Steve Dibert, MFI-Miami
Back in September, when I began formulating a plan to help Kelly Parker save her house in Detroit, the first thought I had was, “If only Kelly lived in Oakland County this fight would be a hell of a lot easier.”
Matter of fact, if she did, it would had never turned into a fight because the Treasurer of Oakland County, Andy Meisner would never allowed it to go as far as it did.
I know this for a fact because my clients in Oakland County have told me repeatedly Andy and his staff have bent over backwards to work with them and I have seen this first hand as well. I’ve gone to the Treasurer’s office the day before a tax sale and Andy’s staff was working with people and pulling properties from the tax auction at the last minute.
I first met Andy Meisner in 2002 when he ran for the Michigan Legislature. He came to my house asking me to help him knock doors in my neighborhood. We had a tough primary campaign that year, the unions had a guy they wanted to run and refused to endorse Andy. Back then, a union support was a prerequisite to winning a Democratic primary especially in a district with a 70% Democratic base like the one Andy was running in. If the unions didn’t back you, the Party apparatus would not help you.
With sheer determination, hard work, lots and lots of door knocking or “voter outreach” as they call it today, Andy won his primary and it is this same strategy Andy employs today as Treasurer even when he is not up for re-election.
There are two reasons, why I like Andy Meisner other than the fact he calls or emails me on my birthday. The first is, he understands the human face of politics and he’s not afraid to be get personally involved if he feels he can help a constituent. Andy understands that sometimes people deserve more than the truth from their government. There are times when they need to have their faith rewarded. Especially now when our nation and the world are attempting to scratch our way out of an unprecedented financial crisis.
Earlier this year, Andy was eligible for a bonus under a Michigan law designed to reward treasurers for collecting delinquent taxes. Andy refused it and when he found out he may be forced to take it he threatened to donate it to charity unlike his Wayne County counterpart who pocketed it. Andy was also the first official to refuse a county car, gas card and cell phone for him and his deputy, and he has taken a voluntary pay cut matching that of county employees.
He also reaches out to groups that most politicians ignore and invites them to the discussion. He is the only Caucasian politician I have ever seen reach out to Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim communities to bring them all to the table. Andy doesn’t do it as a politician pandering for votes but as someone who wants to build a stronger community.
Yes, Andy and I have had our disagreements. I didn’t think he went far enough when he took Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to court last year demanding Oakland County’s portion of the Michigan Real Estate Transfer Tax. However, at the end of the day, he won and set a legal precedent that Michigan taxpayers will be benefiting from with the beginning of the next fiscal year.
I have no doubt Andy will be Governor of Michigan one day but for right now he deserves another term as Oakland County Treasurer.