Thursday, February 19, 2009

Your Stimulus Dollars At Work

I live in West Michigan which includes Grand Rapids. We had an article in the Grand Rapids Press yesterday about the stimulus money being used for the Grand Rapids Community College.
This quote is one of the most telling ones I have seen so far on the real use of money from the stimulus package.

"Stimulus money has led us to explore the options, but we have nothing to announce. No decisions have been made," Schenk said Tuesday. "We don't know if we'll have the kind of funding it will take to acquire or build an additional building."

Now keep in mind that GRCC has a campus already that works. It's not sexy, it's probably a little crowded, but they educate people there already.

The site they are looking for is an attractive parcel. The acquisition of this will not make a huge difference in education, it will be a showcase.

This mentality that 'since the money is there, let's spend it' is going to be seen more and more with this stimulus package.

The part I think I love the most is that they are not even pretending that this will provide any greater good, it is a simple money grab.

The Mayor of Grand Rapids is George Heartwell, my readers would love this man, he's a real idiot. He gave this lame excuse for GRCC getting the money.

"GRCC will be an important part of retooling our economy. It is going to have to look at expansion," he said.

Trust me, there are far better choices than buying this parcel but, what the Hell, if they don't get the money someone else will. Right?

I guess this is the new mentality in these times of change.


Randy said...

Yep. Columbia, SC is about 100 miles from here, they have set up a "war room" where they explore ideas on how to get their part of the stimulus funds.

I'm trying to figure out how to get my own part...

Anonymous said...

As an employee of GRCC, I can tell you that an expanded campus certainly is needed. Enrollment keeps going up and up and the classrooms are getting more cramped.
(I'd personally like to see them buy this property and bulldoze it just for parking, as they have zero intention to expand this aspect of the current campus.)
I'd hardly call this a showcase move. we need the room badly. A great many people are without work and have no training for other jobs. GRCC is often the only place they can go for education that is affordable. To ignore the importance of community colleges in the recovery of this state is faulty.
I have to agree with your assessment of Hartwell… He's a clod!

Leslie said...

This is where real voters and informed people should really watch: any state governor and other "politicals" that take the money from the stimulus should not be voted back into office.

If you are against this spending bill, prove it. There are a number of state governors talking about declining the money coming to their states. I hope that people will wake up and realize that those are the people taking the higer ground and standing on their principles.

EatYourOkra said...

While we are on the subject of educational institutions and the topic of debt, I blame the way our education systems are set up for contributing to the debt of the individual in this country. It use to be a high school diploma was worthy of a decent job in this country. Then a high school diploma wasn't enough and it was necessary for citizens to earn and pay for a bachelor's degree. We are now finding more and more that a bachelor's degree isn't worth what it use to be and now students are required to go in to further debt over student loans for a Masters degree. Soon that Masters degree will not be enough and it will be considered the norm to expect an applicant applying for a job to have their doctorate degree. I find the education system in this country to be just another corrupt business profiting off of its citizens. Teach students what they need to know and quit making them jump through hoop after hoop (and by hoop I mean degree) and going deeper and deeper in to debt. How can our twenty to thirty somethings possibly afford a mortgage payment on top of an astronomical student loan debt?

Papa Frank said...

It's all about job creation, Chuck. Some illegal immigrant will have to mow that lawn.

Chuck said...

Randy, if you look a couple of blogs back, it helps if you are a salt marsh mouse, just ask Moe

Anonymous, I don't want you to think I intended to malign GRCC, I took some classes there and thought it was a good college and offered a good education. Also, I cannot dispute they need space, I took my classes over 10 years ago and it was getting crowded then.

However, I don't believe the stimulus money should be used to pay for it. The leadership is treating the stimulus package as a piggy bank like everyone else in the country is doing.

I think the argument that it will help create jobs is torturous at best.

Thanks for stopping by and posting.

Leslie, it would be nice to see a politician take a stand but most of them are whores when it comes to money.

I remember Rep Pete Hoekstra from Muskegon complaining about pork barrel spending a few years back. To make him fall in line the House leadership stripped him of his discretionary funds, he raised all kinds of Hell.

Okra, the problem goes back before the colleges to the public school system. They are not teaching our kids. The issue with colleges are that they are raising their tuition at about twice the rate of inflation. We need to reign that in now before they price themselves out of reach.

PF, that's closer to the truth in GR than you would imagine.

cube said...

It's all about the free stuff now. Way back when, we used to joke about the group of people that was geared towards this goal.
Now it has become a reality. That's a sad thing.

mksviews said...

This is the problem with politicians handing out money, it's not their money, so they never worked for it and therefore, they have few qualms about spending it wisely.

rollnggrnade said...


As an employee of GRCC, I concur with Anonymous and I can assure you that this move was in the works before the stimulus bill was a gleam in the Democrats' eyes. It was not prompted by the stimulus bill.

Currently the college is turning away over 1,000 students per year. Winter 2009 is the highest enrollment in the college's history.

GRCC has been looking for options to expand for years; it's one of the reasons they've expanded their course offerings at local high schools in the evenings - there isn't space on the downtown campus. They've also been capping new enrollment, opening new course sections and restructuring programs (like the Nursing program) to go year-round to get more students through them to cut the wait list times. If you haven't noticed, they've also been offering a great deal more in Ottawa county; partnering with local businesses (which put up the money to bring GRCC to the lakeshore because the need for higher ed is so great) to offer classes at the new "Midtown Holland" campus and partnering with GVSU to offer classes at their Meijer campus in Holland.

Sorry to disappoint you - this is not an example of wasteful pork-barrel spending.

Papa Frank said...

I went to college in Grand Rapids and so I am well aware of the area. I've still got lots of friends there and have relatives in Moline and Saranac and my brother lives in Lansing. I'm all too aware of your horrible politicians there and the employment struggle that is Michigan these days.

Always On Watch said...

Local governments and all sorts of other entities are lining up to get the handouts (aka "stimulus bill").

And, meanwhile, colleges are jacking up tuitions to the moon.

Chuck said...

MK, this is exactly the problem. It is as if the money is not real to them.

Rollnggrnade, welcome and thanks for stopping by. I will not argue your point on when they started planning the purchase, I take you at your word. I also will not dispute that you may need more room as I told Anonymous. My point is that I do not beleive that it should be paid for out of the stimulus package. In my mind if the money from the stimulus is used, it is pork spending irregardless of GRCC's original intent.

My point on this is that the case is not made that giving GRCC money will create jobs. It may make people qualified for a job but if the job is not there, it will not create one for them. It is therefore not stimulating the economy.

I also have a philosophical dislike of paying for college with federal money. I think college costs, like a lot of other items, should be paid for on a local level by the people benefiting from the college. In other words, why should someone from California help fund GRCC? Likewise, why should I, as a resident of Michigan, help fund UCLA?

I still hold that this is nothing more than opportunism by the leadership of GRCC.

Thanks again for the comments.

PF, to be here is to really experience the incompetence. I almost bought a house in Saranac. There's a state park there we like to visit. What college did you go to if you don't mind me asking?

If you would rather not say then disregard, no worries. Just curious.

AOW, I saw an analysis once in which a study showed a direct correlation between the start and subsequent rise in disbursement amount of Pell grants and a rise in college tuition. The author was making the assertion that as Pell grant award amounts increased, college tuition matched the increase. He therefore attributed some of the blame of rising tuition costs on Pell grants. The man had some interesting data.