State Officials use the Law finally to help a Troubled Business Officials from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – the state’s flagship economic development agency – changed their mind about not giving a now-financially troubled race track millions in tax subsidies. This came after an original rejection of the deal by the MEDC led to queries from top Wayne County executives and the governor’s office.
Thank God somebody has come to their senses.
But I’ll get to all this in a moment.
There is a Man by the name of Tom Gantert who writes on a Right Wing Republican Blog Site called, Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
Michigan Capitol Confidential, is a periodical of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.
But the best part is the About us part, and Does the Mackinac Center Have a Point of View?
The following is a brief explanation of the Mackinac Center’s approach to public policy, the principles that guide our work and why the term “free market” best describes our institute.
The Mackinac Center for Public Policy focuses its research on economic policy, broadly defined. It does not address issues like abortion, censorship and gambling. These concerns, while very important, are primarily questions of social ethics.
By gaining the support of all who recognize the importance of sound economic policy — whatever their views on social issues — we are better able to pursue a key objective: establishing a more advanced level of economic and political understanding among Michigan citizens and decision-makers. Our focus on economics draws support from market-oriented libertarians, moderates and conservatives. Mackinac Center staff, directors and scholars reflect this diversity.
Modern economic experience demonstrates overwhelmingly that the free market is a powerful engine of economic prosperity. Nations the world over are clamoring to shed the chains of central planning and unleash the creative energy of free men and women. The principles of the American Revolution — individual liberty, limited government, the free market and the rule of law — have become the dominant paradigm of enlightened society.
Today no one calls an American political research institute a “democratic” institute because it has embraced democracy over monarchy. That battle was fought long ago, and democracy is deservedly the winner. We believe that the verdict is also in concerning economic systems, and the free market has won. To play on Churchill’s famous quip, the free market system is the worst type of economy, except for all the others. The Mackinac Center works to advance solutions that meet human needs while preserving the benefits of sound economic policy.
We look forward to the day when the myths and fears of free-market capitalism are dispelled, along with the misplaced faith in a benevolent, omnipotent state. By focusing on the actual problems and understanding the proper role of public and private institutions, we can give all Michigan citizens the greatest opportunity for peace, prosperity, and freedom.
It is important to understand that economics is not the study of dollars and cents; it is the study of human behavior. Economics deals with how we use scarce resources to meet the needs of people in a complex society. Broadly defined, economics includes the incentives and systems used to deliver not just commodities, but also education, social assistance and other services. It also encompasses a free-market economy’s vital political prerequisites, such as respect for private property, freedom of contract and the rule of law
I don’t know did I miss something?
That may be, but one writer on The Mackinac Center for Public Policy site, a part of Michigan Capitol Confidential has a view on it. And writes on this Blog.
Hypocritical? Of course! OH sorry this man wants to talk ECONOMICS.
Thus this is where Pinnacle Race Course comes in.
Gantert’s last two writing are on Pinnacle. And here is his Bio.
Horse Race Track Says Wayne County “Perfectly Comfortable” With Controversial Land Deal
By Tom Gantert | Oct. 3, 2010
Wayne County was aware of a horse racing track’s plans to sell some of the 240 acres of land it bought from the county for $1, according to Carl Herstein, an attorney representing Post It Stables, the corporation that owns Pinnacle Race Course.The Huron Township race course became the subject of an internal investigation by the county after it was learned that Post It Stables sold seven acres of the land to the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians for $179,000. The seven acres was part of 240 acres bought from Wayne County for $1.
Carl Herstein, a partner in the Honigman, Miller, Schwartz and Cohn law firm, said county officials were “perfectly comfortable” with the track selling the $1 land because it was part of a bigger plan to attract development to the region.
When asked if the county approved of the land being sold to an Indian tribe, which would remove it from the county tax rolls, Herstein said, “You’d have to ask them.”
Wayne County Deputy Chief Executive Azzam Elder said in an e-mail that he was out of town last week and would look into the matter when he returned. Wayne County Administrator Robert Ficano didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Herstein said the track ownership is considering the sale of five more parcels, although he didn’t know how large the parcels would be.
Documents from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation talk about the horse racing as part of a redevelopment of the racing area.
Herstein said Post It Stables, owner of the race track, has spent a lot of money on infrastructure improvements on the property, such as more than $1 million spent on drain improvements.
Wayne County Commissioner Ed Boike has called for an internal investigation of Wayne County’s dealings with Post It Stables.
Sounds like ED BOIKE is Gantert’s Link to this story.
And it’s about time Huron Township really starts asking questions regarding Ed Boike’s real Motives for constantly blasting this Track and land deal. I’ve already wondered who really is fueling and driving this barrage. Do the Detroit Casino’s have Ed Boike in their pockets? So he maybe is the pawn they’re using because they don’t want to see a Casino built on this land in Huron Township?
Sounds to me like Ed Boike isn’t looking out for Huron Township like he is putting on, but rather doing his best to kill any future development that could really indeed help enrich and make this Township Prosper. Just posing the question? Would definitely like to see an answer from him though.
Then we have the latest of Today, Monday Oct. 4 (** NOTICE EDITOR’S NOTE, AND TWIST ON HIS TITLE** )
State Officials ‘Stretch’ the Law to Award Special Tax Deal to Troubled Business
By Tom Gantert | Oct. 4, 2010
Editor’s note: The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has been no stranger to controversy during this year, with perhaps the most exceptional case being its attempt to give a special tax deal to a company run by a convicted felon. This week, MichCapCon.com will be reviewing another MEDC project that has become mired in controversy.
In 2008, the newly built Pinnacle Race Course in Huron Township was eligible for more than $48 million in tax incentives over 30 years. The MEDC trumpeted this project as “the beginning of a world-class commercial and industrial complex and transportation hub that will mark the entry of western Wayne County into the global economy.”
But today, county officials say the track has liens on it and has unpaid property taxes for 2009 and 2010. One horse racing organization says it has given more than $1 million to keep it operating.
Using a Freedom of Information Act request, MichCapCon.com has acquired more than 500 pages of documents that show a rare inside look at the policy and politics of how a state-subsidized economic development deal doesn’t pan out as expected.
Officials from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation – the state’s flagship economic development agency – changed their mind about not giving a now-financially troubled race track millions in tax subsidies. This came after an original rejection of the deal by the MEDC led to queries from top Wayne County executives and the governor’s office.
In 2008, Pinnacle Race Track officials said in documents that tax subsidies called “brownfields” were “critical” to the completion of the race track. The MEDC touted the project as a tourist attraction that would bring thousands of jobs, lure tourists from surrounding states and Canada, and generate millions in tax revenue.
Instead, Pinnacle Race Course is late in paying property taxes to Huron Township, has reportedly had its water and electricity temporarily turned off for non-payment, and Wayne County officials say the property has liens against it. Gary Tinkle, executive director of the Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, said his organization has given the track more than $1 million to keep it operating.
The track first drew attention after the owner – Post-It Stables, Inc. – bought 240 acres of land for $1 from Wayne County in 2008 and then turned around and sold a seven-acre parcel for $179,000 to an Indian tribe this summer. Land owned by the Indians comes off the property tax rolls. An attorney for Post-It Stables said there are plans to sell at least five more parcels.
MichCapCon.com requested documents from the MEDC related to the race track in a Freedom of Information Act request. The more than 500 pages of documents reveal the politics involved in bringing about the millions of dollars in tax incentives the state gives out. And in this case it even shows the top official at the MEDC lamenting that the state agency may be bending the rules to give out the subsidies, and worried over potentially heavy criticism if the special treatment is made public.
Brownfields are tax incentives offered by government that are supposed to be used to help developers clean up polluted or blighted property considered “functionally obsolete.” E-mails show the track was eligible for up to $48 million in tax incentives over 30 years, including up to $45.6 million in brownfield credits.
But in an April 8, 2008 e-mail, then-MEDC CEO Jim Epolito told the MEDC’s Mark Morante that the site was not a brownfield.
“Mark, is not the core issue here the fact that this investment will happen no matter what the state does,” Epolito wrote. “Then, the fact that this site does not qualify as a Brownfield! Period! Finally, we will all be highly scrutinized and criticized for stretching BF law for incenting horse race gambling? Is there another tool? This is not a Brownfield, period.”
Morante responded in an e-mail, “You are substantially correct, though a good consultant can, and, in this case, has made this 240 acre greenfield site technically qualify as a brownfield by finding $50k worth of needed cleanup.”
Later in the e-mail, Morante wrote: “Yes, I can see us widely criticized for stretching the brownfield acts to their limits.”
The possibility that the project could be derailed by a refusal to grant it millions in brownfield subsidies caught the attention of Gov. Granholm’s office and the top official in Wayne County government.
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano sent a letter on March 25, 2008 to Epolito saying the county supports a brownfield tax credit for the project. Ficano said in that letter that Wayne County had an agreement with Post-It Stables for the county to do financing and construction of “at least” $20 million for public infrastructure improvements on the property.
Michael McInerney, president of Post-It Stables, sent a letter on May 16 to Azzam Elder, Deputy Administrator of Wayne County, thanking him for his efforts in supporting the project’s request for brownfield tax credits.
McInerney’s letter of thanks came a day after Elder sent a letter to Daniel Krichbaum, the governor’s chief operating officer, disagreeing with the MEDC’s initial ruling that the site didn’t qualify for a brownfield tax credit.
Regina Bell, the governor’s policy director, sent an April 8, 2008 e-mail to Morante asking the MEDC to make sure “that they truly do not qualify as a Brownfield.” In her e-mail, Bell stated that Ficano had approached the governor “regarding having the site designated as a Brownfield.”
Documents show that early discussion among MEDC officials raise doubts about a brownfield designation. One MEDC document that tracked “activity history” of the race track project raised several questions.
The site doesn’t look like a traditional brownfield. The development would primarily take place on a greenfield, raising issues of promoting sprawl. … How is it qualifying? Doe Ag. Property qualify for a brownfield credit based on its commercial use? Also, is the contamination based on release from illegal dumping, or is it related to generally accepted farming practices? Should MEDC be supporting this style of development with our MBT credits?”
Beth Vens, project manager for the Department of Environmental Quality, explains in an April 21, 2008 e-mail that the project met the standard to be a brownfield property.
“There are two small areas (from a paint spill and a solvent spill, both likely due to poor housekeeping) and soils are impacted in both areas above Part 201 criteria,” Vens wrote. “Ammonia is also present, due to historical farming most likely that also qualify the property as a ‘facility.’ ”
Russ Harding of the Mackinac Center once worked for the MDEQ and is considered an expert in brownfields.
“In just about any area in southeast Michigan, if you look hard enough, you can find some excuse to do environmental cleanup,” Harding said. “This is a clear abuse of government power and a waste of taxpayers’ dollars.”
Richard Barr, an attorney representing Post-It Stables, said in an April 14, 2008 e-mail, “All parties understand that this project is not grossly contaminated, but it is greatly challenged by the airport flight patterns and construction limitations.”
Barr was the only person involved in the 2008 negotiations that spoke on the record to MichCapCon.com. He said last week that the MEDC struggled with the idea of giving money to clean up what was essentially a cornfield.
“They looked at cornfield and farming issues as non-issues,” Barr said. “Farming operations can cause contamination, too.”
Barr said the MEDC didn’t have a lot of experience with farming type brownfields and “had a generalization that former farmfields are not problems.”
“We needed contamination,” Barr said. “It wasn’t going to be functionally obsolete.”
The MEDC didn’t respond to an email asking for comment. Liz Boyd, the governor’s spokeswoman, didn’t respond to an email asking for comment.
Ooooh The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has been no stranger to controversy, and the link to Pinnacle Race Course and give a special tax deal to a company run by a convicted felon PART? Talk about dramatizing from one extreme to another. And what does one have to with the other?
Give me a friggin Break here. You want to talk Economics Mr. Gantert, well then let’s talk them.
We are talking about a State Giving the Movie Industry a 42% tax break from Graholm to exist here. Which cost Mi. $152 Million in Revenue. But Horse Racing got 0% Tax break, which brings in over $400 Million.
It even Finally caught Detroit News Columnist Nolan Finley’s attention.
Michigan woos films, but lets horse racing tracks wither.
Only part of this article that was wrong was Liz Boyd saying state subsidies total $10 million a year, which is a lie.
So Tom Gantert thinks he is passing State’s Secrets here. CONFIDENTIALLY NOT SO.
This will get some in a RISE? WHO? Maybe it will bring the Subject much needed Attention, that an Industry that has Generated money for the State since it started 77 years ago DESERVES THE SAME RESPECT. As the Movie Industry that just came here? And the Same BREAKS. We are not Hoping to Bring in Jobs. 42,000 of them already are and have been here connected to HORSE RACING in the State of Michigan for all this time. Through the tracks themselves and Agriculture which has a VERY LARGE CONNECTION to Horse Racing.
So Gantert thinks his piece of writing is breaking out a can of worms. Stuff it Bud.
Pinnacle Race Course on that Land is “the beginning of a world-class commercial and industrial complex and transportation hub that will mark the entry of western Wayne County into the global economy.”
Damn Right. It would be If allowed to continue. Are you STUPID, CRAZY or BOTH?
So Gantert who ever this man thinks he is, Oh I know what he is. A Right Wing Loon is waving a big flag, OH LOOKY HERE WHAT I’VE GOT!!!
What you have is what should have been DONE, SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED with FUNDS and made PUBLIC long ago. But the HBPA and It’s Horsemen & Women have had to foot the entire bill. But Michigan doesn’t mind our 3.5% Simulcast Tax that WE CAN’T TOUCH. So Michigan can give a Tax Break to the Movie Industry that cost this State through the nose, AND THE CITIZENS DON’T REALIZE HOW MUCH AS WELL WHAT IT INDEED COST THEM.
But you think a story about Pinnacle Race Course and it’s Land deal will get every one of them on a war path. HEY?
You’re Demented. You, your Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Michigan Capitol Confidential, Ed Boike, Detroit Casino’s, Hazel Park Raceway and whoever else is on this bandwagon along with your whole Republican Right Wing Propaganda Machine.
Let the Citizens weigh in on the facts here. Maybe more than you think after hearing them will also say WHY NOT PINNACLE and HORSE RACING?
God Knows what they’ve contributed and Generated in money to us over the 77 years here. Something that Casino’s and Movie Business that just got here hasn’t. So WHY NOT PINNACLE RACE COURSE?
How many days a week do you work Mr. Gantert, while sitting on your ass writing? Come out to Pinnacle and see if you can do what these people do 7 days a week, year round. Starting at 5:00 am every single day?
Otherwise Shut Your Mouth. You want facts. Come out to the Track and jot them down. These people work harder than any group you’ll ever meet. But you want to write and talk about ECONOMICS?
42,000 jobs down the drain when Horse Racing in this State is Dead. Those are your ECONOMICS Mr. Gantert.
Stretch the Law? Sounds like what Michigan did to bring the Movie Industry here. They should be Helping the Horse Racing Industry, only we should have been first priority not the Movie’s.
CONTROVERSY? I’d say The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has something you and your kind will never have or understand, BRAINS. Thank God somebody in this State feels the Industry of Horse Racing finally Deserves Something.
And Tell them YOU AGREE with The Michigan Economic Development Corporation decision to Change Their Minds and Help an Industry that has Generated Money to Michigan for 77 years. Thoroughbred Horse Racing.
If the State of Michigan can give a Tax break to the Movie’s that cost them $152,000,000. Then Pinnacle Race Course and Horse Racing deserves some kind of break as well.
Simulcast revenue produced from 3.5 tax for current fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. Current bal. Oct. 1, 2009 to Sept. 30, 2010
And for the Record I attempted several times to Comment on Gantert’s Oct. 4th article and could not gain an account on Mackinac Center for Public Policy site. strong>
Very easy to put a spin on a story, another to get a clearer perspective on it.
To BE Continued………….
Update: Was able to sign up to an account, and my comment is now posted.