Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 3, 2013

Record-Eagle's Nov. 5 school, TC endorsements


Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY SCHOOLS

Traverse City Area Public Schools has created a pair of bond requests that meet critical, ongoing infrastructure and technology needs at a reasonable cost to taxpayers.

Voters will be asked Tuesday to approve two bonds. The first is a 0.2-mill issue that would raise $35 million for crucial reconstruction projects at Eastern, Glenn Loomis and Interlochen elementary schools, school security improvements at Central High School and West Middle School, and district-wide bus replacements and technology upgrades. It would cost the owner of a home with a $200,000 market value about $20 a year.

A 0.09-mill issue would raise $13 million to reconstruct and upgrade Central High School’s dilapidated auditorium. It would cost a homeowner $9 a year.

Last year the district asked for $100 million and voters said no. Since then the school board has held feedback sessions and talked to hundreds of voters to ask what went wrong. After all that listening, the board created the two new requests. The district and its 10,000 or so students deserve a “yes” on both; $29 a year is a bargain.

TC COMMISSION

City voters will choose between seven candidates to fill three city commission seats Tuesday.

n City Commission incumbent Jody Bergman, 59, vice president of estimating for Comstock Construction, was first elected eight years ago and is the commission’s longest-serving member.

Bergman has proven to be an independent thinker who takes an “if-it’s-not-broken” approach. She will stand her ground and does her homework.

She wants the city to do a better job of scheduling and overseeing festivals, won’t support efforts to dictate changes to the National Cherry Festival and says she hasn’t seen a proposal concerning the merger of the city fire department with Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department that she’d support.

She deserves another term.

n Patrick McGuire is controller for Howard Energy Co., Inc. The 61-year-old is chairman of the board for Traverse City Light & Power.

McGuire is reasonable and thoughtful. He supports decisions to put more than $1.25 million into city streets and efforts to reduce noise, charge higher fees for and better schedule Open Space events. He’d like to see changes in the National Cherry Festival.

McGuire said if a pending fire service study shows consolidation can save “a chunk of change while maintaining public safety” he would support it.

He deserves support.

n Ross Richardson, 62, owns an out-of-state restaurant with his son. He served three years on the city planning commission and four on the Grand Traverse County Commission.

Richardson has proven himself to be thoughtful and a consensus builder. He won’t be steam-rolled and would be a steadying influence.

He doesn’t think the city can further cut staff and opposes a fire department consolidation. He supports limiting Open Space festivals to one a month, in addition to the Cherry Festival and Traverse City Film Festival, and supports spending $1.25 million a year on city streets.

Richardson would be a strong addition.

Also seeking four-year commission seats are Gary Howe, Jan Warren, Tim Werner and John Reid.

TRAVERSE CITY MAYOR

Despite a terrible lapse in judgment, incumbent Mayor Michael Estes will likely be re-elected Tuesday.

If he is, he’s going to have to earn that re-election after the fact.

Estes was arrested Oct. 23 on a charge of first-offense drunken driving almost immediately after leaving a candidate forum. Later reporting showed he had been involved in an alcohol-related traffic incident nearly 20 years ago. Two such episodes don’t make a pattern, but Estes needs to tell the full story about what happened then and now.

Estes still has much to offer. But none of that matters if he doesn’t atone for what he did and offer assurances for the future.

He is opposed by Rick Buckhalter.

GRAND TRAVERSE ROAD COMMISSION

The Grand Traverse County Road Commission is seeking a three-year, 1-mill proposal that would generate $4.4 million annually; $3.5 million to the road commission, $750,000 to Traverse City, $27,600 to the Village of Kingsley and $11,300 to Fife Lake.

It would cost the owner of a home with a market value of $200,000 $100 a year.

While there’s no doubt county roads are in bad shape, the commission’s track record doesn’t instill confidence. New leadership on the board and in the manager’s office promise better times to come, but it’s too early to hand over more than $13 million.

We can’t endorse the request.