Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hackel Held Hostage?


I previously wrote about the "black holes" or ambiguous and unclear elements of the charter approved by the Macomb County electorate. Several of those "holes" promise to tie up county government for the next few months, and it appears that the charter now seems to be a central character in a duel between the county executive and the county commissioners.

A clear example of the escalating rancor is the tenor of the discussion regarding the way the budget was passed in the weening hours of the last commission. There are those that say that new age math was applied to the process by which the budget was allegedly balanced.  Others say that it was insane to project "soft revenues" during a period of economic and regional uncertainty. Quite a few had issues with using surplus money to shore up the budget when the county should have maintained as much of its reserve funds as possible (which implies that the previous commission did not cut deep enough and took the short way out).

It is no stretch to muse that the charter was not written with Mark Hackel in mind.  I think this one got away from the group that had it all figured out.  It is questionable as to whether these questions regarding the budgeting process would have ever been asked by the guy everyone was banking on to become executive, and, lo and behold, there's some roosting going on.

Does it surprise anyone that returning commissioners like David Flynn would flail away at Hackel's review of the budget process and the resulting virtual revenue projections and last minute surplus money grab?  He was part of the group that approved this budget, and even he has to admit that there were soft revenues included in this budget that no one could guarantee.  Flynn has to defend what he and others did.  The problem Flynn has is that maybe Hackel was paying too much attention to the mechanics of how that budget got balanced.

This is still a fight over turf, disguised as a budget issue.  The smoke has not cleared yet, and both the executive and he commission have yet to to stake out uncontested territory.

One thing is very clear: the budget that was approved was not guaranteed; no budget ever is.  Everyone should have knew adjustments would have to be made, but no one knew just how deep they would be...or didn't care as long as it was not on their watch. What a great way to tie up or cripple a political adversary!  This budget may have been the former commission's parting shot at the incoming executive, and they don't make Kevlar for this kind of bullet.


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