re: re: Selling Dope at The Pointe, and Musings Therefrom

Erik Altmann wrote:

I was at that DDA meeting. (Easy for me, as I live here in East Lansing.) There was a discussion of possible locations for provisioning centers, in the course of which several people mentioned several possibilities and identified pros and cons. A thoughtful discussion. No one extolling the virtues of anything.

And from that bad premise flows much of the rest.

Glad to provoke some kind of response.

So let me get to my point more directly.

Has there been any attempt to reach out to neighborhoods that might have Marijuana shops near them, or is this something left to neighborhoods to figure out for themselves?

Whatever other issues there might be with The Pointe as a location, I think the public has a right to know it is a brownfield site and does not contribute to the tax base to pay for policing. I would also be very concerned that any landlord for a Marijuana location has a strong ethical record.

I will also remind Erik that although I decided to leave EL, more or less under duress, because I had no hope my rights as a homeowner would be protected against politically connected developers, I am the expert on the history of public-private development projects. I have no doubt the reason the income tax lost was because of a failure to restore trust. I do not believe there have been any institutional changes to prevent another The Pointe, or more frighteningly, another City Center II.

Since I am now more focused on state wide reforms, using East Lansing’s history of failed redevelopment projects as something from which to learn, here are some of what I want to see changed in the enabling legislation, though frankly I think special interests are too powerful to get reform, and coming from a radical left perspective (as was Zoltan Ferency who called development authorities fascistic), it saddens me that those most opposed to development authority abuses are Mackinac Center supported libertarian-Republicans. A statewide ballot initiative to eliminate development authorities and MEDC would I’m sure win overwhelming, despite the amount of special interest money on the other side. (Remind anyone of an EL City Council election not so long ago?)

1) Democratize membership in development authorities so they represent the community not special interests.
2) Require that any bonds issued by development authorities be placed on the ballot, like for debt financing of other public works.
3) Require that any use of tax increment financing for projects justified by “functional obsolescence” or underutilization, not true blight requiring massive clean up costs, be limited to no more than 50% of tax increment.
4) Require a detailed breakdown of objectives for how the project will benefit the local community, including local tax collection, with a plan for how progress toward these objectives will be assessed.
5) Require that all projects detail public service costs required and how these will be paid for.
6) Require that developers provide a detailed financing plan, including a pro-forma, for public review.
7) Require prior screening of all key personnel and companies at local level to rule out developers with histories of fraud, tax liens, foreclosure, etc.
8) Require that at review by MEDC local citizens, businesses, and other tax jurisdictions (e.g., county) be allowed to give testimony for or against approval.
9) Instead of a portion of TIF going to support local and MEDC staff, require developer to pay an up front administrative fee for review and annual fee restricted to actual administrative costs if approved, which would eliminate incentive for local and MEDC staff to approve projects.

Eliot Singer