By Readers

More on Houghton

In reading the article in the Nov. 25 issue of City Pulse, “Who’s Checking?”, regarding soon to be Council member Tina Houghton, I must say to the mayor, if it had been me running for a seat on the Council, there would have been a background check done in a heartbeat. How can a person be appointed to serve on a board when they cannot pay their property taxes and — surprise — Houghton is serving on the Parks Boar

Somewhere within the system, someone is failing to do his or her job. If a person is applying for a job, there is a background check, and also if you are trying to rent an apartment. Since Houghton is a friend to the mayor, I guess she can do as she pleases.

There are a number of people that are living from month to month but pay their taxes; if not, there would be a foreclosure. How long does it take to do a background check on someone? Just long enough to do the right thing to follow the City Charter and make sure people are qualified to sit on a board or run for office.

Houghton does not deserve a seat on Council or any other board within the city of Lansing. As the old adage goes, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” It seems to me that she is a friend of the mayor’s and she can get what she wants, which is a seat on Council by hook or crook.

As mayor of the city of Lansing, having the power to appoint people to various boards and other positions, it is your responsibility to check their background or have one of your staff do it for you. Since when are you too busy to obey the charter you have sworn to uphold? Once again, I feel that Houghton should not be able to serve and I am sure there are others who feel the same but will not speak up. Citizens of Lansing, wake up — we have four more years to put up with the mayor appointing people to positions and not checking their background. Who is next?

— Hazel Bethea Lansing

On last week’s SoS column

I can empathize with Kyle Melinn’s anecdote about frustrating visits to the local Secretary of State branch office. Like most Michiganians, I have my own tales of woe. Unfortunately, while Melinn’s column is long on storytelling, it’s short on substance. The reality is that Secretary Terri Lynn Land’s proposal to close and consolidate the East Lansing branch office is (at best) penny wise and pound foolish.

It’s no surprise Kyle encountered a line at the East Lansing branch, because it’s the busiest in Mid-Michigan. In fiscal 2009, it conducted over 114,000 transactions resulting in over $13.9 million in collections. Land claims that her closure proposal will help "manage finite resources." However, her own documentation reveals that closing the East Lansing branch office will save only $2,200 annually. The new consolidated office proposed to replace it will be less efficient, resulting in only $91 per transaction compared to $122 in East Lansing.

Perhaps more important than the money is the impact that this proposed closure will have on East Lansing. Branch offices are more than line items in a budget; they provide needed services to real people who depend on them. Melinn seems to think that the increased availability of Internet transactions is a panacea that has rendered branch offices unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth. East Lansing has a sizable population of seniors who lack ready access to the Internet or may be uncomfortable with using it to transact personal business. These seniors depend on the convenience of the downtown East Lansing branch.

Additionally, the East Lansing office serves the 46,000 students of Michigan State University. Like seniors, MSU students will be disproportionately affected by the proposed closure. Most students have limited means of transportation and depend on the convenience of a branch located close to campus.

Closing this branch will create yet another unnecessary obstacle for students who wish to register to vote in East Lansing.

Finally, it’s worth noting that the branch office brings scores of people into East Lansing’s downtown. Like Melinn’s self-reported trip to Georgio’s, they come to renew their vehicle registration and stay to enjoy a coffee or patronize a local store. These patrons will be lost if the secretary closes this office.

The East Lansing City Council unanimously supported my resolution calling on the secretary of state to reconsider the closure. The landlord who leases the existing office space is ready to work with the secretary of state to accomplish needed savings. The bottom line is that closing the East Lansing branch office will result in inconveniences for residents, hardships for seniors and MSU students, and reduced activity in downtown East Lansing, all for a meager savings of $2,200 annually at a less efficient consolidated office.

I hope that concerned citizens will express their feelings by contacting Secretary Land at (888) 767-6424 and asking her to keep the East Lansing branch office open.

— Nathan Triplett East Lansing City Council

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