Tuesday, March 11, 2014
City Clerk Burton reports Clinton Township as "our guide" for ordinance revisions but does not account for scale. Some revisions specific to particular haulers and communities.
City Clerk Burton's memo stated goal in the wste hauling study was to "create a matrix of each licensed waste haulers various services and pricing. and share this information as a resource for our residents"
From that lofty goal however we go to the most extensive
over hauling of waste hauling ordinances in City history.
How so ? Don't know;
At the at the December 2013 City Commission meeting City Clerk Burton expressed dismay at reluctance of the waste haulers to provide requested information.
Price is a sensitive issue. It varies depending on circumstance.Price is always negotiable and published or prices quoted by phone are usually the top of a spectrum. Companies are always concerned about giving out price lest it be used against them. Finesse is required.
Whether these sensitivities were considered in pursuit of a matrix is not known. City Manager Craverns immediately followed the matrix report with observations of possible code violations involving recyclables. He promised a report of said at the January meeting.
That did not happen. There was no discussion of waste hauling in January. At the February Commision meeting the massive ordinance revisions arrived. Some including the City Attorney and Mayor wondered if the ordinances might be a hardship sufficient enough to prevent smaller companies from operating in the City. Of particular note was the requirement that trucks over five years of age be prevented from operating in town.
City Clerk Burton has offered a revision of that point in her memo.
There are other questions however. The City Attorney asked the City Manager if the proposed Ordinance revisions were discussed with the waste haulers, many of whom had been serving the City for years. Prior to tonight's meeting City Manager Cravens has yet to answer that question in the affirmative.
The question this publication has which nobody else has brought up concerns ordinance revision 16 which states
It has been our experience that the residents in the City of Bloomfield Hills are not inclined to regimentation, conformity, or having their trash habits recorded on computer disk for submission to City Hall.
One might also ask (especially if one is the City Clerk) if this is something the City office staff should be spending hours a day on.
Last not least, such a unusal documenting requirement will eliminate some of companies some of the residents now employ.
At February meeting City Manager Cravens said both he and Ms. Burton were residents of Rochester Hills and they liked that City's waste hauling program. So we looked at it. First of all Rochester Hills is a Community of approximately 65,000. Republic is the single waste hauler for Rochester Hills and it also serves our community as well.
In Rochester Hills, City residents, City Hall, and Republic participate in a program called Recycle Bank in which large recyclables gallon capacity containers are bar coded on pick up. Depending on the volume of recyclables collected and registered with City Hall and then Recycle Bank. residents can earn points for merchandise or discount coupons. It may be a very good program. Whether it appeal to residents our city residents when weighted against no muss, no fuss, lots of choices, and convenience is another matter.
The frightening thing is that neither City Clerk Burton or City Manager Cravens felt obligated to tell us if this is what they have in mind with the ordinance revision. Number 16 makes no sense unless you understand Rochester Hills or possibly similar program elsewhere. If this program is of interest to residents is it available from other haulers ? Why are we changing ordinances before we have the all the facts ?
Then there is the matter of judgement. Apple to raisin analogies do not convince us that City Clerk and City Manager are qualified judges in this matter.
Burton writes"I found Clinton Township in Macomb Township to have a a somewhat similar situation to our City. Clinton Township actually has single municipal waste hauler. However residents and businesses can opt out of the the single municipal hauler program and contract with an approved and licensed waste hauler".
There is just one problem. Clinton Township with a population of 95,000 and our city of 3500 are not similar. Geographically, Clinton Township completely surrounds the City of Mount Clemens. Opting out of the City Waste hauler program and finding another company interested getting into Clinton Township is easier than doing the same thing in tiny Bloomfield Hills. Even if you got the whole City to "opt out" it's still peanuts.
Burton expains, "When City Manager Cravens and I discussed the proposed changes to the solid waste and regulations we were using the Clinton Township program which has been in operation over a decade, as our guide.
Perhaps but there are people in the City of Bloomfield Hills reading this article who had more than a quarter of a century with better than satisfactory performance with the waste haulers who serve City. City Manager Cravens attests to seven of those years in his memo to City Commissions.
Posted by Mark Kapel at 3:56 PM
Waste Hauler Ordinance Vote (?) an indication of how City of Bloomfield Hills is and will be governed ?
Last October, three of the City's current commissioners were running for election.
All agreed the City of Bloomfield Hills was wonderful place to live and if elected they as commissioners would maintain the City's character.
None were asked and none said anything about the city's waste management program.
If the question had come up the candidates might have said that their years of experience in many endeavours made them uniquely qualified to handle such matters should they arise.
At tonight's City Commission meeting those qualifications will be put to the test.
If there is a vote on Agenda Item 9
It will go a long way in determining how the City is governed, by whom, and for whom.
Power does not exist in a vacuum, meaning it is indeed influenced by outside forces. If our elected officials to not take control, others will, and that seems to be what is happening right now.
The issue, Solid Waste Collection, is an old one whose recent return is the result an item placed on Goals and Objectives last June. Goals and Objectives is essentially a creation of Mayor McClure administration. Public input in regards to what goals and objectives the City might pursue is not sought. The goals arrived are only published in city's meeting agenda package which is rarely read by the residents. This in contrast to items the City wishes to share with residents which appear on the main body of the website or on the Facebook page.
Goals and Objectives follows the fiscal year which begins July 1st rather than the year of the City Commissioner ( Mayor elected for a one year term and the City Commission elected for a two year term which begin in November)
The July-November intermingling of old and new can cause problems. By maintaining old issues it diverts the attention of the new administration from focusing moving forward;
The issue of solid waste and waste hauling is a good example.Talked about in the McClure administration it has become the proverbial doomsday machine of science fiction. Maybe you saw it on Star Trek. A machine created eons ago by a long gone civilization wanders through space irreparably altering all in its path because that is what it is programed to do.
In February of this year a complete overhaul of the city's solid waste and recycling rules and regulations, in the form of a 16 ordinance revisions was presented to an unsuspecting City Commision. Mayor Hardy voiced the most intelligent question of the evening when she inquired , "where did these come from ?"
The City Attorney said they came from City Clerk Amy Burton.
In a memo which appears in the City's Agenda Package for tonight's and published here Ms. Burton explains her involvement in the matter. A non-resident City Clerk and salaried employee of the City her role in ordinance revisions is most unusual. The assignment of tasks of such a consequential nature usually goes to City Commissioners the elected representatives of the people.
Tonight the commissioners will hear from City Clerk Burton and City Manager Cravens who also wrote a memo for City Commission. Whether the privilege of being heard will be be extended to City residents is not known.
The recent practice of our City is to allow residents to speak only on non-agenda items. This determination by State Law, is made at the discretion of the meeting Chairman. Our discretion is contrast to that of Mayor Moore in Birmingham and Bloomfield Township Supervisor Savoie who allow public comment on each agenda item.
Thus Commission may not have the opportunity of hearing from their constituents before a vote is taken.
Even worse the City has not utilized means at it's disposal, and paid for the residents tax dollars to inform citizens
Residents seeking information on City Commissioner meetings usually find that information on the City website under Videos on Demand or Minutes on Demand. The Video for the February meeting in which the waste hauling topic was discussed, although being available elsewhere has yet to appear on the City Website. The actual minutes of any City Commission meeting in 2014 has also yet to appear in Minutes on Demand.
Six Months ago three City Commissioner candidates promised to maintain the City's character. That character comes from the City Charter which gives all authority in terms of governing the City to a five member City Commission.
The Charter gave the people the right to elect commissioners in an annual election and to authorize charter revisions.
The real power of Commission comes from the people who are the City of Bloomfield Hills and it's greatest asset. Without the people, City Commission is powerless and the future existence of the city questionable. The last item is not widely understood but also not hard to imagine. A city willing to ignore or otherwise squander it's assets loses its reason to exist.
In recent years the power of the people has been reduced by the City Commission who changed annual election to an every other year frequency.
Various parties have also questioned in terms of money savings, the need to have the the citizenry approve all changes to the charter.
City Staff do not know the City of Bloomfield Hills and tend to like what they know and find elsewhere. If the three commissioners elected last fall who form a majority vote, approves ordinance revisions they did not make without any input from the city's citizens, one might be prompted to ask what master they serve.
Posted by Mark Kapel at 12:40 PM