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 Is Blair Johnson trying to run the city through the EDA and

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Lady Hawk
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PostSubject: Is Blair Johnson trying to run the city through the EDA and Chamber?   Sun Jan 03, 2010 10:04 am

With the election over and Blair Johnson being voted out of office it is surprising to see Mr. Johnson attempting to maintain a presence in the EDA. The Ortonville City Council will meet this Monday night to consider the recommendation to keep Burt Nypen and Blair Johnson on the EDA Board. There was a joint Ortonville City Council/EDA meeting on 12/14/09 At this meeting it was told:

EDA Chairman Craig Randleman provided an overview of the Ortonville Comprehensive Plan Key elements noting the EDA goals and activities have been tied to the Plan. It was noted the Comprehensive Plan contains the community's vision for Ortonville and action items to pursue this vision., This document should be reviewed before all decisions within the City are made. [Emphasis mine.]

Who's in charge here? The public voted to remove the present city council and now they want to maintain the program that they birthed? Do they actually want the City Council to check with the EDA before they make their decisions? Does the City Council need the EDA's approval?

The "community's vision?" What community? Did the public vote on it? Did the EDA receive overwhelming input from an outraged public demanding that this program be produced and followed through? This was the vision of the people who wrote it. Do they now want the City Council to consult them before they make any city decisions? Who's in charge here? The EDA, the Chamber, the Ortonville City Council, or the public?

"EDA goals and activities have been tied to the Plan." Did that include the plan to give Jim Larson a $5 million dollar bond?

In the next section of the above linked meeting is a discussion on implementation of strategies. All we are told is "Discussion and questions followed." Really? I didn't think they just sat there. What was discussed? What were the "Action - Implementation Strategies?" Who wrote these minutes? Oh, I see on the bottom of page two are the names of Blair Johnson and David Lang. Perhaps they thought it best to leave the points of "action and strategies" to a "discussion." No point in boring people with "details."

The EDA Goals included a four page handout. EDA Mission Statement p1 states in Goal 1 to re-activate four workgroups. Goal 1 said "the EDA established four workgroups. These workgroups helped set the direction for the Ortonville Comprehensive Plan." Are they talking about the Property Development Committee established in March of 2005? Who were on these original four workgroups? When were they established? Where are the minutes kept for these four workgroups?

You could easily combine the four groups into two categories. 1.) Preserve the downtown and 2.) Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan. Why have four groups? Goal 2 and 3 go right into the two items that for some reason the EDA Board wants to breakdown into four Workgroups in Goal 1. What these people are talking about is Downtown Redevelopment and Housing. The Housing study is interesting in that it says that there is a need to for a larger assisted living facility. If there is a need then why doesn't the EDA go out and find a business that wants to move to this community and build a new one opening up another business in town instead of the EDA wanting to get grant money to expand and thereby continue the city as being the largest employer? If a new facility was opened up as a private business it would bring tax dollars into the city coffers. Why must the city own every major business enterprise in Ortonville?

Another point of notice in the EDA Mission Statement page 1 is the note from the EDA Board on the upper left side. "We are also hopeful that this is the first of many meetings that are shared between the EDA and the City Council as we focus on economic development and invest in our future." In the first place it would appear to some people that the EDA is not focusing on "economic development" with these stated goals. Economic development is the creation of jobs. How does fixing the roof on Blair Johnson's office equate to creating jobs? Granted buildings need maintenance but that is hardly economic development is it?

It is also a puzzlement for the statement that the EDA wants to share meetings with the City Council. Why? Is this some attempt to influence and control the City Council? The EDA never had joint meetings with the City Council for the past four years when Blair Johnson was the mayor. Now that Blair Johnson is not mayor they want to wheedle their way into the City Council? Some people might take a look at that and think that the EDA has been functioning way to long without supervision and that should change. Was Blair Johnson voted out of office and now he wants to be on the EDA Board and have "joint" City Council meetings that he can influence?

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Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived;
but as long as the presses can be protected,
we may trust to them for light.
- Thomas Jefferson
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Lady Hawk
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PostSubject: EDA Mission Statement page 2   Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:55 pm

The EDA Mission Page 2 contains information about the Economic Development Tools Available which is apparently is some government funding? Could one assume that every small town has these programs available and utilizes them?

Next is Partnerships. Interesting but what does it all mean? Are these agencies promoting bringing in new business to promote economic development? It says that "Staff is a board member of BSAG." Which staff? How many staff members? BSAG Board Why does the Chamber website list John Cunningham as president? Didn't he move away last spring? Now the BSAG Webpage shows Burt Nypen as executive director. This web page evidently is from the Chamber. Why isn't it updated to show the board? According to the minutes of the Ortonville City Council December 7, 2009 item a. the EDA recommended that due to the BSAG having a budget cut they wanted the BSAG to use the EDA office at no cost.

Considering that close to half of the members of the BSAG are on the EDA board and they are now having their funding cut and they have to share an office with the EDA why should it impress anyone that the BSAG is working with the EDA? Isn't it like the same people flying two flags?

The last item on page two is EDA Properties. It is nice that the Columbian Hotel is be renovated. That IS economic development when it is up and running.

_________________

Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived;
but as long as the presses can be protected,
we may trust to them for light.
- Thomas Jefferson


Last edited by Lady Hawk on Sun Jan 03, 2010 6:02 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Corrected spelling.)
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PostSubject: EDA Mission Statement page3   Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:45 pm

EDA Mission Statement page3 continues the EDA's mission handout with a list of the current local businesses receiving assistance. What is interesting is what is missing on this list. You see I have a copy of EDA Account Status for May 7, 2008. As you can see from clicking on the link BSAG was second on the list. Did they pay off the loan already? It was after all a ten year loan and still had considerable money to pay off. If the loan is still not paid off why was it not listed? If the EDA loaned money to the BSAG did the board members who were on the BSAG abstain from voting? I can't tell because even though I requested the RLF minutes from David Lang they are not all here. Considering that the EDA was proud to claim that they worked with the BSAG on page 2 of the Mission Statement it rings hollow when one knows the truth about page three and the loan status.

The final section on page three is the Ortonville Website. It is good to know that it is the EDA that is responsible for the website. Up to this point in time it was difficult to identify who was responsible and what they were trying to do. Now we know. The opening two sentences are most revealing.

"The Ortonville EDA developed and has maintained the Ortonville governmental website since 1999. The Comprehensive Plan states "The City and the Ortonville EDA should continue to maintain and improve its internet website as a marketing tool to promote economic development."

We now know that all this fiddling around on the City website is the EDA using the website to market. Was Vicki Oakes marketing when she put Mayor Blair Johnson on the website promoting his candidacy for mayor? Which is it? Are you marketing or is the site governmental? The city website is a tool for the EDA?

"The Comprehensive Plan states?" Since when is the Comprehensive Plan supposed to dictate how the city website is run? What happened to City Charter? What happened to City Ordinances? What happened to City Resolutions? Isn't the Comprehensive Plan a relatively new document? It hasn't been around since 1999 has it? When did the City Council approve the use of the City Website to Market for the EDA? I haven't seen any minutes on that.

When did the City authorize being on Facebook and Twitter?

Then we come to the real clincher.

"In reviewing the last 90 days, the page that has received the most traffic (other than the home page) was the Columbian Hotel page - people are interested in the progress on this project."

Here is the question. Where is the counter? Hmmmm? Nowhere. By what right does Vicki Oakes or David Lang or the EDA or whoever wants to take responsiblilty put up a counter that is not available to the public? There are posts on this site that talk about how there was no counter. Then a counter showed up. Then, after I mentioned the new counter, it disappeared again. What gives? How can you make the statement that people are interested in the project? Why didn't they say how many hits they had on the Columbian Hotel? Hmmmm? What numbers are you talking about? 500? 200? 90? 50? 20? 3?

Why is the counter hidden from the public?

_________________

Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived;
but as long as the presses can be protected,
we may trust to them for light.
- Thomas Jefferson
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