Federal grant is an embarrassment of riches

Jan. 28, 2014  PLYMOUTH EAGLE.

 

Opinion

 

By: Susan Willett, Publisher

Associated Newspapers of Michigan

 

“Our concern is that the blame for this situation is being placed on Plymouth Township residents, which is entirely without basis.”

 

The federal grant of more than $1.3 million to Plymouth Township to fund basic fire and medical safety for residents received some strong reactions and responses throughout the area last week.

Officials in neighboring communities were aghast and shocked that elected officials in Plymouth Township would prove such poor managers and have so little self-respect that the municipality would have to resort to the public dole to provide basic services.

Plymouth Township is now a public welfare recipient, using federal funds to provide the most basic and necessary services to taxpayers while officials publicize their intent to pay $1.9 million for a vast new recreation project, including a year-round pavilion, an amphitheater and other amenities. This while the safety of the community is in such serious jeopardy the federal government felt it necessary to step in and fund a fire department to protect residents.

What is wrong with this picture?

What is wrong includes several of the people sitting in elected offices in Plymouth Township who spent more than $4,000 for food and liquor at a private party at the taxpayer-funded golf course and consider it acceptable. If there is documentation to prove the golf course account was reimbursed by private donations, as has been claimed, it has not been provided to the trustee who has requested it four times.

Neighboring communities like Canton and Northville townships have elected and hired people who have managed to provide good governance, excellent public safety services and recreational and community amenities without resorting to depending on federal welfare to do it.

That officials in some of these communities resent the ‘mooching’ by Plymouth Township of their fire department services is understandable. While many of these board members only recently became aware of the dire conditions residents in Plymouth Township face and the dependence of that community on neighboring fire departments through mutual aid, fire chiefs in the surrounding area have been aware of the usurping of services for several months.

The situation reached a point where fire chiefs and public service directors from Livonia, Canton and Northville wrote to Plymouth Township, warning them that the mutual aid they continually called for would no longer be available in some situations. That letter came on the heels of the unprofessional and life-threatening performance of several “on-call” firefighters at a serious fire in Plymouth Township which threatened to damage expensive equipment and seriously jeopardized the safety of professional firefighters on the scene.

Those men deserve an acknowledgement of their professionalism, their dedication to their own communities and their integrity. They took the only step open to them to attempt to protect their own departments and the resources of their own communities. Perhaps that kind of courage only comes with facing down 30-foot raging flames and collapsing buildings, which is unfortunate because a lot more of that strength of character is needed in municipal offices.

Now that the federal government has stepped in to validate the claims of Fire Chief Mark Wendel regarding the dilapidated, outdated an hazardous equipment along with the inadequate staffing in the Plymouth Township Fire Department, we think officials there should be embarrassed that their dirty laundry has been made public and that they have placed their community in this situation.

That $1.3 million in funding could have gone to a fire department where there is a genuine and serious financial need—-not this artificial emergency created by political retribution, poor management and egocentric incompetence.

Our concern is that the blame for this situation is being placed on Plymouth Township residents, which is entirely with- out basis. The residents in this community begged their elected officials to let them vote to pay for a fire department. Residents took Plymouth Township officials to court no less than four times, demanding to be allowed to vote to fund a fire department, which they felt they could and would do. The people of Plymouth Township have only one degree of culpability in this matter and that is that they elected and continue to elect the disingenuous and self-involved fool who designed this debacle and those who support his every despotic whim.

These arrogant and foolish officials refused to place a reasonable measure on the ballot, raising the millage amount to more than 10 mills—-an unheard of bastardization of the will of the people who only wanted a fire department adequate for the needs of their community.

But hey, if their 10 mills had been approved, that tax could have funded a lot more golf club parties, paid for a terrific amphitheater and provided even healthier raises throughout township hall.

An embarrassment, indeed.

|News Plymouth Michigan

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