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Thursday, June 27,2013

Airport-Flyer vote

Live coverage of Tri-County Regional Planning Commission's Michigan Flyer vote

by Sam Inglot and Andy Balaskovitz
Courtesy photo

Update: The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission voted 10-9 in favor of the Michigan Flyer Grant. Commission member Brian McGrain was the tiebreaker. All of the other votes were the same as the May meeting. 

Wednesday, June 26 - Lansing City Councilwoman Tina Houghton said before tonight's Tri-County Regional Planning Commission meeting that she will be in attendance, following speculation today that she may miss the vote on a federal grant for Michigan Flyer. 


Houghton supported the grant at last month's meeting when the decision to approve it was stalled by a 9-9 tie vote. It is being reconsidered tonight. 

At the start of the meeting, 17 of 19 members are present. Grant supporters Houghton and Carol Koenig have not yet arrived. 

Officials from Michigan Flyer and its main opponent, the Capital Region International Airport, are also in attendance, including airport Executive Director Bob Selig, who is holding a printed copy of today's City Pulse web story on the Houghton speculation. 

Opponents of the grant say it would subsidize a private company while at the same time lurie passengers away from Capital Region International Airport to Detroit Metro Airport. Commission members who voted against the grant in May were David Pohl, Adam Stacy, Roger Eakin, Ken Fletcher, Darrell Tennis, Brian Jeffries, Ralph Monsma, Daryl Baker and Carol Wood.

Supporters say the grant is about expanding transportation options for mid-Michigan travelers and keeping more car drivers off the road between Lansing and Detroit Metro, which would also have environmental benefits. The grant was supported in May by Houghton, Beard, Veenstra, Koenig, Russel Bauerle, Jim Osieczonek, Dianne Holman, Shirley Rodgers and Denise Jackson.

Check back for updates. 

7:06 p.m.

Commissioner Carol Koenig has arrived. There are 18 members present. Commission member Tina Houghton has yet to arrive. 

7:18 p.m.

Tina Houghton has arrived. There was a some uncertainty earlier today as to whether or not she would show. All commission members are present.  

Of four public comments so far against the grant, all have stated business interests in the airport.  

7:37 p.m.

President and CEO of Clinton County Economic Alliance calls the grant "the worst kind of corporate welfare." 

Two public commenters in support of grant say airport is hurting itself by waging campaign against the Flyer, exposing its own faults, such as delays. 

"You're driving a stake in your own heart," said Jim Wallington. 

Of 12 commenters so far, seven have spoken against grant, with five in support. 

7:55 p.m.

Of the 17 people who spoke during public comment, 12 were opposed to the grant with five in support.

8:00 p.m.

Commission member John Veenstra makes motion for resolution. He supports the grant and questions the airport's projected economic losses if it's approved: "I don't like it when the airport authority submits nonsense numbers to me."

8:07 p.m.

Commission member Brian Mcgrain, absent from last month's meeting, says he will vote yes for the grant. If the other 18 members vote the same way, McGrain will be the deciding vote in favor of the grant. 

8:31 p.m.

If this grant is approved, commission member Darrell Tennis says it would be a "serious, serious mistake."

Commission member Ken Fletcher says conversations he's had over the past month with constituents and business community have "only strengthened my belief that this is not good for the region."

8:38 p.m.

Commission member Jim Osieczonek on his support: "I'm still not convinced that this risk is as large as it's being portrayed" by the airport.  

8:46 p.m.

Veenstra, never one to mince words, calls out Eaton and Clinton commission members for opposing the grant while their jurisdictions don't pay property taxes to support the airport. 

"I'm gratified to hear all the support for the airport from Eaton and Clinton counties which don't pay anything!"

Vote passes 10-9. McGrain was the tiebreaker. All the votes were the same as the last meeting in May.

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