There was a rather scathing piece in the Record Eagle recently about County government. The basis of the piece was that county governments in Northern Mi tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on political posturing and meaningless resolutions. What they should be spending time on is the “nitty gritty” business of county improvement and governance.
Well you, my dear readers, are familiar with such an imbalance. So, let’s play a drinking game! As you read, be sure to take a drink every time you read about micromanaging, political posturing, 😮 election fraud 😮 , cheapness actually costing more money, or commissioners claiming to be experts in something they know nothing about.
WARNING: put the kids to bed. You’re going to be drunk.
There was definitely less of it. Thank God.
- Trucker Randy got up and thanked the commissioners for having an in person meeting and then proceeded to chew them out for paying a lawyer to actually defend the county in the lawsuit that he helped instigate.
- Man with NRA hat implored the Board to ignore the law and hand count the election results. He also asked the Board to ignore the tyrannical governor.
- A lady accused the Clerk of 😮 ELECTION FRAUD 😮
- Assorted nonsense
The meeting was held in person. COVID is worse than ever, so it seems like a great time to switch back to in person.
The Board Chairman is composed of 47% beard. As the meeting proceeded, the chairman’s face slowly and steadily consumed his surgical mask. A bit disturbing.
But, at least he wore a mask. Several commissioners don’t bother wearing one at all. Which is fine if they’re vaccinated, but it’s not cool if they’re just being assholes.
The Road Commission is having revenue issues due to COVID. Part of the state funding comes from gas taxes and car registrations, both of which is down. Antrim Road Commission is looking at a $600,000 shortfall.
The waiting list for vaccinations is now exhausted. So, anybody that wants one can get one fairly quickly. For god’s sake, please go get one, people.
ANOTHER MARCUS TANTRUM
Commissioner Marcus is still ticked off that meeting minutes don’t include every single thing that he says about 😮 ELECTION FRAUD 😮 . He is mad at Sheryl Guy for not including all the crazy things that he said at the last meeting when he directly accused her of fraud. Now, he wants that accusation included in the meeting minutes.
This is ridiculous. Everyone knows that public minutes are usually only action items: who made the motion, who supported, and voting results. That’s it.
During the discussion, Marcus raised his voice several times, threw his pen, and accused Ed Boettcher of being the actual conspiracy theorist, not Marcus. At the mention of conspiracy, Watrous perked up and asked Sheryl Guy who directed her to “change the numbers”.
DRINKING UPDATE: I already have a buzz.
This all came about during a simple attempt to approve minutes from the previous meeting! A vote to approve the minutes was a 5-4 split vote. And of course, the five yes votes supported Marcus’ crazy rant. It took a half hour to approve the god damned minutes!
Police departments in Antrim all have the same radios and they are all end of life this year. The cops can’t use them anymore. The police departments have the money, it is supported via millage. Easy. Of course, there was plenty of complaining from the Commissioners.
They complained that the last time the County bought radios was last year for the fire departments and the project got screwed up. The county and the fiore departments ended up spending more on maintenance and the radios didn’t do the things that the fire departments needed them to do.
They are correct. That happened. BUT, it happened because they went against the recommendation of the 911 Board and just knee-jerk accepted the lowest bidder. They were warned, but they disregarded it and now the FDs are pissed off.
HAZARDOUS WASTE DAY
Adventures in micromanaging! The County has popular household hazardous material days every year where people are to bring household hazardous materials (used oil, paint, batteries, etc.) and pay a small fee to dispose of them. The people love it. But, it is getting expensive. So, the Board asked staff to come up with a plan to decrease costs for the program and increase revenue. Staff came back with a plan to charge extra for items that are brought.
So, of course, Marcus made a motion to disregard the staff plan that they had asked for, and not raise prices at all. Leave the fees exactly where they are.
What? The Board asked for the plan and then when the plan was presented, they are going to disregard it and do their own thing anyway?
There was twenty minutes of discussion on how much to charge on a can of paint. Commissioner Rubingh declared that we should charge $10 per can, others scoffed and recommended other prices: $2 $3, etc. They talked about electronics, tires and the prices for each.
Talk about getting lost in the weeds! Wow.
This is so dumb. They directed a committee of staff members to come up with this plan so that the Board wouldn’t have to get into the weeds on this. They then wrangled all about the stuff in the weeds.
Staff can do this. The Conservation District can deal with this. Why is the BoC dealing with this?
DRINKING UPDATE: beeeeeeeelch.
The Board heard a very interesting presentation from a quasi-government agency regarding housing shortages in the area. Basically, there is a serious need for affordable single-family households in the area. It is a need for residents that need a basic roof over their head, and also a need for business owners to maintain staffing. The presenter was from Housing North and she stated that 891 additional housing units are needed in the county.
All economic sectors are in need of housing. Obviously, low income families are in need of affordable housing, especially given rent prices in the area. Workforce housing is needed for the business sector. Also, needed is senior housing. Fixed income individuals are struggling to find adequate affordable housing.
The Board referred Housing North to local townships and villages. They felt it was more appropriate for more local units to handle housing. That is a suspect decision. The County actually has a housing department. Or do they?
A couple years ago, things got out of hand when it was revealed what Antrim’s housing department was doing. Or rather, what Antrim’s housing department was NOT doing.
BEETLESHIT BEETLESHIT BEETLESHIT
There’s an invasive plant creeping back into Antrim County, especially around 6 Mile Lake and the Elk River. The Conservation District wants to utilize a special type of beetle to eradicate the purple loosestrife. The Conservation District will work with housing associations and property owners on this project. This would cost the County a grand total of … Zero Dollars! The Conservation District was just simply asking to adjust their budget to purchase the beetles for a measly $318.
Queue the bitching! Commissioner Rubingh objected to the whole project because “he went to college” for “animal sciences” (whatever that is). He wants to know why we would bring an invasive species (beetles) to control an invasive species (loosestrife). He doesn’t understand why “we would pay money” for this project. Quick reminder: it doesn’t cost anything.
Commissioner Rubingh had a further question for the Board: “What happens when the beetles poop?” Their poop, he contended, could be worse than the loosestrife! He based this assertion on nothing. Commissioner Watrous jumped in and said that Commissioner Rubingh’s gibberish rant “took the words right out of my mouth.” IT DID?? How is it possible to have symbiotic stupidity?
Luckily, this a no brainer proposal passed with only the two like-minded anti-beetle-poop Commissioners opposing.
It should go without saying, but this is not the Board’s job. Other than the surprise “animal scientist” Rubingh, these are not specialists or scientists. This should be left to the specialists. We already have a Conservation District that can handle this. Let them do their job.
DRINKING UPDATE: Whew! Beers are going down fast now! I’m going to have to call in sick at this rate. Yikes.
The administration office has been working on a project to bring fiber internet to the area.
The County can not act on getting any fiber into the area without first passing a statutory-required resolution (Metro Act). This would be a baby first step toward an unknown project. If a County would work on any type of project with a company to bring in expanded broadband, this has to be done just to do anything or nothing. In other words no private or public entity will work with the county without this first small step. Again, easy. This is just the BoC deciding to explore Broadband options. Non-committal.
Queue the hand wringing. Commissioner Marcus is concerned about people’s property rights. Commissioner Bargy is scurred of committing to, well… anything.
This was a bunch of people who struggle to operate zoom, explaining fiber optic connections and trunk lines to each other.
The County administrators are meeting with Great Lakes Energy about their fiber project.
There are several municipalities that are asking the County to declare a local state of emergency (SoE) due to COVID. There are several local units of government that are required to have an open meeting unless the county declares an emergency. The County is the smallest unit of government that can declare an SoE. This includes library boards, Meadowbrook, and other governing boards. Also, an SoE opens up funding, PPE procurement opportunities, and waves some regulatory procedures to deal with the emergency.
The armchair epidemiologists on the Board proceeded to diagnose the extent of the pandemic. They all agreed that the county needs to open up more. The Chairman proposed declaring an SoE until a date in June to make the smaller government units happy. Watrous scoffed, “Oh, so COVID is going away at whatever date that we declare it to go away?”
Marcus interjected that shutting down is a terrible idea since Michigan has been in and out of shut down and now it is worse than ever. “I’m tired of this crap!”
Rubingh’s turn. He said that the Board has to set an example by opening up. If smaller units of government “want to stop having open meetings, then they can do that!” He howled. Which is not true. They need the county to make the declaration.
They finally got around to taking a vote. A maskless Watrous voted against it and let everybody know that the State could not make anybody wear a mask. “Those mask laws aren’t real!” He threw his phone on the desk. “They can’t make anybody wear a mask, anywhere!” The chairman had to remind him that they were actually voting.
DRINKING UPDATE: Oh my god. I don’t know how much more I can drink. Like, does this mean I am winning? How is this a game?
The vote passed with 4 commissioners voting AGAINST the SoE.
One of the most important things that the Board is considering now is what to do long-term with the County facilities.
Boettcher encouraged the Board to make a decision on what we are doing with Facilities before doing the Strategic Plan. The facilities plan will define what the overall Strategic plan becomes. Lavanway complained that the consultant would cost $4000. That doesn’t seem like much for deciding how millions would be invested. Bargy said as much and wondered why this is taking so long.
Yeah, that is a good question. Why has this taken three years?
Rubingh doesn’t want to spend money on buildings when “100% of county residents” use the roads. Let’s spend money on the roads! THIS MAKES NO SENSE. The Road Commission is a completely separate entity. The funding is separate.
Maybe Rubingh thinks that he is actually on the Road Commission.
No action was taken on this. It all seems to be in limbo.
DRINKING UPDATE: I have ofishially lost the Dwinking gome
MORE PUBLIC COMMENT
Trucker Randy got bored 20 minutes into the meeting and left. Now, he is back for a second round of his favorite thing in the world: public comment. He decided to come back via Zoom and debunk the University of Michigan professor’s report on what happened in the election. Trucker Randy – droppin public comment truth bombz, yo!
DRINKING UPDATE: Holy shit. I passed out during a BoC meeting! How is that possible? Thiz won waz only tree hurs long?