Musings on a Village Presidency

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My retirement plan.

My days as Pinckney Village President are winding down.

Before I was appointed to fill a Trustee vacancy on Pinckney Village Council in December of 2003, it was not at all unusual for meetings to start at 7:30 PM and end at midnight, with half the agenda items deferred to some unspecified future date. It was so bad that Council had enacted a “Sunshine Rule,” which mandated that a meeting could not continue past 10:30 PM except by a unanimous vote of Council. Which meant that meetings just ended, suddenly, at 10:30 PM, sometimes mid-agenda.

It was awful.

I was naively appalled by so many things back then. The unprofessional debate, the personal grudges, the lack of information on which to base decisions…it was kind of like election year television politics, but all the time.

I annoyed the hell out of everyone with my requests for information and my suggestions for better ways to do things. I know I did. Who did I think I was? I wasn’t even from around here! I was a newbie, moving to Pinckney in 1999, so I couldn’t possibly understand or care about the community.

I began my nefarious campaign for informed and civilized debate as soon as I was appointed to Council at the end of 2003. Ten months later I was Village President, again appointed to fill a vacancy when the elected President resigned due to a job change.

And over the ensuing eight years, I’ve worked to make Village administration and governance more professional and logical, with better information flow and communication. We have a website, a newsletter, a Facebook page, and sometimes the county paper even chimes in. Village Council meetings are short, and filled with thoughtful – and sometimes humorous – dialog that generally results in good decisions, because Trustees are loaded with information in their Council packets. Information that encompasses updates on state legislation to health insurance premium breakdowns to the pros and cons of keeping ducks and chickens, and everything in between.

I know more about backyard chickens and municipal sewer systems than anyone should ever have to know, although I could be an asset to someone’s trivia team I suppose. Call me.

While the internal improvements are probably more important, it’s the visible ones that everyone will remember, right? And it’s big news when you can get rid of a long-standing eyesore, like the former Patterson Lakes Products facility. We turned down over $500,000 in state funds to demolish the property, due to impossible economic development requirements associated with the grant – a decision that looked a little less crazy when we did it on our own for about $50,000. Our work on Mill Street has been recognized throughout southeast Michigan as a “green street” with its environmentally-responsible porous pavers and rain gardens, and by taking advantage of ARRA federal dollars, cost the Village 40% less than it would have. Most recently, the Village  received a donation of land around the Mill Pond from the Fred Reinhart family with hopes that we can develop some public access for the community (perhaps not on as a grand a scale as Dexter, but the same idea).

Plus, we have Taco Bell now. Yeah, that happened on my watch, baby.

But my best accomplishment? Pulling everyone together as Team Pinckney. Supporting the professional-level communication, information and infrastructure that allowed and encouraged staff and elected officials to work together to get all kinds of projects completed, from ordinances to policies to financials to streets and more. Now, THAT’S a good legacy.

But there is that Taco Bell…

 

 

 

 

 

About Rebecca Foster 62 Articles
Rebecca Foster writes about food, politics, books and whatever has irritated her on any particular day, on her website Usual and Ordinary (www.usualandordinary.com). She is an occasional contributor to The Livingston Post and has remained active in local politics and the community after serving as Pinckney Village President from 2004-2012. She lives in Pinckney with her husband, two sons, two cats and four chickens - and a good sense of humor.