Thursday, February 12, 2015

Mayor Tarsi’s Management Style

Terry Tarsi, Mayor of the City of Iron River, provided
a letter published by the Iron County Reporter in the
February 4, 2015, issue.  Two things emerged as a
result of this letter. First, close to a half million dollars
of tax money paid by Iron River property owners
went to improving the old Central School that has
subsequently been converted into apartments in
private ownership. Considering that it had been owned
by the State of Michigan, we, the public, would have
been better served had the state dealt with the property.
Certainly we would not have been on the hook for
close to half a million dollars. In all reality, it should
have been demolished by its owner, the school district,
back in the 1970’s when the population was larger and
the economic impact would have been much smaller.
Buildings here in the US have a relatively short viable
economic life. How much tax revenue is the converted
central school providing to the community? How long
will it take for the citizens to “break even,” if ever, on this
project? Mayor Tarsi says he believes that the Apple
Blossom Apartments project was in the best interests of
the city and the taxpayers, but he offers nothing to back
up what he clearly states is his opinion. Is it any surprise
that we wonder about this? The 1960’s expression
“lip service” comes to mind once again.

Now Mayor Tarsi wants to spend another half a million
taxpayer dollars to demolish the Coast to Coast building,
a property and problem that the current city
administration rather stupidly purchased from the State
of Michigan. It should have been left to the state to deal
with this problem but oh no, the elected officials, while
claiming to want the best for the citizens, insist on
misspending funds that should be expended to maintain
streets and other municipal infrastructure, but instead
rather turn street lights off and streets “temporarily”
closed to traffic because they’re too deteriorated to use,
while creating a small city owned half-million vacant lot
downtown. Temporarily closed, my foot.

And what’s a few thousand spent to sponsor dog
races lasting a weekend while the city is shutting off
street lights to save money! The dog race expenditure
was challenged by a citizen in a city council meeting.
She was promptly dismissed by Mayor Tarsi stating
the city attorney deemed the expenditure legal.
Unfortunately, it seems to this writer, that Tarsi and
the city council apparently didn't rely on any “smart
or stupid” paradigm in this decision making process.

And la crème de la crème was Tarsi’s statement in
the February 4th letter, “I will not get into an editorial
debate, but I am available for a live discussion on
ther city-owned properties.”

The simple question, Mayor Tarsi, is who died and
left you the position of emperor of Iron River. You
are a servant of the people, not vice versa. We’re
not finished discussing the Apple Blossom Apartments
let alone the Coast to Coast building. Perhaps nothing
can be done about the building and contracts, but that
doesn't mean the discussion is over by your say so. The
entire matter of city planning for the future is wide open
because of any number of stupidities undertaken in the
name of the people. For example, the city has
complained for years about the jut-outs on Genesee
Street and the difficulties they create for snow plowing.
After about thirty years of experience with the problem
layout, last year the city rebuilt Genesee Street using the
same, complained about, layout. Don’t you people learn
from past mistakes?

For a recorded example of Mayor Tarsi’s management
style we need only refer to a meeting where he was running
a city council meeting:

It appears to this writer that if it isn’t going the way
Tarsi wants, he’ll threaten to have the citizen legitimately
expressing his opinion removed by force. It is this writer’s
opinion that Tarsi’s demand to take discussions to a
personal level is because he has every advantage in
such a forum.  Before witnesses Mayor Tarsi bragged
to your humble correspondent that he doesn't read
anything, rather he has his wife decide what is worth
his time to deal with.

Given the illiteracy rate in Iron County, we are led to
wonder at what grade level does Mayor Tarsi read.
This is not intended as an insult to the Mayor (not
that I have any objection to insulting him when
deserved,) but rather a call for recognizing another
reason why this community isn't thriving as it should,
possibly including city government, making the
question, under the circumstances, valid. On the
surface, a well read person generally makes a
better public official in a community if all other
considerations are equal. It is clear that Mayor
Tarsi is not well read.

Given all the above, perhaps a literacy test
requirement before running for public office
ought to be imposed in Iron County. I am
reminded that Marci Vess, who voluntarily
helped a number of local high school graduates
learn to read, died last year. I hope that someone
else has or will step up to close this void left by
Marci’s demise. The task requires willingness,
kindness, and lots of patience. The community
is just that much poorer for her absence, and
I write this as someone who had his share of
disagreements with Marci on other matters.

The shame resulting from illiteracy generates a
very high price imposed on all of society.

As usual, all the above is the opinion of:

Bill Vajk

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