FRANK CUSUMANO
TRUSTEE MACOMB COMMUNITY
COLLEGE DISTRICT

CANDIDATE FOR  GOP 
NOMINATION
13th District County Commission
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As in Rome, each Caesar must leave his monument, no matter what the cost. The Wayne State Pedestrian Connector or "Grand Entrance Project" (GEP) is just such a monument.

I voted "NO" as did Trustee DeSantis.


Marie Antoinette, when told of the French people’s desperate misery, remarked that if the People could not eat bread, then they should "eat cake." Unfortunately, elitists are usually always out of touch with everyday reality and are driven by their own distorted perceptions of self-created culture, self-importance, self-love and public relations hype. Stated otherwise, they begin to believe their own press releases.

WHY AN INDEPENDENT TRUSTEE IS IMPORTANT

The role of the Trustee at the College is to question and test policy and the expenditures of the public treasury, not give a blank check to an administrator and rubber stamp his or her decisions. The Trustee, like the little boy in Hans Christian Andersen's story the "Emperor's New Clothes," is supposed to say, "but he isn't wearing anything at all," or "I can't see it." Remember, that children's story? True then, True today. 

The King loved new clothes. It was his obsession. Two weavers deceived and swindled the King with a bold and audacious con game. They would make a garment of luxurious invisible cloth for the King. All the King's trusted advisers, ministers, and his dependent entourage went along with the farce. After all, His Highness was the King and their livelihood depended on his largess. The swindlers told the King that anyone who could not see the invisible cloth was unfit for their positions or unusually stupid. The perfect culture of conformity bloomed. Even the subjects, the ones that actually paid the bills with taxes to support the Kingdom, stood idly by while His Highness paid vast sums the Kingdom's treasury to the swindlers. The King was duped because of his arrogance, pride and need for luxury in having the finest clothes. The cost-benefit to his subjects never even crossed the King's mind. Even the subjects, not wanting to appear unsophisticated, fawned and applauded as His Highness paraded naked through the streets wearing the invisible garment. Only after a child, speaking with the innocence of youth, told the truth (an objective reality) did His Highness at last realize his folly, but even that did not cure the blunder. Andersen ends the tale with a cautionary warning about the human nature of those with absolute power:

"The Emperor shivered, for he suspected that they were right, but he thought, 'this procession must go on,' So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there." 

As in the story, real life Caesars rarely ever admit their mistakes and instead they compound and perpetuate them by imposing a culture of absolute conformity and self-love. The sycophants perpetuate the dysfunction. If you speak up, or disagree, you are targeted. If you do nothing, you betray your oath of office.

The GEP on 12 Mile Road on South Campus, at a staggering, $1.55 million dollars, is a perfect example of a broken system.

What good does a “Grand Entrance” do if students can’t afford tuition to walk under it? Yes, the Office of the President overlooks the magnificent structure, but does that matter to the students, the teachers, or the citizens of Macomb County? Is it important, or should resources be directed to other infrastructure projects, such as bringing 1 GB/sec internet speed to the College (and countywide) and making Macomb a leader in the nation in high speed communications, finance, and perhaps commodities trading of Michigan agricultural products? Wouldn't expanding the campuses with updated and modern buildings with long term leases (revenue to keep tuition affordable) to house permanent presence at the College by a broad spectrum of University partners, such as University of Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Grand Valley State, to name a few, rather than an alter of fealty to Wayne State's annex on 12 Mile Road?

Is spending $1.55 million dollars on a GEP a prudent investment? It certainly doesn't make sense from a business standpoint. How does it enhance the education experience or the core mission of the College? I submit that the Board vote on the GEP was, a show of unbridled and irrational power, and nothing more. The President wanted it, so he got it. Period.

In a County that has and continues to sustain devastating unemployment and under-employment, and declines in median household incomes of over $350 or more PER WEEK from 2000 income levels PER HOUSEHOLD, the GEP is an unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of the taxpayers' resources. It undermines the consistent and unwavering financial support for the College by the Macomb County citizens both in the short term and the long term.

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