Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Thank you, Lou Schimmel

Now 76 years old, you have to wonder what was in it for Lou Schimmel when he accepted the post of emergency financial manager for Pontiac in 2011.

It must be old-fashioned duty to country.

“When offered this job at that time, two years ago … had it been anywhere else, I would have said no,”  Schimmel told Oakland Press reporter Dustin Blitchok.

There must have been some sentimentality for a city he loves. He graduated from Pontiac High School in 1955.

“Pontiac was my greatest success, by far,” Schimmel said.

“The basic blueprint Schimmel used in Pontiac has existed for more than 20 years: A financial plan he delivered to then-Mayor Wallace Holland on Nov. 19, 1991 reads as if it were written yesterday,” Blitchok wrote.

The report said the city should sell “its golf course, two cemeteries, hospital and stadium.”

The sale of Pontiac Municipal Golf Course closed this week. Schimmel contracted the operation of the city’s cemeteries to the Detroit Memorial Park Association last year. Pontiac General Hospital was sold in the 1990s and former Emergency Financial Manager Fred Leeb auctioned the Silverdome for $583,000 in 2009.

Pontiac’s citizenry owes a huge debt of gratitude to Schimmel. From many, all he has gotten is ignorant abuse. It continued Monday as City Council President Lee Jones — perhaps the poster child of incompetence among the city’s elected officials — called Schimmel’s departure from the position “bittersweet.”

“He leaving; that’s sweet,” Jones said.  “The bitter is the document that was left. Thirteen pages given to us five minutes before a 1 p.m. meeting — I think that was kind of unacceptable.”

This from a man who couldn’t understand one simple rule of government: Don’t spend money you don’t have.

Well, at least Council President Jones is leaving too. He is not seeking re-election. Now that’s sweet.

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