Source: Sherman Publications

The Snyder Effect
Locals discuss Lansing’s new chief

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

March 30, 2011

Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, is running Lansing differently since he took office from his predecessor, Jennifer Granholm. And, while officials in Orion Township are overall pleased with his progress, reservations remain.

Orion Township Supervisor Matthew Gibb said he supports what Snyder is doing in Michigan’s capital; he believes the governor has yet to understand what it is to be a member of the public sector.

“He’s a brilliant man who has never worked in the public sector, and while I like where he’s coming from, there’s an inherent process to having success in a public environment,” said Gibb. “He’s trying to achieve 10 years work in one year’s time, and I’m not saying he should slow down, but he needs to stop and listen to those around him sometimes.

“I’ve been told once he gets an idea in his head, he’ll stick to it no matter what.”

Despite he concerns, Gibb said his ideas will do good things for Michigan. In particular, the competitive bidding legislation that is now in its final form, according to State Representative Brad Jacobsen (R-Oxford), pleases Gibb, who added this was something Lake Orion was already doing.

“The new senior center, fire station, amphitheater and water tower should be costing the taxpayer upwards of about $16 million,” said Gibb. “But we’re doing all those projects for around $11.4 million because we’re approaching the construction very competitively.

“When you put everyone in competition, you drive the price down. People assume government work will always be union work and this legislation breaks that outlook and says ‘that’s not a good business standpoint anymore.’”

One the subject of the Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) legislation, Gibb remained cautiously optimistic. While he said Lake Orion will likely avoid such a situation, which would involve an EFM advising and directing township actions to aid the municipality’s financial downfalls, Gibb said the EFM job should be picked with care.

“I’m a little nervous about (the legislation), but it’s not as bad as people think, though it will require the right kind of legislators,” said Gibb. “The recent uproar is caused by the idea that if you’re in a union, and you’re in a competitive bargaining agreement, an EFM can get rid of that contract.

“But the part that worries me is if you don’t have the right kind of person, and you have someone that just yanks the rug out from everyone and everything in the municipality, you may have a situation where the changes do more damage than good.”

Yet Gibb added that the legislation is needed, particularly in environments that do not have the ability to invalidate contracts held by potentially expensive service providers. He said if legislators do not have this power, than they “will only be scratching the surface of the problem.

Overall, Gibb said he was “100 percent” behind the recent legislation from Snyder, and added that most of the proposed laws were being misinterpreted.

“It’s not union busting - it’s putting a little reality into the government,” said Gibb. “We cannot artificially inflate the cost of things to sustain what we’re used to.

“Michigan is economically dead last in the union - how long do we wait to right this?”