From Our ReadersIssue Date: March 5, 2020
This letter is more of a reaction than an opinion to a recent Eagle Herald article entitled "Why U.P. legislators should be able to hitch rides on exiting state flights. The article showed pictures of both Michigan State Legislators Beau Lafave and Ed McBloom flashing their best "vote for me smiles' each looking like they may have been taken at their "Sunday School' picnics twenty or twenty-five years ago.
The article explained that the four current legislators from the U.P. cost Michigan taxpayers who travel more than 400 miles each way from their homes to Lansing around $60,000 a year in reimbursements, or an average of $1,250 per month each. The IRS determines; at least for the rest of us, "going to and coming from work' is a personal expense and payment for this type of expense is treated as "additional income' and is not a tax-deductible expense.
Maybe U.P. taxpayer voters never intended their elected representatives would be commuters, skip work on Mondays and Fridays, work only two or three days a week, sometimes less, getting well paid for five days in addition to receiving very generous pension, health care and vacation benefits. House Bill 530, apparently sponsored by LaFave and McBroom, is just another perk they are trying to give themselves with enough political "twist' to make you think they are doing us a favor? Having State of Michigan planes "drop in' to make passenger pickups or to "drop off' an elected official could be a lot more expensive for the taxpayer than the bill's sponsors calculate. For instance, a plane normally flying around 5,000 feet and over 18,000 feet, on an instrument flight at the rate of $400-$500 dollars an hour or more would cost a lot more than the reimbursement they now receive. But let's not quarrel about details, they might, by accident, "tell us the truth'!
Additionally, within the "legislative arena' many of our elected officials receive an assortment of financial favors from their lobbyist friends in return for helping them receive special attention they need to help interest groups get what they want by introducing bills, making deals with other legislators, and voting for bills they want passed which are of benefit to them. Often times bills are written by lobbyists for legislators who in turn introduce them to their fellow legislators in their assembly for passage. Many times, these bills are in conflict with the best interests of voters they represent in spite of the face campaign promises they made may be violated. Menominee County voters have been fighting this conflict for 18+ years by having it's elected representatives continue to back Aquila Resources, Inc. for the "Back Forty" mine permit process in spite of the fact 97% oppose the mines proposed location. If a mining permit is issued you might as well begin complaining about polluted water now - it's not a question of "if' the Menominee River will be polluted - only when!
William G. Boerner, Marinette
LaCourt: The right man for the job!
Marinette Voters - we would like to inform you that John LaCourt is running as a "write-in" candidate for Marinette Municipal Court Judge on April 7.
To the courtroom, John brings years of service to the community. He was a Marinette District school counselor, coached Marinette Marine baseball, and served as a member for six years on both the Marinette Recreation Board and Senior Citizens' Board. John (aka Marinette's "Mr. Baseball") still manages the Marinette Redbirds and devotedly works on the Pedersen Ballpark complex. In addition, he serves on the Board of Education, currently as its President, and is an active member of the Elks and the Lions Clubs.
Please remember on April 7th, to elect a judge who will deliver fair, informed, and professional decisions, write in John LaCourt for Municipal Court Judge.
John and Char Harris, Marinette
I want to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Cathi Malke for helping to bring to the attention of the people the need to help out the Ronald McDonald House. Anybody that has had the need to stay at one of the houses knows that there is no charge to anybody needing the facilities. Saving the pop tops from cans helps to bring in much needed funds to help the houses continue to help out these families as a loved one goes through treatment at nearby facilities.
I also want to thank the Peshtigo Times for printing the article. It has brought about much interest from so many people already. I stopped at City Hall and received my first bag of tabs! Thank you all for your support. This is an ongoing collection so there is no ending date.
Thank you again to all of you for your support! Let the collecting begin!
Barb Baumann, Peshtigo
The meeting at Beecher for the Pembine School referendum was a very good presentation meeting about the referendum but they hired a company at the cost of $6,800 to help sell it to the three communities.
Most of the audience were of school employees and spouses or friends of employees of the school so the questions of benefits and wages were not discussed except in a positive way which includes health, dental, optical and life insurance, some of it at the cost of $22,500 per year per staff member and top of the line insurance, sad most of the staff do not even live in our three districts to pay any of the tax increase. Do you the voter have any of these benefits, your school board gave these to the staff not thru voting but thru negotiation of the board not thinking how this would affect your taxes.
I agree the fund balance is important, but no cuts to wages or benefits or some staff, example are which we have, extra secretaries, day care center, I'm not sure but very few of us have no need for free child care at all taxpayer expense. I agree building repair is costly but (3) roofs for now. We just got new boilers, they should come with a warranty changing lighting to LED's good thing to save money but at $2.5 million referendum over 5 years with no cuts to our administrator and principal salaries whom make each $138,000(+).
Step and lanes it is called for teaching staff, give them large raises if thru negotiation which now can be done away with staff taking a cut in your benefits and wagers, it will help the communities that most of you do not live in.
I checked the example used in Beecher, meeting was of welding and 2 year degree would automatically get you a job in the area, not so, only if you pass a welding plate test and a trade school course which I already knew but I checked it out to make sure. Several other companies say it is nice to have a 2 year degree but does not promise a job of any kind.
Next meeting in Dunbar, 6:30 p.m. March 4.
Letter to Editor:
Recently the Peshtigo Chamber of Commerce hosted its first Community and Career Expo at Peshtigo High School. The event showcased area businesses, educational opportunities, and civic organizations and what they had to offer Peshtigo and our surrounding communities. Over thirty individuals also served as panelists to provide our students the opportunity to learn firsthand from manufacturers, healthcare workers, financial advisors, entrepreneurs, teachers, civil servants, etc. The event was example of how the community and school can CONNECT and provide valuable learning opportunities for our students.
On behalf of the Peshtigo School District I would like to thank the Peshtigo Chamber of Commerce for their leadership in organizing and planning this event. Also, thank you to all of the area businesses and civic organizations for spending an afternoon with 500 plus students and sharing what this community has to offer. It was a great day for students, staff, and the community.
Your Partner in Education;
I live within the PFAS contamination area like many of our friends and neighbors. We didn't create this problem but we must work together in response; and that is how I have spent much of the last two years. I have met with many of our neighbors on this issue and have crafted legislation in response.
I was the first legislator to push for PFAS standards in 2018, shortly after the contamination was reported. This action prompted the previous administration to complete groundwater standard recommendations for PFOA and PFOS.
When the 2019-20 legislative session began, I wasted no time continuing this work, leading efforts to pass a bill restricting the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS. Had this bill been law 40 years ago, we likely would not be dealing with this PFAS contamination today. Sen. Hansen was one of two legislators that voted against this bill.
My colleagues and I worked together to create a clean water fund, require timely public notification when groundwater is contaminated, and expand eligibility and funding to repair and remediate private wells. Unfortunately, not all of these bills passed. This is not unusual - even some of my bills to fight the opioid epidemic did not pass. Next session, I will continue to push these ideas forward.
I also worked with Sen. Hansen on legislation to address PFAS contamination. Last year, without working with Republicans, Sen. Hansen unveiled legislation he knew would never pass. He falsely told us it would solve PFAS contamination. At my urging, he worked with me on a bill that had a chance at passing.
From the start, industry, municipal water groups, and local government strongly opposed our bills. Making the challenge tougher, Sen. Hansen told me he could not pass anything in the Senate and it was up to me to get the bills passed. This makes his criticisms of the bills not passing surprising, considering he did not lift a finger to pass the bills.
Despite these odds, I was able to gain the support of the municipal water groups and local government. And I was able to move the bills through both Senate and Assembly Committees with only two no votes. And that's when the opposition resorted to fear-mongering to kill the bills.
At the end of the day, I thought it was more important to pass something rather than do nothing and sit idly by as industry killed what we worked so hard on for our community.
While what the Assembly passed isn't everything I wanted, it's still a positive step forward. It will provide funding for clean water for those impacted by PFAS contamination and to help the DNR test water and investigate PFAS contamination. At least a third of what passed comes directly from the bills Sen. Hansen and I worked on.
This contamination didn't happen overnight and it won't go away overnight. You have my commitment that I will do everything in my power to continue to ensure our community has clean drinking water.
John Nygren, 89th Assembly District
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