When Karl and I hatched the FORUM almost a year and a half ago we had very modest expectations. We knew that good information about our various forms of local government was hard to come by with the decline in newspapers and we knew that our state and federal legislators were setting a poor example for civil discourse. We wanted a place where folks of all political persuasions could have thoughtful discussions about current topics and maybe even get to know each other a little better. The FORUM today seemed to hit that target right in the middle.
We welcomed five new folks and a special guest. The special guest was Ray Mullins from Ypsilanti where he guides the Fletcher Forum which was one of the groups that inspired the Dexter FORUM. They meet every
Saturday but they had a day off due to a schedule conflict at their venue so he decided to check us out.
Topic number one was the new Regional Transit Authority. The State Legislature created a structure that allows Michigan counties to band together to provide coordinated mass transit systems. Washtenaw joined with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties (Livingston was invited but did not join) and a grand plan has been proposed which will need funding. This could be a hard sell even to folks out our way who are generally supportive of mass transit since no element of the plan goes any farther west than Main Street in Ann Arbor. Since this will be a regional authority what is needed for approval is a majority vote of the combined four counties. This is not a slam dunk in the other counties either where they have had a patchwork of systems over the years. We will learn more as time passes.
As promised, the Stump appeared and two candidates were invited to step up and give five minute presentations on why we should vote for them. Both are candidates for the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners. Dan Smith (R) is running for re-election in district 2 and current Dexter Township Trustee Jason Maciejewski (D) is running in district 1 where he must first face sitting Commissioner Kent Martinez-Kratz (D) in the August primary. Both individuals are experienced, thoughtful and well-spoken.
And then we moved on to the new bag law. Plastic bags, it seems, are a pain in the mechanism. They foul up the recycling process, waste petroleum resources and litter the roadside. The only thing they seem to be good for is bringing home the groceries. The new law passed by our County Board of Commissioners requires grocery stores to charge 10 cents for each bag (not just plastic – they threw in paper as well) as a way to get you to BYOB. The law does not go into effect until next year and maybe never since the Legislature is apparently considering passing a law against passing such laws on the local level.
Dan Chapman wanted to alert those responsible for the Memorial Day Parade to problems caused by folks who just drive up and park their vehicles at the curb right on the parade route in front of spectators. This unleashed a mini-flood of concerns about the danger of little kids running in front of parade units to pick up candy.
The next meeting of the FORUM will be on Saturday, June 18, 2016 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center. On the Stump will be two candidates for the 52nd District house seat – Barb Fuller (D) and Donna Lasinski (D) both of whom are well known to frequent FORUM attendees.