Open Letter to Lansing City Council

July 30, 2012


Essays & Letters

    Council members:

     Mayor Bernero's 527 account has become an embarrassment to the city. Since it was established in 2006, he has raised over a quarter of a million dollars from companies who stand to benefit from his good will. Here are some examples:

Blue Cross Blue Shield


Health insurance provider for City employees.

Tetra Tech


Engineering firm that supervises the sewer separation project.

Christman Construction


Transformed the Ottawa Power Station into the new home for the Accident Fund.

The Accident Fund $12,500 Owned by BCBS.

United Auto Workers


Union for 160 City employees.

Clark Hill PLC $1,800 A Clark Hill attorney provides legal advice to the boards of the City's two retirement systems.

     A complete list of contributing companies, unions and organizations is here.

     In the beginning, the money was spent on the inauguration and on transition costs, but that was six years ago. Now it all seems to go toward the mayor's ordinary living expenses, like restaurant meals, travel, insurance and Lugnuts tickets. For the mayor, it has become a source of easy, tax-free income - over $10,000 in the first half of this year. Great for him, not so good for the firms that feel compelled to pay up to stay in his good graces. And not so good for the people of Lansing, to whom these "business expenses" get passed along.

    We shouldn't expect the mayor to use his own money for activities that are clearly job-related. There should be a budgeted, tightly-controlled expense account for such expenditures. But under no circumstances should he be allowed to accept "donations", and if it takes a city ordinance to stop him and future elected officials from doing so, that is what must be done. The people of Lansing cannot take pride in their city when their mayor routinely solicits what looks very much like "pay for play".