Friday, February 24, 2012

Follow the Money

Southeast Michigan today and the Detroit News offers us three wonderful examples of the corruption, mismanagement, and waste that seem to go hand in hand with progressive urban-based power politics.

This is not to say that there isn't corruption elsewhere or that it is not engaged in by centrist milquetoasts, but by definition, a conservative eschews the amassing of power through ever greater government and the money it attracts.

First, we have the Highland Park School District, located in a city largely surrounded by festering Detroit. It is a city that manages to blend the look and feel of a demilitarized zone with the urban accent of a burned out Reliant-K.

This week teachers in that school district might be working for free because the district has mismanaged itself right out of viability. The city itself has been devastated by business loss, population flight, and urban unrest--developments not atypical of most other Detroit urban neighborhoods. But it is not for a lack of revenue coming into the district. This year the district spent approximately $16,000 per student while the state average is closer to $9,000.

This from the Detroit News:

"The Highland Park School District has financially collapsed. There are no excuses for the bad decisions made by the adults in charge, but we had to act to protect the students," [House Speaker Jase Bolger of Marshall] Bolger said.

"We have a constitutional requirement to provide children with an education, but we have an even stronger moral obligation to protect them from adults who have put them in peril."

Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said she voted "no" because the state caused the district's problems by cutting education funding.

"We've got many school districts in Michigan that are in crises right now," Whitmer said. "What we're addressing today is a symptom of what ails our education system.
$320,000 for a classroom of twenty students is clearly not enough money for the intellectually challenged (yet lovely) Gretchen Whitmer. If only the state could kick in a little more...

Just down the road and to the right, the majestic Guardian Building provides a fragile veneer to the corruption and mismanagement in Wayne County--the same county in which Highland Park lies. Here the administration of Robert Ficano, the long time progressive Wayne County Executive, has been frittering away a fortune to cronies and on speculative deals designed to do little more than protect the fiefdom of Mr. Ficano and line the pockets of his aides and associates.

The FBI is investigating and things are not looking good.

Again from the Detroit News:
The FBI's probe into Wayne County has broadened to include allegations a fired top political lieutenant to Executive Robert Ficano bought a list of registered voters with money intended for the poor.
Poor? What poor?

Finally, a little story about the City of Detroit where benevolent city administrators of benevolent federal dollars funneled through a benevolent State of Michigan have been cited for waste and overall inefficiency.
According to a City Council internal memo obtained by The Detroit News, about $44 million was allocated to Detroit last year. About $9 million of that was block grant dollars and $35 million was for the weatherization program, which is intended to cut energy bills for low-income homeowners in Detroit. Nearly $1.8 million in block grant money and $15 million of weatherization grant money remain unspent.

The memo says the state wants to create an authority to merge Detroit and Wayne County human services agencies, with a board that includes one-third of local elected officials.

"Due to alleged mismanagement, improper accounting and instances of criminal conduct that are still under federal investigation, the state will not be renewing its grant management contracts with Detroit DHS and will be taking the remaining funds away from DDHS," the memo reads.

It later adds, "The State indicated the change is essential because the State DHS … is ultimately on the hook for how the grant dollars are allocated and spent, and whether it's properly handled or not."

The memo offers no specific allegations, but the city's Department of Human Services came under fire for spending $182,000 on office furniture.
No wonder the size of government keeps expanding. It takes more and more dollars every year to fill the holes of corruption and inefficiency that burgeon whenever our civil overlords discover that they can spend, live off, and provide sustenance to family and friends by simply spreading around vast amounts of other peoples' money.

Gretchen Whitmer wants to shove more money into the tunnel, Robert Ficano and his staff would like to apply it where it can do their careers the most good, and city DHS officials stumble all over themselves to score some new furniture while the poor freeze their asses off in single pane houses.

When people spend their own money they make better decisions. Sadly, this hasn't happened in the HPSD, Wayne County, or the City of Detroit for decades.

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