This thread was started from an idea that MichMatters shared with me.
With this being an election year for Lansing's mayoral seat, it would be a good idea to have a place where people can discuss the politicians and policies that are being discussed. This is not restricted to Lansing, as I'm sure there are other communities that we'll want to discuss here.
Please keep this thread limited to local politics.
Looking forward to more conciliatory politics out of Lansing towards its neighbors, and more collaboration with more local groups within Lansing proper before major decisions are made. I'm particularly heartened by Andy Schor's comments and committment to regionalism in his interview with the City Pulse last week. He's also big on preservation and was not convinced the BWL had done their due dilligence on the Central Substation issue.
I have not been back so long that I know exactly what kind of mayor Virg. has been, it seems like he made a good move by not running again. If the way he behaved the same as during this downtown sub-station "debate" all this time, then I can understand why he is thought of as a my way or the highway kind of mayor. I think he can leave knowing he did a pretty good job for Lansing, and let someone else give it a go. I think a regional approach to the problems of our whole Greater Lansing area would give every community more money and power to solve problems and make progress. At 500,000 we would be one of the largest cities in Michigan.
Looks like Mark Meadows was re-elected mayor of East Lansing by the city council, and Erik Altmann took over from Ruth Beier as mayor pro-tem. Generally this is good news for development in at least as Meadows remains mayor. Altmann is on the more development-skeptic wing of the council, but he's far less hard-line as Beier. Beier getting pushed out of leadership is a good thing. With Aaron Stephens being elected, this looks like it may be a 3-2 pro-development council, again, as Woods was a bit of a swing. Still, it depends on the proposal, of course, but this is generally good news for folks looking for a denser and more varied/mixed-use downtown East Lansing.
The dynamics of Lansing's city government are up in the air given that for the past decade or so everything has come downtown between the pro-mayor and anti-mayor factions. On one hand, it's pretty clear Jeremy Garza replacing Tina Houghton means the Wood/Washington/Hussein conservative faction gets another vote since Washington was so nasty to Houghton during her re-election campaign. Meanwhile, the more pro-development Judy Brown Clark and Jessica Yorko are being replaced by people with similar leanings from what I can tell. So, you may end up with a lot of 4-4 votes, or it might be something totally different. A lot is going to depend on whether the council shakes back down into pro and anit-mayor factions or if it ends up being more unpredictable and something on a more case-by-case basis.
Thank you for posting the update here, I hadn't seen it published elsewhere and didn't know the outcome.
Ditto. I couldn't even find the mayoral (s)election results on the EL city website.
I just went to the city council page, and they'd updated the member bios.
Eli has a great article on the fallout from the failure of the EL income tax on city council's future plans:
Erik Altman throws a huge, vindictive tantrum in response to the tax failure. He suggests cutting deeply across all programs, shutting down/selling off key community resources (Hannah! trash pickup! library! among others...), but paying more for roads (he uses them) and raises for city employees (cuts will mean more work for them...).
I'm really shocked at this, as I voted for him because he has always impressed me as a reasonable, fiscally responsible, fact-oriented administrator, and a reasonably nice community member. He was a key player in getting the old Bailey school rehabbed into affordable housing instead of being torn down for student apartments. I'm guessing that there is some hyperbole here on his part, but either way, if he's serious I'll never vote for him again, and if he's not, I'm still not sure I want to vote for someone who is this immature when they don't get their way.
Mayor Mark Meadows continues to deny the city's responsibility for controlling legacy costs. I understand that the city retirees are required to be paid their benefits by the state constitution, so maybe this (and his own hand in causing these problems when he was formerly on city council in the past...) is why Meadows continues to dodge questions on the city's bad historical decisions ("everyone else was doing it!") and insist these legacy costs are a "financial and moral" obligation?
And just out of curiosity, does the city TRULY have no leverage to modify/reduce these legacy costs short of bankruptcy???
Draheim, the new guy (Stephens), and Beier seem to be a lot more level headed about all of this stuff, and recognize that some taxes/fees will need to go up, and some staff/services will need to get cut. Which I'm fine with - honestly, do we need an almost free aquatic park when the city can't balance its budget??? What can the city do to harmonize essential services (fire, trash) with the university and other local municipalities to save money? Why not put a road/infrastructure tax on the ballot to ease financial pressure on other parts of the budget?
Some not so great news for Lansing. The City Pulse is reporting that Carol Wood is claiming she has the votes to become council president with Jodi Washington as vice president. This is literally the worst-case scenario for developoment. I was kind of shocked to here that incoming councilman Pete Spadafore is supposedly part of her block, now. And I'm already seeing a worrisome extra-hands off from incoming Mayor Schor whose response to this was basically "meh." If Bernero was too involved in the internal politics of council, Andy might not be involved enough and will come to regret it.
Anyway, it's not a done deal, but that the new council would even consider these two in the top leadership roles is bizarre. I guess if they make it through I'll be interested to see if they are less anti-development than they were anti-Bernero. But that's really a risk I'm not looking forward to the city taking.
It seems the problem is that Spitzley doesn't want to be president, again, Dunbar wouldn't even be considered because she'd instantly have three votes against her, and the others are newbies, so they can't realistically be in leadership, and that basically leaves Wood, Washington and Hussein. I can't say I saw this coming, but maybe I should have. For me, Spadafore could be a compromise candidate. Even though he's new, he was school board president for years, so he knows how to run a board meeting. But it looks like Wood is lobbying hard.
Well, it's a done deal. In what I see as a really weird unanimous vote, Wood and Washington where voted president and vice president, respectively, tonight. I get how Wood got there as she's been on the council forever, and basically had the presidency stolen form her last year. I don't get how they got Washington as vice president.
This is all going to make development much more bumpy for the next two years. Ugh. I also find it weird that Schor has taken such an incredibly hands-off approach to all of this. Yeah, Bernero was the other end of the extreme in trying to micro-manage council votes. But if Andy is really concerned about economic development like he says he is, then maybe take an approach that is just a bit less passive about council leadership. I'd have like to have seen some kind of demand from someone that each faction of council get to the two leadership seats. Now, Wood gets to pick all committee members, and it is no doubt in my mind she'll pick herself and Washington for Planning & Development, which will effectively given them a veto since committees are composed of three members. So certain things never make it to the full council under this set-up.
Wood is already saying, tonight, that she wants additional committee of the whole meetings to slow things down. But it's unclear if she means one more per month, or additional for every full council meeting.
That is interesting information. Would you say that Ms. Wood has good reasons to oppose development? I just wonder why would anyone oppose development in Lansing? Maybe it was her verse Virg and she will like Andy better. Ms. Wood is always the only council member who responds to issues on seeclickfix.com. that does not mean that she always gets things done, the Holmes Street School still sits there not really boarded up and being vandalized.