Wes Nakagiri

Livingston County Commissioner, District 3

White House 600Wx450HCommissioner Nakagiri has accepted an invitation from the White House to attend a state leadership event with local elected officials from Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky. Commissioner Nakagiri will attend briefings by Senior Administration Officials on shared federal-state-local priorities pertinent to Michigan and Livingston County.

These briefings also provide an opportunity for the Commissioner to share Livingston County perspectives with national leadership in Washington D. C. As your representative in County government, Commissioner Nakagiri welcomes your comments and feedback and will hand-deliver your message to the White House. Please send your email message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Letters can be mailed to Commissioner Wes Nakagiri at P.O. Box 126 Hartland, MI 48353.

Please include your name and address on any correspondence, and please make sure Commissioner Nakagiri receives your message by no later than September 23, 2019.

At its July 15, 2019 meeting, the Livingston County Board of Commissioners voted 7 to 1 in favor of a resolution I submitted. By supporting Resolution 2019-07-104 by a nearly unanimous margin, the Livingston County Board of Commissioners sent a clear message that we believe voters deserve as much information as possible about those who are running for elected office.

My resolution opposed a change to election law that would prevent candidates for County offices from disclosing their party affiliation on ballots provided to voters. If this change were to be enacted, party affiliation would no longer be available to voters to help them select a candidate who best shares their values. Citizens who have traditionally relied on knowing the candidate’s political party (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Independent, etc) would have been denied this key bit of information as they cast their vote.

Livingston County Administration indicated there is an on-going need for construction management services for minor projects (under $25,000). To address this on-going need the Administration asked several construction management firms to provide bids for this service. At the completion of the bid process, the Administration drafted Resolution 2019-07-102, seeking approval from the Board of Commissioners to enter into contracts with the top firms.

The language of Resolution 2019-07-102 was such that the Administration could pay up to a 10% markup for construction management services. I objected to this language as the low bidder provided a quote of 5%. (Two other bidders provided a quote of 10%.) My objection was further amplified as the low bidder was also the highest performing company as rated by County staff. I did not see the rationale behind paying twice as much as we need to when the low bidder was also the highest performer.

During the July 15, 2019 meeting of the Board of Commissioners, I made a motion to amend the Resolution to limit the markup to 5%, thus saving taxpayer dollars. I opined that the other two companies should match the low bid if they wanted our business. Unfortunately, my amendment did not pass and the Board accepted the 10% mark up by a vote of 7 to 1. I was the lone dissenting vote.

Livingston County has received grant funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. These grants are provided by HUD, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a federal agency. These funds were distributed from HUD to the State of Michigan, and then on to Livingston County.

The CDBG Program provides financial assistance to citizens in need. In Livingston County, the CDBG grants were used for emergency repairs and rehabilitation projects for low-income homeowners.

As with any grant-funded program, the CDBG program has many rules and reporting requirements which help ensure the money is spent appropriately. Regrettably, our county failed to meet all of the requirements and is legally obligated to return approximately $77,000.

The return of $77,000 in grant funding required a vote of the Board of Commissioners, and Resolution 2019-07-101 was presented to the Board to authorize this return. As this issue was debated, I voiced my strong displeasure that we were having to return grant funds which were targeted to help poor and middle-income citizens of our county.  I wanted to know how this happened, and more importantly, what we would do differently to prevent this from happening again. As such, I submitted an amendment to Resolution 2019-07-101. The amendment would have required County Administration to “provide the Livingston County Board of Commissioners with a written analysis describing the countermeasures necessary to prevent of reoccurrence of this event in the future.”

What I viewed as an appropriate and reasonable amendment was not viewed that way by a majority on the Board of Commissioners as my amendment was defeated by a vote of 4 to 4.

 

Prevent New TaxationUnlike Lansing or Washington DC, county government does not pass bills. Instead, county government passes resolutions.

In June 2019 I submitted a resolution to dissolve the Livingston County Building Authority (LCBA). I submitted this resolution because the LCBA enables, under certain circumstance, taxes to be raised without a specific vote of the Board of Commissioners (BOC). By dissolving the LCBA, citizens do not have to worry about taxes being raised without a vote of their elected representatives on the BOC.

I have always believed that only elected representatives should have the power to raise taxes. That way citizens can voice their disapproval at the ballot box. The power to raise taxes should never be given to anyone who is not directly accountable to the voting public. As I did in this case, I will always oppose any mechanism which permits citizens’ taxes to be raised without a vote of their elected representatives.

My resolution to dissolve the LCBA was not warmly embraced by County Administration. In fact, the administration advised me a few days prior to the vote that I did not have enough support from other commissioners on the BOC for my resolution to pass. In spite of this negative forecast, I pursued passage of my resolution because of my steadfast belief in the principle that only elected leaders, who are accountable to the citizens, should have the power to raise taxes.

I am pleased to report that, contrary to County Administration’s prediction, my fellow board members supported my resolution and unanimously voted to dissolve the LCBA, thus closing off this route to raising taxes. I thank my colleagues for their support on this matter.

Footnote: Livingston County’s legal counsel initially sided with County Administration and opined verbally that establishing the LCBA did not open the door to a new route to raise taxes. Having previously read the statute I questioned their interpretation and decided to pursue this matter further. Notwithstanding the legal and administrative obstacles in front of me, I would not be deterred from acting in the best interests of Livingston County taxpayers.

Confident that I had done my due diligence and that my interpretation was correct, I then requested legal counsel to provide a written opinion on this subject. After completing a thorough investigation, legal counsel reversed course and agreed with me. Quoting from their written opinion, legal counsel concluded that the LCBA enabled taxes to be raised “even though the Commissioners did not specifically vote to raise taxes.”

Lady JusticeDuring the June 24th meeting of the full Board of Commissioners, I presented my findings on Livingston County Court resources. Below is a short summary of my report. Click here to view the full report. (Note: you need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report).

One of the primary duties of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners is to provide oversight of the county budget. The overall budget planning process for 2020 has recently commenced. Though the process has just started, there are indications that revenues and expenditures for the Court's portion of the budget would not be in balance. This out-of-balance situation could potentially cause a decrease in county services as funds from elsewhere are shifted to the courts.

Rather than just accept a decrease in other services I decided to thoroughly examine court funding and court resources to answer the question, "Are Livingston County court resources optimally balanced with court workload/caseload?" The key findings of my investigation are summarized below.

  • In 2011 the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) and the Michigan State Court Administrative Offices (SCAO) conducted a workload assessment of courts in Michigan. They found that Livingston County Courts were overstaffed by 6.3 quasi-judicial associates. In fact, Livingston County Courts were the second most overstaffed of all courts in Michigan.
    • See the full report for the definition of quasi-judicial associates.
  • An analysis of caseload data from SCAO showed that from 2010 through 2018 the caseload of Livingston County Courts has declined by over 35%
  • An analysis of staffing data from Livingston County showed that court staffing has increased from 2010 through 2018.
    • This analysis indicates there is now a surplus of 9.5 quasi-judicial associates.
  • A comparison of court budgets and caseloads for Livingston County and Monroe County was conducted. This comparison showed that the cost per court case for Livingston County ($297.62/case) is nearly twice that of Monroe County ($152.98/case).

Further examination of budget and caseload data will proceed as the 2020 budget proceeds. I will continue to keep Livingston County citizens informed about this important topic. 

M 59 signAs a member of the Livingston County Board of Commissioners whose jurisdiction covers Hartland and Tyrone Townships, several citizens have approached me with their concerns about traffic safety along M-59 in Hartland Township. Specifically, they mentioned the high number of traffic accidents from Hartland Woods Drive to Old US 23. Located along this section of M-59 are an assisted living facility, a senior center, a public school, and a school administration building. While the Board of Commissioners does not have jurisdiction over state highways such as M-59, I conveyed to citizens that I would look into this issue.

I analyzed traffic crash statistics compiled by the Michigan State Police for the ten-year period ending in 2018. My analysis concluded that this portion of M-59 had more crashes than the second worst stretch of roadway in all of Livingston County. My entire ten-page analysis can be viewed by clicking here.

In May 2019 I conducted a town hall meeting to present my analysis to our local Traffic Safety Engineer from the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), approximately 50 concerned citizens, and community leaders. Among the community leaders were Mike Murphy - Livingston County Sherriff, Bill Fountain – Hartland Township Supervisor, Kathie Horning – Hartland Township Treasurer, and James Wickman – Hartland Township Manager.

The meeting provided a more formal environment for citizens to reinforce their concerns about traffic safety along M-59. Many questions were fielded by the MDOT engineer and the Livingston County Sherriff. I would like to once again thank them for their participation in this event.

After our meeting, the MDOT engineer investigated the status of any planned improvement projects for M-59. Having been recently assigned to the Brighton MDOT office he was not immediately aware of any specific plans to help improve traffic flow and safety.

I am pleased to report that MDOT indicates they are planning the following traffic improvement along M-59 in Hartland:

  • Traffic signals will be installed at the intersections of M-59 and Hacker Road, and M-59 and Clark Road. This work is planned for 2019.
  • A left turn lane will be built on M-59 from Cullen Road to 950 feet east of Hartland Drive. The intent here is to reduce the number of rear-end accidents. This work is planned for 2020.
  • The traffic signal at the Old Hartland High School will be modernized by in 2020.

It is encouraging that MDOT will be implementing several improvements in the near future. As a means of follow-up, I will post any new developments here on this website. If there are further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Booth Volunteers 600Wx447HGreeting Cards for Troops 600Wx710HThe Hartland Memorial Day Parade has long been a tradition in Livingston County. It was a privilege to be invited to march in this ceremony of remembrance for those men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and our way of life.

After marching in the parade, I joined with other volunteers from the Livingston County Republican Party in saying thank you to active duty military serving overseas. Citizens visiting our booth signed greeting cards thanking our troops for defending our great nation. These greeting cards were mailed to a Marine Avionics Chief to distribute to his fellow Marines serving overseas.

Here is a note from the Marine Avionics Chief requesting mail and care packages for his unit.

I am the Avionics Chief for VMM-163 Avionics Division. As a Marine on his 12th deployment, I've seen the sad faces when service members don't get any mail. I've also seen how happy it makes the service member to get anything in the mail. My request is that my Marines get anything that reminds them of home. We are on a ship and do have a ship's store but like I said, the smiles on their faces of opening a box from home helps the service member to forget for a moment they are deployed. Thank you for allowing me to submit a request.  

Note: For many years I have used the website http://anysoldier.com/index.cfm to connect with troops and thank them for all they do for our country. This website provides contact information for troops, allowing ordinary citizens to show their support by directly mailing cards, letters, and care packages. This is how I obtained the contact information for the Marine Avionics Chief.

Thank you to Mitch Anderson, Summer McMullen, and Denise O'Connell for volunteering to staff our booth,




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived.”

–General George S. Patton



“The United States and the freedom for which it stands, the freedom for which they died, must endure and prosper. Their lives remind us that freedom is not bought cheaply. It has a cost; it imposes a burden. And just as they whom we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, so too must we—in a less final, less heroic way -- be willing to give of ourselves.”

–Former President Ronald Reagan