Beier Explains Why She Hasn’t Said Much Lately

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Thursday, December 13, 2018, 7:33 am
Jessy Gregg

Above: Ruth Beier when she MC’ed the Crystal Awards earlier this year.

East Lansing’s City Council voted unanimously this Tuesday to begin meeting again at its normal start time of 7 p.m., as Council Member Ruth Beier has now completed the MSU class that overlapped with the start of Council. Last week, Beier took a few minutes to explain why she generally has been saying much less than her colleagues at meetings.

Beier said the question of her relative quiet was raised by her family members over the Thanksgiving vacation.

“I don’t generally talk a lot at City Council meetings,” she explained, “and they said that they thought it looked like maybe I wasn’t interested in City Council anymore, and I just want to make it clear that that is not the case at all.”

Beier, who works as a labor economist for the Michigan Education Association, said, “My philosophy about talking is that if what I want to say has already been said, I won’t say it again. I might not even say ‘I agree.’ You’ll be able to tell I agree because I vote ‘yes.’ So if someone says something intelligent that is solving my problem, I don’t feel the need to chime in. It’s not that I’m not interested, it’s just that I don’t think that it’s efficient [to repeat someone’s remarks]. I am an economist and that’s just the way that works.”

She added that many of the issues that caused her to run for office in the first place are either solved or being actively solved. Beier specifically cited the City’s financial problems which she sees as being actively managed now, and the vacant buildings, now demolished, which used to stand on the corner of Abbot Road and Grand River. (Those properties will soon be redeveloped under the Park District plan.)

Beier also said that when she ran for office, she wanted to make sure there was a rational policy for tax increment financing (TIF) plans, wanting to see them used only “for public good.” And, she said, she wanted to do something about long-term debts, which she said City staff was handling.

ELi confirmed with her after the meeting that the last comment was a reference to City staff restructuring the Avondale Square debt and City staff working on the Park Place project to deal with the Evergreen Avenue properties’ debt.

To hear her full comments, including her compliments to the City staff, who she described as doing “more than I would ever expect them to for not very good pay,” you can watch this video clip:

Alice Dreger contributed reporting.

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