Alright, so the Tingleys said we didn’t embarrass ourselves too badly last time out and we were welcome to write another column for the Local Area Watch. For our previous column they asked that we tell you about ourselves, and while I tried, I guess not everyone got the memo as my buddy went on and on about the Chamber of Commerce or some such malarkey.
So I figure, hey, with free reign this week I’m sure my friend on the left side of things will probably have something fantastically biting and excoriating to say about how things like success, jobs, profit, living within our means and survival are just plain rotten. And who can blame him when his girl Jennifer Granholm was just down in South East Michigan the other day holding a presser to tell everyone how happy she was that Daimler-Chrylser is ONLY laying off 1,400 moms and dads because, hey, it could be a lot worse!
So I figured, why not just let him have that one? Besides, there’s actually something that’s bugging me a lot closer to home these days.
Proving that to some lefties “consistency” is spelled with four letters and is better not uttered in public, Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell is at it again. According to the Grand Rapids Press, his city administration sent an appeal to taxpayers this week asking them to donate their entire tax rebate to help fund city programs. And because asking wasn’t enough, they decided to prove the point that they really really need more of our money by inserting a bunch of allegedly bogus stats that has the Grand Rapids Public Schools up in arms over the insinuation that kids in GR just plain aren’t very smart.
This got me thinking (dangerous, I know)… what’s wrong with this Heartwell guy? He’s willing to mislead taxpayers by browbeating their kids and basically calling them dolts in order to get them to increase their own taxes to pay for city run programs (because no one runs a program better than the government) when he’s not willing to make any sacrifices himself?
I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that the good Mayor recently requested that taxpayers buy him a BRAND NEW FREAKING CAR! This at a time when the city and the state languish in a single-state depression and quake in the face of a massive budget shortfall. Good job, Mr. Mayor. Money wisely spent.
And I figure, since George Heartwell likes to write open letters to elected officials to let them know how he feels, well, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. So without further ado, I present to you… an open letter to Mayor Heartwell.
The Honorable George Heartwell:
Your request and acceptance of a new $20,000 plus automobile this past March is deeply disappointing.
If you read many local blogs you've heard from me before on this subject. I know you've heard from residents all over this city. I don't have to tell you again about the disastrous consequences of this city failing to meet basic budgetary requirements. We're dying out here...and many of us are getting frustrated by the starkly mindless nature of your handling of city finances and financial planning. Most of us are worried...each concerned about the well-being of our neighborhoods. Today I feel particularly abandoned by my city and particularly angry about your selfish requests.
Recently you testified before the House Taxation Committee, providing a local perspective on the impact of Revenue Sharing reductions and urging Representatives to support massive tax hikes. You carried the same message to them that the city’s team carried to Senators Hardiman and Jansen (and all the members of the Grand Rapids area House delegation) when you were in Lansing on February 27th. Spending restraint isn’t evil: drive on Grand Rapids streets, look at our crime stats and ask if that has anything to do with the elimination 52 officers, look at staffing levels on our fire vehicles or visit our closed city pools. Grand Rapids under what passes for leadership in your administration and under your close friend Jennifer Granholm has cut 282 positions and been forced to deal with $84M in deficits. The quality of life, health, safety and education in our cities depends on having spending priorities to support necessary services. We're failing. And you choose now to ask the hardworking folks in Grand Rapids (those of us who still have a job) to buy you a brand new car?
A member of the House Taxation Committee asked you if you had considered raising local taxes to solve local problems. And you seem to think that’s a good idea. But the travesty in doing so is that if only you had back the $20,000 plus you’ve stolen from residents of Grand Rapids - seeking to solve your personal problems on the backs of your constituents - you would not have to consider raising that $20,000 plus in taxes.
We need courage from our elected leaders who, like you, claim to care about the vitality of cities. We need you to stop picking the pockets of taxpayers to solve personal problems. Yes, we need you to be bold enough to take the bus or buy your own freaking car. We're counting on you.
Nick De Leeuw