Thursday, July 25, 2013

Allen Park: Isn't Hindsight Always 20/20?

On March 21, 2012, I posted an article about Allen Park. I named the piece “‘Let’s Send the Letter’ Allen Park Votes.” I am a journalistic freedom fighter and I didn’t want the city to fall into the hands of dominate control.

In an interview I had with Mayor Matakas he stated: “I’d rather fight a devil I can see than the one I can’t.” I didn’t know he had become the target of the blame, though it wasn’t his. I did know he was doing everything humanly possible to keep city services intact while preserving the cities attributes.

I attended the city council meeting to vote on sending the letter to the state asking for the help of an emergency financial manager. I couldn’t believe what I saw. The room was packed. One by one residents approached the podium facing the Mayor and his council to voice their concerns facing the city. It quickly became obvious the main concern wasn’t police and fire protection, it wasn’t education, it wasn’t even trash removal, it was the ice, the hockey arena.

Almost every person asked about the arena or commented that they wouldn’t allow their children to go without the arena. A few people approached asking for the arena to be sold to a private owner before an EFM was appointed to protect it. Nobody spoke to save the police and fire departments or the city services. Nobody volunteered any personal help or ideas that would assist in pulling themselves out of the crisis. Recreation and sport was of supreme importance. A handful of people, including myself, shook their heads in disbelief. The council placated the crowd. The Mayor tried to explain, but was repeatedly interrupted and berated by Dennis Hayes. I realized many had become exactly what the imperialists had been working on for years. Americans had dummied down.

The State warned against sending the letter before the emergency May 8th election, but the council voted to send it right away. The people cheered. I watched the Mayor. He knew the implications of the EFM, the people didn’t. He had worked day and night to find a way out without the residents losing financial control of their city. He lost. His only hope was the emergency election on raising the tax base by 4 mills, for two years, would pass.

After the meeting was adjourned and the crowd began to disperse I saw the look of defeat on Mayor Matakas face. I approached him and shook his hand. We shared looks which said: “God forgive them, they know not what they do.”

I wrote the article and instantly I was ripped to shreds by the people of Allen Park. I was told I should be tarred and feathered and ran out of town. The comments poured in, mainly insulting comments, without any real basis. Some blamed the current Mayor for sucking up to the police because of his son in law or some other farfetched reason. Few agreed Mayor Matakas inherited the situation from the previous Mayor.

I continued to write urging Allen Park to vote in the 4 mill increase for two years. The result was a string of insults by people that absolutely refused to pay an extra penny in taxes to help their own situation. As I continued to warn them, they continued to bash, insult, and berate.

The two-year, 4 mill increase failed. EFM appointed.

Look where Allen Park was just a few short months after that May 8th vote. The Allen Park Recreation Center was leased out. It’s now a privately controlled entity. They lost control of their prized possession. It was a finalized deal by November 2012.

Now, EFM Joyce Parker has a new ballet proposal coming on August 6th. It’s not the same deal the Mayor had worked out for two years to keep the city from falling in the states hands, it’s a new one. Joyce is proposing a 10 year 6.75 mill levy, which includes the 3.5 mill already being paid, and there’s a catch. It isn’t a simple refusal for the voters. If the 6.75 mill levy isn’t voted in there are grave consequences. It isn’t a threat, or a strong arm, it’s a fact.

EFM Parker has a Plan B. If the tax increase isn’t passed 15 firefighters and 6 police officers will lose their jobs. There will be one furlough day without pay and the streetlights will need to be assessed. With this there may be a consolation of services.

The Allen Park residents have voted themselves into a lose lose situation. Had they voted in the 4 mill, two year increase in May of 2012, they would have saved themselves a bundle in property tax dollars. What Ms. Parker isn’t revealing is that she has the power, vote or no vote, to instill the proposed tax increase. The vote means nothing. If you go against the vote she can put all of her promised Plan B tactics into effect and still take the 6.75 mills. That’s the new way in America.

The only advice I can give the City of Allen Park is to vote out Snyder in November. Take your city back.

Till the next time,

Hindsight is always 20/20,


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