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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

City Commission votes for binding Waste Hauler Votes 5-0 at August 12th meeting. Single Hauler specifics and details tabled for later discussion.

Teachers  or  Students   of the English Language, like Mayor  Hardy, were astounded to learn that changing  the ballot language from advisory to binding involved changing no more than one word. The first word. Should is advisory. Shall  is binding.

At the August  12th meeting City Commissioners voted 
unanimously  to hold an election on the single waste hauler that would be per state regulations be a binding vote.

Attorney Hampton offered  the opinon that outside the realm of  a state sponsored election the Commission was free to act as it saw fit in terms of  hiring  single waste hauler. However there could be consequences of such a move.

None of the Commissioners wanted to go that route.  Commissioners Coakley, McClure, and Sheer were the most vocal in fulfilling a promised election for the residents. McClure equivocated at one point with  the thought  that if the Garbage Trucks were really destroying the streets, maybe  acting sooner than later might be prudent but no one wanted to go there either.  Hardy and Commisioner Dull were less vocal but voted with majority.
Mayor Hardy asked  City Manager Cravens, "What if they ( the City Residents) vote no ?

"Well then we will have to live with the will of the people." Cravens replied, sounding a bit like Rhett Butler talking to Scarlett. 

However the Mayor deserves credit for asking the first "what if " Question of an issue that dates back to the year prior. Trouble is she usually asks just one question when more are needed. There are 75 days between now and the November 4th binding waste hauler vote. Many questions and many "what ifs" need to be considered.

A  detailed  game plan  approaching 60 pages  of  how a Single Waste Hauler could or would  be considered  or hired and what changes that would mean for the City was tabled pending the November Election results.

By special arrangement with County and State elections, the City was able to email it's decision to hold a binding vote on the waste hauler issue  and  beat a midnight August 12th  deadline  to get "Shall.."placed on the  November ballot.

Secretary of State rules City's proposed "Advisory" Waste Hauler vote.Null and void..

Everybody makes mistakes.   However the  advisory vote  proposed by City Manager Jay Cravens  in March and approved  City Commission in May

was a particularly egregious error. That is because "advisory" votes have no basis by law in Michigan elections. In three  metro area counties, and four elections, the state has a rejected non binding elections as a waste of taxpayer money and misuse of state election equipment. That information is readily available on line by typing , "Advisory Elections in Michigan" in the Google  Search Engine.

Regrettably two area publications including this one failed to do so before the domino's started falling.  

The original plan advanced by Mr. Cravens and not questioned by any City Commissioner was to have an advisory vote in November 4th national election.  The  City commissioners were then to make the  final decision at a later date

This publication did ask  Mr. Cravens why the vote was merely "advisory". Mr Cravens replied that any commissioner who voted against the will of the people would be committing political suicide. So we asked if that were so why not just have a real election with a binding vote ? That question went unanswered. At first we kicked ourselves  for not pursuing the point  further but later in our own thick headed way realized the question had an  answer. 

The point of the "advisory" vote was to determine exactly how much "political suicide," if any, the City Commission  would incur by making a  final  decision  possibly contrary to the will of the people.

City Attorney Bill Hampton, in correspondence with Secretary of State Ruth Johnson argued for an advisory vote citing the City's authority in such matters. 

Johnson replied  that  her department's  decision   " is not dependent on whether the local unit of Government possesses authority over the subject matter of the question,  but whether it is proper expend taxpayer funds and use its election equipment for  what amounts to a public opinion poll.
Johnson added ,"Neither Michigan Election Law  or the City Charter empowers the City to certify a non binding question to the ballot."
And finally "unlike an election for ordinary ballot proposals, the City Commission would not be bound to act in  accordance of  with the outcome of an advisory  question."
and Match

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In no particular order, Muppets Most Wanted, Summer in February, A monkeyed with Beamer, and Railway Man, Highlight Baldwin New Titles DVDs 8/12/14.

Editors note: In the interest of  new and improved via horsing around we have added movie previews (or trailers) whenever  possible or appropriate. 

Locke (DVD): A feat of bold, dynamic storytelling from Oscar-nominated writer-director Steven Knight. A successful businessman receives a series of phone calls which sets into motion a chain of events that unravels his perfect life, all of which takes the course of one absolutely riveting and intense car ride.

Breathe In (DVD): When a foreign exchange student arrives in a small upstate New York town, she challenges the dynamics of her host family's relationships and alters their lives forever. CHECK Availability

Muppets Most Wanted (DVD): The entire Muppets gang goes on a global tour, selling out grand theaters in some of Europe's most exciting destinations, including Berlin, Madrid, Dublin and London. But mayhem follows the Muppets overseas, as they find themselves unwittingly entangled in an international crime caper headed by Constantine-the World's Number One Criminal and a dead ringer for Kermit the Frog-and his dastardly sidekick Dominic, aka Number Two. Check Availability

[Cover]Summer In February (DVD): A sweeping romance set at a bohemian artist colony on the picturesque coast of pre-war England and is based on the true story of painter Sir Alfred Munnings and his blue-blood best friend Gilbert. Munnings rises to become one of the premier artists of his time, winning the affection of beauty Florence Carter-Wood. But when Gilbert falls for Florence as well, a love triangle emerges with tragic consequences. Check Availability

The Railway Man (DVD): Based on an autobiography, this film tells the true story of Eric Lomax, a British Army officer who is captured by the Japanese during WWII and sent to a POW camp, where he is tortured and forced to work on the Thai-Burma Railway. Years later, and still suffering the psychological trauma of his wartime experiences, Lomax is persuaded by his wife Patti to find and confront one of his captors. Accompanied by his best friend, Lomax returns to the scene of his torture and manages to track down his captor, Japanese officer Takashi Nagase, from the prison camp, in an attempt to let go of a lifetime of bitterness and hate. Check Availability

Editors Note 2: The avid movie goer is probably already familiar with the  film previews of  Railway Man.  With Colin Firth (2012 Best Actor for the King's Speech) and fellow Academy award winner Nicole Kidman, it was one of the most heavily promoted films during last year's Oscar season. Based on a memoir,  the Railway Man, is the third book to be  made into a movie about  the fall of Singapore and the fate of British the prisoners. It is the second to deal specifically with the  the construction  of  the the infamous  Burma -Thai railway built under hellish and  brutal conditions by   British  and allied  POWs.

Some battles decide wars and some by inspiring the imagination have impact that last generations.

The fall of Singapore was of the latter category. 

The City was believed to be an unconquerable fortress protected by naval guns on sea side and an impenetrable jungles and swamps on land. The British believed the Japanese  would attack by sea. In reality  they  they came by land, getting through the jungle and going around the swamps by many conveyances  including bicycles.
The British heavy artillery which  faced the sea could not be turned around and were thus useless. This from Wikipedia..

IN 1952 Pierre Boulle a  Frenchman who was in the City of Singapore when it fell and who was conscripted to work  on the Burma-Thai railway wrote in 1952 Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï or  The Bridge over the River Kwai. Perhaps better known for as the author of The Planet of The Apes,  Boulle's novel Bridge on The River Kwai  deals with the declining power of the Occidental and the emerging power of the Oriental as prompted by the fall of  Singapore. The Japanese regard their British  captives, largely on the basis of that battle as inferior cowards. The captive British Colonel, is determined to demonstrate and restore the superiority of the Occidental by building a bridge far superior than the Japanese could even conceive of. Regardless of the detrimental effect  such a bridge would have on the British War effort or crown colonies Burma or India.

King Rat (1962 novel).jpg
The second noteworthy book  and then a movie about the  after effects of the fall of Singapore was a first novel, by  James Clavell titled King Rat. While not about the railway, King Rat is about British and Allied prisoners of war in  Singapore's equally notorious Changi Prison. There Clavell, later an author of many works including Shogun and Taipan, was an inmate.

Eric  Lomax The Railway Man

Lomax's autobiography The Railway Man was published in 1995. John McCarthy, a journalist who was held hostage for five years, described Lomax's book as "an extraordinary story of torture and reconciliation". It was made into a television drama Prisoners in Time starring John Hurt as Lomax in 1995.[14]
The book has now been made into a big-screen film of the same name. Directed by Jonathan Teplitzky (director of Better Than Sex), the film stars Colin Firth and Jeremy Irvine as the older and younger Eric Lomax respectively,[15][16] and Nicole Kidman as Patti, the woman who befriended and later married Lomax.[17][18] The film moves between Lomax's time as a FEPOW on the Burma Railway and his later life around the time of his reconciliation with his captor.

In conclusion we leave you with this piece, written,and composed a hundred years ago in 1914, but often associated with a movie of 57 years ago.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Baldwin Library Presents Writers Live: Motor City Burning by Bill Morris.

 On Sunday, August 24, at 2:00 p.m., stop by the Baldwin Public Library to hear Bill Morris, former Birmingham resident, read from his new novel Motor City Burning. Morris will enhance his reading with background music from the era, including works by John Lee Hooker, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Mel Tillis, Miles Davis, and the Temptations.

Motor City Burning tells the story of Willie Bledsoe, a once idealistic black activist, who is accused of the last unsolved murder from the Detroit 1967 riots. Set during the Tigers’ 1968 championship season, the book juxtaposes the chaotic Detroit of the riots with the serenity of Tigers’ Opening Day.

Morris’s book has received numerous positive reviews, including comments from popular authors Loren D. Estleman and Nelson DeMille. DeMille said of Motor City Burning that it was, “a wonderfully atmospheric novel that captures time and place, an illumination of a pivotal point in history.” He added that, “Bill Morris is an exceptionally gifted and savvy writer. The comparison to Graham Greene is fully merited.”

Bill Morris is also the author of the novels Motor City and All Souls’ Day. He grew up in Metro-Detroit, though he now lives in New York City where he is a staff writer for the online literary magazine The Millions. His writing has also appeared in Granta, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, L.A. Weekly, Popular Mechanics, and numerous other newspapers and magazines.

"We are very excited to welcome Bill Morris back to Birmingham and are so pleased that he is able to include the Baldwin Library in his Michigan tour,” said Connie Ilmer, Head of Public Services. “This should be an enjoyable afternoon for those interested in books set in Detroit."

Individuals who would like to pre-order a book should contact Book Beat Bookstore at 248-968-1190.

The Baldwin Public Library is located in downtown Birmingham at 300 W. Merrill Street and can be reached at 248-647-1700 or through the Library’s website