Editors, and how bad ones are ruining the newspaper business
Just a note that the FJ is one of several downtown Flint businesses seeking tax abatements (http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2012/07/flint_tax_incentives_public_he.html). Huh? Is the Flint blog promising more jobs in return? Ha! If more jobs are an arbiter of tax cuts, the FJ needs to pay more taxes, not less. Regarding the public hearing over the tax abatements, what no one mentions is the sad fact that tax abatements are nothing new. GM has been benefitting from them for years in Flint. For years and years GM had tons of help from communities like Flint, yet still managed, er, mismanaged things to the point where bankruptcy and a federal bailout were necessary. So my question with regards to Flint tax abatements is: how is that working for Flint now? Our memories are too short and too forgiving. On local access I saw Congressman Dan Kildee speak at some chicken lunch. To a fawning audience of Democrats, he joked a lot about being a freshman congressman. One might get the impression that he is a newcomer to local politics. Fact is, he has been a career politician. So when he spoke at the meeting of making the plea for funds to demolish abandoned buildings, a skeptic might remind the Flint frosh that he has been in a position to fight blight locally for decades, just as his Uncle Dale before him. Why hasn't he already done something concrete about the blight problem? I ask voters to look for results at election time, not how many jokes Congressman Kildee cracks at an event or how many emails his staff answers politely or how many times he jets to and from Washington for ego-gratifying chicken lunches and dinners on the public's dime. Flint's decline during Dale Kildee's stint in office was epic. He is not singularly to blame, of course, but how else should we judge one of the highest elected officials to represent Flint? Is it unfair to ask is Flint better off now than we he took office or at least when he was last re-elected? We now must ask these same hard questions of Dale's coattail-riding nephew, Dan. His was less of an election and more of a coronation, and one can easily sense his air of entitlement and privilege. Frankly, I find Dan's jokes offensive and ill-timed. The city is figuratively burning down all around him while he jokes about the foibles of an incoming congressman, a la Nero. Awww, poor poor Dan and his Congressional Obamacare exemption, his salary, pension and myriad other perks, etc., etc. The congressman also intimated how smart he and some of fellow new members of Congress are. Again, I'd turn that around on you, congressman, and ask if you're so smart why does much of your district look like Beirut? Why are you -- and we -- talking about the same old tired problems year after year after year? And what little progress has been made in downtown Flint, how much of that is your doing? What little spotty progress I see I sure don't think "Dan Kildee." At the meeting you said the incoming class was elected to solve problems. Rim shot! Hello???!?!!? How about a little less late night talk show shtick and a lot more action?
Hey Anon 15:07, I couldn't agree more, though I would point out that Kildee came up with the idea for the Land Bank. Apparently, in not mentioning it, you feel it is not worth mentioning. If so, I agree -- apparently as does Kildee's former colleagues on the Genesee County Commission, who defunded the program. Apparently they failed to see the return on investment for the additional costs wrought by the program. Kildee might boast that they don't share his genius, and in fact he did criticize their decision at the chicken lunch you mentioned. He sure does love to hear himself talk, doesn't he? Fact is, while on the Commission he voted to cut many programs, good and bad. County Commissioners have to make tough budget decisions, remember Dan? Or is your memory clouded by all that hype and drama you and fellow commissioners interjected in last-minute budget deliberations to inflate your roles as heroes and saviors of popular programs spared from the chopping block? I think the Land Bank's impact has been negligible at best and is an example of government intervention in a system, though while not perfect (are there any other kind of government programs?), provided similar results at far less cost to taxpayers. Fact is, most buyers of foreclosed properties aren't going to sit on the their properties without improvements. Market forces compel them to do some upgrading and either flip the properties or rent them out. Even if criticism of Kildee's precious Land Bank program is too harsh, hasn't he milked it for all it's worth and them some over the years? The program certainly hasn't transformed Flint in any way, shape or form. It MAY have been a good idea at the time but, really, let's move on. If the congressman expects to coast in office on the Land Bank and the idea of converting parts of Flint to green spaces, he might even test the patience of overly tolerant Flint voters. Then again, if voters keep automatically re-electing this poster boy for Flint's failed status quo, then maybe he truly is a lot smarter than the rest of us. Here's an idea: Amid all the talk of diversity in Flint, why not give a minority candidate a try? We have a black president, why not a black congressman?
Regarding Anon 12:12, one indeed really must wonder why a largely black community such as Flint tolerates such a long reign from the same white family. Yes yes it's understood that the district includes mostly white suburbs and rural areas and that the Kildees have been backed by special interest groups. Still, Dale Kildee served 36 straight years and now his nephew plans to occupy the same office, what, maybe half that long if he can? Sounds more like an absolute monarchy or dictatorship to me, and many are complaining that Flint's emergency manager has hijacked the democratic process and handcuffed local elected officials. How many years are we willing to cede to the Kildees: 50, 60, 100? Why should they be so rewarded when Flint has deteriorated in so many ways on their watch? With pitifully few exceptions the only ones who've done well during their lackluster terms are the Kildees themselves. Voters, if you keep returning the Kildees to office then you simply forfeit the right to complain about the woeful state of Flint. You reap what you sow. Period. Wake up from your self-destructive sleep, Flint! P.S. If you're worried about turning Dan out into the cold, don't. Like several other well-known career pols in and around Flint, he is living proof that there's always an elected office open to him somewhere that he is uniquely qualified for.
At this point, I'd be willing to give Eric Mays a shot at Congress. Well, that may be a stretch but it's almost come to that. At least with Mays inner city Flint might finally get some true representation.
Let's see, Dan was on the Genesee County Commission from 1985 to 1997 and then was Genesee County Treasurer until 2009. While these problems certainly preceded Kildee's career in public office, I agree that he has had more than enough time to address the abandoned homes and blight scarring dystopic Flint. While the Land Bank was a start and arguably part of an overall solution, it certainly never became THE solution -- especially now with its defunding.
Back when Flint had a real newspaper, a good, nosy reporter might have followed the money regarding the Land Bank and learned quite a bit.
No post on this yet? So you only post bad news about MLive? So the newspaper of the year isn't a "real newspaper," according to one of your commenters. Disclosure: I do not work for MLive nor am I affiliated with them in any way, just feel the FULL story should be presented by a former journalist.
OK, anonymous 15:33 I just have a question. If you are not affiliated or connected in any way to MLive, why not use your name? What could you possibly be afraid of?Anyway, I was not aware that the paper was named "Newspaper of the Year" I am pretty much not reading the paper or its website anymore so I'm dependent on folks to let me know what's going on.If I know the Flint Journal I'm sure the are tooting the horn quite well by themselves without my help.One thing I never concerned myself with during my career as a newspaperman were the ridiculous pursuit of awards. Everyone pretty much knows that the "Newspaper of the Year" is passed around in cycles among all the newspapers in Michigan, but hey, it's still a good thing when you are named.Don't get me wrong, I've won a number of newspaper writing awards (most which are stored in a cardboard box in my attic or used as hot plates on my dining room table - the wooden and brass plaques are good for holding hot dishes)but I never wrote anything to win an award.So in answer to your anonymous post, congratulations to the Flint Journal for its award and I'm sure if you go to MLive.com and the Flint Journal edition you'll find a story there.In case you hadn't notice I'm not paying much attention to the paper anymore, it has become pretty much irrelevant in my world. My wife, on the other hand, is a pretty loyal reader.Jim
And, just as a follow up. My grammar in the above was awful. I may be Free From Editors, but I do still need a good one.Jim
Post a Comment