Problem and Solution Essay
The problem that I chose to write about is Dowagiac: the city, its leaders, and the problems that the people of Dowagiac, myself included, are facing. The first thing I would like to do is to tell you a little about Dowagiac. The city of Dowagiac received its name from a word which means “fishing water“ in the native language of the Pokagon Indians. Founded in 1848, Dowagiac was a very prosperous city because of its river and railroad. Dowagiac was doing very well for itself with many businesses and factories. Now only a few factories remain, and many businesses are shutting down due to the economy. The city of Dowagiac is in the hands of people who don’t care about it or its community. Their only concern is the welfare of their own bank accounts and those belonging to their friends. It has recently come to my attention that the city manager of Dowagiac makes an annual salary of $154,776. That seems extremely generous when you consider the fact that a state governor only has an annual salary of $124,000. That is also over four times the annual salary of the average household in Dowagiac. I found this information at
Estimated median household income in 2009: $29,920 (it was $29,926 in 2000)
Estimated per capita income in 2009:
The city manager’s name is Kevin Anderson. His former employment was being the city manager of South Heaven, Michigan. I have also had the opportunity to discover that he has been named in a sexual discrimination charge against the city of South Haven during his time as city manager. This can be read in the Dowagiac Daily News. The publishing date was on March 16. The mayor of our city is Donald Lyons. He hired William Nelson who was the city manager before Kevin Anderson. Nelson left Dowagiac to be the city manager in Miamisburg, Ohio. It was there that he was arrested for trying to have sex with who he thought was a fourteen-year-old girl, but she was really an undercover cop. So not only has our mayor picked as a pedophile for a city manager, but he also is picked as a man who allegedly stood by while three police officers were discriminated against and did nothing. I have learned a lot of this information from a facebook site called Letstake Dowagiacback.
I would also like to share some of the other problems that are plaguing our city. They voted to raise our utilities up by almost 30 %.They have raised our utilities higher than most of the surrounding cities such as Niles, Coldwater and Bay City. I found this information at another web site called Dowagiaciformer.com I also discovered that they are putting our utility information on the internet. This means that for the price of a dollar menu item from a restaurant, anyone can look at how much electric I use or if I got a shutoff notice. The most dangerous of all is that anyone could find out where you live. A person that has been helping me with information told me, ” people who are trying to get away from an abusive relationship would be easy to find as all the abuser would have to do is go to that website and pay a dollar”. They also ignored the DDN, surveys that implied that 70% of the residents did not want their information on the internet. While doing a little searching through the city receipts, it was noticed that the city paid $88.93 to a dead person and $83.24 for a letter opener. These mistakes should not be made with the financial state in which our city budget resides.
.My sister, who is a freshman at Dowagiac Union High School, told me that they have gotten rid of some school activities like the drama club. They are also talking about getting rid of band, choir, and possibly some sports if not all. I know that this is a recession, but the last thing we should be doing as a community is ignoring our children’s future. Music and extracurricular activities are what keep a lot of kids busy and on the straight and narrow. We are taking away positive things that would not cost that much to keep. I know from personal experience that playing softball and trying to stay healthy and on point kept me from doing negative things. It’s like the old saying ‘idol hands are the devils playground,’ and I believe that to be true. This is some information that backs my issue with the cutting of school activities.
According to a report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 10 million children annually are left unsupervised between 3 and 6 p.m. — the prime-time hours for teens to commit crimes, become crime victims, smoke, drink, use drugs or get pregnant. The proposed funding cuts mean that some 570,000 children will be denied access to after-school programs and added to the rolls of children left unsupervised each year. The cuts represent a lost opportunity to prevent an estimated 41,000 crimes and save taxpayers an estimated $2.4 billion dollars.
Research has shown that high-quality, after-school programs can protect children from crime, drug use, and teen pregnancy and can increase rates of high school graduation and college enrollments. The operative word here is “high-quality.” To be sure, there are many after-school programs not offering the structure and support needed to achieve positive outcomes. The response to this situation should not be to reduce our efforts. Rather, we should be looking at how to make effective programs better and finding ways to make those excellent programs available to more children.
The funding crisis is real, and it is not going to go away any time soon. We at VPP believe that fenders and nonprofits alike need to do a better job leveraging and using the funding that is available. Instead of cutting funding across the board to after-school programs, we need to direct the available funding toward strengthening organizations that have developed high-quality, structured programs, and that could, with support, expand and grow to serve many more children. VPP investment partners Asian American LEAD and Heads Up, for instance, have demonstrated this level of high performance in their after-school services. These organizations have developed programs that turn the risky hours of 3 to 6 p.m. into a time of constructive supervised activities.
For example, Asian American LEAD has provided tutoring and mentoring programs for the past five years to several hundred children from low-income families in grades one through twelve. Approximately 100 high school seniors have graduated from these programs, and the vast majority of them have gone on to college with most of them earning scholarships. A 1999 self-evaluation by Heads Up showed that 69 percent of its first through sixth graders improved at least one reading grade level over one year, while 31 percent improved by two levels. Additionally, 97 percent of parents rated their children’s improvement in their attitude toward learning as “very good” or “excellent.”
—Mario Morino the dangers of cutting school funding venture philanthropy .org
Some of the things that we are trying to due to fix the problems include getting the information out to let people know that we’re being ripped off. The next step is to get more people involved and voting. When the time has come to vote for a new mayor, I will definitely be involved. I will also try to get my friends and neighbors involved. Many of them are blind like I was. I was so caught up in work, school and kids that I didn’t realize what was going on in my own city. As for the city manager, I think we will just have to wait for his contract to be up. Now, thanks to sites like Letstake Dowagiac back and Dowagiac informer, more people can see that the city is spending our hard earned money on an over-indulged procrastinating nobody. When we have a proper mayor that has the cities best interests in mind, I am sure he or she will find a city manger that will to work for a reasonable wage. As for the utility information on the internet, the citizens of Dowagiac have a class action suit in the works. You can also email Jmerril@dowagiac.org to have your utility info removed from the site. Putting everyone’s utility info on the internet has backfired for some city officials. It has been discovered that certain city officials are paying lower utilities rates. Since this issue has become known, other surrounding business owners have demanded fair treatment, and the proper adjustments have been made. This suit has been brought to the attention of the attorney general. I fully intend to join in. I know that this will not get all my info off the internet, but my utilities bills are my business only.
The problem of frivolous spending can be stopped by our city officials paying a little more attention. I think that the fact that people are making this public and bringing it up hopefully has embarrassed them. I hope that it is enough to change their attention to details with spending. I also believe that one of the biggest priorities this town should consider is getting factories opened back up. There have been companies looking into some of our vacant properties. The city needs to offer them some kind of deal for them to come here. Example would be like lower taxes for a year or two or discounted electric. This could benefit our town greatly in the future with more property taxes and more residents. This would also boost our local business and economy.
I researched how schools are funded, and I found out that some of the money comes from the state. Local property taxes are the big contributor of funds. That is why nice schools are always surrounded by nice heavily taxed residential areas. Getting new management is crucial to helping our schools. During my research I found out that, in the course of Kevin Anderson’s term, we have lost a one hundred and forty resident families. This is substantial when it comes to property taxes and the money the schools get for the children that would have attended school here. My solution for this would be for a community action group to be set up so we can do whatever we can to keep the activities and sports at our schools. To accomplish this, I would first talk to the school board to get an idea of how much money we need, so that we can keep what we have and get back what we lost. Once we have a number, we can try to reach that through sponsorship, donations, benefits and fundraising. California has had a drastic cut in their school funding, and they have a group called SOS (save our sports). I could also contact this group to get advice on how to run our action group and money raising ideas. When we, as a community, can come together and become aware and care, that is when we can truly change our city and community.