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The Devil is in the Details 4/12/2021: recreational cannabis, corporate committee representation, money for the GRPD and the 2022 City Budget timeline

April 11, 2021

This is our latest installment of The Devil is in the Details, which takes a critical look at Grand Rapids politics and policies, based primarily on the public record, such as committee agendas and minutes.

More non-Grand Rapids owned Recreational Cannabis locations approved

In the April 8th City Planning Commission  documents, there were 3 more recreational cannabis locations approved. Two of those locations approved are with Greenstone Michigan LLC, which is registered in Detroit and has cannabis locations in Ann Arbor, Lansing and Grand Rapids. The third location is owned by a Muskegon family, which has operations in Muskegon, Ottawa and Kent County so far. As we have reported in the past, most of medical and recreational cannabis facilities that have opened in Grand Rapids are not owned by people in Grand Rapids. In addition, there is little evidence that most of these business that will profit off of the sale of cannabis have demonstrated much interest in undoing the harm caused by the decades-long War on Drugs, particularly the harm done to the Black community.

More corporate representation on Grand Rapids City Committees

In the Committee on Appointments packet for April 13, there are two appointments worth noting. For both the Grand Rapids Housing Commission and the Downtown Improvement District Board, the City will likely approve Monica Steimle-App to sit on both of those committees. Steimle-App is the Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development for Rockford Construction. As has been the modus operandi of the City in recent years, they have appointed people from the corporate world to sit on these committees, but it is particularly disconcerting to have Rockford Construction have a say in housing policy in this community.

Public money approved for the GRPD recruiting class to attend GVSU Police Academy

In the Fiscal Committee packet for April 13, the first item listed is a resolution authorizing Grand Rapids Police Department Recruit Class 2021 to attend Grand Valley State University Police Academy for a total cost of $82,891

The Fiscal Committee packet also states:

Additionally, GRPD continues its partnership with Grand Rapids Community College’s (GRCC) police academy. The partnership is demonstrated by the following: · Deputy Chief Rifenberg holds a seat on the GRCC Law Enforcement Advisory Board · GRPD assists with GRCC’s police academy interviews · GRPD staff instructs at GRCC’s academy · GRCC assists GRPD by proctoring and conducting MCOLES (Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement) entrance testing. 

It’s always instructive to learn how public money is being used by the GRPD and how much time the GRPD spends on non-crime prevention work……which is most of what they do.

2022 Budget Plan Adoption almost here

In the Committee of the Whole packet for April 13, there is information about the upcoming approval of the 2022 City Budget. The COW packet provides the following timeline on this matter:

April 27 – City Manager presents FY2022 Preliminary Fiscal Plan to City Commission May 4 – City Commission Budget Review Workshop 

May 6 – Budget Town Hall 

May 11 – Set Public Hearing for proposed FY2022 Millage and Budget. 

May 11 – City Commission Budget Review Workshop 

May 18 – Committee of the Whole Budget Discussion 

May 18 – Hold Public Hearing for proposed FY2022 Millage and Budget 

May 20 – Resolution to Adopt FY2022 Millage and Budget 

July 1 – 2022 Fiscal Year begins

For a City that claims to be so progressive, how do they expect the public to review and provide input on the City Budget with this kind of timeline? In fact, most residents will not even know that the City of Grand Rapids will be voting to approve the City Budget, let alone be able to provide input, considering the short turn around time, which is 3 weeks from the time that the City Manager presents the 2022 Budget til they vote on it. One more example of why the City of Grand Rapids must adopt a Participatory Budgeting process, which is a process that truly values resident input

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