under its contract with a nearby township.

One resident of Pontiac—which is 52% African-American, 27% white and 17% Hispanic—called Mr. Sobota, who is white, a “plantation overseer.” (Can we hire him down here?)

“Democracy has left the city of Pontiac,” said Walter Moore, who was mayor in the 1980s and 1990s and wants the state to return control to the city. (Ahhh.... one of the fools who screwed up things in the first place. Just like Louis XVII: Learned nothing and forgot everything) “Until that’s done, there will be no peace.” (Fine. Perhaps its time to start running fools such as this one out of town.)  The criticism doesn’t faze him, Mr. Sobota said.

Ms. Waterman, an ophthalmologist who earns $100,000 a year as mayor, said she is focused on attracting new businesses and cleaning up blight. There are up to 1,000 vacant lots within the 20-square-mile city.

But on Saginaw Street, Pontiac’s main drag, business is picking up. On one end, a barbecue restaurant is expected to open soon next to a 1920s-era performing arts theater that is being restored. On the other end, the Lafayette Market, a brightly lighted space with a wine store and cafe, does a brisk lunch and catering business. “It’s starting to make a comeback,” Cheri Westberg, operations manager at the market, said of Pontiac..... Rest of article.

KF note: And now a word from our sponsor:


Anonymous said...

Dear Jackholians,

Behold thy future. Receivership, followed by accountable (to a court), competent, truncated, streamlined financial and political governance under the auspices of someone with a last name like "Schimmel."

Anonymous said...

now only if Mr. Schimmel and Mr. Sobota could do the same with the US Government....

at least hire them here!

Anonymous said...

If you think a State-appointed board would be any more competent than the current Jackson lot, you haven't been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

3:45, a board appointed by this State would be very weak by national standards but still better than the current Jackson city government. Jackson just may be the worst run city in the nation.

Lissen Up Please... said...

I keep telling you people to dig deeper and consider common denominators in these stories. So, today's lesson includes two familiar words: Unions and Democrats. Pontiac was over run with both. Now Pontiac, like the automobile, is in the recycle bin otherwise known as the shitter.

Unions and Democrats are both worse than the shingles but there ain't no shot for either.

Anonymous said...

December 28, 2015 at 2:46 PM: under the auspices of someone with a last name like "Schimmel."

A failed restaurateur who couldn't make it with Daddy's money? I'd rather go with a successful entrepreneur with a name like "White" or "Good."

Anonymous said...

Lets play a game. For all of these 'worst run cities in the nation' (and there are plenty), can anyone name the common denominator? Hopefully kingfish will allow folks to be politically incorrect, and not be worried about hurting some feelings.

Anonymous said...

8:12 Pay attention. He's referring to a Schimmel in MI, not the local guy.

Anonymous said...

Wow 8:22 AM, didn't know it had become politically incorrect to use the identifier of 'Democrat'.

Anonymous said... missed the entire point of the "Schimmel" comment.

8:22am...I wonder what it could be? You can't speak the truth anymore though, so the problems will only get worse and worse until we reach the tipping point. However, it would be "racist" to point that out. Damn, I think it may be racist for me to point out the racism. It is so confusing these days. Maybe Donner K will stop by and explain the full depth of my racism.

Anonymous said...

"Give us what we want or there will be no peace!" seems to be the go-to form of bargaining for about half the population these days.

I guess if producers capitulate, threatening people is a hell of a lot easier than, say, "Give us what we want or we'll work hard and build institutions that embody our values, then demonstrate that they're workable and sustainable over time!"

Anonymous said...

Seems like we have moved into a era in the history of the U.S. where certain people can gain control over others just be yelling racist, doing their best to destroy businesses, looting, burning, and mobbing places.
Sort of makes a joke out of the people who work, pay taxes, obey the law, and actually pay for what they want.
You will notice the numbers of the first group is growing each year. The second group seems to be on the decline.
Wonder what the U.S. will be like when the first group, which already out numbers the second group, gets so large there isn't a second group.

Anonymous said...

This is a dead serious question for KF and/or the readers: Is it legally possible for the state of Mississippi to revoke home rule for the city of Jackson just as Michigan did for Pontiac? I truly see that or a similar agreement as the only way out.

Anonymous said...

10:57; Please define 'home rule'. And reference the State Constitution when you do.

Anonymous said...

In response to 1:36...I read the first paragraph in the article entitled "Some people are never satisfied". You can find it at the top of the page. It reads "Pontiac, Michigan is making a comeback after the state revoked home rule for the city".
I couldn't find the State Constitution with both hands. I was really hoping someone as brilliant and learned as you could simply tell me if it's possible for Jackson to somehow be governed by a group who could get it back on track. I didn't really want a debate. I genuinely wanted an answer. Can you do that please?

Anonymous said...

Unlike a county, a city in Mississippi is created under state law/laws.The answer is in the law books and could require a new law if there is nothing that is clear.

Anonymous said...

That is just un-American. Imagine a city actually paying it's bills. Something needs to be done to stop this from happening again.
A country, the U.S., does not even do that. Please close down the city so other cities will be warned. This is a country proud of it's dead beats.

Anonymous said...

The article says 6 cities in Michigan have been taken over by the state.

Does Mississippi have a similar law?

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Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

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In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

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This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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