State Rep blasts township VIP fireworks party
Jun. 30, 2015 PLYMOUTH VOICE
Plymouth Michigan News
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
I hope this is the last year for the Plymouth Township “VIP Fireworks Party.”
This event, which I will say I have been invited to and have attended in the past, has outlived its purpose and needs to be retired. The annual fireworks donation solicitation done on Township stationary by Township staff, and no doubt during township time, places our businesses and vendors in an uncomfortable situation which damages our community’s reputation and image as a good place to do business.
In addition, the optics of the “elites” adorned with flower leis dining on prime rib while the “commoners” sit on the hill to watch the show also hurts our image as a welcoming and inclusive community.
I’m also not the only person in town concerned with the use of public money for a private closed VIP event; it’s always been a mystery to me how privately-donated money for this event becomes public money and then gets transformed back to fund both public and private events. The ends don’t justify the means. Again, the appearance and transparency of this funding scheme is unsettling and needs to end, now.
In all we do in government we need to ask ourselves is it affordable? Is it sustainable? Is there value for our customers? And finally, is it our job? Providing the fireworks show each year is a community perk which many people clearly enjoy. How we pay for it and sustain it however needs a complete overhaul.
I hope the Board of Trustees takes the time over the summer to review the scope, effectiveness and future of the fireworks effort with an eye toward its transfer to an independent nonprofit such as the Plymouth Community Foundation, Rotary/Kiwanis, or the new Plymouth PARC.
The fundraising and expenditure effort must at a minimum be transferred to a nonprofit fund, which is managed by an unelected individual outside of Township government. I know our community is blessed with several individuals who would be honored to accept this responsibility.
Under my plan we might not raise as much money; we might not get as much “bang for our buck,” but we’d be better off in the long run. We’d have a true community event with no more “us versus them” optics, and a funding plan that’s a whole lot more transparent, trustworthy and accountable to the people.
We deserve better.
Editor note: Kurt Heise is a Plymouth Township resident currently serving his third term in the Michigan House of Representatives. Heise represents the 20th District which includes Plymouth, Plymouth Township, City of Wayne, Northville Township and part of Northville.