Friday, March 30, 2007

Death of the Canopies

I am angry beyond words after reading yesterday's Davison Index: DDA reversal orders all canopies down. Instead of a pilot project in which part of the canopies would be removed, the Downtown Development Authority is removing them all, without consent of the business owners or the public (who want to keep the canopies).

The first section of canopies was removed Mar. 18; the rest of that block's canopies were removed Mar. 24. Every time I've driven down Main Street since Mar. 18 all I could think of was how awful it looked, especially the Davison Hotel. I was glad the pilot project was a compromise because, surely, everyone in favor of removing the canopies could now see how much work (and money) would be involved in restoring the building facades.

Instead, the ^#$%^& DDA is ripping down all the canopies thanks to Mayor Fred Rappuhn and every DDA member who voted for it: Eric Reichle, Melanie Helms, Marcia Johnson, Sue Fisher, and Authority Chairperson Barbara Jean Peckins-Muszynski.

Mr. Mayor, I will never vote for you, or anyone who supports you, ever again. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for destroying the public's trust as well the canopies. As The Index's Editor points out, Anyone want to trust these people now?

Hooray for Sean O’Bryan, Dave Larson, and George Kiess who voted against the mayor and the rest of the DDA!

One of the big questions is cost. Those who wanted to remove the canopies kept saying they were structurally unsound (without providing supporting evidence). They are the ones who decided to remove the rest of the canopies "after hearing the cost to refurbish the remaining canopies in the southeast block would be more than $35,000." Notice what they don't tell us? How much would it cost to leave them alone? (Nothing!) How much will is cost to fix the facades of all the buildings on Main Street? Uknown. The old street lights were -- guess where? -- on the canopies, so now there are no street lights. How much will it cost to install new lights? Unknown. AND they want to build a new city hall/library/museum. At least the public gets to vote on that. After the blatant lies and public betrayal about the canopy "pilot project" I know exactly how I will vote -- and I'm sure I won't be alone.


Kevin McKague, Davison City Council said...

If you're only getting your facts about the canopies from the Index, then I can tell you that you are only getting the part of the story that it's publishers want you to hear.

First of all, the city has shown that the canopies are indeed not up to code. The city as been needing to perform upgrades on the sewer system and to widen the road downtown. To do any of this, the canopy will, at the very least, need to be renovated. To do any of this work would involve repairing the canopy, and since it is not up to current code, would require replacing the canopy at a great cost.

Instead, the DDA secured a grant which would match funds to building owners to help with facade renewal. At one point, it was hoped that only portions of the canopy could be taken down, but when it looked like to leave only portions up would be cost prohibitive, the DDA notified the effected building owners, and the DDA voted to take the whole block down. It was not done secretly, and the whole project was the result of years of debates in public meetings with the city, including the DDA and council.

Since taking down the canopies, many people have come to city hall to tell us how happy they are that the city is finally doing something to improve the look of the area. Others have commented to business owners that they weren't even aware the store was there until the canopies came down, because the canopy had been hiding it for so long. Having the canopy down finally allows people to see the store fronts, and into the windows. The city needs to bring new customers downtown if business it to grow. We can not simply rely on the old customers, no business can.

These facts, by the way, have been pointed out over and over again to the reporters, editors and publishers of the Index for years, yet you didn't read any of them in the Index, have you?

I laughed out loud when I read that piece you cite, calling into question the trustworthiness of the city. An old saying about a black pot and kettle comes to mind. I also laughed out loud, when in another column, editor Don Schleske complained that a business employee accross the street from the Index's office called to comment on what one of his employees was wearing at the paper that day.

...As if being able to see into a store front from accross the street was a bad thing!

Please, if you have any questions about what is going on downtown, please ask myself, or another elected official or city employee. We can be found at, or you can contact me, Kevin McKague (city council member), at

The Cat Bastet said...

I replied to Mr. McKague via e-mail May 19:

Hello Kevin,

Thank you for visiting my blog, commenting, and checking back! Yes, I do reply to comments and I will reply to yours soon. I’m a college writing instructor so work keeps me from blogging as much as I’d like, especially during the busy, accelerated spring semester.

I saw the story in the Index about you stepping down from the city council. It mentioned your blog and I plan on visiting it soon.

Thanks again,



The next day he replied:

Thanks for your e-mail!

Actually, that article in the Index is a perfect example of what is wrong with their reporting. Other than getting a "no-comment" from Mayor Rappuhn, the writer performed no footwork of her own in constucting the story. Monica simply cut-and-paste comments from my resignation letter, posted on my blog, and from the blog of city manager Pete Auger.

To top it all off, at the end of the article she mentions that she was unable to get in touch with me for a comment, due to my new job.
She made no attempt to call me, even though my cell phone number is given to anybody who calls city hall and asks for it. Jerry Ernst
of the Flint Journal and Davison Flagstaff had no trouble contacting me, and his story is a lot more colorful and interesting, even though he gets a couple minor facts wrong.

There is absolutely nothing unsual about this lack of research in this article. I have seen it time and time again, where the Index publishes an article about a particular individual without even contacting the person about whom they are writing. In the case of this article, I think it was merely due to lazieness. At other times, I believe they begin their articles and columns with an idea of what they have in mind to write, and only contact those people who will support their story.

They don't call subjects to check facts, they don't come to half of the meetings (including some which they report on anyways), then their editor, Don Schleske, has the nerve to say time and time again in his column that the city has a problem communicating.

I will miss everything about being on the city council, except for my experiences with our local "newspaper", the Davison Index.

Please take what you read there with a more skeptical eye.


Kevin McKague
[address and phone numbers were here)


Needless to say, Mr. McKague and I have different views. I don't want to argue with him so I didn't tell him I used to work for The Davison Index and am far more likely to believe them than him. I figured it was better to be polite and let it drop. Since he has deleted his blog and user profile, I think it's safe to assume he's now staying out of Davison politics.

Kevin McKague said...

Hello, me again.

I have started to document some of the factual errors published in the Davison Index, at my new blog,

It seems to be having a positive effect. After years of almost weekly outrages in the Index, since I started the blog a couple of weeks ago, they started printing my letters critical of their coverage, and even printed a correction when they misquoted our mayor. They misquoted us almost weekly before, but this is the first time in recent memory that they've printed a correction.

The Cat Bastet said...

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for visiting my blog. I see the Index also posted you recent Letter to the Editor, so perhaps they are not as biased as you think.

I will be sure to visit your new blog!