After Last-Minute Appeal From Mayor, Look Out For Big Red Football Fundraisers Around Muskegon This Friday

Andrew Trzaska | July 26, 2011

If all goes as planned, look out for Muskegon’s Big Red football parents, coaches and boosters on major street corners this Friday.

In a last-minute appeal from the mayor himself, Muskegon’s City Commission voted unanimously to allow Muskegon’s football team to raise money on street corners, allowing them to attend a football training camp.

During the public comment portion of Tuesday’s full commission meeting, Mayor Steve Warmington left his seat among the commission and went down to the public podium to ask for an exception to several city regulations for the football team.

Warmington explained he spoke with Muskegon High football coach Shane Fairfield about the possibility of fundraising several months ago.

The mayor indicated he had made a mistake and it slipped his mind, until the Friday-to-Friday window of time the team had available to do the fundraiser had arrived.

He stressed the urgency of the request and the deviation from the required procedure for applying for such events fell “squarely on my shoulders.”

Several years ago, the commission passed regulations that intended to cut off the city-street dollar collection fundraisers like the Big Red band fundraiser, Veterans poppy sale and Old Newsies, where fundraisers stand in the streets to collect money from stopped cars.

According to Vice Mayor Steve Gawron, commission at the time said that the large number of groups doing it created safety issues, as letting people stand in the streets could.

The mayor argued that with the group being part of a school system with large budget cuts in the past year and not many avenues for fundraising, that this one-time fundraiser is different than most requests.

“I think there’s a difference with our school system [from other non-profits] that is having a difficult time raising money. We need to work in a partnership with them.”

Commissioner Larry Spataro explained that some groups were previously grandfathered in and allowed to continue, but allowing a new group may create a precedent for more exceptions to be asked for.

City Manager Bryon Mazade noted that other groups have applied since and have been denied.

After discussions of amendments to remedy these complications, Warmington asked the council to allow a one-time pass on the policy, with the requirements of insurance, a fee and other safety requirements intact.

Warmington went on to say that with a tougher economy, he was asking for a bending of the rules just like building codes have changed in the down economy.

For safety reasons, only adults will be allowed to stand on about 12 major street corners this Friday in Muskegon to collect money for the team.  Student athletes will be allowed to be at the site wearing their jerseys and indicate what the money is for.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst