Lansing Development Politics

edited February 2009 in Lansing
So, Carol Wood is officially running in the Mayoral race. I know we've discussed keeping a development focus to the topics here, and on that note I'm specifically wondering if people have thoughts on Bernero vs. Wood as mayor regarding their effects on development in Lansing. I'm certain that Jared will shut this thread down if this gets into some other political battle, and I realize the potential for that, but I think we're all adults enough to keep this topic focused.

As someone who's new to Lansing, I am really hoping to get the thoughts of learned and experienced locals on this. From my perspective, Bernero has a lot of faults, but again, we're sticking to their effects on development. So with that in mind, I think Bernero seems to have a good vision for developing Lansing into a more 'big city' urban environment. Although, I can see the critique that Bernero focuses on downtown and old town too much, potentially to the detriment of surrounding neighborhoods. That depends on how much you think having a strong core will benefit surrounding areas.

I read the City Pulse article tonight on Wood and it is littered with comments about how her focus is "potholes" and replacing "missing stop signs" and fixing roads. Now, I certainly won't argue that that's important, but frankly it worries me that that's her focus. It doesn't sound like she has much of a vision for improving Lansing and continuing to make it a great city. However, I wouldn't think developments would come to a screeching halt if she were mayor, and I'm impressed by her dedication to the neighborhoods. But especially with the Frances Park and City Market events, it seemed like she's just as adversarial as Bernero, but without an end goal. With the City Market, she voted for it anyway, so I'm not sure she's as interested having an "arm-in-arm" relationship with Council as mayor anyway. Which is one of the biggest faults of Bernero, so if she's just as adversarial as Bernero, I don't see why I'd vote for her.

However, I have only been in the local Lansing scene for 10 months, so I don't know as much of the background as some of the rest of you. So could you offer your thoughts?


  • Im "likely" voting Bernero if he runs again. I have issues with his brashness and tendencies to grandstand, but that is outweighed by the results I've seen in the time he has been mayor. He has truely picked up where Hollister left off. Not saying Carol couldnt do the same... Just that I like the current direction we are headed.
  • Bernero has gotten results for the city, I tend to agree with him on many issues. I don't really like Wood, she always seems to pick things apart way too much. I think she'd be bad for development, I think that under her the city may not get worse, but it probably wouldn't get better either.
  • edited February 2009
    I appreciate Woods' focus on the small details of things, and think she is needed on the council. While everyone else was jumping down her throught for being an "obstructionist" on Market Place, I thought she brought up some very good points, and was trying to get the best deal for the city. I'm especially in support of her idea of developer accountability. I don't think we ask enough of developers, many times. All that said, I don't think that her micro-management of things would translate well into an executive situation like the mayor's seat.

    Virg is a force of nature, one that has both pissed my off mightily and made me enthused to be from both Lansing and Michigan. Most importantly, though, I don't think there is anyone out there that has the energy he does to kick-start this rusty engine, of ours. Albeit, when he focuses that energy when taking the wrong side of the issues (i.e. take the police cameras, for instance) he can be very destructive and self-destructive. But, man, when the man is on, he's on. And, lately, he's been very on. If you ask me, he's one of the most passionate and effective mayor's in Michigan. Lansing could be much further behind without him.

    That said, I do agree with Carol's criticism that he's not in the neighborhoods, enough. He could be more connected. There is, in fact, a whole city outside of downtown, Old Town, REO Town, and the Eastside. But, all and all, I don't see how Wood's or Ford's arguments are enough to justify throughing him out of office so soon, and that's what this is about, ultimately. He'd have had to have slipped many more times for his oppositions case to be sound. They have to show that he hasn't done enough, that he's not connected enough, and well, that's going to be a tough case to make because I don't think it's true.

    If Carol was hoping to stop Virg, her best chance would have been to fight for the council presidency she let Benavides have so that she could have become mayor, because, I think it's too late for her, now. One thing about Virg is that if you're hoping to beat him, you can't ever let him get his foot in the door. Once he gets in, he stays. lol
  • edited February 2009
    I think you'll find that Bernero's record in the Neighborhoods is not even close to what Wood makes it out to be. I think Wood's biggest misstep is her anti-downtown sentiment. She wants to pit the Neighborhoods vs. Downtown, but the fact remains that Downtown Lansing BELONGS to the neighborhoods. Old Town is sorta the downtown for North Lansing, 2000 block E. Michigan is the downtown for the East Side, Edgewood is the downtown for the southside... but Washington Square is the downtown for the ENTIRE CITY... heck, the REGION, everybody should have pride in it, and everybody should take ownership in it.

    The fact also remains that the strength of downtown will result in strength for the City. It is the highest concentration of Jobs and highest property values, two thing that translate into more money for the city economy and other taxing entities. If downtown were to erode it would translate into the neighborhoods, just as I believe the growth of the neighborhoods is dependent upon maintaining a strong, vibrant, and desirable downtown.

    One of the biggest things that Bernero has done to support development in this city, that nobody else is going to connect, is maintain a balanced budget. Despite overtures from Carol Wood to raise taxes or dip into rainy day funds, Bernero has done the right thing in resisting those urges. The idea that the City has maintained a strong bond rating, frozen the tax rate, and avoided (in most cases) dipping into the surplus projects an image that the City is in the right hands. While council wants to dilly dally around with golf courses being able to maintain that balanced budget has allowed for Developers to come into a city where there is a relatively development friendly ideology. If the city were operating in the red, the necessary brownfield incentives would never see the light of day to make these projects a go.

    While others on council usually take the position as being "cautious" with development, they're typically angling to squeeze developers as much as possible... whether it be trying to revoke the Stadium District agreement because of the CVB move, push a "prevailing wage" ordinance on all tax abated projects, or force a developer into guaranteeing all union labor, their motives are not for making development happen in the city, rather, to take care of their friends as a result of it.
  • edited February 2009
    I don't think that last paragraph is fair, at all. The vast majority of the council is more than genuine, and to accuse them of trying to take care of their friends anymore than any other politician does is really rather tacky. I wouldn't be surprised to find that your from the administration, because that's what that post smacked of. Wood and Ford may not be fit at this time to be the mayor of the city, but that's entirely beyond the tacky personal attacks on the motives of the council. It's even more silly a post when you consider that the council has almost always given the mayor everything he's ever asked of them or demanded of them. Please, let's not go down this road. There would be no better way than to lose my vote for Virg than for one of his lackies to continue this mud war with the council, if that's who you are. One of the few things that does bother me a great dea about the mayor and his support base is that they can be awfully arrogant, nasty, and personal with those they disagree with. If he keeps this up, he's going to lose people like me, and quickly.
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