Sunday, April 4, 2010

Thanks for Nothing

It's sure good to know you can always count on your neighbors in a moment of desperate need. Unless, of course, those neighbors happen to be Burton, Clio, Davison and Grand Blanc.

Laura Angus of The Flint Journal reports:
Burton’s fire chief to Flint: “We’re not responding.”

In the midst of a rash suspected arsons, the layoff of 23 Flint firefighters and the shuttering of two of the city’s five fire stations last week, Burton and other fire departments around Genesee County are telling Flint that it is on its own.

“I can’t solve the city’s problems,” said Burton Fire Chief Doug Halstead. “I have taxpayers in Burton who are my first priority. Those taxpayers are the ones that I will take care of.”

Clio and Davison have already told the city it can’t rely on them for mutual fire aid and the Grand Blanc Fire Commission is expected to take up the question this month.

When Flint sent out a plea for fire help early Thursday, Burton and Grand Blanc were not among the seven fire departments that sent firefighters into the city.
With friends like these...


  1. selfish and greedy. its going to suck when someone innocent in Flint dies because GB and Burton fail to respond. Of course the unions will blame Walling because he laid off firefighters. The unions will have blood on their hands becuase their influence over the GB and Burton Fire Departments will be to blame

  2. Two thoughts

    1. These podunks wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Flint and all the money it generated during the glory years

    2. This is a perfect example of why we need regional planning. All these struggling municipalities with all there separate— and expensive — services. Call me a socialist, but we should consolidate all this crap

    Now back to drinking

  3. I think Burton FD Chief Halstead's stance makes sense. He runs a department that has only on-call firefighters, almost all of whom have primary jobs that are disrupted by their being a firefighter. A normal, symmetrical, rarely-utilized mutual aid arrangement would be fine. In the present circumstances, though, the frequent requests for aid would overwhelm the endurance of his personnel, and he'd start to lose people.

    Firefighting is tough, rigorous work. Not a lot of people want to do it, or have what it takes. Like any good FD, Burton has made a sizeable taxpayer-funded investment in training for its people. Chief Halstead doesn't want Flint's troubles to result in Burton's FD losing trained people and becoming ineffective.

    Keeping the Burton FD effective requires not overloading it. When Flint is able to straighten out its arson situation and its mutual aid needs get back to normal infrequency, I'd guess the relationship will be able to be re-considered.

  4. "These podunks wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Flint and all the money it generated during the glory years."

    Burton, for one, wouldn't have incorporated if they didn't think it was necessary to protect that suburb from past Flint-egocentric city administrations' bad habit of hogging the regional funding, excluding suburban residents from decisionmaking for the metro area, and deviously annexing key parts of the townships' tax bases.

    "This is a perfect example of why we need regional planning. All these struggling municipalities with all there separate— and expensive — services. Call me a socialist, but we should consolidate all this crap."

    Yes, there's been discussion for many years that Flint should be dissolved and merged into the economically much more successful, much more cost-effectively-governed surrounding governments. Many taxpaying residents of the suburbs have expressed negative views of such ideas over the years, reasonably surmising that the process would be intensely disruptive and thankless. Aside from that, though, it's been plainly obvious all along that Flint would not be able to entertain the thought of a re-alignment in which it is not in charge, with the suburbs appropriately bowing down.

    Now that Flint's an economic basket case, the likelihood that the suburbs could be convinced to absorb parts of it seems even smaller, if that's possible.

  5. Really, Does anyone really think before they speak.
    First, Grand Blanc and Burton residence pay taxes for Grand Blanc and Burton, not for Flint. Because Flint CHOOSES to lay off half of their firefighters is not a reason for the suburbs with OCCUPIED houses that are actually worth something to go unprotected to save an empty POS house that is worth less than a 1984 Cavilier.

    Second, If Sable Pelt new much, they would know that Grand Blanc was settled before Flint, so it would in fact exist and would probably be a nicer smaller town if Flint were gone. It is not Grand Blanc's, Burton's, or Clio's fault that Flint grew beyond their means and wants to be a big boy city with little population.

  6. Okay, calm down now...I'm not denying that Flint is a basket case. But when a city is getting burned to the ground, I guess I thought that neighboring towns and burgs — often filled with people who grew up in Flint and have many fond memories of the place — might dig a little deeper to help out. Yes, they might actually sacrifice for their fellow Americans. And I'm not denying it would be a sacrifice for the firefighters. I guess I'm just saying this is not the time to punish Flint for all its past sins.

    But since no one thinks Flint added anything to the neighboring communities, I'd humbly suggest any retired Flint city worker who lives in these suburbs might volunteer to waive there very generous pension/benefits package. That would put power behind the claim that Flint never did anything for you. It's the legacy cost of these pension plans that's a big part of what's causing so many budget problems right now, just like it did for GM. (And let's set aside the discussion of who's to blame — the city or the unions — for this excessively generous retirement package.)

    Hey, I never thought of this, why doesn't Flint simply declare bankruptcy like G.M. Can they do that? I'm way out of my element here, but seriously...bankruptcy really would help the city, although the retirees would get screwed.

  7. "Hey, I never thought of this, why doesn't Flint simply declare bankruptcy like G.M. Can they do that? I'm way out of my element here, but seriously...bankruptcy really would help the city, although the retirees would get screwed."

    A number of Michigan local governments have failed in recent years and had to have the State provide financial supervision. You might, for instance, want to review Flint's Emergency Financial Manager period, 2002-2004.

    Another period of financial failure is not something to be wished for. Anything related to any aspect of local government other than raising revenue in order to pay obligations would be disrupted. Services probably would be further decreased.

    This paper provides an in-depth, professional-level discussion of the process of governmental financial management, State laws pertaining to the issue, and how financial failure can be avoided:

  8. As a resident of Flint, I am saddened by this entire situation.

    I am saddened that in a time of dire straits for my city, people cannot unite.

    I am saddened that someone or someones out there decided that the solution to the laid of fire fighters was to start more fires for the smaller fire force to battle, thus more than doubling our number of "regular" fires.

    I am saddened about all of the anger directed towards mayor Walling. Everyone criticizes and claims he is mismanaging things left and right. No one cites sources for their information, which basically makes it pure bull in my world.

    I am saddened that people have lost their homes and now one man has lost his life.

    I am saddened that the communities surrounding Flint are acting in the manner they are acting. I understand their position to an extent, but were the situation reversed I believe they would expect Flint to respond to help them out.

    I am saddened that we live in a world where it seems like people never unite and work together. IT's always everyone out for themselves using fear mongering, terrorism and propeganda to get things done. How many fires will make it change?

  9. All I can say is, enough with the fires.

    If the media didn't cover it, would it still be news? When I was in town last week, every nightly news weather anchor was talking about the weather being a "fire hazard" because of the dry conditions. This combined with the top news of the other fires just felt to me like the media people are feeding the flames.

    If the people who are burning these homes were doing it for media coverage... boy did they win big. I'm not saying it shouldn't have been covered at first, but it has gone it's course and shouldn't be top news anymore.

  10. First, the media needs to stop covering the fires because attention is what these idiots want most.

    Second, when Walling laid off all the firefighters, it was implied that they would make up the loss with mutual aid. I'm sure the outlying FDs don't mind responding once in a while but EIGHTY TIMES in two weeks?! That's ridiculous. And it's MUTUAL aid: Can Flint City FD really respond to any other fires outside the city now?

    Third, I live and pay taxes in Flint Township. I already pay more than my share since "FLINT" is in my address. I don't pay for the city of Flint so why should I have to support them?

    Fourth, I have a brother who is a firefighter and I don't want him in harm's way because of these stupid idiots trying to prove a point.

  11. i have friends in the davison fire department. this is a volunteer department mostly. why should we have to save you every time you have a fire? would we call you out every single night? no. don't expect us to use up our budget saving abandoned homes in flint when we have things to take care of in davison.

  12. I understand why the suburban fire departments don't want to help out. They have their own citizens to protect. Completely understandable... But to all of you residents in the burbs who are irrationally insulting my city, lets get one thing straight.... If it weren't for Flint's early successes, and recent failures, your towns would never be as big or popular as they are today. Flint is the reason people came to this area to begin with. Now that Flint is on the decline, the burbs are still benefiting from the situation. The more Flint continues to screw itself, the more residents you guys will get, increasing the enrollment of your schools, and granting the towns with more government funding. You guys are constantly putting up new schools, businesses, athletic facilities, etc. I graduated from Central (built in 1922), and we played our home games at Atwood (built in 1929). Don't get me wrong, I love both buildings, but their maintenance had been neglected for decades. Be thankful for what you guys have out there, and realize that Flint has played a vital role in the growth of the surrounding areas, as well. Again, I understand why your fire departments don't want to help with Flint's issues. But don't sit here and act like your hometowns have never benefited from Flint.


Thanks for commenting. I moderate comments, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. You might enjoy my book about Flint called "Teardown: Memoir of a Vanishing City," a Michigan Notable Book for 2014 and a finalist for the 33rd Annual Northern California Book Award for Creative NonFiction. Filmmaker Michael Moore described Teardown as "a brilliant chronicle of the Mad Maxization of a once-great American city." More information about Teardown is available at