Reputation for sale: $50. They might as well post that sign outside City Hall in Lansing, Michigan because, according to this report from the Lansing State Journal, that’s how much the city thinks good relations with the community are worth.
It seems every time I turn around these days, there’s a new group forming in the mid-Michigan area to promote how many great things are happening and how the future for Lansing and the surrounding communities is so bright we’ll have to wear shades. As new restaurants and shops have opened, however, we’ve also seen a few businesses close. I don’t know if it’s so much a sign of Michigan’s economic struggles or the natural ebb and flow of retailing that allows some places to thrive and others to disappear.
Regardless, the city has decided that folks suffering the humiliation of publicly announcing they failed at a business venture must now suffer even more by adhering to a draconian law that the city has the option to handle better but refuses to.
As John Schneider reported, anyone announcing a “going out of business sale” must pay $50 to the city clerk for a permit and fill out an application that includes:
…an “Itemized list of goods to be sold, described with make and brand name … (plus) a “separate list of goods purchased 60 days or less immediately prior to the date of this application” (including the) “cost of each item, name and address of the source, date of purchase and delivery date, and the total value of inventory …”
Schneider also reports that the city has the option of waiving the fee but chooses not to.
The mayor’s communications director, Randy Hannan, is quoted in the article saying that economic development efforts by the city have, “created the most exciting resurgence in the downtown area in decades.”
He’s probably right, but he’s missing the point. The city is looking at the reality of things going on around town, but they are ingoring the perception people have of Michigan’s capital city. Despite all the good that’s happening, there are too many stories about the City Council fighting with the mayor and amongst themselves, stories of unyielding parking attendants pouncing on people seconds after their meters expire and, now, a government that comes across as a bully more intent on making 50 bucks than a public servant willing to show some compassion.
The state law needs to be revised and the city needs to start waiving the fee immediately until the Legislature can act. All the groups promoting Lansing and mid-Michigan already have their work cut out for them. The last thing they need is the area’s largest city throwing out more hurdles for them to jump over.