A Fair Amount of Ignorance? Really?

Mayor Heartwell attended last night’s debate at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and had comments afterward. From the WZZM article:

  • Outgoing Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell says some of the candidates running to replace him have what he calls a “fair amount of ignorance” about how the city operates.


  • “A billion-dollar budget deficit is absolute nonsense,” he explained.

I was one of the four candidate on the stage, and don’t remember if someone interchanged the words ‘deficit’ and ‘debt’. A deficit is usually thought of when referring to an annual budget, and indicates expenditures exceeded inflows for that year. A public debt or world debt is usually thought of as the accumulation of all deficits run up in the past to date.

Like most politicians, the mayor is using word play to try to make a point. He says, “a billion-dollar budget deficit is absolute nonsense”. And it is, and all the candidates know it. When I speak of the billion dollars, I’m not talking about a budget deficit, I am talking about debt. And I reference the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report when speaking about the city’s debt. Go to page 57 of the report, Long Term Obligations. See line items like:

  • Governmental Activities – $102,566,183
  • Business Type Activities – $426,772,731
  • Component Units – $46,228,686

These items, on one page of the report, add up to $575,567,600. There are other areas indicating unfunded liabilities, and additional pages showing additional obligations. Read the report yourself, do a science project, and see if you can figure out the total debt for the City of Grand Rapids. I rely on what I’ve read an ex-city comptroller says. She has said in published articles that the debt burden for the city of Grand Rapids is approaching one billion dollars. I have no reason to doubt what she says.

Mr. Mayor, you can call me a poor politician, you can say my feet stink, you can call me ugly, but please don’t call me ignorant. And please stop trying to use word games to prop up your heir apparent. Word games, in the final use of your bully pulpit, are causing you to be disingenuous with your constituents, and you should be a bigger man than that.

1 Comment

  1. A fair amount of ignorance. Wow. I for one would rather have someone OUT of the know running my city. His idea of running a city is to go around the country on my dime and copy the crap he sees them all doing. It’s almost as if he wanted to be the mayor of Chicago, but he settled for here. I may be just an ignorant citizen, but wasting my money on bike lanes we only use half the damn year is utter ignorance DEFINED. And from what I hear now, soon we’ll be able to paddle aaall the way to Chi town. Also on our dime. They spend so much time and money on ‘sustainability’ that they don’t have time to maintain what we already have. So I’m with John George — Where are you going to get the money to maintain your new sustainable projects of the future, when you don’t have the money to maintain the present? Well, you just tax us to death, and go deeper into debt. And like $500 or $600 thousand dollars of debt for our city isn’t enough to make us all puke, George.

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