| Steve Myers
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Video Transcript of the Bob Leonard Show
Good evening. It’s Thursday night, eight o’clock and this is the Bob Leonard show. We’ll be with you for about an hour. We take the stories you’ve been watching on television and reading in the newspaper, the past couple of weeks and we put our spin on it. We tell you what we think is really behind these main stream media stories that often are just handouts coming from the politicians or government officials and they always make themselves look good. And, it isn’t always that way and that’s what we’re looking for is the background. We want to keep the honest, as we say. So, we’ll be on for about an hour. This program will be repeated tomorrow night at 11 to 12. And if you can’t stay up that late and you miss tonight it’s shown on a continual basis on flinttalk.com. Just punch in flinttalk.com and the program will come up. In fact it goes back five or six weeks. You can pick any one you want and plug it in and it’ll be on.
Anyway, let us move on because there’s a number of things we want to talk about tonight that directly affect the well being of our communities. You know, in a couple weeks the two largest cities in Genesee County will conduct two of the most important elections they’ve had in many years. First, the city of Flint will be deciding whether Flint mayor Don Williamson should be re-nominated for another term. There will be two people nominated out of seven people running Williams is one of them. It’s expected that he probably will be nominated one of the two nominated and they’ll go into the general election. And, the question you have is should he be reelected or should a new candidate be ushered in to start Flint going in a different direction. Now the issue Williamson’s opponents are critical of Williams about is the crime problem that, really, every urban community seems to be experiencing recently. And then the high unemployment figures that seem to be haunting Flint. Now Williamson will counter with his success in solving the Flint budget problem by showing that the city’s financial situation has improved and he’s responsible for that.
You might remember that, well, in the past when he ran for election, the paramount issue was the financial crisis Flint was in and then the campaign promises that he made to try to deal with the problem. Now, keep in mind he was elected four years ago but the first two years there was a financial manager here and it was run by Ed Kurtz from the state that came in because of the serious financial condition the city was in about being in debt by 30 million dollars. Now Williamson argues that, I’ve dealt with that problem and have solved it. There’s a Journal editorial, “Flint is back in the black” referring to 6.5 million dollar surplus recorded in ’04 and ’05 and he has another surplus this year, really his second year in effect in the office of about 6 – 7 million dollars also. So he claims he has demonstrated that what he promised to do, he had done it.
Now, we’re only, I think only, the public will decide whether or not they’re satisfied with what he’s done and what these other people are talking about and we’ll get into that in just a minute. Along with Flint, we have the mayor’s primary election in the city of Burton where Mayor Charles Smiley has held fourth for 16 years. In the last couple of years, allegations of corruption have dogged the Smiley administration. In fact, just recently a federal district court jury found Smiley’s close confidante, Chief Administrator and Public Works Director, Charles Abbey guilty of bribery. Now, Smiley’s name was brought up primarily during the federal investigation and the federal trial. Smiley, himself, has been accused of taking bribes from an admitted briber. The Federal attorney, in his closing statement at the end of the trial, characterized Burton as a corrupt city run by Smiley’s corrupt administration. Now, Smiley says he hasn’t been charged and the investigation is over. This is just wishful thinking. This investigation is still ongoing and, according to many insiders, there may very well be some other indictments. They haven’t cleared anybody yet. And we know that there are people being interviewed by the FBI still.
Now, tonight, because of the limitations on time we’ll take Flint and discuss Flint and the candidates and what they’re saying and Williamson’s record as we see it. Next week we’ll get into the Burton matter so if you’re interested in Burton, tune in next week and we’ll have some discussions about that.
But, let’s finish talking about the Flint situation and the candidates and the elections that’s coming up in about two weeks. So far the campaign for Mayor of Flint is, when you look at it, not a mouthful of cliches and generalities. In my opinion none of the six opponents of Mayor Williamson have offered real solutions for Flint’s problems. Everything these candidates offer lack specificity and when they show anything specific, they show their naivete – their lack of understanding what the problems are.
Now, they do have one common denominator and that is they all blindly attack Williamson. You know, while Flint is in need of bold leadership as demonstrated by a hundred thousand GM jobs lost locally in the last fifteen years and the crime problem becoming even more acute, none of these candidates offer any programs that will alleviate these problems - no specific ideas, they just talk in generalities.
Like I said, when you look at the suggestions on solving the problems, it, you know, amounts to nothing more than cliches and high sounding phrases with no substance. Now, you’ll notice that all these opponents of Williamson, they have their solutions to the crime problem is appointing a full time police chief rather than an acting one. Come on people, do you think that sacking this acting police chief for a permanent one will solve Flint’s crime problems? You know, the guy that’s in there now, it has to do with his pension and things and that’s why they haven’t made him police chief. Because, if a new mayor ever came in he could go back to his job in the police department as a captain or whatever he was. And, he does have a good reputation in the country. He’s often called upon by the police associations to testify before Congress. He has a good reputation and he would have one in Flint if it wasn’t for the attacks some of the anti-Williamson people put on the man. I mean, I don’t always agree with him but just the change of police chief, from acting to police chief, they’d have to have a magic wand to solve these problems.
You know, solving Flint’s crime problems will take more than just a change in the police chief. It takes plans and programs. Now when you make these suggestions, the person who makes the suggestions must understand the problems of what causes crime. It’s easier said than done in the talk about putting more cops on the street – that’s fine. But, there’s no mention of where the money will come from. It takes about $120,000 for an additional police recruit to be processed through the school and begin working with his salary and his benefits and his pension. You must know what programs and ideas would suppress crimes. Candidates apparently don’t know because they have not ever mentioned what is their understanding of the causes of crime are. If they knew what the causes were, they certainly are keeping it a secret and of course if they don’t know what the causes are how can they tell you how to deal and solve the problems of crime and how to reduce it?
None of the interviews you see in the Journal seem to demonstrate these candidates don’t really understand these niceties. Listen, after spending 23 years in law enforcement, I can tell you the main reason for the increase in crime rate in all the urban cities around the country now, according to the criminologists and the police officers associations, is the Bush Administration dismantling the Clinton Administration’s federal funding of successful local programs like the police foot patrol that we were supposed to have here in Flint. You know we’re paying a manager for that – about 7 – 8 million dollars, we’re paying. How many of you have seen police officers walking on the streets? Every knowledgeable person in crime division field has cited the foot patrol program as the main reason for the crime rate going down in the 1990s when Clinton was pouring federal monies into urban areas to innovate and come up with new programs that worked. The Foot Patrol was the star attraction. When Bush took over he reduced and then ultimately eliminated the federal funding for all these local programs. As a result, the crime rate began to soar. Now here’s an example of, just about two weeks ago, in the national news it showed the use of a foot patrol in Boston. They took and put the police on the sidewalks in the community in two high crime areas, and in six months, according to this national report, the crime rates dropped 35%. Rape and armed robbery, the other two serious crimes, dropped 31%. That tells you something of what goes on. That’s why these foot patrols that were introduced by the Clinton Administration back in the ‘90s and were put in almost ever urban city in the country. That’s why crime was reduced. You have people on the streets, walking the sidewalks who know the neighbors, who can say hello to them and call them by their first name and they know that in 15 to 20 minutes this guy will be back around again. That has an impact to reduce crime and has proven to do so.
It has been claimed that any mayor of a city like Flint is the cause of the jump in the crime rate in the last 6 or 7 years, keep in mind Williamson has been there two years since he was mayor he’s been elected four year but he wasn’t there for the first two years because of the financial manager, but to suggest that is, in my mind, an attempt by the candidates to deceive the public. And they’ll tell you they’re going to solve the problem – the first thing they’re going to do. Every one of them talks about putting a police chief in, like acting or full time is going to make a difference. Either they haven’t really studied the problem or they’re totally unaware of the complex nature of the causes of crime or they’re outright lying to the public if they do know. They’re oversimplifying the solution. The solution, to them, is get rid of Williamson – he’s the cause of the crime rate going up. There’s all kinds of factors involved here. The unemployment figure is substantial. And it isn’t like Flint is the only place in the state of Michigan with serious high unemployment. It’s statewide. Every urban center and the city of Flint – Pontiac, Detroit, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Flint, Bay City, Saginaw have serious unemployment problem and that feeds into the problem of crime. The people who are working and people, who are fully employed, you don’t have that serious crime problem continuing to grow. It really begins to lessen. Now, it would seem to me that in all fairness you can’t blame that all on Williamson. He didn’t cause the downturn in the state of Michigan and ultimately the downturn in the urban areas where all these manufacturing jobs were. Now you have another big issue that has occupied the minds of these candidates – the poor Flint economy and job picture for Flint. The automobile giant, General Motors, took these jobs put them in Mexico and all over the United States over the last 10 or 15, 20 years. How could Williamson affect that? We lost 100,000 jobs – both blue collar and white collar workers – closing business down all over the city of Flint because people didn’t have any money - they weren’t working for General Motors. People in Europe and in South America were making the money even though it’s nowhere near what they were making here but they took the jobs down there because it was cheaper for them to operate. Now, I’ve not seen any drop in the prices of cars – no, it just means more profits for these corporations. But can you blame Williamson for all of this? Now, I think you can challenge him on the basis that he suggested when he was running that he was going to create jobs and what have you. And, the question is, has he? I think they have an obligation, Williamson and his people, to say “we’ve created jobs”. I know what they’ve done in some areas they’ve saved 20-22 thousand jobs out there with the new engine plant and things like that and he was directly involved in negotiating those kinds of things for the city of Flint. So did the governor. So did other people in this community. The governor was directly involved. They had to make concessions. But all these people were working on saving this plant out there and they did it. I think Williamson, since he was involved, can take some credit for it. And, of course, the question is, is that enough? Did he promise more than he could deliver. And I think that’s a fair question to ask. I think you know you can’t blame one person for all these problems in crime and unemployment. And, like I say, all we’re trying to do is keep these candidates honest with their allegations and what they’re saying. The question is, did he fulfill the promise? Some people might say, yeah he’s done a good job. Others might say, no he hasn’t. It’s a fair debate. Now, there’s a lot more to this crime problem than first meets the eye. I think the one thing you have to do is to figure out what’s happening to that 6 or 7 million dollars. What’s happened to it, no one’s stolen it that’s been voted in by the people for the foot patrol, because of the cutbacks in other funding for the regular police department, they’ve just diverted that to these other departments. So it’s still being used in law enforcement but I don’t think it’s having the impact it should as if it were used just for the foot patrol. I think the foot patrol back on the streets could have a tremendous impact. And none of these candidates except one of them, I think his name is Weighill, mentioned the foot patrol. I’m not sure he understands fully about the billage because there’s no mention of that. But my argument is, that money should be spent on the foot patrol, which the billage directs it to be spent on. It shouldn’t be spent anyplace else. Somebody says, “Well, we won’t have money for the regular police department.” Well, then we cut some other place else to meet the police department’s needs. But the foot patrol could reduce crime and I suggest that should be done.
And you know there’s all kind of, when you talk about retirees and things like that being ripped off, defrauded and everything, you know, I would have liked to have seen one of these candidates to have come up with a proposal to submit to the county under the senior citizens billage that was just passed and request funding for that purpose so that they can come back to the city so that you can help the senior citizens in the city of Flint – protect themselves against frauds, make sure that they have the needs taken care of, make sure the foot patrols are in their areas, identify who they are so the police can watch out for them. There’s still about 5 or 6 million dollars that has not been distributed by the senior citizen billage group that is really waiting for proposals. These candidates, it seems to me, if they want to cut crime, one of the serious problems of crime is how it centers on the vulnerability of seniors. They should be out there figuring out what proposal I can make. Let me see a proposal that you’ll submit to the county to get money for the city of Flint if you’re a mayor. How will that proposal help seniors? Besides helping them in protecting them against criminals, you protect them in the rip-offs of people in the public court, you’re looking to give them funding for Meals on Wheels, visiting nurses, transportation – that directly affects the senior citizens in the city of Flint. Where are the proposals that these people would make? There’s many there. Haven’t heard a thing about it. Such things as padlockings that you can proceed against, houses that are raided for drugs or prostitution or what have you. I’d like to have somebody say to me, “Well are you going to crack down and start padlocking these houses when they’re raided.” Not just walk away from it.
Then you talk about the demolition. There’s all kinds of money in demolition that’s available and we’ll talk about it here in just a few moments. And how it’s being ignored and how the personality conflict between the mayor and the city council is allowing that conflict to impact the money which could be used for demolition and as a result is hurting the city of Flint because we’re not getting it!
Well, anyway, let me go through some of these. I noticed that in the paper the other day it says, “Arrows Flying as Williamson’s Challengers Near Primary Date.” It says “less than three weeks before the August primary, several of Flint’s mayoral candidates appear to be stepping up their attacks on mayor Don Williamson.” That’s their common denominator. I want to know, what are you going to do about crime and what are you going to do about unemployment and all the other things you’re talking about? Candidate Dale Weighill started out the debate, Thursday at the AAW 651 by mocking Williamson’s campaign slogan, “A City Moving Up”. Candidate Norm Bryant called Williamson anti-union. Sheldon Neeley says the mayor does not treat others with respect. And, Dan Walling accused the mayor of costing the city 50 million dollars. They don’t explain those things. They really don’t explain them.
First, let me look at Norm Bryant who is running. Norm is, now I know Norm. He’s not a real close friend of mine but I’ve known him for a number of years and he’s a very nice man. His biggest problem is his close association with Woodrow Stanley, the recalled mayor. Now, I don’t think that’s a good thing. But, I think he’s honest and sincere. But, again, when he talks about what he’s going to do he says he, “decided to return to politics because he’s frustrated with rampant crime and Williamson.” He apparently is blaming Williamson. “Bryant said that, what he calls his 100 day plan, which outlines what his immediate priorities as mayor would be though many details remain vague,” and that’s my argument about these people. He wants to name a permanent police chief. This is what they all are talking about. Hire a liaison to work with the school. You have to realize the school district pays, I think the city half a million or a mill dollars a year to provide liaison officers for the high schools and the junior high schools. It’s already going. It’s in existence. And this is a fellow who was a member of the school board now he wants to appoint, hire a liaison to work with the schools. The police are already doing that, they’re in the schools. They’re talking every day. And it says form a task force to bring senior citizens and youth together. Now let me just mention one example of that when they did it once. They put the youth and the senior citizens together without too much screening and the senior citizens came up short in their pocketbooks and whatever they had with them. I’m not suggesting that every kid does that, I’m just saying you got to screen more carefully and know who’s going to be there and make sure there’s people covering for the senior citizens. And then he’s says create jobs and develop an economic plan. He says this, “Bryant is working to bring environmentally friendly jobs to Flint. Efforts, he declines to detail.” Well, that’s what I’m talking about. Lack of detail.
Then we have a fellow by the name of David Davenport. He’s a candidate for Flint mayor. He does youth basketball at Mount Olive Baptist church from time to time and in other churches. And he says what he wanted to do, he wants to give…here’s what the paper says, “His ideas are sometimes grandiose such as his plans to pay Flint middle and high school students for their grades to motivate them to stay in school.” I don’t know if that’s going to do it, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea. The problem is, he said his program would “pay $20 for A’s $10 for B’s, $5 for C’s and the students would get the money on a Visa debit card. Such a program would cost more than $1,000,000 which Davenport said he would raise from Flint residents, the school system, the city’s general fund and area churches.” Well, I don’t know if we should be buying kids’ grades. I don’t know what message that sends. But it costs a million dollars. Where are you going to get the million dollars? He’s going around with his hat in his hand? You’re not going to come up with a million dollars, I’ll tell you.
And then, here’s this young lady by the name of Tamra Edwards. An interesting thing – we have all these people flocking back to Flint because I think they see an opportunity and I don’t have any objection to that, but that’s what’s happened here. I’m inclined to think we have people who’ve lived here in Flint all their lives who would do just as well. But, anyway, she lived in Flint for 10 years and then went to Durham, North Carolina where she was a member of the city council. And she says she’s “fond of talking about visioning, empowerment and good government but usually has broad aspirations rather than specific how-do-you-do-it plans.” That’s, again, the same thing. She says, “We don’t have time for someone to get into office and learn how to do it.” She’s never been a mayor but she’s been a member of the city council in North Carolina. “She wants to see the city tap into the automobile roots although not wholly rely on the industry again and develop solar cars at all plants, college could retain workers and people could go back to work. It’s an example of how she would think outside the box as Flint mayor but does not know exactly how to make her plans a reality.” You talk these high sounding phrases, these cliches, all sound good. When it comes to specifics even the paper points it out. “Edwards rates crime as her number one issue, she wants to name a permanent police chief, enhance the neighborhood watch program” which is in existence already “and encourage city beautification perhaps the church adopt a block program.” Well, you know, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. She also says “she’d consider bringing elements of a program she developed as vice president of the YMCA in Durham to cut gang violence through” meditation – I’m sorry, through “mediation.” Then she wants to put up video cameras in all the crime areas and the question is who would pay for the video cameras? She says “that’s something we have to talk about.” But anyway, you know, she has I think, generally, a pretty good background. Now one of the things she wants to do that has to be considered – she wants to have a master plan. That sounds great –master plan. A master plan tries to project 5, 10, 15, 20 years ahead about where the streets are going, what you’re going to need for water, and that’s really kind of been done. But the bottom line is this, a total master plan that she’s talking about, that other people talk about cost a million bucks. They bring these people in from Harvard, Yale, wherever and project what the city’ll need down the road so you spend a million dollars, which you don’t have. You don’t have a million dollars. What do you do then? Where do you get the money for this? Well, not only then, you spend a million dollars to come up with the plan - what good is that going to do? Because the next guy in, he doesn’t have to follow it, she doesn’t have to follow the plan. It’s kind of crazy.
But, anyway, then you have Mr. Neeley. “Determined Mayor, Oil Critic Aspires to Top Job” and that’s the bottom line. This guy has never been about structure. Listen to what he says, this tells you something about him. “Sheldon Neeley prides himself on dogging Mayor Don Williamson. When Williamson showed up at the Canusa games, so did Neeley. When Bill Cosby spoke at the New Jerusalem Gospel Baptist Church, Neeley positioned himself right next to Williamson kind of like a thorn in his side. Neeley, vice president of the city council now one of the seven candidates running for Mayor chuckles at what he suspects is his irritating presence.” You want a guy like that for Mayor? It’s a game with him, he’s immature.
Then you have the fellow by the name of Dale Weighill and, incidentally all these people are talking about changing the acting Chief of Police, replacing him. And, I said that he has a good reputation but he’s become a sounding board for all the anger against Williamson that is put on him. And I think a lot of these people are saying, if not most of them, that, really, it’s not that they want to change police chiefs, they want a better police chief. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. This is a city that’s 65% African American. African Americans have been abused by police for 200 years in major urban areas like Flint. I’m sure the African American community would have more confidence if there was an African American Police Chief in the direction of the police department and what goes on in the police department. But, you know, if everybody thinks that a new Police Chief will come in and has a magic want to take care of the problem all by himself, they’re sadly mistaken. And I think the white community would not object to that. I think the white community would say, “Hey, it if will help the crime problem and give more confidence the great majority of people in the community, I have confidence that that’s the right thing to do.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with suggesting we have an African American police chief. But, I don’t think that any of these candidates, even black candidates have the courage to say it, because that’s really what they’re interested in. And I think that’s great. I have no objection to that.
But, anyway, this fellow Dale Weighill, he’s got a lot of things to say. But, again, his primary objective is to eliminate the crime problem by eliminating Williamson and the Police Chief. Now, Weighill is originally from Detroit, he worked for a couple Republicans and he said he’s now a member of the Democratic party. We had that problem before. Remember that fellow who ran for Mayor against Jim Sharp where first he was a Democrat but turned out to be a Republican? He’s going to run for Congress again. These people, it’s saying how the city of Flint they’re Democrat, you got to look at the history. Let’s hope he’s done what he says. But, anyway, he says he’d appoint a new police chief, he wanted to create community centered strategic plan that will fight crime by involving Flint residents. Sounds good – how do you do that? Anyway, Williamson has the law block clubs all over the city, he has the stations in there. And then he puts on here, what he would do is he would open up the Flint city jail. He’s already done that. He says, “Offer a strategic partnership to create new programs for youth called Flint Promise that would guarantee a mentor for every young person who needs one.” Boy, that’s grandiose because the urban coalition, the NAACP, and the urban league have been on that project for years. They’ve done a good job on it but they haven’t even come close to covering everyone that needs a mentor. These people all have the same objective – bash Williamson and then come up with generalities as the solution of problems or making suggestions about things that are already done and suggesting they’re not done.
And then we have, if I can find it, we have Mr. Walling who says again what he’ll do about crime, “All of Flint families deserve to be safe in their homes and neighborhoods.” No kidding. “A permanent police chief officer will be given respect, training and technology to do their jobs. Police patrols will be assigned to the same blocks with missions of cutting down on gun violence.” I don’t know if he’s talking about the foot patrol but that would be something he should do, he should talk about that. It says here, “after returning from England, Walling, where he was apparently studying law, he worked in the offices of Washington D.C. near Anthony Williams for more than two years. While there he said he acquired valuable experience on how city government should be run.” With all the problems that Washington’s had, I don’t know if we want to bring them here or not.
And, of course, Williamson was interviewed. And, you know, there are a lot of faults. Let’s face it. One of them is, I think he’s an arrogant ass sometime. But, does he get the job done? I guess that’s what people are most concerned about and he points out he’s got the city out of debt, he’s opened the jail, he’s got more criminals off the street because of the jail. He says his job is “to protect tax payer’s money.” There’s a lot of truth in that but he has an obligation in regards to crime and what have you. And, I think the impact on crime could be substantial if you would take that money that’s intended for the foot patrol, give it to the foot patrol, put the people back on the street and you will impact crime. I’m sure not hearing this from the candidates. I think that’s a legitimate issue. Why are we diverting this money? It’s needed obviously, but the question is which is needed most? I say the foot patrol.
But, anyway, I have something I want to show you. You constantly hear the argument about who’s right and who’s wrong, the Mayor’s fighting with the city council, the city council is fighting with the Mayor. You know it’s really six to one, half a dozen to the other. Just recently this week there was another thing that came up at the committee meeting. The issue was some resolution set up by the Mayor for road building, for demolition, and Mott foundation wanting to give a grant. All this money could be lost if we don’t act on it. It had nothing to do with the budget, none of the money comes out of the budget. It was all coming out of federal monies, land bank monies, general grant money – all money we’ve already spent, money we’ve already given in taxes. Now, the land grant money, also there’s money that’s accumulated from selling these properties and things like that. But, anyway, it seems to me that this little exchange here, it runs about 12 or 13 minutes, this exchange shows you what’s going on here. The resolutions came up. There’s no reason to deny to deny, to vote down these resolutions, not to pass these resolutions. The only problem you have here is if they continue to do this, we’re going to lose the money – millions and millions of dollars! Play that tape, will you? Watch this tape.
[start tape of council meeting]
[Gonzales]It takes 45 days on average it sounds to get the product here to the city. So even if we execute it and purchase the product tomorrow, we’re not getting the product until September, October. So that’s the matter I want to bring to general attention. It seems to me that we have to plan ahead as to what we’re going to purchase and then from that point it takes a certain amount of time to get it here with transportation and fabricating that specific product and manufacturing the product because they’re made to order. That’s my point on this. Now, again, I can see that this isn’t going to get approved but that’s my opinion. Again, we are not the ones getting affected. It’s the residents of the city that are being affected.
[Chairman] I just want to say that I supported this the first time and I mean no respect, Mr. Gonzales, but we could have had this done in February.
[Kincaid] Mr. Chairman, if the mayor and the finance director and the budget advisor would meet with the leadership of the City Council…that’s an issue that could be resolved. The leadership isn’t just one person – it’s the finance chair and the vice chair. They can be in this room or someplace else.
[Chairman] All those in favor of postponing, say “Aye”.
[several people] “Aye.”
[Chairman] Ok, um,
[Bill] Mr. Chairman, I think we should concede the fact that nothing’s going to get passed here. And I think that we’re really wasting everybody’s time debating each of these individuals. I certainly would recommend that we would just postpone these items that you’ve talked about for two weeks. In the meantime, I will do everything I can to convince the Mayor to meet with yourself and the vice chair.
[Orange Shirt] Thank you. [unintelligable] All those in favor of dropping, say “Aye”
[several people] “Aye”
[Kincaid] Mr. Chairman, I vote that we just postpone everything that is separated on the agenda items for two weeks.
[Bill] I sincerely hope you don’t postpone the new items. Some of the new items have absolutely nothing to do with the old budget. For instance, we have received a grant from the “Cities of Promise” program which is one of the governor’s initiatives. And, it is a grant for $882,000 to demolish and $294,000 for new structures and these are for public owned structures and we have a contract with the land bank that you have approved. And we can use the land bank and you won’t have to pay 50% for the cost of demolition. This net $882,000 would have to be spent by December 31 and they have informed us that if we can spend that money by December 31, they have another million dollars. In addition to that, this is a four year program. There are 80 “Cities of Promise” in the state and there is eighty million dollars set aside each year for this. And, if we do not forget this, we are liable to be left at the end and we forfeit eight million dollars and it has nothing to do with the budget. And I would certainly request that you approve that. Then the next one 070904, we have received a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott foundation regarding the 3rd Avenue project which is underway and that is $280,644 and that would be added to the grant which you have already approved from the Ruth Mott Foundation, and then we will receive an enhancement grant from the state for $730,253.58 – that’s a million and a quarter dollars that we could forfeit. And that project is well underway, I mean, they were paving out there today. And the last one, this would not be any money that would be spent this year, the Streetscape Project that’s the fifth cultural involvement, and that neighborhood - this is basically from Poplar Street to the Planetarium, and this is an enhancement grant that we are requesting. This will not be spent in this budget year but it takes a while to get these things moving and then the cultural center are going to do exactly what the 3rd Avenue group did and work to get matching grants – it’s not going to cost the city of Flint a penny. And I would certainly ask that you approve those three items, they’re very, very important and they’re extremely necessary.
[Kincaid] I’m going to submit a notion that all the new items that they go to Special Affairs. But, let me just point out again that they’re all, like 070903, is requesting money out of the old budget, the city council put money in for demolition in the budget and then Mayor went in and took it out. I mean, I’m talking about demolition for homes that don’t fall under the criteria of emergency, that are in neighborhoods that are established neighborhoods they’re not eligible for these block grant dollars and these homes are still available. [unintelligible] These programs are very important to the city. You tell me these programs are so important to the city. If these programs are so important to the city, if these grants are so important to the city, then all the more reason for the Mayor and the finance advisor and the budget director needs to meet with the leadership of the council. Until that happens, I’m not going to accept a grant from no one in the old budget until that budget’s resolved, Bill. That’s just me. That is just me. Why would we need these special materials that I’m telling you right now, I’m not going to vote for them until this council meeting goes there.
[Bill] Scott, this money is for publicly owned property. There are not limited to the CBDB areas. Any public property that’s owned by any public entity – could be Hurley hospital, could be the land bank, could be one of the schools. We have been tearing down these properties but now we have grant money to give so it isn’t all in the CBDB areas that we’re talking about. This is citywide and the money is there. If we don’t get in on the ground floor we’re liable to miss the boat.
[Kincaid] Well, tell the Mayor, Bill, to get the budget resolved with the council or just forget about even applying for this money.
[Bill] Scott, I believe the citizens of the city of Flint deserve more.
[Scott] Well, they do deserve more and the Mayor ought to give that to them and meet with the leadership of the council.
[Lady] I just want to comment on what Scott is saying. There is a request for 50% of matched dollars and these resolutions, things that they’ll be giving $465,000 for the CBDB fund and anytime you use those funds they are for resident areas, isn’t that correct? And we have someone from major grants to tell us that.
[Bill] We are able to use these CBDB funds in almost every area of the city and what it says is a 50% match. And, mostly the match will come from the land bank.
[Lady] Well, 417,000 people -
[Bill] It says Genessee County land bank farmers, uh, the city is committed to provide 50% match funds that will be resonate from CBDB funds and Genessee county land bank funds. We have a commitment from the land bank to do $865,000 worth of demolition that will more than make up the 50% match.
[Lady] Ok, just for clarification because I am looking at the resolution staff review sheet, and it says the city is committed to provide the 50% matching funds which will be a total of $882,000 which is the same that we are getting from the Cities of Promise and these dollars will originate again in CBDB funds - that’s $465,000 Genessee county land bank funds and $417,000 will be available and I have several burnt out structures in that area in walking distance. And I know again that demolishing these unsightly, blighted areas and so forth, again, if it was that important where is the person for major grants? And I know the agency is spending this because it looks like we’ll probably be losing another half million dollars and it won’t be our home dollars. We have to spend around $400,000 by the end of July ‘07.
[Bill] I don’t have anything to do with the home dollars.
[Lady] Yeah, I know that, I’m talking about the city reaching grants. So I don’t have any problem with sending it to special clearance and hopefully one of my colleagues want to do it, but again, I’m not prepared to vote on it because I don’t even know where this is coming from, which funding. I mean, looking at the money from this fiscal year, I don’t know.
[Gonzales] No, I’m just glad to see this proposal on the table again… The more we can help out there, is in my best interest. But I think I remember reading somewhere that if these monies aren’t spent by the end of the year that the state will recapture them?
[Gonzales] So, again, if we don’t act on something, by the time we act on something we won’t have enough time to spend all the money and it goes back to the state. And if we don’t have “Cities of Promise” in an effort to help depressed areas such as Flint, when faced with something such as that we need to spend 100% of the money –
Well, I think you get the idea. I’m sorry to cut off Mr. Gonzales, but I only have about two minutes left but I just wanted to respond to a couple things that happened here. We’re talking about millions and millions of dollars in grants that are there for us, that we pay taxes on through the federal government, the state government, what have you. No money coming out of the general fund for any of this. It’s a gift. And the Mott Foundation is making a gift. The feds and the state government are making gifts. So there’s millions of dollars. But the resolutions have to be passed by the city council and what do we hear from Scott Kincaid? He’s a friend of mine, and I like him, but he says, ‘Hey, we’re not going to vote for any resolution for any of this money – millions and millions of dollars – until the Mayor gives in on the budget and whether he’s right on the budget or we’re right on the budget. It has nothing to do with the budget! This is extortion. The Mayor takes a position –he’s right on the budget. The council says they’re right on it. It’s a legitimate issue. So trying to coerce someone by saying we’re not going to take millions and millions of dollars that will help our people – it’s ridiculous. Now you send it to the affairs committee – and it was turned down just this week. Turned down! I mean, and it won’t come up again for 30 more days. This money can be lost in that time. What are these people thinking of? I can understand why Kincaid is upset with the mayor. He says he and the mayor got into it and he says the Mayor said some things I don’t think he should have said but, hey, don’t let that personal animosity directly impact the quality of life for our citizens! Demolishing and run down houses and drug dens.
Tue Jul 31, 2007 5:30 pm