Thursday, January 27, 2005

State of the City Analysis

Mayor George Heartwell gave his state of the city speech for 2005 on January 15th.

First, let's go over last year's state of the city speeches. He gave three, but only two were available online.

In his first 2004 SotC speech, Heartwell concentrated on education. His fluff-filled tome focused on adult literacy, city/schools operating partnerships, and education renewal zones, to divert more money to the schools. Oh, and he ended that speech with the old cliche, that it's for the children, "...all the children."

His second speech, which we analyzed here, was a typical stump for more political power, centralization, and central planning. He wants more money spent on a wasteful mass transit system and strengthening of the Grand Valley Metro Council for more "regional planning." The one bright spot here is his stumping for tax-free renaissance zones. We wonder if he has any latent understanding of why tax-free zones work, but we're doubtful.

This year's theme? Sustainability. Whatever that means. Well, we do know what it means, but folks like the mayor won't admit what it means. Essentially more government control of economic development. But we know that is a contradiction of terms.

Heartwell starts out the speech by touching on the issue of violence in the inner city. He looks forward to a committee's recommendations to heal racism.

Next, he looks back at last year's education speech and goes over accomplishments from the last year. He congratulates himself for raising taxes twice for Grand Rapids Public Schools. He discusses the success of an adult literacy program.

Then he talks about the joint operational project between the city and GRPS. The strange part about this is that it isn't a joint operational project at all. All he can refer to is working with the schools to support more minority contractors and the sale of the West Middle School building to a developer. Huh? Last year he talked about saving money by using joint human resources, accounting, and groundskeeping departments. How have any of the above saved either the city or the schools money?

Finally, he says that a joint program with the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and GRPS has helped environmental education. But, as we pointed out previously, this program, basically to collect trash around streams, costs the city about $564 per bag of trash collected. And we thought the schools and city were hurting for money.

And then he laments the fact that the Education Renewal Zones concept hasn't progressed as much as he liked.

Then we move on to the meat of the speech. What's he going to do for us this year?

First, he goes over the usual doom and gloom predictions of how horrible the world will be if the government doesn't take a larger role in our lives. For example, he cites this example: "The United States, which presently uses 40% of all the world’s oil production and 23% of all coal production will be experiencing crisis levels in these resources."

Didn't they make those types of dire predictions in the 70s? Yeah, and we're still here.

So, we can see where this is going already.

He then blabbers on (see if you can make it through his speech without falling asleep) about sustainability and all kinds of government partnerships to make peoples lives better, in a sustainable way. He goes on to lament the state of the economy in Michigan and how social equity (another buzz-word of the extreme left) must be kept in mind.

The most fun (and laughs) comes from Heartwell's diatribe about electricity usage in Grand Rapids. He wants to reduce the City's dependence (he doesn't clarify if he means the City government, or the people in the city - he probably doesn't make that distinction in his own mind) on non-renewable resource power by 20% by 2008.

His plan to do so? Wind power. And you thought cellphone towers were ugly.

The mayor concludes with what he hopes the next generations will write about this one:

In 2005 and 2006, this diverse group of people in Grand Rapids found ways to interconnect business with the environment – maximizing commerce and nature.
This generation responded to the challenges of globalization by creating a city that led the state in productivity and returned the country to prosperity.

This generation created a city where neighbors cared for neighbors and children were safe.

This generation created schools that maximized each child’s potential and allowed us to respond to rich economic opportunities.

Truly, this generation created a city that sustained life.

Laudable goals. But government, bureaucrats, bureaucracy, high taxes, regulation, and central planning aren't the way to get us there. Anyone ever look at the history of Detroit?

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