Welcome to SEMCOG's Think Regional/Act Local blog! SEMCOG is the only organization in Southeast Michigan that brings together all governments to solve regional challenges and enhance the quality of life for the seven-county regions 4.7 million residents. With this regional perspective in mind, we work with member local governments to sustain our regions reputation as a great place to work, play, and do business.


Our panel of SEMCOG staff bloggers will post daily to this blog, discussing SEMCOG's data, federal and state legislative issues, and environmental and fiscal sustainability best practices for local governments all with the goal of creating a successful future for the region.



Think Regional/Act Local

Throwaway Legislature

(Legislation) Permanent link

We clearly have become a throw-away society. We don’t treasure and continue to use what is working and meets our needs. We don’t fix things even when they could have longer-term utility. We use them and pitch them.


Last week, it dawned on me that this is exactly what we have done with the state legislature under the dictates of “term limits.” We didn’t fix concerns we had with the legislature. We enacted policy that discards our Senators and Representatives after short stays in the legislature (three terms in the House and two terms in the Senate).


Our team of SEMCOG staff and local government officials was in Lansing last week to work the capitol. We had a diverse range of issues to discuss with our legislators, ranging from replacement revenue for the personal property tax, manufactured housing, creation of a regional transportation authority, and long-term funding for transportation. Over the course of the day, we visited over a dozen state legislators.


What we found with the vast majority of State Senators and Representatives with whom we spoke were dedicated public servants, knowledgeable about the issues we raised, and eager to make a positive difference for the people of Michigan. To think that all of them will be kicked out in a few months or, at best, a couple more terms, saddened me.


Surely, there are rascals in the legislature. And, there are legislators who are ideologically driven on both left and right extremes. For many in this group, the decisions are simple…and often wrong. Rather than reward the “effective” legislators with longer terms or educating those who can improve, our approach under term limits is to throw them all away.


Term limits are bad. They force removal of our very best legislators when they are reaching their prime and can be most effective. Yes, we get rid of the underperforming legislators, but at a great cost…throwing out the very best at the same time.


We should repeal term limits. If that is unacceptable, we should, at least, extend the length of the terms. My preference is to let democracy work. We voters have the power to remove those who we don’t like. We should also have the power to keep those who are doing their job and doing it well.


Paul Tait
Paul Tait joined SEMCOG in 1972 and has served in a variety of planning and administrative capacities – becoming Executive Director in 1998. This experience gives Paul a rich perspective on the past, present, and future of our region. Please join him as he blogs about issues of importance to the region’s local governments and residents. Paul is also president of SEMCOG’s partner organization – the Metropolitan Affairs Coalition (MAC) – a coalition of business, labor, government and education.

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Expand your ability to think beyond the boundary

(Best Practice, Census, Data, Maps, Transportation) Permanent link

SEMCOG was created 44 years ago because of the imperative that elected officials think beyond their own communities’ boundaries. This has never been more important particularly in today’s economic reality. As you think beyond boundaries, we have data to help you. Community Profiles (http://www.semcog.org/Data/bycommunity.cfm) are SEMCOG’s most requested data. These online data profiles are designed to deliver a wide variety of demographic, economic, housing, transportation, and land use data for each community. It provides accurate and timely information at your fingertips.


To expand your ability to think beyond the boundary of your own community, we have a tool that helps you aggregate data from Community Profiles to the larger area of your interest. For example, a group of communities are interested in sharing services. To get a profile of all these communities combined, they can create a “custom profile” at their fingertips – click the “Custom Profile” link as shown below; in a new window, click on the desired community names in the select box; update the items to include using the checkboxes; click “Create Custom Profile” button. Voila! The data are aggregated into a single profile for all the selected communities.


New data are being added to Community Profiles continuously. Keep using it, and let us know what else could be helpful to you.




Xuan Liu
Interested in knowing how SEMCOG’s data impacts local governments and residents in Southeast Michigan? Then, you’ll want to read Xuan’s weekly posts.

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