Thursday, January 31, 2008

Michigan's 4-year long recession is "news" to Ferndale DDA

In a recent Woodward Talk article, PSD tax put on hold, Ferndale DDA Executive Director Cristina Sheppard-Decius said that both the organized opposition to a new business tax and the "recent" economic news persuaded the DDA to postpone requesting the city council for the tax increase:
Sheppard-Decius said that recent news reports about the declining US economy, coupled with Michigan's recent economic struggles, were also at the root of the DDA's decision.

"The economy has been very shaky on a national level, not just on a local level," she said. "Right now might not be the best time."

"In six months to a year, we might have a better picture of where the economy is at."
But her lip service to the economy is unbelievable. She still thinks the tax was opposed because of a communication problem and lack of detail:
"We were able to glean that we needed to get out to the business owners and go into more detail with them about the PSD tax. We plan to hold focus groups where we can be much more thorough on this issue."
In the DDA's opinion, all those restless business owners just didn't have enough information, or weren't paying attention. But it's more likely the DDA's director isn't paying attention.

A Wednesday (1/30/2008) Detroit News editorial reported:
Michigan remained in its one-state recession for its fourth consecutive year in 2007, as overall jobs declined by 1.8 percent, the jobless rate increased by four-tenths of a percentage point and the exodus of population accelerated, according to Comerica Inc. Chief Economist Dana Johnson.
The DDA should spend less time reading Main Street fairy tales and more time reading the editorial pages.

Or maybe Comerica's Chief Economist, Dana Johnson, should spend more time reading the Woodward Talk. While Sheppard-Decius believes Ferndale's economic condition may improve enough "In six months to a year" to re-evaluate the business tax, Johnson believes,
"In the near term, however," Johnson writes. "Personal income in Michigan will take another hit that will ripple throughout the state's economy."
Certainly, predictions of a 6-12 month turn-around in Michigan's economy will be news to Johnson and Michigan's Governor, Jennifer Granholm.

Economists seem resigned to the fact Michigan has been in a recession since 2003. Most people in Michigan, especially the 147,000 that have lost their jobs since 2000 and the 90,000 that left the state in 2007 were already aware of our recession. Obviously, none of them works or volunteers at the DDA because the DDA has been working obliviously toward the PSD expansion and its attendant tax since 2005:
But for Shepard-Decius, it has been disheartening to see the PSD tax shelved after two years of planning. "It's very disappointing for those who worked hard on it," she said. "We're a little bit deflated."
It's hard to feel sympathy for a group laboring in the bliss of tax-funded ignorance. It's not difficult to understand how that lack of sympathy can turn to animosity when she ignores what was "at the root of the DDA's decision" and plans to proceed with a 2-mill levy "in a month or so."

I'm uncertain any number of focus groups can correct that kind of willful disregard of the economy and contempt for business owners who in Sheppard-Decius' opinion are getting a "free-ride."


  1. Sadly it will always be a "you didn't give it a chance" or "give it time it will work" More DDA taxes.. yeesh. DDAs are a nasty blight on any community IMO.

    Ignorance not the likely culprit.. just buying time, and hoping we will let it all fly.

    Too much government to fight.. getting tired.. must lay down...

  2. Government has gotten big, and is difficult to fight, but at least as far as the PSD tax is concerned, we were able to defeat that with a citizens initiative. Over 400 signatures were collected to place on the ballot an ordinance repealing two previous ordinances establishing the PSD then expanding it.

    Score one for the little guy.