Executive Director Steve Currie discusses county participation in a partnership with the state and Pew at an event in Lansing on April 17, 2019, as (left to right) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Chief Justice Bridget Mary McCormack and Attorney General Dana Nessel look on.

Michigan’s 83 counties helped announce an innovative partnership with the state of Michigan and a national nonpartisan research group today to use data to identify best practices for jails.

The Michigan Task Force on Jail and Pretrial Incarceration, (#MICJReform) an interbranch, bipartisan body will develop recommendations to expand alternatives to jail, safely reduce jail admissions and length of stay, support crime victims and better align practices with research and constitutional principles, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced today at a press conference at the Hall of Justice in Lansing.

Speaking at the same event, MAC Executive Director Stephan Currie said, “Our focus is specifically on county jails and easing the burden on county budgets. Although created by executive order, this task force puts counties squarely at the center, and we’re very happy to launch this partnership together. We’ll all benefit from studying our practices.”

Click here to watch a video of the event.

Public safety, including jails, constitutes the single largest financial commitment from county governments. As detailed at today’s event:

  • National sources show Michigan jail populations have tripled in the last 35 years, growing regardless of whether crime was going up or down.
  • With crime now at a 50-year low, hundreds of thousands are still admitted to Michigan jails every year, and people are staying in jail longer on average than before.
  • Today, half of the people in Michigan’s local jails are un-convicted and constitutionally presumed innocent while they await trial.
  • Many of these individuals are in jail because they cannot afford bail, not necessarily because they are a flight risk or threat to public safety.

The task force will be supported by technical assistance staff from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“The focus here will be on using data to drive solutions. Everyone is entering this effort with no preconceived notions and we are eager to partner with the state, Pew and others to make Michigan a leader in public safety,” Currie said.



Commissioners and other county leaders can network with legislators, learn tips on drafting capital improvement plans and be briefed on cutting-edge economic development tactics at a MAC Regional Summit this summer.

As usual, MAC will offer the summits at four sites across Michigan:

  • June 3 – Grand Rapids (Crowne Plaza)
  • June 10 – Escanaba (Quality Inn)
  • June 17 – Frankenmuth (Bavarian Inn)
  • July 23 – Gaylord (Otsego Resort)

The upcoming MAC Legislative Conference in Lansing March 25-27 will include elections to fill two vacancies on the MAC Board of Directors, plus a membership vote on by-laws revisions put forward by the MAC Board. At a special Business Meeting on Wednesday March 27, attending commissioners will vote on a new by-laws proposal developed after last year’s proposal was rejected at the Annual Conference. The proposed language will be posted to MAC’s website and mailed to all commissioners in early February for their review. The day prior, on Tuesday, March 26, commissioners in counties in MAC’s Region 4 (Clinton, Genesee, Ingham, Jackson, Hillsdale, Huron, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Huron, Sanilac, Shiawassee, St. Clair and Tuscola) will vote to fill seat vacated by Matthew Bierlein of Tuscola. And all commissioners attending will vote to fill a seat vacated by At-large Director Hugh Crawford of Oakland County. Candidates for either the Region 4 or at-large seat are requested to send a letter of intent to MAC at melot@micounties.org, along with biographical and policy position information they wish to share with voters via MAC’s website. Deadline to ensure proper posting of this material is Feb. 25, 2019. To vote in the elections, you must be a commissioner of a MAC member county who is registered for the conference. For questions, contact Communications Director Derek Melot at melot@micounties.org or 517-372-5374.
Each summer, MAC offers a series of one-day “mini conferences” at key locations around Michigan. These are designed for busy commissioners and administrators and include intensive briefings on trending issues in county governance. This year’s schedule and locations are:
  • June 6: Escanaba, Quality Inn
  • June 11: Grand Rapids, Crowne Plaza on 28th Street
  • June 18: Gaylord, Treetops Resort
  • July 23: Frankenmuth, Bavarian Inn
Each summit starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 3 p.m. Cost is $25 and includes snacks and a lunch. CLICK  HERE to register. Topics this year are wide-ranging, offering something of interest to every county and commissioner: Tips for Running Efficient, Effective Meetings (all sites) Time is a precious resource, especially for elected officials. Each minute spent in an unproductive meeting is a lost minute of community outreach and engagement. Fortunately, there are tips and tricks to running an efficient and productive meeting, helping lead to optimal governance. In this session, learn about ways to handle unexpected scenarios at a county meeting, as well as best practices for chairs and vice chairs. With solid objectives, a tight agenda, and a commitment to preparation, you will be well on your way to chairing great meetings. (This session is part of MAC’s “Better Commissioner” program of continuing education for county officials.) Managing Liability and Risks in County Government (all sites) (UPDATED) An attorney working with the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority, the largest provider of property and casualty insurance to counties in Michigan, will give an overview of best practices and points to consider on sexual harassment in the workplace and how public leaders can combat it. The Mechanics of Millage Elections (all sites) In this session, attendees will learn from Grassroots Midwest, a Lansing-based consulting firm, on the five key elements of a successful millage or bond proposal: -Define the needs of the community -Craft the core message -Develop a media/communications campaign -Contact/educate relevant stakeholders -Get out the vote Grassroots specializes in strategic planning to assist associations, municipalities and corporations organize and manage contact with policy makers, interest groups and voters. (This session is part of MAC’s “Better Commissioner” program of continuing education for county officials.) The Issues of a Statewide Septic Code (all sites) Michigan’s groundwater, rivers, lakes and streams are vulnerable to E. coli, in many cases due to failing on-site sewage treatment systems. Many counties have programs to address the inspection and the integrity of the septic tanks, but many do not. Bills in the Legislature would enact a statewide system for the approval and evaluation of these on-site sewage treatment systems. This presentation will discuss the environmental and health problems associated with the failure of these systems and the potential solutions for addressing the shortfalls. Broadband Policies and Rural Michigan (Escanaba and Frankenmuth only) This session will focus on rural development with an emphasis on rural connectivity. Due to the natural barriers that exist in our rural areas, access to services such as rural broadband presents an uphill challenge to our rural communities in retaining and attract businesses to create vibrant economies. Learn about ideas and ongoing initiatives and programs that may be available to help local communities be part of the global economy. Building a Better Community “Habitat” (Grand Rapids and Gaylord only) Habitat Oakland County teamed up with a local partnership from the church community, the chamber of commerce, a local marketing business and schools to create a community-based service project. In this session, learn from representatives on how they worked to obtain foreclosed properties and renovate them, thereby leading to higher property values and healthier neighborhoods. Presenters also will explain how any community can use their collaboration model to create a better “habitat.”
Tuscola County's Matthew Bierlein is sworn in by Judge Amy Gierhart as his wife, Mindy, and children look on. (Rod Sanford Photography)

Tuscola County’s Matthew Bierlein is sworn in by Judge Amy Gierhart as his wife, Mindy, and children look on. (Rod Sanford Photography)

The Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) elected board officers for its 2017-18 term and added two new board members at the MAC Annual Conference, held Sept. 24-26 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

Matthew Bierlein, a Tuscola County commissioner, was sworn in as MAC’s 110th president since the organization’s founding on Feb. 1, 1898. During his first address as president to the association, Bierlein called for greater engagement with all of Michigan’s 622 county commissioners.

Joining Bierlein on the board’s executive team are: First Vice President Ken Borton, an Otsego County commissioner; Second Vice President Veronica Klinefelt of Macomb County; and Immediate Past President Shelley Taub, an Oakland County commissioner.

“Our new leadership team brings a great variety of skills and experiences to our board,” said Stephan W. Currie, MAC’s executive director. “We have a great team in place as we begin to implement our strategic plan adopted by the board at the Annual Conference.”

In board elections held at the conference, MAC members in attendance elected three new board members:

  • Joe Bonovetz of Gogebic County
  • Richard Schmidt of Manistee County
  • Jim Storey of Allegan County

Also serving as directors on the board for the 2017-18 term are:

  • Donald Disselkoen (Ottawa County)
  • Philip Kuyers (Ottawa County)
  • Christian Marcus (Antrim County)
  • Joseph Palamara (Wayne County)
  • Robert Showers (Clinton County)
  • Joe Stevens (Dickinson County)
  • Hugh Crawford (Oakland County)
  • Vaughn Begick (Bay County)
  • Stan Ponstein (Kent County)

For more information on MAC, visit www.micounties.org.