Cross posted at BFM
One lesson I keep learning over & over again is that I should never blog when I’m angry. That lesson just doesn’t seem to stick with me.
So yesterday our Board of Commissioners voted to indefinitely postpone the amendment to revert the food licensing and inspection fees back to what it was before it changed in December, 2007.
An act of pure cowardice and SLEAZE.
Ok, for those of you who aren’t up to speed, here’s an excerpt from Tina’s March 26 diary…
Recent legislation passed in Lansing eliminated the exemption that was afforded to non-profits and schools for food licensing fees.
… while we want to continue to feed the hungry, the first $500.00 budgeted to this effort, must be paid to the County.
… Jack Johnson attempted to amend the motion to ‘roll back’ the fees to their previous levels (which I may add included temporary licenses for sales of food for non-profits) until the amendment proposed by Rep Ball was decided in Lansing. [Prosecutor] Randy Colbry felt this was not proper because the legal opinion he subscribes to does not allow for it. Pavlica just couldn’t get past that they might be ‘breaking the law’ in some way, the same went for Stewart.
In other words, our Board of Commissioners has voted to fine our Churches for feeding the hungry.
We’re not talking about a reasonable inspection fee. Most people agree that any kitchen that serves food to the public should meet certain standards put forward by law, and that organizations should cover the costs associated with maintaining those standards. We’re talking about fining the churches and non-profits the same amount as we would charge a school or restaurant. This is true even if the church is serving food at a funeral service, or at a ministry event, or feed-the-hungry, or whatever.
And our Board of Commissioners is ok with this, because George Pichette, the Director of our County Health Department, is demanding the revenue.
Now … the majority of the county board, led by Prosecutor Randy Colbry, says that it is not legal to charge a church less than they charge a school. The law absolutely does not allow this. Therefore, the county must do what Pichette wants. Wouldn’t want to be breaking the law.
To which Christine says, “Oh. My. G-”
I can’t even finish the last word.
I just can’t believe what my county government is trying to feed me today.
First of all, there are other counties that are not interpreting the law this way. So it’s not like we’d be setting a precedent by doing the right thing.
Second … Hello????? Shiawassee County is suddenly afraid of breaking the law??? FOIA? Open Meetings Act? Employment Contracts?
We don’t even have a passing acquaintance with the law in my county. We’re not even in the same zip code as the law. My county board wouldn’t know the law if the law sat on its lap and called it “mama.” So don’t pull this “it’s the law” crap on me, because I blog this stuff and I know better.
And Third … some laws are just meant to be broken, even by law-abiding citizens. Frankly, if you’re flippin’ law gets in the way of feeding hungry people, and I can break it without harming someone, then you’re flippin’ law was meant for breakin’. Especially when you know for a flippin’ fact that the state government never meant for this law to be followed in this particular manner. This is true even if it means that the government gets less money.
Once again, my county government and my health dept are using profit to drive the decision-making process. It was the desire for health dept profit that led to the termination of our Maternal and Infant Care Program, and it is the desire for health dept revenues that have led to this tax on our church ministries.
And later this year, I bet the Health Dept Director will argue that he deserves a raise, because “look at how well I’ve managed my budget … look at how much money we have in these tough times …”
This just makes me sick. Especially in light of the fact that I saw a state report comparing the administrative costs of the Michigan county health departments, and Shiawassee had the highest rate of the bunch. I believe it was 5-7% above the average.
So, send us your hungry people. Our government needs the money.