Freep considers Michigan mergers


I've long counted "too many local governments" among Michigan's issues - balkanization not only prevents us from reacting effectively and efficiently to new challenges, but also leads to needless competition and duplication of effort. Witness, for example, Ypsilanti Township's new master plan, which discusses the idea of creating a "town center", as if it hasn't had such a thing for 150 years now, a mere two miles north of where the plan proposes one. (This is hardly a unique case - it seems every township in Michigan is looking to misapply the memes of smart growth, new urbanism, and the "creative class" in a cargo cult effort to build artificial "town centers" from whole cloth. These efforts typically both fail to build the kind of truly attractive downtowns of an organically grown community - compare Cherry Hill Village to Chelsea - while also encroaching further on the "rural feel" that township residents often say they value. While is would be more to their interest to combine efforts with adjoining cities, to ensure that they can offer both a real, living center as well as preserving the open space and agricultural areas of the outer edges of the Twps, the artificial blind spots of jurisdiction forbid this.)

Today's Freep dedicates an impressive amount of space to the issue, focusing on the Royal Oak/Ferndale cluster of communities - 10 local governments within the a survey township's 36 square mile confines. Worth a read, now that I've primed you with my opinions on the issue.

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Porcine aviation

I think this quote sums it up: "When you look at it rationally, there is every reason to consolidate, except that it flies in the face of emotion."

Look at the 77 year old from Royal Oak, the demographic that actually turns out to vote enough to have a say in government. His thought process is "We'd just become one huge metropolitan suburb with no identity. There may be some savings to it, but I just don't think it's worth it. I don't like that idea at all." As if there's no difference between Brooklyn and Manhattan, or even DUMBO and Park Slope (both of which are neighborhoods in Brooklyn).

Emotion is going to win. Always has, always will.

Let's Shift Powers

Thanks for the post, Murph, I will look at the articles.

In Montgomery and Prince George's county in Maryland, towns are incorporated, however with much fewer powers than Michigan and the counties take on most important services.

Fire and police protection, bus service, schools, parks, libraries, planning and development review, road maintenance, and more are all country responsibilities. The towns have tiny little town halls, run a few recreational facilities, have advisory review of development projects, and generally languish in obscurity. While this system too has its weaknesses, it does seem more efficient and better from a planning point of view than the Michigan model.

This way you can preserve the emotional need for hyperlocal governance but overcome the weaknesses of local control of everything.

No Cooperation

Even in the "underlayers" of civic life ... there is very little cooperation between non-profits (who are competing for dollars) ... neighborhood groups ... DDAs ... historic preservation groups. Some of it is old war wounds; but the majority of it is turf control!

Seems about all the younger generations can hope for among some of these groups is early onset alzheimers!

not just turf control

This is a phenomenon I've observed a lot in both A2 and Ypsi - there will be a dozen different groups working in roughly the same direction, but with only 2 or 3 people in each group. Why don't they join up into one larger group and pull together? Well, we can't do that! We're doing this because xyz, and they're doing it because wxy, and we can't give up z, and they won't give up w, in order to get xy done.

I think it's /idea/ control as much as turf wars, or grudges, or even money. People want to do their thing, not somebody else's thing that's similar.

Consensus, Consensus, why hast thou forsaken us?!

We´ve had a similar idea in

We´ve had a similar idea in Argentina. Never came true. I don´t think devoting money and effort to building a new city town is really worth if the original one Works…

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