Michigan LCV Grand Rapids Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Here’s a questionnaire from the Michigan League of Conservation voters. May as well share my responses with everyone.

Sustainability

Question: In the spring of 2010 the City of Grand Rapids established its FY11-FY15 Sustainability Plan. The plan includes specific economic, social, and environmental outcomes and targets. According to the Sustainability Plan Year 3 Progress Report, fifty-three percent of the environmental targets have been met in three years and forty-three are in progress towards completion. The plan’s environmental outcomes include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing energy demand and fossil fuel consumption, maintaining an adequate and safe water supply, improving the health and quality of the Grand River, protecting and maintaining healthy ecosystems and habitats, recycling and reducing landfilling, encouraging sound land use, and ensuring access to parks and open spaces.
  •  This isn’t really a one answer question. For instance, reducing greenhouse gas emissions is not necessary. Since Al Gore came out with his global warming scare in 2006, the name has been changed from global warming to climate change. Global warming wasn’t and isn’t occurring, climate change is always occurring. According to the Vostok ice core samples, Real Climate and other sources, CO2 increases lag behind temperature increases. Most current climate change models are based on the opposite premise, and are therefore flawed. The earth is currently in a cooling phase. This issue is being driven by the desire to create global carbon taxes, make lots of money for the well-connected, with no realistic benefit. I write more about this subject here.
  • Reducing energy demand and fossil fuel consumption: I’m in favor of reducing energy demand through more efficient lighting, efficient insulating, etc. Fossil fuel consumption is not a problem. The US is still a sovereign country (sort of), which is part of the bigger world. We have clean coal fired electric plants in the US. Large parts of the world (China, Mexico, etc.) don’t. So instead of creating energy from clean plants in the US, we are being shifted toward green energy, which has its own problems, and buying energy from dirty coal fired plants in Mexico to supplement. It’s one earth, so this is a lose-lose proposition in many regards. I am sure there are members of your audience that are so dedicated that they would be in favor of 0% carbon dioxide. At that point, all vegetation on earth would die, and so would we. The earth took care of itself before we got here, and it will continue to function regardless of man’s CO2 emissions. Oceans consume about half the CO2 mankind produces, I’m sure vegetation consumes most of the rest. The density of CO2 in the atmosphere is 0.000747 Kg per cubic meter of air.
  • Maintaining an adequate and safe water supply: I have taken a tour of the West Olive water plant and am convinced we are providing safe water, other than the last step in the process, which is the addition of fluoride/hydrofluorosilicic acid. There are over 50 posts on my website explaining in detail why I am campaigning to take the poison, hydrofluorosilicic acid, out. According to the provided research, this should affect the health of all Grand Rapids citizens positively to some degree. I am the only candidate who seems to understand this issue.
  • Does improving the health and quality of the Grand River mean Restore the Rapids? According to the WOOD TV, this may cost billions of dollars. When I think of all the citizens of Grand Rapids who would never benefit from this project for any number of reasons, but still be on the hook for financially supporting it, I am initially opposed.
  • Recycling and reducing land filling: approve. I would like to see maximum use made of the Kent County incinerator. See Sanitation Collection for a discussion on why it may be time to get the city government out of the sanitation collection services.
  • Encouraging sound land use, and ensuring access to parks and open spaces: approve.
 Question: If elected, will you work with the City Council and the City Office of Energy and Sustainability to ensure that Grand Rapids meets 100 percent of the environmental sustainability targets?
  •  100%? No, see above.
 Question: What sustainability initiatives would you prioritize or improve upon during your tenure as Mayor?
  •  Whatever’s already in the plan that makes sense to continue and doesn’t conflict with the above.
 Question: Public and non-motorized transit options are key to sustainability. In May, Grand Rapids voters approved a 15-year income tax to fund a road repair program called “vital streets.” Will you work to encourage the Vital Streets Oversight Committee to integrate green infrastructure and multi-modal transportation options into street maintenance, repair, and design?
  •  No, I will not. I believe these are driven by Agenda 21 initiatives, which I oppose. I oppose “road diets“. If people want to follow sustainability protocols in the way they travel, they can make that choice on their own. I will not take part in supporting policies that attempt to force others to do what they don’t want to do.
 Question: Renewable energy has the potential to expand Michigan’s economy and diversify our power sources while lowering customers’ energy bills. A report released by the Michigan Energy Office and the Public Service Commission (PSC) in February of 2015 showed that the price of renewable energy has decreased significantly in the past five years with the cost of wind energy significantly less expensive than coal-fired generation. Grand Rapids set a goal of powering the city’s operations with 100 percent renewable energy by 2020. The goal has successfully spurred innovation and the rapid deployment of new renewable energy generation across the city. Grand Rapids is now recognized as a leader on clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Do you support Grand Rapid’s goals of 100 percent renewable energy by 2020?
  •  No, I would not. I question why the city is getting into the power generation business when it’s just duplicating an existing business that exists in the private sector. How many additional employees were added to design, install, and maintain the systems required to provide this “green” energy? Why, like the city refuse department which is currently losing money, are we going down the same path with power generation? Will we next, instead of buying solar panels from private industry, set up a new city department to fabricate our own panels organically? Where does all this end? If being green is of such utmost importance, did the mayor and city commission ever consider just buying green energy from the private industry that already provides it, Consumers Energy, and be done with it?
 Question: If elected, will you be outspoken in support of city action that facilitates the transition to 100 percent renewable energy, including policies and projects that site renewable energy projects within the city?
  •  No, it’s not necessary. CO2 isn’t a problem. The bragging rights are worth $0.00 to the citizens. There will be no mass migration to the city of Grand Rapids if we’re 100% green energy. As I said in a different post, when a politician tells you ‘the science is settled’, he’s either ignorant or lying. Currently, we have the President, the Pope, and the UN telling us the science is settled. They are all in favor of a one world carbon tax. To reduce perhaps 1% of greenhouse gas? All you have to know is on this subject is: water vapor (a greenhouse gas) is 98% of the total greenhouse gases, CO2 is less than 2%. CO2 isn’t a problem, or did I already say that?
 Question: As Mayor would you oppose efforts to stall the growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Michigan?
  •  If Consumers Energy wants to expand the use of renewable energy, there is no reason to be opposed. They are a private company and should run it as they see fit. I’ve explained my views on city power generation. As far as energy efficiency, I am for efficiency in most things, city government included. I am an engineer, and spent a career trying to do things more efficiently, so I obviously would not oppose energy efficiency. In fact, I don’t even recognize the efficiency of this question.
 Question: If the debate on the future of state policies for renewable energy and energy efficiency continues during your tenure as Mayor, would you maintain the current dedication of Grand Rapids City staff time and continue retaining a lobbying firm to influence state policy?
  •  We are always having budget issues in this city, so I would look at the expense and necessity of each department to determine where cuts could be made to increase efficiency. I don’t believe we have to lobby the state government in this area, and as a cost cutting measure would recommend discontinuing an association with the lobbying firm.
 Question: Will you champion policies that encourage the deployment of renewable energy with other Michigan decision makers and with national mayoral groups like the U.S. Conference of Mayors?
  •  Answers in the sustainability paragraph indicate where I stand. Although I would probably not be in harmony with the majority of attendees, I would attend to keep abreast of other issues that may be of concern to the city of Grand Rapids. I would not champion policies encouraging the deployment of renewable energy other than possibly buying it.
 Question: Under Michigan’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing law counties, cities and townships may work together to form a joint PACE district. A PACE district allows a property owner to use the property tax mechanism to finance energy improvements. The property owner voluntarily takes on a Special Assessment, which he/she pays off as part of its property tax bill. Do you support the creation of a PACE district in the City of Grand Rapids, and/or in Kent County?
  •  Since I believe if solar energy makes any sense, it’s at the private, localized level, I would most likely be in favor of PACE districts.
 Question: The Grand River is a critical natural resource for Grand Rapids and West Michigan. The river’s water and flow support critical habitat for fish, vegetation, wetlands, and wildlife and provide outdoor recreation activities. In addition, the Grand River is an economic driver that spurs tourism and riverfront recreation. Efforts to restore the natural flow of the river and to increase water quality are important steps to preserve and protect the ecological health of this priority resource. Grand Rapids Whitewater’s proposal calls for removing existing dams downtown and replacing the 300,000 cubic yards of substrate and rocks that were removed from the river bottom more than 150 years ago to ease the flow of logs down the river. Do you support efforts to restore the natural flow of the Grand River, including removing downtown dams, restoring substrate and rocks, and preserving habitat for wildlife dependent on the River?
  • Does improving the health and quality of the Grand River mean Restore the Rapids? According to the WOOD TV, this project may cost billions of dollars. When I think of all the citizens of Grand Rapids who would never benefit at all from this project for any number of reasons, but still be on the hook for financially supporting it, I am opposed.
 Question: Water quality is impaired in the area of the Grand River targeted for restoration and doesn’t support recreation or fish consumption due to pathogen, mercury, and PCB contamination. Some of the leading causes of water quality challenges include urban runoff, combined sewer overflows, sanitary sewer overflows, rural runoff, and septic failures. The River Restoration Steering Committee and the Grand Rapids City Council approved Grand River water quality recommendations to move forward in tandem and at scale with the River Restoration project. As Mayor will you work to identify resources to ensure the water quality recommendations are implemented during the river restoration effort?
  • According to the WOOD TV, this project may cost billions of dollars. When I think of all the citizens of Grand Rapids who would never benefit at all from this project for any number of reasons, but still be on the hook for financially supporting it, I am opposed.
 Question: If elected, what initiatives or programs would you propose to improve the water quality of the Grand River by reducing stormwater and wastewater runoff and discharges into the River and its tributaries?
  •  I would work with the applicable departments to see what makes sense to do where the city gets the most bang for its buck.
 Question: The Grand Rapids Stormwater Oversight Commission is charged with understanding the current state of the City’s storm water system and developing countermeasures to improve service. The Commission reports on storm water performance, reviews expenditures and makes recommendations for improvements to the City Manager and City Commission. As mayor will you work to ensure that the implementation of the Green Infrastructure projects identified by the Committee and engineering consultant tetra tech are fully funded?
  • I don’t have enough current knowledge to answer this question. I cannot answer every question on everything I will do in the next four years. No one here does, although some may try to convince you otherwise.
 Question: Farmland, parks, and open space are essential elements for West Michigan’s economic growth and vitality, quality of life, and environment. A vibrant farming community and ample natural areas in and close to Grand Rapids boosts the agriculture and local food industries and promotes growth patterns that establish attractive, healthy, and livable urban, suburban, and rural neighborhoods in West Michigan. The Grand Rapids Sustainability Plan recognizes the importance of parks and natural areas within the city limits and specifically calls for increasing access to parks and open spaces. However, the Grand Rapids region faces a growing challenge with farmland and open spaces rapidly being converted to urban and suburban development in Kent County. Promoting efficient land use within the city and preserving the farmland and open spaces that surround Grand Rapids can ensure smarter growth patterns and create dynamic and vibrant communities in which area residents want to live and work. Do you support efforts to preserve farmland and open space in Kent County?
  •  Emphatically yes.
 Question: If elected, will you encourage access to natural areas by increasing city park acreage and ensuring easy access for residents and visitors to city parks?
  •  I lean towards yes but would act on a case-by-case basis.

Final comment: according to my answers, I’m sure you will peg me as an anti-environmentalist, which is far from the truth. I am concerned with real problems such as fluoride in the water supply, trash in the oceans, and the ongoing Fukishima disaster for a few examples. There is an unknown quantity of radioactive water being released into the Pacific ocean per day. Should I be worried about a substance in the ocean which is very detrimental to life, and has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, or about CO2 which living beings exhale, and which oceans and plants require to survive? Ask the survivors of the USS Kennedy what they would rather have been exposed to, radiation or normal levels of CO2?

I hope by reading my responses I can move your organization toward looking beyond what the mainstream media constantly harps on and add additional causes to your concerns.

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