MJLO

New term limits for city politicians

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Will this help, or hurt the city?  Or will it make no difference.  

 

I'm disappointed that this law was passed.  I have a very favorable view of George Heartwell.   I admittedly don't know a lot about the city counsel members.  The lady who spear headed this ran for city office twice and lost because it's difficult to defeat incumbents.  So she found a way to just get rid of them.   I do not feel term limits are necessary or effective at the local level.  If this woman ever tries to run for office in the city of Grand Rapids again I will do every thing I can to remind people she's a sour sore loser.     I don't feel there is anything wrong with the current leadership in Grand Rapids and I actually would worry that a change could throw a wrench in the sustained progress the city has been enjoying.   What are your thoughts?

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If a city leader is that bad, get the people to vote that person out of office. Term limits at the local level can hamper longevity of good leadership while doing nothing to prevent bad leadership.

Edited by jonathan.jam
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Will this help, or hurt the city?  Or will it make no difference.  

 

I'm disappointed that this law was passed.  I have a very favorable view of George Heartwell.   I admittedly don't know a lot about the city counsel members.  The lady who spear headed this ran for city office twice and lost because it's difficult to defeat incumbents.  So she found a way to just get rid of them.   I do not feel term limits are necessary or effective at the local level.  If this woman ever tries to run for office in the city of Grand Rapids again I will do every thing I can to remind people she's a sour sore loser.     I don't feel there is anything wrong with the current leadership in Grand Rapids and I actually would worry that a change could throw a wrench in the sustained progress the city has been enjoying.   What are your thoughts?

 

 

I think people are making much ado about nothing. We have term limits for just about every elected office in the country. Much of the growth in the city and downtown can be attributed to the business community, higher ed institutions and the work of the DDA (which those boards members serve for specific length terms).  In fact, many of the neighborhoods in GR have higher poverty rates than ever, high unemployment rates, and the crime is still too high.

 

Perhaps it's time for a change of guard. The founding fathers of the U.S. never envisioned people being career politicians, so why should we?

 

Regardless, the people of Grand Rapids spoke and they want term limits.

 

It would be interesting to see if GR can make commissioners and the mayor full time jobs now. Tough sell though.

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I think people are making much ado about nothing. We have term limits for just about every elected office in the country. Much of the growth in the city and downtown can be attributed to the business community, higher ed institutions and the work of the DDA (which those boards members serve for specific length terms). In fact, many of the neighborhoods in GR have higher poverty rates than ever, high unemployment rates, and the crime is still too high.

 

Perhaps it's time for a change of guard. The founding fathers of the U.S. never envisioned people being career politicians, so why should we?

 

Regardless, the people of Grand Rapids spoke and they want term limits.

 

 

I agree.

 

No person in office is so good that they cant be rotated out before they start to become too comfortable in their seat. The people that are there now have not been there forever, and it is a bad idea to think that GR cant survive if they cant. In fact, I think almost all publicly elected officials in Grand Rapids should have term-limits like the School board and the Library board. Maybe stagger the number at any time to prevent a whole turnover at once.

 

If anything, this will get people more interested in local politics instead of just voting for the same people, just because their names are familiar.

 

 

 

And I also dont get this shaming of the lady that brought this issue to a vote. I've seen multiple positing of people ripping her as being some bitter loser just trying to get revenge.

 

Now I dont know her from a hole in the wall, but she did nothing wrong by collecting signatures to get this on the ballot, and then having the public vote on it. She did that, and it passed. She also isnt running for anything, so attacking her for doing what everyone has the right to do is a very chilling thing for citizens in the future that want to affect change in this city.

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Some short notes about the vote: opponents were clustered along the Michigan-Fulton Axis from Downtown east to I-96; and then in the SE side, along the Burton street corridor. There are strong urban and socio-economic factors at work here. These are neighborhoods that often orient to downtown, its institutions and civic building.  The issue was advanced from the west side. Urban poor and blue collar neighborhoods (post-war bungalow, first ring suburb) voted strikingly for the measure.

 

Perhaps the greatest concern among opponents is the potential loss of soft-knowledge and commitment to broader civic goals.

 

Behind the term limits also lies a certain anti-tax stance, a resentment against the road tax, which Rina Baker noted had motivated her.

Edited by wmrharris
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Save us from ourselves. We can't resist voting for the incumbents no matter how hard we try.  Let's enact a law instead so that when the qualified people who actually want to hold a position that steers the future of our city run out of time, we can start putting knuckleheads with no knowledge, no comprehension and nothing but axes to grind in instead because now we've run out of people with any real qualifications.  Genius.  What could possibly go wrong?

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Some short notes about the vote: opponents were clustered along the Michigan-Fulton Axis from Downtown east to I-96; and then in the SE side, along the Burton street corridor. There are strong urban and socio-economic factors at work here. These are neighborhoods that often orient to downtown, its institutions and civic building.  The issue was advanced from the west side. Urban poor and blue collar neighborhoods (post-war bungalow, first ring suburb) voted strikingly for the measure.

 

Perhaps the greatest concern among opponents is the potential loss of soft-knowledge and commitment to broader civic goals.

 

Behind the term limits also lies a certain anti-tax stance, a resentment against the road tax, which Rina Baker noted had motivated her.

 

 

 HAH!  So basically you're saying the fabulous people of SWAN pushed this over the top.   They must have been really pissed that city hall forced them to put up high quality market rate apartments in their neighborhood.  From what I understand low voter turn out had the biggest factor in the decision. They always say elections are decided by the people who DON'T show up.  But maybe the people of the west side can now vote a westsider into office who can then force the rest of the city to adopt a 2.5 story height variance in all neighborhoods!!   :D fun times!

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Save us from ourselves. We can't resist voting for the incumbents no matter how hard we try.  Let's enact a law instead so that when the qualified people who actually want to hold a position that steers the future of our city run out of time, we can start putting knuckleheads with no knowledge, no comprehension and nothing but axes to grind in instead because now we've run out of people with any real qualifications.  Genius.  What could possibly go wrong?

 

8 years is a long time. The president has that much and has a much harder job than a part-time commissioner.

 

People that want to steer the future of the city should realize that the city's government isn't set up to push personal agendas. There is nothing that comes before these guys that requires 17 years to fully understand either. If this is your passion, then you will commit the time to understanding the issues.

 

And if we are concerned by lack of knowledge, then why have elections? Technically everyone that is newly-elected doesn't know everything, and it is disingenuous to assume new people coming in would be crazies with axes to grind. You would never get elected in the first place, and you still have to win one re-election.

 

 

But maybe the people of the west side can now vote a westsider into office who can then force the rest of the city to adopt a 2.5 story height variance in all neighborhoods!! 

 

No one commissioner from the west side can force anything. If the majority votes no, then the majority votes no.

Edited by GR_Urbanist

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My brother is the chief of staff for a state rep in Lansing. From his experience there, he's become a strong opponent of term limits. It takes time to learn how to govern: learning about policy minutiae, how to be effective, and—most importantly—building relationships.

 

With the constant rotating door of politicians, the institutional knowledge is carried over in unelected positions: staffers, bureaucrats, lobbyists, etc. The elected officials have no choice but to lean on them for guidance. Also, since people don't have time to form deep relationships, compromise is much more difficult.

 

My hope is that the relationships issue is less damaging at the city level. After all, most people running for city commission (at least successfully) already have formed connections through various civic groups. However, I still think that the overall effect will be quite damaging.

 

I'm not too worried about the "crazies with axes to grind." However, even the brightest, most well-meaning people make mistakes due to inexperience. Institutional knowledge is extremely important to effective governance.

 

For those of us interested in policy, I think it will create a paradigm shift in how we operate. From my observations, it seems that most people have been most effective by forming relationships with elected officials. Since those officials will have much less time to make an impact, a lot of that effort will have to go directly into political campaigns instead.

 

 

 

We have term limits for just about every elected office in the country.

No. At the federal level, only the office of the President is term-limited (even the VP may serve an unlimited number of terms). 36 states have term limits for governors, but only 15 states have term limits for legislators.

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No one commissioner from the west side can force anything. If the majority votes no, then the majority votes no.

 

I know I was just being sarcastic.  I can't stand the west side mentality.   If I had my way I'd bulldoze the westside and start fresh and move all the residents to the old Butterworth landfill and make it an autonomous city called "Poland 1954"   and they could make it as dingy and mediocre as they want it to be and keep it that way forever. 

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 and it is disingenuous to assume new people coming in would be crazies with axes to grind. You would never get elected in the first place, and you still have to win one re-election.

 

 

... and who pushed for this in the first place?  Someone with an ax to grind because the voters rejected them - twice (silly voters).  So now, instead of working to win over the voting public we'll just get rid of the incumbents the voters apparently did like enough to re-elect.  Now, with less qualified competition in the next election, this person might have a chance (especially if the competition comes down to picking the least worst qualified person).  Then, they have eight years to push for the things that voters didn't want when they had better choices available to them.  I know it's a worst case scenario but I see the term limits philosophy as lazy, undemocratic and catering to the lowest common denominator.  It's basically saying, "we're so stupid we can't help voting for this person.  Save us from ourselves."  It is another symptom of our increasingly not-my-fault, take-no-responsibility society.  Why even have any election if we can't trust ourselves to vote for the best candidates?  Let's just assign a new random group of people from the census roll to be city commissioners every eight years.  Better yet, let's ditch elections altogether and have a central government assign local party leaders to distribute resources fairly and equitably amongst the proletariat, eh comrades?

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... and who pushed for this in the first place?  Someone with an ax to grind because the voters rejected them - twice (silly voters).  So now, instead of working to win over the voting public we'll just get rid of the incumbents the voters apparently did like enough to re-elect.  Now, with less qualified competition in the next election, this person might have a chance (especially if the competition comes down to picking the least worst qualified person).  Then, they have eight years to push for the things that voters didn't want when they had better choices available to them.  I know it's a worst case scenario but I see the term limits philosophy as lazy, undemocratic and catering to the lowest common denominator.  It's basically saying, "we're so stupid we can't help voting for this person.  Save us from ourselves."  It is another symptom of our increasingly not-my-fault, take-no-responsibility society.  Why even have any election if we can't trust ourselves to vote for the best candidates?  Let's just assign a new random group of people from the census roll to be city commissioners every eight years.  Better yet, let's ditch elections altogether and have a central government assign local party leaders to distribute resources fairly and equitably amongst the proletariat, eh comrades?

 

Well in the end nothing was done through fiat or underhandedly. She hit the pavement and collected signatures without threat or duress. It was clearly put on the ballot with clear language, and it was voted on by everyone interested enough in an important election year.

 

And it passed.

 

The opposition didn't seem to put together a credible campaign outside of calling her a crank and using exaggerated language that it was harming democracy or something like that. The former only painted them as mean, the latter was laughable because term limits exist in many areas without civilization ending results.

 

Also too much of the No side big supporters were seen as far to cozy with city officials. It reeked of the very thing the Yes side was saying all along. Talking to people about this yesterday brought that point up multiple times. That the Yes side seem more interested to them in keeping certain officials in their seats more than really being concerned about losing choices. Oh and a couple of guys that have to deal with the city had some choice words about some of the commissioners that I cant really repeat, so there was some payback votes too.

 

So it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. It will certainly makes things interesting.  :dontknow:

 

If it really makes things a bit too crazy, then it's a matter of doing the same process the other way. But it at least should be given a chance to see if it pans out for the good.

I know I was just being sarcastic.  I can't stand the west side mentality.   If I had my way I'd bulldoze the westside and start fresh and move all the residents to the old Butterworth landfill and make it an autonomous city called "Poland 1954"   and they could make it as dingy and mediocre as they want it to be and keep it that way forever. 

 

Hmmm. Maybe a slew of candidates of the new UP-GR party can sweep the next city elections?!  :good:

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 HAH!  So basically you're saying the fabulous people of SWAN pushed this over the top.   They must have been really pissed that city hall forced them to put up high quality market rate apartments in their neighborhood.  From what I understand low voter turn out had the biggest factor in the decision. They always say elections are decided by the people who DON'T show up.  But maybe the people of the west side can now vote a westsider into office who can then force the rest of the city to adopt a 2.5 story height variance in all neighborhoods!!   :D fun times!

 

Hah, does SWAN even have a thousand votes (the winning margin)?

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Hah, does SWAN even have a thousand votes (the winning margin)?

 

I wouldn't put it past a bunch of cranky old people from the west side to band together,  I bet you could find enough.

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Well in the end nothing was done through fiat or underhandedly. She hit the pavement and collected signatures without threat or duress. It was clearly put on the ballot with clear language, and it was voted on by everyone interested enough in an important election year.

 

And it passed.

 

The opposition didn't seem to put together a credible campaign outside of calling her a crank and using exaggerated language that it was harming democracy or something like that. The former only painted them as mean, the latter was laughable because term limits exist in many areas without civilization ending results.

 

Also too much of the No side big supporters were seen as far to cozy with city officials. It reeked of the very thing the Yes side was saying all along. Talking to people about this yesterday brought that point up multiple times. That the Yes side seem more interested to them in keeping certain officials in their seats more than really being concerned about losing choices. Oh and a couple of guys that have to deal with the city had some choice words about some of the commissioners that I cant really repeat, so there was some payback votes too.

 

So it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. It will certainly makes things interesting.  :dontknow:

 

If it really makes things a bit too crazy, then it's a matter of doing the same process the other way. But it at least should be given a chance to see if it pans out for the good.

 

 

 

I can't argue with that.  Maybe change will be for the better.  I will cross my fingers and hope it is.

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Well in the end nothing was done through fiat or underhandedly. She hit the pavement and collected signatures without threat or duress. It was clearly put on the ballot with clear language, and it was voted on by everyone interested enough in an important election year.

 

And it passed.

 

Exactly.  It isn't like they had a history of ramming through a shady tax increases during off-off-year elections with thirty pages of fine print that said something completely different than the ballot language.  Because people that did that sort of thing would never win any sort of election, right?

 

 

There is nothing that comes before these guys that requires 17 years to fully understand either. If this is your passion, then you will commit the time to understanding the issues.

 

I suspect that many people in office like to think they are so indispensable and irreplaceable, that they consciously or unconsciously start to fashion a reality where, in fact, this actually begins to become true.  Seriously, why are some of these people running advertisements every month in my neighborhood newsletter with giant pictures of their faces?   When it isn't even election season some of these folks are such publicity wh---s that they feel compelled to make sure you never, ever have a moment's chance to forget about them.  They make congresspersons look like a bunch of pikers.  Sure, some good will be lost with the bad, but how else do you fight it?  You can't.  So good riddance, I say.

Edited by x99
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...

And I also dont get this shaming of the lady that brought this issue to a vote. I've seen multiple positing of people ripping her as being some bitter loser just trying to get revenge.

 

Now I dont know her from a hole in the wall, but she did nothing wrong by collecting signatures to get this on the ballot, and then having the public vote on it. She did that, and it passed. She also isnt running for anything, so attacking her for doing what everyone has the right to do is a very chilling thing for citizens in the future that want to affect change in this city.

I am acquainted with her due to being on a city board; comprehension (language) issues. When she ran for comptroller, as a scientist, one of her platforms was being pro-life.

 

ETA: if memory serves, this had something to do with "saving the city money" in healthcare costs....

Edited by Veloise

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I am acquainted with her due to being on a city board; comprehension (language) issues. When she ran for comptroller, as a scientist, one of her platforms was being pro-life.

 

You can be a scientist and be pro-life. Roe vs Wade is based on a scientific term called "viability of the fetus" and when that occurs. It's why you can't currently get an abortion in the third trimester. But you knew that. Don't want to man-splain. :)

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Not that the current commissioners or the mayor aren't great people or anything, but I think people way overestimate the roles they play as part-timers. Most of the items that are voted on at city-commission meetings have already spent a year being vetted and refined by city staff. You like bike lanes and road diets? Basically being championed by Suzanne Schulz at the Planning department (not an elected official). Glad that the city survived the greatest recession in history and was able to cut costs while maintaining most services and keep their bond rating high? You can thank Greg Sundstrom primarily for that. Police chief? Not elected. The parking commissioners serve in term limited seats, with a parking department that is staff. Planning Commission term limited. DGRI is completely staffed, no elected officials.

 

Even if you were trying to pull some shady business or development deal (as we have seen with a couple of projects back in the 2006/07 period) you'd have to get ALL of the commissioners to buy into your shady deal. There's not a lot of power-brokering or trading of votes in a city commission like there is at the State House and Senate level (where term limits are bad).

 

I would also add that I think a lot of people are afraid of losing Heartwell and getting a conservative/right leaning mayor. But Logie was a great mayor and did a lot for GR, and I don't remember being very liberal.

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I know I was just being sarcastic.  I can't stand the west side mentality.   If I had my way I'd bulldoze the westside and start fresh and move all the residents to the old Butterworth landfill and make it an autonomous city called "Poland 1954"   and they could make it as dingy and mediocre as they want it to be and keep it that way forever. 

 

The shade of it all.

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I kind of have mixed feelings about the term limits. On one hand, we would be losing the expereince long standing incumbants, such as the current mayor, brings to the table. That would hurt our city. But then again the term limits would open the door from new people with freash new ideas which would be a good thing for the city. My only real fear is when elections comes up that people end up voting into city offices knuckle heads who would undo the good things that have happened to this city.

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