When the Lansing City Council and Mayor Andy Schor met March 25 about Schor’s new budget, they got an earful from citizens about a range of issues during public comments. Schor’s budget focuses on making Lansing more energy efficient, specifically making it the first city in Michigan to have percent renewable energy in city buildings. The budget also includes funds for one more police officer and the creation of an additional community policing area.
“It’s a process. The process is there to empower citizens and give them the opportunity to influence the way their government performs. I feel that the current council and just about every council tries to play down that fact and tries to make it out to be a boring event where decisions are made that don’t impact people and just tonight we saw people’s lives literally ruined or brought to the next stage through help or lack thereof. Every one of these meetings is very impactful, sometimes to the individual or sometimes to every single citizen and the fact that there’s only 50 people in the room to me shows that they’ve been successful in persuading people that they can’t make a difference,” said Monti.
Gillian Dawson, a political organizer, spoke about a resolution regarding the compensation of elected officials.
“It’s a government by the people for the people. You kind of forget that sometimes because you feel so talked down to, especially when you come here and you get told where you have to sign in and there’s a bunch of rules. We’re the people, we should just be able to come and speak and tell them how we feel about what they’re doing before they do it. It’s weird and I feel like people should have more of a voice and I guess that’s why I come here. If you don’t come, then you don’t get heard and you don’t get included in the process,” said Dawson.
Loretta Stanaway, a small business owner, announced a fundraiser for providing headstones for the graves of juveniles incarcerated in the 1950s at a local Lansing cemetery and to question the Red Cedar development project
“I come quite often. I want to make sure that there are things taken care of with the city’s Parks and Recreation department in particular. That’s my primary focus, and then I just like to make sure that things are being paid attention to and sometimes people get so involved in something they don’t see the forest for the trees, so maybe sometimes I try to point out the trees,” said Stanaway.
First Ward Council Member Jody Washington expressed her desire for a dedication to former Lansing Mayor Tony Benavides at the beginning of the meeting before he was officially recognized later. In order to honor the only non-caucasian mayor of Lansing, Benavides will put together a resolution for the council to vote for on April 8.