Thursday, November 29, 2012

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

The title says it all.  Do I go or do I stay home?  Well, decision made.  I am going.  Where?  Lansing, MI.   I know, not very exciting.  Here's the story.

I am still on the Legislative Committee of the Michigan Government Finance Officers Association.  I've been on since 1993 and chaired it for many years.  I have not attended a meeting in person for the last two years (how time flies).

But, we have a new chairperson and there are many members that I have not seen in a long time.  Plus, I totally forgot about this year's conference and last year my spinal surgery interfered with attending.  So, I decided to make the trip to renew old acquaintances. 

It's not a big deal to get there in that the drive is about one hour.  And I am going to car pool with someone.  But it does mean that I will have to set my alarm clock.  I do not even remember the last time I had to set it.  I am meeting someone at 8:15 in Novi, which means I need to be up by seven.  (I get up anytime between six and eight on a normal day, but waking up at eight will not work tomorrow.)

There is an agenda for the meeting with more than 20 items.  I laughed when I read it.  There are a few things I learned while chairing the committee and in the years since.  The biggest one is that individual representatives in Lansing have their own and/or party agenda and do not give two hoots about what any non-influential (means we give them no money to assist with their election) group or individual want.  And we are in lame-duck session, so they will push through whatever they can.

While our group authored and influenced much important financial legislation in the late 1990's and early 2000's, that is ancient history.  In 2004, when our group tried to amend Public Act 72 to provide an early warning system for cities in financial distress, we were rebuffed by the state.  Now that Public Act 4 has been shot down by the voters, legislators are grappling with making PA 72 stronger.  Good luck with that.  I still have a copy of our proposal and know that it was drafted by my state legislator for introduction.

I sit here at home and read the papers, and the pundits commenting in them, and am glad to have walked away from this nonsense.  With term limits in place there is too much influence by people with money to change the laws for their own benefit and not enough care given to the voices of those who actually know something.  While still chairing the committee, I began to feel like the hamster in a cage on that big wheel.

But, the desire to renew conversations with folks I like will draw me to the meeting.  I've told myself to just sit and listen though I am sure there will be a 'snarky' comment on occasion.  I am sure my old friends would expect nothing less from me.

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