There are many reasons why Ferndale should pass on being the first. Here are four of them and one tongue-in-cheek alternative.
- We don't have $30,000 to waste. True, Ferndale may be sitting on a $4 million bank account thanks to fiscal prudence and an accounting over-site, but we'll need every dime of that in the coming years to supplement falling tax revenues and state revenue sharing dollars due to Michigan's struggling economy. Spending money like we have it (today) ignores the fact we may not have it tomorrow. Actions like this are how our state drained its rainy-day fund.
- Federal Grants aren't "free money." Promoters of totem poles are quick to point out that most of the money comes from a federal grant for America's scenic byways. What too many people seem to forget is federal grants aren't free--they come from our income taxes! I'm not convinced Woodward Avenue totem poles are the best use of federal income taxes in 2007, or 2008, or any other year when our nation's deficit is growing nearly $1 million every minute.
Think of the $100,000 (or $167,000 according to last Sunday's Mirror) as being only two zeros shy of Alaska's $10 million bridge to nowhere. If the citizens of Ketchikan, AK had paid for it themselves the rest of the country wouldn't have cared what the bridge connected to much less what it cost.
If Ferndale really wants to be "the starting point" for something (as the Mirror reported our council wants to be) it could start by returning the $100,000 to the federal government. Think of what would happen if all recipients of pork barrel graft decided to send it back rather than spend it on their bridges (or totems). That would be a monument to our concern to the national deficit, earmarks, and respect for US taxpayers (many of them right here in Ferndale).
- There are already monuments to America's love affair with cars and Woodward Avenue I pass them every where I go. They're usually near corners and read, "unleaded regular, $3.15/gallon." Like councilpersons Galloway and Gumbleton, I'm not real happy with what's on those signs but appointing a committee to change the font won't have the desired affect.
- The Dream Cruise already celebrates Woodward, Cars, and Cruising. Each year approximately one million people make a pilgrimage to Woodward Avenue to celebrate the automobile, remember the good times they had driving them, and spend money all along Woodward. Our $30,000 is better invested in the cruise to attract more people to spend more money in Ferndale than elsewhere along Woodward.
Some of our council members have complained they haven't seen much leadership from Lansing, but their willingness to spend $30,000 (or more) on a totem pole demonstrates they're already following Lansing's example.