Letter to the editor: A Tale of Two Cities

April 9, 2024

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Dear Editor,

Two weeks ago, I read a statement about how the city, its employees and its residents deserved respect from the disrupter.  Let me clarify what I mean by respect.  In doing so, I want to show you one perspective of our city and then I want to show you my perspective of our city.  I listened to recordings of public comments by the disrupter from previous council meetings.  Here are some of the words and phrases that stand out to me.  I want you to get the gist of the language and tone used.

“…Fruit of the poisonous City Hall Tree.  Fraud and favoritism…unethical acts…lie by omission…illegal acts…violate city, state, and federal laws…theft…unlawfully… Done quite a lot of objectionable acts…each accepted a fraudulent definition of commercial property…give two grifters from Grand Rapids…betrayed the public… Reckless…hysterical …pawn off school property…dishing out public money…handout from the community chest under false pretensions…greasing the hands of outsiders…put your forgettable names on a plaque”.

Let me stop there.  Take that last phrase, ‘put your forgettable names on a plaque.’  Wow!  That’s poetry.  Those words are profound.  If you were writing a class essay those words would jump off the page.  This phrase belongs in a Dickens novel; ‘put your forgettable names on a plaque.’  But those words were directed towards me personally.  Not only am I being told that all I care about is getting my name on a plaque when I make decisions, but also that I am a nobody and that my name will soon be forgotten.  That is not respect.  One could argue that because I am an elected official, I should accept that; that it’s all part of the territory that comes with the job.   That may be true.  But take the other words that I referenced. When these words are directed to city employees, like the Chief of Police, the city attorney, and the city manager, how is that respect?  Imagine in your place of work, twice a month, all the employees were gathered and had to listen to the above vitriol.  That is not respect.

      I have a known quite a few people who were elevated to or hired into a position where they had to deal with this disruptor.  They have tried to engage with, to work with, to collaborate with this disrupter, all to no avail.  At first, these people took this challenge with confidence.  Why wouldn’t they be able to work with this disruptor.  Both parties have the same goal, one would assume, and that is to make this city and this community better than it is.  Two of them came to our community from larger cities, both had experience dealing with many disruptors.  When I asked one of them about how he was going to deal with ours, he simply said: “I can handle this.  I got this.”  For all his trying, he was not able to establish a workable relationship.  He failed.

The disruptor paints with his words a very different city than the one I know.  And it is delivered without respect for this council, for the city employees, and the residents of the city.

Now, let me turn to the city that I have the privilege of serving.  Let me tell you things that have gone on in just the past two weeks.  These are my observations, and I did make a few inquiries.  I apologize beforehand for missing other happenings.

  • Did you know that there is a beach volleyball league in Ludington.  They play at Stearns Park on Sundays.  Four young adults came before the parks committee requesting two additional courts and are willing to cost share with the city.
  • Shoreline Force is a non-profit dedicated to bike safety.  They are responsible for the pedal pad in Copeyon Park.  They came before the parks committee requesting bikes rides be added to the Waves & Wheels Safety event next month.
  • The Ludington Petunia parade collected soil samples to send to the MSU Extension for analysis to determine what fertilizers to use for the upcoming season.
  • The environmental group AFFEW is busy planning their annual earth day celebration on April 20th, and they are currently having an online native plant sale.
  • The Ludington Area Center for the Arts has an art exhibition and a cooking class.  LACA has many more events; these are just the two I know about these past two weeks.
  • Friends of the Ludington Police are gearing up for the Lake Jump on April 27th.
  • The Bookmark hosted another workshop where volunteers mentor elementary students in reading.
  • The City of Ludington achieved Tree City USA recognition for 2023.
  • Ludington is blessed with having hundreds of volunteers donating their time and money to make this city a great place to live, work and play.
  • The Planning Commission met last week.  Six commissioners and three city employees had their monthly meeting.
  • The Police Chief and captain continued looking for a location and funding for basketball courts to replace those lost due to the reconstruction of the elementary / middle / high school.
  • The DPW planted new trees around town.
  • The DPW worked and is continuing to prepare to open the beach at Stearns Park.
  • The DPW fixed the Bark Park dock.
  • The Cartier Park Campground restrooms project is on schedule and thus far under budget.
  • The city is making headway on being able to offer green burials at Lakeview Cemetery.
  • The construction project on Tinkham Avenue has started.
  • Yard waste pick up started on April 1st.
  • The community meeting on the Ludington Police Department strategic plan was well attended.
  • For the two-week period ending on April 4th, 24 calls for service were made to the Ludington Fire Department and 199 calls for service were made to the Ludington Police Department.
  • The City Manager had office hours at the Bookmark for a day.

Let me take a moment to highlight some of the services that we take for don’t think about and sometimes take for granted.

  • When you turned your faucet on, water came out.  Did you know that the water treatment plant is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
  • When you flushed your toilet, the water went away.
  • The trash and recycling were picked up.

Yes, the city employees are paid to provide services, and they get paid to do it.  But if you ever have an opportunity to get to know them as I have some of them, you will learn that they take pride in their work, and they do their best every day.   They are your neighbors.  They are part of our community   The City of Ludington has dedicated, hardworking employees.

So, there you have it, a tale of two cities.  One city appears for five minutes in most council meetings.  The other city, my city, is the city you and I see every day.  Can we do better?  Yes.  Do we want to do better?  Yes.  Do we want input from the community?  Yes.  As I said two weeks ago, it serves the greater good of a community to have a disrupter.  It serves the greater good of the community if we have input from the residents and constituents who are our customers.  We will not always agree.  But we will listen, and we will make our decisions based upon our assessment of what is in the best interest of our city, our respective wards, and the residents as a whole.  We welcome that input, expecting and hoping that it shows the respect that this council, the city employees, and residents of this great city deserve.

–Wally Cain, 5th Ward City Councilor, City of Ludington



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