Elite Force Favoritism

Favoritism is rampant among all ranks of government and this preferentialism doesn’t equate to anything less than corruption. Blissfield government is certainly no exception. The land of milk and honey is supposed to be operating on an Equal Opportunity premise as the foundation of our American Constitution. The only thing that allows evil to persist is that good men do nothing! Yes, this is a call for the honest, decent residents of Blissfield to stand up.

The numbers for the CDBG Facade Block Grant debacle that ended in 2008 was provided by the DDA in the table below. Knowledge of the grant money was delivered to pre-selected businesses as in “by invitation only”. At the time, three letters were written to condemn the selection process. You already know that something has to be pretty glaringly unfair for somebody to speak up against unethical dealings, let alone by three different people.

The local contribution (business and DDA) was to be a matching 50% of the State contribution. If the funds were distributed fairly, The DDA’s contribution would have been 25% and the personal contribution would have been 25%.  While some business’s found out after the fact that funding was even being awarded and later denied, The Packrat 
received a whopping $65,000.00 and only contributed $5,000.00 personally, therefore getting the most and contributing the least. The list of who’s who that made out like bandits following The Packrat was Mohr’s Barber Shop and Royal Expression’s. Based on how the Village handled getting caught with their fingers in the cookie jar, the Telegram article below shows it pays to point fingers.

These businesses were supposed to have hired 1 new employee as part of the eligibility for their grant. For any government-funded or partially funded projects the work was to be done by contractors, paid according the Davis Beacon Act, here is Lenawee County’s listing of prevailing wages by contractor type. The pay rates look like they’re double or triplicate what you’d pay to get the work done in the real world.

D & N Upholstery’s personal contribution was:        23.33%
Southward’s personal contribution was:                    17.24%
Blissfield Insurance’s personal contribution was: 26.09%
Mohr’s Barber Shop’s personal contribution was:    7.41%
The Packrat’s personal contribution was:                   7.14%
Royal Expression’s personal contribution was          8.33%

Private Amount Paid
DDA Amount Paid
State Amount Paid
Total Gov. Paid
D&N Upholstery
Ext. doors windows paint
Southward Custom W.
Ext. door windows paint
Blissfield Insurance
Ext. doors windows paint trim
Mohr’s Barber Shop
Ext. doors windows trim paint
Masonry ext. windows trim
Royal Expressions
Ext. doors windows trim paint

December 12, 2006
Section: News

Blissfield to Help Businesses Improve Facades

A Community Development Block Grant would be used to help the owners of four buildings in the Blissfield Downtown Development Authority.
David Frownfelder

Daily Telegram Staff Writer

BLISSFIELD – The village of Blissfield will apply for a state grant to help four downtown businesses improve their facilities despite complaints from other businesses during Monday’s meeting that they were not contacted to participate.

The Community Development Block Grant would be used to help the owners of four buildings in the Blissfield Downtown Development Authority.

The Signature Building Initiative, administered by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, specifies a maximum request of $400,000 and a local match of 50 percent of the project cost, and must result in job creation.

In addition, 51 percent of those jobs must be held by low- or moderate-income people.

Four businesses in Blissfield’s downtown submitted plans for facade improvements totaling $80,861. The grant would provide $40,430.74. The DDA will furnish $27,430.76, while the four businesses will add the other $13,000.

The council approved the application unanimously, with trustees Jamie Creps and Mike Gunter absent.

The businesses are The PackRat, 117 S. Lane St.; D&N Upholstery, 103 E. Adrian St.; Royal Expressions, 131 S. Lane St.; and Mohr’s Barber Shop, 112 S. Lane St.

The notice of intent was due in Lansing Sept. 15. The formal application is due Friday.

During a public hearing at Monday night’s village council meeting, several business owners were critical of the village and Shelly Woods, Chamber of Commerce executive director and head of the DDA, for not contacting all of the businesses about the availability of the grant.

Village administrator Jim Wonacott had said he would do the paperwork while Woods contacted businesses to gauge the interest.

Woods told Wonacott she had contacted 12 to 15 businesses by making in-person visits Sept. 11 or 12. However, Penny Place, who owns The Place, 116 S. Lane St., said most of the antique stores are closed on Mondays.

“There are plenty of ways to contact people. This is just not fair,” she said. “I can’t buy the fact that she didn’t have time to contact everybody. It takes 15 minutes to write a letter on the computer. I don’t think this should go through.”

Wonacott explained the state had not given the village much time to prepare the notice of intent to file for the grant. DDA President David Bailey said Woods had a full work week, putting in about 80 hours. In addition to Place’s objections, three letters critical of the process for seeking local interest were read.

“I’m going to get together with the others and we will decide what we are going to do,” Place said. “We didn’t find out about this until two weeks ago.”

Several council members and Wonacott said if the application was not approved for this year, there would be a good chance that Blissfield would not be high on the list of priorities next year.

“I’m not happy with the process either,” president Pat Hinde said. “But I can’t see a village this size passing up this opportunity.”

Mohr’s is replacing windows, repairing wood transoms and painting the exterior facade. The front windows will be repaired and miscellaneous blocking and caulking will be done.

At Royal Expressions, painting and staining the exterior facade and putting in a new front awning are planned. New front windows, lighting fixtures and a basement access door are also included, along with miscellaneous blocking and caulking.

The PackRat is looking to clean and upgrade the front masonry and brickwork, while painting the outside of the building. A new front awning will be added along with a new second-story window and miscellaneous blocking and caulking.

D&N will have new front and rear entrance doors installed. The exterior will be painted and blocking and caulking will be done.

The grant Morenci received is helping six businesses in seven buildings improve their facades. That grant approval was announced in November.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This entry was posted in DDA, The Community and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Elite Force Favoritism

  1. BJ says:

    Another good article. It would be interesting to see how many people were hired at these businesses. I think this should be turned into someone with the state to investigate this situation. Thanks for your research in your articles. It’s great you are keeping us informed on what’s happening in Blissfield.

  2. Logan says:

    I agree. Another good article. Thanks Robin. I hope the taxpayers take time to read this.

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