Friday, June 08, 2007

The trappings of power...

For the most part, I don't really care how many days Paris Hilton spends in jail. I'll have to admit to being blissfully ignorant as to who she even was before the publicity of her latest tangle with the law. I do appreciate law enforcement's efforts to keep intoxicated drivers off of our public roads. All I would ask is that Ms. Hilton be treated the same way as my old friend Stinky Wilmont would be treated, should he happen to find himself in the same unfortunate circumstances.

Unfortunately, things don't always work out that way. Sometimes money affects the way things happen. Sometimes a persons position in society does the same thing. And sometimes, being an elected official seems to offer special privileges.

A couple of days ago Wayne County Commissioner Tom Dickman announced that he was stepping down from his position because he had moved out of his elected district, and no longer met the residency requirement. Fair enough, but he was elected to his position in 2004, bought the new house in 2005, and moved in 2006. Mr. Dickman chose to ignore the residency requirements until such a time as he felt it was appropriate for him to resign.

For the most part, much like my feelings in Ms. Hilton's case, I really don't care where a commissioner lives. But if rules apply, they should apply equally.

Mr. Dickman has a reputation as a successful businessman, and in that I wish him much continued success.

He has also been taken to task for some questionable deals that occurred under his watch. County Commissioners bear the responsibility of appointing members to the Economic Developement Council, the same group that gave $450,000.00 of taxpayers money to help build a road on one of Mr. Dickman's retail developement properties, despite the EDC policy of avoiding retail projects.

This is the same property that suddenly qualified for a $2.1 million tax abatement after the Richmond Common Council adopted new site specific guidelines to include,"vacant industrial facilities with at least 20,000 square feet of floor space that were placed in service at least 20 years ago and have been vacant for for 2 or more consecutive years.....". They did at least leave out a requirement that "the facility must also have been used to make yellow buses and must be owned by brothers whose last name begins with D".

I have no problem with business people using their money and skills to increase their wealth and holdings, and I certainly see no problem if they take some willing investors along.

I do have a problem when our elected officials use their position and our tax dollars to increase their wealth and holdings. And I have a problem when we stand by and let them do it.

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