Small Town, Big Problems.
This is the first in a series of articles about how getting involved locally is just as important as paying attention to state or national issues.
This is not how I envisioned I would be spending my time back in 2010 when I started getting involved in podcasting with state and national politics. Back then, riding the wave of the tea party movement, all the energy and action was on the national stage and opposing the policies of President Obama in regards to nationalizing healthcare.
Local issues and Fraser Michigan (population 14,600) were not on the radar for moi.
When I was co-hosting and producing a popular show by the name of “The Snark Factor With Fingers Malloy” we could on any given night have on cable news personalities from FOX, CNN or MSNBC. The show also featured guests ranging from numerous elected officials or authors, musicians, and comedians. The national scene was where the action was and we were in the mix talking about what was happening and having fun doing it.
My path to getting involved locally began in 2012 when I moved to Fraser. While I was not involved in any capacity, I did start to pay attention to what was happening in this small town via Facebook and the local paper. I had learned while traveling across the country doing shows, that while national issues are really sexy politically to get clicks and views, state and local issues mattered also. I just had not connected the dots yet on how important.
Just by chance on Thursday, April 9th, during the year of 2015 during a live broadcast of Snark Factor on FTR Radio, I happened to have on in the background of my T.V., the Fraser city council meeting in progress. While I was doing Snark, I started giving my play by play of what was happening during this particular meeting to my co-hosts on the show.
Two of the issues that had caught my attention during that meeting were the vacancy of a council seat that had been empty since Jan 2015. Also, a presentation of former Fraser Mayor and current ( at the time) State Rep. Marilyn Lane’s staffer, John Fleming, urging the council and the city to vote for a statewide ballot proposal for road construction that raised the sales tax with no serious reform of how roads were built.
The other issue of the empty council seat not being filled going into the 4th month after it became vacant.
Even while I was multi-tasking doing the show, I was stumped as to why. Did they have to wait until May when the statewide ballot proposal was happening? Were they going to wait until the regularly scheduled election in November of that year?
While giving my ever so colorful narrative of the council meeting for my co-hosts, they encouraged me to go down to city hall after the show and speak on the ballot proposal and throw my hat into the ring for a vacant seat that I knew nothing about. I had no idea what a mess the 7th seat issue would turn out to be eventually, yet I did know about the ballot proposal. This tax increase with no changes in how roads were built was a bad idea and I decided to go down after the show and give an impromptu speech during citizen participation, geared more for Snark’s national audience who were now watching, than the Fraser citizens.
I had no idea that the encouragement of people like Andrew Breitbart and the training at conferences with groups like Americans For Prosperity, Franklin Center and Freedomworks was about to start paying dividends.
I was about ready to find out that through networking, filing Freedom Of Information Act requests and asking questions of elected officials and city workers, that local government can be as messed up as anything the Feds do. Politicians can be sleazy on all levels.
Which is why “Getting Local” matters.
Next up… FILL THE 7TH SEAT
Check out my other post on this topic Preventing and Exposing Corruption Starts Locally. Welcome to Fraser, Michigan. and my podcast Bourbon On The Rocks plus like Bourbon On The Rocks on Facebook and follow me on the twitters at IRISHDUKE2