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    Tag: Traverse City (page 2)

    A Matter Of Trust

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Sun Dec 09, 2012 at 02:52:58 PM EST
    Tags: Michigan, Traverse City, TCAPS, Taxes, Government, Schools, OMA, Retreat, Trust (all tags)

    How many times must the community be betrayed by its school board before an appropriate response is meted out?

    The governing body which resides over the largest public budget in the Northwestern part of the state continues to thumb its nose at taxpayers.  A recent (probable) violation of the open meetings act, adds to a list of actions that are not only indicative of sloppy governance, but more likely sanctioned acts of deception and perfidy.  A scheduling ruse used by the board to hide its 'open' retreat worked to its advantage with no public present, with no recordings made of the retreat activities, and no option of challenge by the public, plans that will likely be rubber stamped in future open meetings which the board normally schedules.

    Examples of deceptive practices are not exactly limited to what I write here.  This particular story however, notes a growing disdain for the concerns taxpayers might have for the appropriate management of their resources. There are concerns that remain unanswered.

    A recent bond issue was a catalyst in engaging some of us in the Grand Traverse region with regard to the actions of the local board for Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS)  The $100 million bond issue came on the 5 year anniversary of another like it in 2007.  Part of the issue that inspired opposition of myself and others was the inclusion of a $26.5 million 'performing arts center' in the bond which many see as wasteful and unnecessary.  The timing also coincides with one of the worst economically difficult times the region has seen.

    The bond was defeated by nearly 60-40%, which might make some think it would have failed no matter the opposition.

    The sad reality is that it would have likely been a reversal in percentages seen without organized resistance and the sunlight provided by that resistance.

    more below the fold

    (1801 words in story) Full Story

    Free Market Minute - Cronies

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Mon Nov 26, 2012 at 07:39:58 PM EST
    Tags: Michigan, Traverse City, TCAPS, Taxes, Government, Crony Capitalism, Schools, Contractors, Payback, $26.5 Million Performing Arts Center, The List, Favoritism, Watering All Lawns (all tags)

    Using current events and local interest, it was not hard to script another free market minute.

    Last week we discussed this particular issue.

    No district or constituency is immune to the effect of pay-for-play politics.

    How do we stop it?

    (4 comments) Comments >>

    A Message To Our Legislators - Beware False Choices

    Cronyism Part II

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 11:07:44 PM EST
    Tags: Michigan, Traverse City, TCAPS, Taxes, Government, Crony Capitalism, Schools, Contractors, Payback, $26.5 Million Performing Arts Center, The List, Favoritism, Watering All Lawns, In Your Own Back Yard (all tags)

    ~ In cronyism part I, the connection between government and business interests was discussed, with focus on state and federal tax dollars being used to pick winners, or at the very least recipients of government largesse. This continues the discussion on a more local level, yet ought to touch anywhere there is a school district. ~

    The election was two weeks ago.

    All of the study of what happened, the consequence, and the long term effect politically, has to date been pretty much reserved to the national contests. Punditry since November 6th has dissected, analyzed, and made best guesses as to why certain election had any particular results.  Something generally not discussed however, has been local initiatives and issues.  At least not the part where there is a conflict in government's management of our resources.

    One of those issues in Northern Michigan was a bond request made by the board of Traverse City Area Public Schools. (TCAPS)

    Underneath the perceived troubles in funding public education is an emerging reality.  Because of the nature of taxpayer funding, and the struggle for local school districts to grab their 'fair share' of Michigan's education budget pie, expenses that were once built into operating budgets are now separated from them, and allowed to be levied through millage requests.  These building fund requests allow for purchase of new infrastructure, equipment, and maintenance.

    Unfortunately, once the funding had begun in this direction, it quickly became a running operative mechanism that allowed all manner of abuse to begin.  Routine maintenance became the recipient of improvement monies, and improvement requests increased to fund facilities that went beyond necessary functionality.  The latest request including a component that would have built a $26.5 million performing arts facility.  (including all aspects of construction) The proposal for a declining student population at a cost of was easily declined by voters.

    (1441 words in story) Full Story

    Closing Argument In Opposition To A $100 million Bond Request

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Sun Nov 04, 2012 at 12:10:11 PM EST
    Tags: Traverse City, ichigan, TCAPS, School Bonds, $100 million, $26.5 Million Performing Arts Center, waste, Maintenance, Restoration, Slush Funds (all tags)

    Traverse City Area Public Schools are asking for a $100 million dollar bond approval.  At great expense and use of time, I have been in opposition of this continued abuse of the taxpayers.  This is a Re-post from GROW.TC

    The election is upon us.

    Voters will decide if it is worth forcing property owners to pay an additional 0.8 mil in taxes for the luxury of a Performing Art Center, destruction of wealth, and an open ended slush fund for the school district's physical desires. Part of the plan is of course to extend the FULL 3.9mil an additional 5 years.

    ~ If the bond request passes. ~

    Lets clarify the slices of pie TCAPs is asking the taxpayers to put on its plate.

    The Performing Arts Center

    Sunday's  (November 04, 2012) Record Eagle ad and also similar postcards sent out by TCAPS Citizens for Students in its pie graph uses the term "CHS Renovation" to represent its current version of the $26.5 million Performing Arts Center.  This language is now consistent, and closely matches that of School board member Scott Hardy who advised the TCAPS board to deceive voters with the language "renovation" rather than face an obvious backlash for a perceived and very real luxury of "Performing Arts Center".

    The pie shows it as a 16% component of proposed projects, which is also misleading in the way it suggests that it is a 'small part' of the overall project.  The 16% figure is arrived at by taking the already approved and remaining from 2007 $65 million bond, and adding it to the requested $100 million on this go-round.  $26.5 million is exactly 16% of $165 million.

    The other deception the TCAPS board and its shill organization (TCAPS Citizens for Students - which is coincidentally run by a finance director for the schools, and funded by the local chamber) attempts, is the canard that it is ONLY $18 million that is being spent on the auditorium.  They explain that the other amounts are for "school improvements, office moves, and new entry areas."  Though all of those can be verifiably true, they also gloss over the fact that without the auditorium, NONE of the additional improvements would be necessary.

    The Performing arts Center is in fact, the sole source of the "CHS renovation" expense.

    Continued below.

    (3 comments, 1084 words in story) Full Story

    New Anti-Millage Video

    By JGillman, Section Multimedia
    Posted on Thu Oct 11, 2012 at 07:39:10 PM EST
    Tags: Michigan, Traverse City, Schools, Performing Arts Center, Millage, Luxury, Disconnect, Tax Sales, Need, Taxpayers (all tags)

    While we are waiting for the Biden-Ryan debate, I figured you might like a little entertainment.

    As many of you may know, the Traverse City Area Public Schools have a board lacking any critical dissent.  There is no representative of the taxpayer present in each of its monthly, or special meetings.  Thus it should come as no surprise that a $26,000,000.00 Performing Arts Center (auditorium)is considered an essential educational tool.


    Comments >>

    Defeating A Millage

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 10:12:22 PM EST
    Tags: Michigan, Traverse City, Schools, Performing Arts Center, Millage, Luxury, Disconnect, Tax Sales, Beasts of Burden, Taxpayers (all tags)

    Like everywhere else in the state of Michigan, leadership in the Traverse City Area Public Schools likes new and 'shiny' best.

    We're fighting a millage request that has an add on $26 million for a new performing arts center that will dwarf Interlochen. (you know .. the professionals) We're going all out up here to fight the latest pickpocketing by an irresponsible board, which has neglected its properties, in favor of building new. Literally.  In fact this statement:

    "Without the bond, TCAPS general fund will have to pay more than 3 million dollars per year to keep up with such demands. TCAPS operates a "general fund" that pays for the day-to-day operations of our school system, including student programming and employee salaries. A "capital" or "bond" fund supports the upkeep and improvement of infrastructure and cannot be used for day-to-day operations."
    so ..

    Essentially, they are saying "we don't know how to keep our stuff nice, and since you will pony up anyway .." A perfect example of our throwaway society I suppose.

    If you don't like this ..

    Then you trash it, and build this ..

    Fixing, remodeling, repair..  Out of the question.  Just replace.

    Curious on how we're fighting it?  Check THIS OUT

    (3 comments) Comments >>

    The Camel's Back

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 09:54:05 PM EST
    Tags: Stephen Cousins, Kelly Hall, Michigan, Traverse City, Schools, Performing Arts Center, Millage, Luxury, Disconnect, Tax Sales, Beasts of Burden, Taxpayers (all tags)

    "The straw that broke that camel's back" perhaps.

    That could be the headline when the Traverse City Area Public Schools see their most recent request for millage fall flat on its fat face.

    TCAPS is looking for support to continue its Capital Infrastructure Improvement Program through authorization of bond sales that will generate $100 million over the next 10 years. According to TCAPS, the millage rate necessary to repay these bonds will remain below 4 mills.  Given the current rate of 3.1 mills, where did the other 29% increase come from?  The purpose of these requests must be physical asset based only, and this level of increase must surely be based on some specific need, right?

    Of course.  The need for a particular feel good wear around the neck kind of thing that says "look at me!"


    Continued below the fold

    (1 comment, 1318 words in story) Full Story

    What A Waste

    By JGillman, Section News
    Posted on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 12:47:44 PM EST
    Tags: Wayne Schmidt, Traverse City, Grand Traverse, Republican, State House, Oops., Rick Snyder, Questions (all tags)

    I realize we hit the Governor on policy pretty hard here at RightMichigan.com.

    There is no shortage of material to do so with, and the concerns we address are open and frank.  We agreed that the Michigan Business Tax was a job killer, and it was handled with the legislature and governor eliminating it with a restructuring.  The restructuring, perhaps not utilizing sufficient cost savings that would have prevented a tax increase on seniors however has made for some interesting conversation.

    Sometimes high strung, but still interesting.

    At the very least, if anyone here was communicating (at least if it were me) directly with the governor on policy, and providing a communications forum for a little back and forth, we would at least be paying attention.  Agree with him or not, when you have the governor's ear, you talk to it.

    Unless perhaps, you are Wayne Schmidt?

    (1 comment, 610 words in story) Full Story

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