MIRS has a story last nite entitled "10 Things You Didn't Know Michigan Spent Money On" based on the weekly Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) procurement contracts list. As this is a history blog primarily, it's worth quoting the first one listed:
"State Fairgrounds Security: Hold up on your double take. There isn't a state fair anymore, but the grounds it once occupied are still a liability.
'While the majority of the State Fairgrounds facility is empty, the state is still liable for the structures, any illegal activities that might occur on the premises, etc. Furthermore, there is still one tenant on the property at Joe Dumars' Fieldhouse, and they have security needs, as well,' said DTMB spokeswoman Lauren Leeds.
The state has a $1.3 million multi-year contract with Advance Security for armed security guard services."
Now those who endured the Great Recession here will well recall that the former Governor decreed that the longest-running State Fair in the Nation would have to end. And that the Fairgrounds, home of the Giant Stove, Seabiscuit statue, Ulysses S. and Julia D. Grant Home and other heritage artifacts would close "because while they are a wonderful tradition, the state fairs are not an essential purpose of government." (2009 State of State) This came under the heading of things where "we simply can’t afford them any more." At the time, the State Fair subsidy was around a half million dollars a year (some years less). [One might need to wonder why all the attention and effort to save such a paltry sum given the magnitude of the overall budget, but let's ignore that aspect and concentrate solely on the equation involved here.]
So, let's understand. We couldn't afford $500,000 and had to end our status as the longest-running State Fair in America, at a Fairgrounds that was regularly open to the public, and where at least the outside of our only publicly-owned presidential house could be viewed ... and now we're spending more than double that, have actually increased the expenditure by 160%, so that security guards can keep people out and done so for that last 3.5 years (2010-2012 1/2, and running), meaning a total increased loss of $2.8 million. These are general funds, so they come right out of people's paychecks.
If that doesn't make you want to crawl back into your burrow this second day of February, what would?!
Here's hoping that 2013 will see the turning of this lamentable story into one that Michigan can be proud of.