Do You Have An Opinion? 6-18

BerNero & Some Council Members Are Mathematically Illiterate, Politically Incompetent & Fiscally Irresponsible!
•    No need to vote.  Forget democracy, the City Charter, the state and U.S. constitutions, Emperor BerNero has already bought the 11 cameras, which have been assembled with city decals, and are at the City warehouse on Hazel Street.
•    After insisting that Lansing is “safe,” and that the string of murders were merely an “up tick” in crime, BerNero unveiled his $1 million-plus crime-fighting plan on Aug. 16.
•    At 2 or 3 council committee meetings, representatives of the Fraternal Order of Police went on record opposing the surveillance cameras.  But BerNero, Leeman, Dunbar, Matt and Kaltenbach know better than the police, who are Lansing’s real crime fighters.
•    Overall major crime in Lansing was down 6% in 2006 and down another 10% the first 6 months of this year.
•    BerNero’s plan calls for hiring a commercial property code enforcement officer at a cost of $100,000 to red-tag and/or make safe & demolish small businesses.  City Council approved this on Aug. 20, but have yet to identify a funding source.
•    The plan also calls for spending $100,000 to hire 1 full-time Neighborhood Watch Officer to go along with the one watch officer who oversees 132 neighborhood watches, that cover 10% of the city.  This is another unbudgeted expense. Two such officers will cover only 20% of Lansing.  So, it would take 10 watch officers and 1,320 watch groups to cover the entire city at a cost of $1 million/year.
•    Eleven cameras, wireless equipment & upgrades, wireless cards for cop cars, servers, video storage and work stations will be purchased at a price of up to $350,000 @ 5%-6% interest for 5 years, which is the useful life of this Big Brother video system.  An estimated $50,420 per year is needed to operate and maintain the system.
•    $250,000 @ 5% -6% is $4,718 to $4,833/month for 5 years.  $350,000 @ 5%-6% is $6,605 to $6,767/month for 5 years.
•    On Aug. 20, the council agreed to use Act 99 funds to borrow up to $518,000 for a new phone system @ up to 6% interest for 10 years.  At 6%, that will cost the general fund $5,751/month for 10 years.
•    No one knows how much it will cost for signage, training, and officers to watch the monitors, moving cameras from poles to poles, technical support, or developing the necessary policies and operating procedures.
    •    There are still no criteria or locations for the cameras, which is why this violates the 4th Amendment to Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches & seizures of persons, their homes, papers and effects without probable cause and search warrants.
    •    The only reason we have an alleged murderer behind bars is because her dog stopped him from killing the woman on Jones Street.
    •    Cameras don’t prevent crimes, nor do they always help catch or identify perpetrators.  (Four banks were robbed by the same guy who was caught on camera each time, and he is still at large).
    •    According to U.S Department of Justice, cameras are only effective in preventing crime if police respond quickly, which means constant monitoring 24 hours per day.
    •    After I alerted the press on July 1, the State Journal printed the story about dead zones and the inability of police to communicate with one another and the 9-1-1 dispatch system, which cost $12.5 million and was installed in July 2006. At the Committee of the Whole on July 19, we learned that from June 1 to July 13 of this year, there were 950,000 push & talks countywide.  The Lansing Police Department had 400,000 push & talks during this 6-week period.  One percent or 4,000 calls were missed.  That equals 88-100 times per day that our police can’t hear one another or the dispatcher or vice versa.  Approximately 200 times everyday police throughout Ingham County are missing calls on this $12.5 million system that is only a year old.  Taxpayers of Ingham County pay into a millage to support the 9-1-1 system and everyone with a land-based phone pays a monthly surcharge too.  LPD officers will tell you the city’s current system is slow and overloaded.  So, adding real time 24-hour per day surveillance video should totally incapacitate it and render the system useless.
•    On Sept. 4 “Homicide probes eating up overtime” appeared in the State Journal.  It was $210,000 of the $801,215 budgeted for police overtime was eaten up from July 1 through Aug. 17.  In other words, LPD spent 96 days worth of overtime in just 48 days.  This is after I warned the council before it passed the current budget that both police and fire departments’ overtime had been under budgeted by more than $1.1 million, based on 10 years of historical data and city audits.
•    In addition to overtime, this year’s $112 million general fund budget includes $8.5 million from the state via revenue sharing, even though the state has a $1.8 billion deficit and has yet to pass a budget.
•    BerNero and the silly council robbed $500,000 from its employee and retiree health insurance account to balance this year’s budget.  This account is being funded at $2.6 million this year, instead of $8 million.  Overall, this health account has a deficit of $314 million.  In addition the city’s long-term debt was $244.2 million as of June 30, 2005.
•    With over $1 million of damage to private property from the tornado on Aug. 24, neither the mayor, nor public service director Chad Gamble can find the money, or have the wherewithal to remove debris.  Instead, residents were issued warnings that they would be ticketed.  Meanwhile, nearly 4 weeks after this act of God, Gamble and staff are still in the process of preparing informational flyers, as the city sits on an $8 million rainy day fund.
•    Lansing is borrowing and building its way to bankruptcy on the backs and necks of taxpayers.  Instead of fiscal responsibility, our incompetent and mathematically illiterate city officials prefer to indulge in prestidigitation, rosy scenarios, smoke & mirrors, voodoo economics, grandiose pipedreams, shell games, and good old-fashioned snake oil.

John Pollard
Lansing, MI