STAKEHOLDER TRANSPARENCY RESOLUTION

Participation in local government is something many people would like to do, but some find inconvenient. Attending meetings and workshops of all of the official boards and committees is too time consuming for some who wish to participate or even just see and hear. It can cut into that after-work time, when many feel tired from the work-day and want to relax.

On top of that, not all Grass Lake residents are 9 to 5 employees, as some work while meetings are going on or travel as part of their job. With today's technology there is no reason that these people should continue to be discounted by the township, as they are residents of Grass Lake Township.

For these reasons and for reasons of archiving, if elected, I would propose and support a resolution that requires the township to: Archive, broadcast and live-stream all Township Board Workshops & Meetings; Zoning Board Workshops & Meetings; Planning Commission Workshops & Meetings; Special Millage Meetings; and future official department meetings & workshops. 

 

  • Create a perpetual township managed YouTube (or similar platform) channel for live feed and archival streams of the meetings. 

  • Create a perpetual township managed podcast for major platforms for live feed and archival streams of meetings.

  • Maintain the township managed on-line meeting capabilities perpetually for people who would like to participate but have a hard time attending the in-person meetings. Creating a method for the townships stakeholders to ask questions via software and a live monitor.

  • Permanently Archiving and linking this media in the official township website for easy navigation and use.

    • Similar to how minutes are posted currently.

    • Designing back-up protocols for storage and historical archiving.

      • Including moving media over 10 years old to a historical preservation entity.

This would allow stakeholders in the township to listen to what is going on in their vehicle radio, on their personal device, or at home in a computer. It would allow people to see exactly what is going on in the township and be knowledgeable about their government without spending many hours a month going to and from township hall. It is also not complicated, nor expensive. There are literally children all over the country doing similar streaming as a hobby. 

I would also research having the high school or community college students who are studying broadcasting, computers and media participate in the recording, documenting and archiving of the media, helping with their education while also encouraging their participation in government.

Examples of and links to governments already doing similar broadcasting and archiving: Norfolk, VA  -  Santa Fe, NMMinot, ND

INTERNET ACCESS ISSUES

For a few in the township, internet access is not really an issue. However, for vast swaths of the area, the options for internet, is a "Hobson's" Choice. Customer service issues, speed issues, or even providers unwilling to service areas.

The incumbents in this election have not made any progress on internet access. It's time for a fresh mind! 

 

This is becoming a larger and more obvious issue with COVID-19. The change it is bringing to the landscape with schools, colleges, universities and the township board itself by moving from in-person communications to on-line.

 

How can Grass Lake compete when our children can't access their schooling because the township has partnered with the bankrupt Frontier Communications, and/or Wow as the main available options for cable?

That is if there is an option at all, most of us have the choice of bad internet or no internet. When parents are working from home, one child in college and another in high school bandwidth goes away fast.

 

Constant outages are a problem as well. People trying to work from home, and businesses in the township alike run into issues with "the internet is down... again" being a common phrase on local forums, in businesses in town and in my home.

My unique position as the candidate with a Bachelor's Degree in Information Systems, gives me a head start designing, and building a community-based system to fix this issue that has been plaguing Grass Lake.

 

My plan is not "Spend a bunch of money on internet" or passing millages.

There are ways to increase efficiency so we reach the tipping point for companies to invest in Grass Lake and provide quality broadband and fiber access. 

My Broadband / Fiber Optic Strategy: 

Access to Key Assets

  • Lease Public Assets such as fiber, conduit and real estate

    • Lease middle-mile fiber

    • Lease fiber in hard-to-reach-areas

    • Increase existing fiber capacity when insufficient fiber exists 

  • Facilitate underground construction

    • Develop a "Dig-Once" policy​

    • Maintain future-proof conduit specifications

    • Enable all parties to take advantage of "Dig-Once"

    • Place conduit banks in high traffic areas

  • Facilitate aerial construction through access to utility poles

    • Facilitate make-ready process to streamline pole access​

    • Eliminate the need for make-ready

  • Facilitate in-building ​access for wire-line infrastructure

    • Ensure availability of conduit from street to building​

    • Ensure installation of in-building pathways and cabling

Access to information

  • Make data available wherever possible

    • Make GIS data sets available

  • Document and publish data regarding available conduit, fiber and other assets

    • Document our fiber assets​

    • Document our conduit assets

Process Efficiency

  • Build broadband into planning of all relevant departments

  • ​Streamline and publicize procedures and timeframes for permitting and inspections. 

  • Allow network operators to contract pre-approved 3rd party inspectors to speed processes and reduce local burdens. 

Many of our lives have moved on-line, and these archaic internet access models need a massive update. Internet infrastructure must stop being an after-though and become part of the planning and designing of the community. 

 

The current trustees have all chosen not to get this issue corrected.

TOWNSHIP REVENUES

A significant portion of Grass Lake's revenue comes from the state. The township has come to rely on revenue sharing to operate. Finding ways to maximize Grass Lake's share of the revenue the state provides is absolutely necessary. If we are going to be secure in our finances and not have to come to the taxpayer for more tax revenue, we will need to accept this money that the state offers.

Some feel that we can grow the tax base by opening our doors to more commercial property, and more business. While this is desirable in some areas like the I-94 corridor, it does affect the serenity of the township. Incentivizing businesses for speedy growth will hinder the stability of the township over the long haul and should be avoided. Slow, steady, logical growth without giving away incentives to corporations is the best formula for success. 

Who is going to negotiate when these large companies send professional negotiators and attorneys to our town to make a deal? By deal I mean how much of the township's independence, treasure and goodwill can they get in exchange for the privilege of having their business in town? 

It sounds almost like something in a movie, but you have most likely watched it happen. You have probably watched towns give a tax abatement, public property (or even someone's private property), road enhancements and much more to allow a business that competes with an already established local business come to a town and homogenize the area. 

How much negotiation experience do the incumbents have? I have negotiated professionally for over 20 years. I know my skill set, and boundaries of my abilities. I can deal with these professionals, and I also know the way around a negotiation table. I welcome new businesses in town to compete fairly and improve the services we have available, but not to sacrifice the businesses we already have, avoid taxes,  and turn our town into the next clone. 

TOWNSHIP CHALLENGES

We are fortunate to be living in a safe, growing community. This steady, constant growth helps fuel the township's tax base and allows a rosy situation. Realistically, the resources that growth provides our community can turn into a problem, and quickly. We must be ready. Being hyper-efficient and very responsible with the communities purse is absolutely crucial. 

What happens when the this steady growth fuels the need for infrastructure improvements and change to make sure that these new residents have the community resources we all are used to and expect?

We must be sure that we are prepared for the next 10, 20, even 30 years before they are upon us.

  • We must make sure this community has adapted to the future.

  • Promoting businesses in the right locations

    • The I-94 exit areas and service drives

    • Downtown in the village

  • We cannot sacrifice our rural values, community environment and what we all love about Grass Lake.

  • Having the energy, and infrastructure these businesses will need.

TOWNSHIP COMMUNICATION GOALS

Other goals designed to improve the lives and government interactions with residents: 

  • Create a advisory citizen task force to provide research on issues, define alternatives and make recommendations to the board.

    • Community input is a valuable resource not currently being tapped.​

  • Informing Residents about the township:

    • Publish an electronic newsletter at least quarterly. 

    • Publish an electronic "State of the Township" Address by the Supervisor semi-annually to establish goals and inform the residents of activities taking place.

    • Adopt a multi-year strategic plan that identifies township strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and identify multi-year goals, objectives and strategies to achieve a long-range vision.

  • Communication with State and National Government

    • Communicate with the township’s state senator at least twice a year on issues affecting the township.

    • Communicate with the township’s state representative at least twice a year on issues affecting the township.

    • Communicate with the township’s U.S. representative at least once a year on issues affecting the township.

TOWNSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY GOALS

Other goals designed to improve the accountability in  government interactions with residents: 

  • Require electronic and rapid publishing of all township meetings as above

  • Require Supervisor nominations to positions as non-elected Board Chairpersons be affirmed by four votes of other members of the Township board. 

Andrew Wrenbeck

- FOR GRASS LAKE TRUSTEE -