Police Staffing

Watch the ABC12 report on the police staffing situation. It includes clips from Audrey Martini’s presentation at Thursday’s CCNA meeting.

Meeting Minutes, November 18, 2010

Vice President Mike Keeler presided.

Minutes of the September 16, 2010 meeting were read by Secretary Paul Streby. The minutes were corrected and approved. Paul provided some information about the website, and invited others to become active with it.

Treasurer Cindy Robinson gave the treasurer’s report. $723.94 is in the beautification fund, and $818.80 in the general fund. The treasurer’s report was approved.

President Sherry Hayden reminded neighbors to renew their CCNA membership. The membership voted to spend $366 on monthly ads in East Village Magazine for 2011.

Michael Kelly reported that Mott College is building a sidewalk on Longway Blvd. It helps connect paths through and beyond Flint. The Mott library is scheduled to be done with renovation at the end of the year, and under budget; the blue waterproofing on the façade will be gone. Community members can use the library. It reopens January 8. Horrigan Dr. will be the Court St. entrance for campus to relieve mid-campus congestion. Mott will keep its commitment to pay off the library renovation bond, but it will take longer than expected due to the drop in property tax revenues. Mott has several new majors, and has added two new green surface lots to accommodate the growing enrollment. The Cultural Center Holiday Walk is Tuesday, December 7.

Audrey Martini, director of outreach in the criminal justice program at Michigan State University, and who has been working with the CCNA Crime Watch, spoke about the Flint Police project. It involves training and technical assistance, informed by formative evaluation, and based on the assumption that no funding is available to expand police ranks. Making do with available resources is the goal. The lowest-seniority officer has 12 years on the job. Changes to practice need to be in place for seven years to become institutionalized. Calls have to be prioritized because there is not the manpower to respond to every single one. One option is online reporting for certain petty crimes, like destruction of property. Her handout states, “The goal of the MSU’s current partnership with the City of Flint Police Department and C.S. Mott Foundation is to leverage resources of the various partners to enhance Flint’s 21st Century Community Policing vision of a long term, sustainable policing strategy that supports the system-wide use of police-community partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.” Focusing on two areas of crime prevention can have ripple effects in other types of unlawful activity. Crime watches, eyes & ears programs, and other forms of community involvement are essential.

City Attorney Pete Bade spoke about the Genesee Towers settlement. Because the City does not have funds to pay the owner, the judgment will be presented to the tax assessor, who must by law impose a property tax. It will be 6.71 mills applicable to all properties (including Renaissance Zones), and appear on the December tax bill. Municipal bankruptcy does not eliminate union contracts or civil judgments. The State will not allow a city to file for municipal bankruptcy, which affects the State’s credit rating. A state takeover could result in a manager who consider only the bottom line. The City takes possession on December 8. Inspectors will do triage. It is possible that the building can be saved and marketed; demolition would be costly, because of its proximity to the Mott Foundation Building. Overall, Flint is well within the norm of claims paid overall.

City Councilman Dale Weighill reported that the budget is a major concern; the accumulated debt is about $18M. At current spending, the current fiscal year will leave the City $5M deeper. The State will not allow a bond issue until the gap is closed by union concessions. The firefighters union agreed to a benefits cut. If other unions don’t agree to concessions, layoff notices will go out to about 50 employees, including in public safety. If the current gap can be closed, City Council can vote to apply to the state for a bond issue. The mayor may ask the State for legislation to allow the City to raise tax rates to 1.5% for residents, 1% for nonresidents. He may also ask for property tax increases to pay for policing. Dale met with the mayor about the house at 801 S. Vernon, but it is considered sound and can’t be condemned and demolished. Leaf pickup was late because of poor management, which the department head admitted; an outside manager may be necessary. Compost bags will be picked up through the end of November. Dale was reelected City Council Vice President. He doesn’t always receive CCNA Listserv mailings, so email him directly with questions or comments. He invited neighbors to fill out a brief survey on tax and other issues.

Pete Bade said it can be very difficult to demolish privately owned structures that are fire-damaged. The attorney’s office at Court near Grand Traverse has been standing for years; owners can drag out the process for years.

County Treasurer-elect Deb Cherry said she would come to meetings when she can. She is glad to receive input.

Mott Trustee Andy Everman reported that tuition increases are the result of declining property tax revenues. Tax increases are not under discussion.

Mike Herriman and Craig Wolcott reported on the College Cultural Neighborhood Watch. Neighbors are urged to report crimes so accurate statistics are available. Additional funds appear not to be necessary to keep the CCNW in operation.

Meeting Minutes, September 16, 2010

Vice President Mike Keeler presided.

Board of Education member Betty Ramsdell gave a report on a proposed sinking fund. Homedale School will be torn down at a cost of $600,000. Central High School can be renovated if stimulus funds come through.

Secretary Paul Streby read the reports of the special July 22 meeting, which were recorded by Mike Robinson. They were approved.

Treasurer Cindy Robinson read the treasurer’s report; CCNA had a total of $1610.66 in its bank accounts. The report was approved.

President Sherry Hayden reported that Andy Everman has been doing a lot of mowing around the neighborhood. To help cover his expenses, neighbors are invited to give money or give it to Sherry to pass along to Andy. The next cleanup date is October 9.

A neighbor reported that on two occasions, a twosome hit golf balls at the crews mowing Burroughs Park. The Mott Public Safety desk sergeant can be called if this happens again.

Raynetta Speed, outreach coordinator of the Genesee County Land Bank reported on the clearing of vacant and abandoned lots and garden programs. The Land Bank is still demolishing dilapidated homes and trying to keep up with the arsons in Flint. More information is available at thelandbank.org.

City Councilman Dale Weighill reported that 500 houses are on the City’s emergency demolition list. The Council has recommended bidding out the demolition projects. Tami McRae is the blight elimination officer for the 7th Ward, plus some other areas. The blight elimination office number is 237-2090. The initial fine for parking on lawns is $25, and gets higher for subsequent citations, but follow-through is difficult, given the lack of police resources. He is working on getting the City to take action on the burned-out house at 801 S. Vernon, which is boarded up. He can meet with the mayor, and bring along neighbors who are interested.

Dale reported that there are not enough votes in favor of extending the tax abatement for University Park Estates. He will email the CCNA Listserv if the mayor brings it to the City Council. The decline in property values created a $10M deficit the last year of the Williamson administration, and $9M under Dayne Walling. A tax increase might not prevent revenue from sinking further, so layoffs could still occur. Another state takeover might not be all bad, with revenues and expenditures being lined up. He is interested in input on this. The City offered the owner of Genesee Towers a portion of the settlement, but he refused, so a millage might be imposed to pay the award. If the City could not make its payroll, this could be a trigger for a takeover.

Alex Harris stated that legacy costs such as pensions eat up a large portion of the City’s budget. These cannot be removed except possibly in a municipal bankruptcy.

Jim Ananich, who is running for state representative, reported that there will be an election forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters on September 29 at Flushing Twp. Hall, featuring candidates in local races. He said that the cost of demolishing Genesee Towers may be a wash if the resulting scrap materials are sold.

Deb Cherry, candidate for County Treasurer, said she wants to analyze foreclosures and work with banks to head off foreclosures when possible.

Craig Wolcott and Mike Herriman reported that they now have 13 block captains for the Crime Watch. Block captains gather contact information from residents of their areas, and get them on the Red Alert system if they wish. It is important to turn on porch lights at night, but some streets are very dark. More Blue Badge training of different levels is coming up. Crime Watch vests are available. The next Crime Watch meeting is October 7. A paid patrol is a no-go. It is recommended that homeowners bolt window air conditioners and keep pepper spray or wasp spray near their doors.

Matt Schlinker modelled a Crime Watch vest, and gave a demonstration of a Red Alert. Patrol Notes is available for people using the Red Alerts. Neighbors can contact Matt or Shane Grambling to be added to the Patrol Notes list.