If your neighbor has to declare bankruptcy, should you have to assume his or her debt? Or maybe you should refinance your house and include your neighbor’s mortgage in your new payment. Well in essence, that’s what the Genesee County Board of Commissioners is asking us all to do.
The commission voted this week to move ahead with a plan to dissolve the debt-ridden 68th district court and consolidate it into the 67th district courts, which would be relocated from the communities in Genesee County to a central location in downtown Flint.
In the process, we would lose one judge position, the convenience of having outlying courts and we could possibly become financially responsible for the construction and maintenance of a single “mega-court” building in downtown Flint.
This merger was apparently recommended by the Michigan State Supreme Court and was passed 6-2 by our county board of commissioners with barely a thought about what it will do to the voters and communities they are elected to represent.
There’s a lot of this going on these days, elected officials deciding how to restructure and reallocate our government without seeking the input or approval of the voters.
Why should the communities of Genesee County be forced to give up their courts, taking not only the convenience of having our judicial system right in our hometowns, but also robbing us of the revenue generated by having court complexes in the suburbs and moving them to the county seat in the city of Flint, where the 68th district court has effectively been run into the ground?
It’s nothing new. Over the years the city of Flint has allowed the suburbs to take shopping centers, industrial plants and sports complexes and make them successful, only to step in and annex them when it was beneficial to the city. Case in point – the annexation of parts of Burton Township like the AC Plant and Perani arena. It wasn’t until the city set its sights on the former Eastland Mall (now Courtland Center) – back in its heyday – that Burton was forced to become a city to fend off further Flint intrusions.
Now the city of Flint no longer has to annex what it wants. It can have the county commission take what it needs to eliminate its debt and make it all seem as if though it’s for the greater good. Good for Flint, perhaps, but has the commission looked at just how good this consolidation will be for the suburbs?
I hope the voters will hold the commission responsible for this consolidation plan and I urge the community to voice its opinion, for or against, the shutdown of the outlying courts. It’s time we all started paying closer attention to what our elected officials are doing, both locally and at the state level.