This is not an official blog of the City. It is the work of Mark Kapel who is solely responsible for content.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

End of Summer Serenade: 24 hours in Paris in Seven Minutes. Then it Snows.

,The first glitch in our End of Summer Serenade World Tour ! I can't bring Paris in all it's splendor to you. Instead  you have to go to it. Just click on Paris Through My Lens. The link is also to your immediate right under the Oakland Press Box. I just put  a copy of the link here so you wouldn't have to reach. One time only . Next time you are on your own.I should also tell you that the pictures are not through my lens. They are through the lens of a lady named Virgina's who has her own blog which I link you to.She fell in love with Paris and when you see her pictures you will too.If truth be told,  she is a better photographer and blogger than I am. For  our readers who think they might like to try blogging at home, all the cities we visited are written on the same Google Blogger program. It is made available by Google free of charge to those who register.Registration requires you to submit your e-mail address and to create a password. That is all. There are no $400 super duper computer programs here. The basic Blogger, no charge down load, produced the Brooklyn Heights Blog, the Cairnsblog, the Paris through my lens blog and the one you are now reading.

                  Click on the red type link above.

And Finally

Obviously this concludes our "End of Summer Serenade". We've visited three cities on three continents and via  photographic memories we can take part of them home with us. Perhaps  in anticipation of future visits or trips to other destinations. One wonders if  there might be things in the City of Bloomfield Hills that  we never see ,because we see every them everyday.That brings us to a wedding in the City of Bloomfield Hills which like most things I found on the Internet while looking for something else.

End of Summer Serenade. Fifteen Minute Day Trip to Cairns Australia.

Your chance of visiting Cairns in Australia's Tropical  North  Queensland  are  greater than your chances  of getting to Brooklyn New York. While millions of Americans visit the Big Apple they visit Manhattan and skip Brooklyn. Going to Australia is on everybody's wish list and the Great Barrier Reef is a major attraction which means you will probably fly to Cairns the Reef's largest city. Now is a good time to get acquainted. 

If the City's name sounds familiar there are a couple of reasons why. On June 28th 2011 Michigan resident Ian Cole was left stranded 50 kilometers from land when his snorkel tour boat departed without him.  Luckily he was able to swim to another boat. The story was covered internationally and was a major source of information.That's how this writer discovered the blog. Fans of the  television show Survivor, may remember Survivor Australia which was filmed within an three hour drive  of Cairns. The show featured two Michigan residents, 40 year old  Kieth Famie of West Bloomfield and Michaekl Skupin 38, of White Lake Michigan. The latter was injured  in the fifth episode of the show and flown to Cairns for medical treatment.

In addition to the Great Barrier Reef, Cairns is the gateway to the Daintree  Rain Forest,  which like the Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage site. The Cairns/Cape Tribulation Peninsula is the only area of the world where two natural World Heritage sites meet. The terrain is rugged and to get the to the tip of Cape Tribulation four wheel drive is must and sometimes not enough. The Tour Bus in the above video was trying make way for another vehicle when it went in the ditch. A passing land rover saved the day. The next video presents a more subdued way to enjoy the rain forest. You will also hear the locals pronounce Cairns the local way. It's not "Karns". It's "Cans" is not by any means a travel blog. It presents a side of Cairns and North Queensland  tourists never see.  That would be the nitty gritty, in your face no holds barred, world of Aussie politics, where sentiments are sometimes expressed in barnyard language.  Like a dip in the Great Barrier Reef  you  have to plunge right in and be rewarded with a dazzling display of issues, ideas, personalities and critiques.  Some issues effect only Cairns others seem to cover a wider area. Of course you know not what. Your not supposed to get it. Like the big reef it's alive and lively. Blogwise it is unlike anything else in Australia. Next Stop Paris France !

From the above which appeared in the cairnsblog, I gather that term limits are recommended.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

End of Summer Serenade. Ten Minute Day Trip to Brooklyn Heights.

If your summer vacation (like mine) is over, maybe you could use a refill. If your vacation is yet to come maybe you would like a warm up. If as awning, deck, four season sun room, and pool companies extol, you spent the summer in your backyard, this website will take you to fun and exotic places with simply a click of the mouse. The City of Bloomfield Hills is intended to be a travel blog that in addition to discussing the people, places, and happenings of our great city will on occasion take you to the other half of the world.That is why on the Oakland Press blog page you find us first under the heading "Life" then "Community."

On the right hand  side of the this page directly under the Oakland Press News Box which will instantly take you to an important or interesting news story, you will find links to three cities on three different continents. You may have wondered what they are doing there. Like Carl Sagan said we are not alone and as the the author of a "city blog " I scan the Internet looking for life in other cities. My standards are high. I want life, not the chamber of commerce, the ministry of tourism, a newspaper, or view point from someone with an ax to grind. I like pictures. I want to know what it is like to live there. Probably no city blog including the one you are reading will ever live up to my exacting standards but I keep looking.

So as an end of summer swan song, with the aid of of my fellow bloggers  from around  the world  and You Tube, I will in ten minutes or so to take you to each of the three. Then we will return to City of Bloomfield Hills for a very special event. Each stop on our journey will be covered in a separate blog post. First stop Brooklyn Heights.

Back east city blogs are big deal. In Brooklyn even the neighborhoods have blogs.Fort Greene/Clinton Hill  residents  can read The Local which is published by CUNY(City University of New York) and the New York Times. In Bensonhurst, the childhood home of Carl Sagan and fictional backdrop for the 1950's TV show The Honeymooners, you can read the Bensonhurst Bean. Of note to travellers and students of  linguistics  the last syllable of Bensonhurst is pronounced "Hurst"  which rhymes with  a coffin conveyance. "Benson-Hoist" the old pronunciation of the classic Brooklyn dialect  is seldom heard these days. The  Brooklyn  Heights Blog "Dispatches from America's first Suburb" was chosen for this blog because it is an upscale community similar to  The City of Bloomfield Hills and close to our Midwestern sense  of decorum. Brooklyn has always been an "in your face" community. The Baseball team was named the Dodgers  because a century ago residents were not afraid to give those new fangled street cars a run for their money when it came to the right of way.

Today Brooklyn Heights is recovering from Hurricane Irene collapsed tree damage. The Brooklyn Heights Blog posted a video on You-Tube which indicates Brooklyn survived with tongue in cheek. 

Surviving with spirit is a theme in the coming of age novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith who attended the University of Michigan. That is also the dream of her protagonist in the mostly autobiographical novel. Betty Smith grew up in and wrote about the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

 If  Bensonhurst can claim The Honeymooners Ralph and Alice Kramden,  Brooklyn Heights can claim the world's only pair of "identical cousins"who starred in the Patty Duke Show The familiar theme song and introduction are included above. Courtesy of You Tube.

Want to take a seven  minute walking tour of the Hidden City: Brooklyn Heights ?

 Worried that Brooklyn Heights may not be upscale enough ? Not to worry. In three minutes and twenty seven seconds Real Estate Lady will set your mind a ease in the video titled Brooklyn Heights: NYC Neighborhood. While there are no homes on two acre lots in Brooklyn Heights there are also no views the Manhattan skyline in the City of Bloomfield Hills. Does Real Estate Lady look or sound familiar or is just me  ?

Can't bear to leave ? Every day a visit to Brooklyn Heights is a click away on the City Of Bloomfield Hills blog. Next Stop ? Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef in Tropical North Queensland Australia.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Do Residents of Bloomfield Hills really want a Library ? Part 2.

2010 Library Millage Town Hall
On Tuesday October 12th 2010, at the City Commission meeting,  an hour and forty eight minute Town Hall was held  in which residents could voice their opinion on the upcoming Library Millage. It was  the second  library election in  two years. If there was a Town Meeting for the 2009 millage it does not exist on tape. 2010's Town Meeting  does  and you may  witness it in it's entirely by clicking  2010 October 12th Library Millage Proposal. You will be connected to Vimeo, which maintains archived records of many area meetings, television shows, and events. Vimeo is part of  Bloomfield Cable Television and you may also be able see many of these programs on Cable TV. For information on programming and services  (For a nominal fee they will even make copies of meetings or programs) click on BCTV. The library Town Hall begins at the 28 minute mark and ends at the one hour and forty minute mark.

In 2009 the City Commission negotiated a 3 year $500,000 library agreement  with the Bloomfield Township Public Library. City residents then rejected a millage that would have funded it . In 2010 city resident, Mr.Larry Neal, acting as a private citizen placed another library proposal on the first available election which was the fall 2010 one.. Mr Neal, is by profession, a librarian who is the Director of Clinton Macomb District Library which serves 165,000 people in Macomb County. Using a 19th Century Library provision, Mr. Neal was able to initiate  a ballot proposal with very few required signatures in a very short period of time. The proposal called to the creation of a City of Bloomfield Hills Library Board to be funded by approximately $480,000 year for six years. The newly created library board would then the negotiate for library privileges.By the terms of the 19th Century proposal Mr. Neal used, only adjacent communities could be negotiated with. That meant  the only possible libraries for the City of Bloomfield Hills, if his proposal passed, would be the Bloomfield Township Public Library and the Birmingham Baldwin Library.
City Resident Larry Neal
2010 Town Hall Viewing Tips
 It was generally agreed that the Bloomfield Township Library was the the first choice of city residents. It was also heavily implied by supporters of the millage, but never actually stated, that the Township Library would be the Library residents would receive if the millage passed. The Township Library did nothing to dissuade such talk. At the Town Hall you will here many residents speak of the wonders of the Township Library seemingly oblivious to the possibility of other eventualities.

With four or five exceptions all the speakers speak in favor the library millage. Politically this known as packing a room. The forces of opposed to the millage would have done the same thing if they had been able, but could muster less than a half dozen supporters. The majority of voters who decided the issue on election day paid no attention to what was said at the Town Hall meeting. It is presented here simply as a vantage point to viewpoints.

About two thirds of the way through the meeting the topic of letters sent to voters is discussed . In 2009 the library millage was presented on  the May City Election Ballot. The City election  was days after Chrysler and General Motors declared bankruptcy. The City Commission had at that time written a letter to all residents stressing the need for financial prudence in those difficult times. Some library supporters took this a slam on the proposed library referendum. The various references to Police/Safety stem from an earlier 2010 Town Hall on the topic of public safety  in which residents said public safety was  a primarily concern. Early in the fall library campaign, a resident wrote an opinion/editorial  for  a local newspaper which stated  a decided preference for Public Safety over a library contract  and spelled out  how the $480,000 per year could be used to enhance  Public Safety.

The Library Town Meeting is not particularly pleasant viewing. Library supporters express a sense of shame and indignation at having to live in a city without library. One wonders what they would do in a city with no food, a frequent occurrence in 20th Century cities. Then there are the cities ruled by anarchy where the right answers at a road block may mean the difference between life and death. The City of Bloomfield Hills is neither for now.

City Resident Robert Toohey
The the tough times that blew in late 2008  are still here and don't look like they are going away any time soon.  Does the City of Bloomfield Hills want a library ? Would it be good for the City ? Two residents who you will meet in 2010 Town Hall tape and  who you will most certainly meet or hear about again this fall have divergent views. The first is Larry Neal who put the doomed 2010 library proposal on the ballot and recently consulted with  the City Commission on the 2011 Library proposal. It is for approximately $280,000 for a three year contract  with the Birmingham Baldwin Library.  You will also meet Mr. Robert Toohey who has his own ideas how much participation with a public library should cost. Ideas so unique, they have become an "ism"often referred to as "Tooheyism."  Both will be introduced and explained in greater detail later. For the time being it is suffice to say that they both like to talk with pens.

Pure Michigan. Pure Library. Northport, MI 49670. 24-7. A Lesson for All of Us

Birmingham Baldwin Library director Doug Koschik, usually pretty easy going guy, once expressed slightly  more than a little irritation at non resident wifi users who plugged into the Baldwin Library's electricity,  connected to the library's wifi, and stayed all day. Somebody should tell him about the Leelanau Township Library  in Northport, where mostly non residents (Northport is very tiny)  stay all day and sometimes all night using the library's electricity and wifi with nary a dirty look.

Michigan Libraries up north are not like the ones in Oakland County. Up north tourism is big business and the libraries roll out the red carpet for guests. From affluent communities like Leland on the Leelanau Peninsula  to modest ones like Kalaksaka, non residents are given equal access to computers and on the  premises facilities. In Northport a visitor may even request a library card. Many libraries have wifi high speed Internet access but what Northport's Leelanau Township Library provides is extraordinary.
24-7 Computing and Internet access on the Northport library bench. This picture was taken on Sunday Morning

My wife told me she saw people typing  on portable computers outside the Leelanau Township Library. She thought  they could connect to the Internet out there. I told  her they couldn't. They had portable computers that ran on batteries but that was about it. .When I visited the library I asked about this  and the librarian assured me they had outside wifi. I was impressed. The outside stuff only worked during library hours right ? No it was good 24 hours a day. OK but there was no electricity right ? You had to bring your own batteries right ? No there was electricity 24 hours a day. Just plug in under the bench. I was  amazed and soon found myself  using  my computer and connecting to the Internet 24-7 in company of boaters and fellow tourist  who also were in rapture of what is often referred to as the Northport Library bench.

Northport is the last town  before the tip of the Leelanau peninsula and the Grand Traverse Lighthouse. Every fall  the lighthouse hosts  Haunted Lighthouse tours. The only other thing north of Northport, is Woolsey Airport, a world war one vintage landing strip whose only guidance is a wind sock. The airport also features a functioning pay phone. In Northport you half expect  Angela Landsberry of  Murder She Wrote to ride by on her bicycle. Northport is  like New England but Pure Michigan.

And the lesson for all of  us ?  In tough times you can't go wrong by providing more than people expect.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Welcome Dream Cruisers and Auto Enthusiasts !

 It’s been a year since we have seen some of you. Returning visitors know  that the City of Bloomfield Hills offers unique opportunities for spectators and drivers alike. Our City is not Dream Cruise Grand Central. That would be 13 and Woodward in Royal Oak or perhaps the start or the finish in Ferndale or Pontiac. Berkley kicks off  Dream Cruise activities  tonight. Birmingham offers cruise events, restaurants, and stores all in close proximity.

What does the City of Bloomfield Hills Offer Spectators?
The City of Bloomfield Hills offers is an unparalleled viewing opportunity along a 2.5 mile stretch of Woodward Avenue.  That’s actually five miles of viewing if you count both sides of the street. With very few exceptions most of that stretch is office buildings  which means plenty of Woodward Avenue ” behind the building parking.”  Some lots or church’s may want you pay but rates should be reasonable because of you are  far from everything else.  Some offices may be having private curbside parties. There is however still plenty front row/road seats available to those who bring lawn chairs. If seeing or photographing classic cars is your desire the City of Bloomfield Hills is the place to be.
What does the City of Bloomfield Hills Offer Cruisers?
The only gas station on Woodward north of Quarton-Big Beaver-16 mile Road and South of Square Lake (19 Mile Rd.). It’s the Mobil on the Northeast Corner of Long Lake and Woodward.

Essentially unimpeded cruising without the multitudes crossing in front of you willy nilly .

Cruising before a knowledgeable fan base.  City of Bloomfield Hills residents know and love their cars. Some collect them. Some restore them. Some just enjoy them. It has been this writer’s pleasure to drive cars from all the American manufactures  since Studebaker.  When I worked for American Motors I drove everything from Javelin’s, Levi Gremlins, Hornet Hatchbacks the legendary Pacer and The Oleg Cassini Matador. My 1977 Ford LTD II lasted from 47,000 miles to 148,000. My  1998  Oldsmobile 88 LSS topped  127 ,000 miles. Currently I have a Chrysler 300 with a Hemi multi valve displacement which alternates between a four cylinder and eightcylinder engine. My all-time favorite car story is the one about the man who complained that his Hornet vibrated at speeds approaching 110 miles an hour. The salesman said it wasn’t vibrations the man was hearing or feeling. It was the voice of God talking to him.
Other Near By Attractions.
440 Cranbrook Road
And  when you tire  of cars, cars, and still more cars? Relief is just a flip of the turn signal away. 

Heading South on Woodward just past Long Lake you go up a hill and at the top on your right is the entrance to Cranbrook. What looks like a space age toll booth/gate is nothing but a decoration. Just drive right on in.  You can tour the grounds by car or on foot. For a different perspective avoid the main gate and turn right on Cranbrook Road. It’s the first street after you pass the main gate. You’ll go down and then up before passing Christ Church Cranbrook and the Dustan theatre before coming to the gate pictured to the right.  For future visits the science and art museums are top attractions.

Going North just past Long Lake and You'll see  to Opdyke Road  which comes in at an angle. Veer  right on to Opdyke and a two minute drive takes you to St. Hugo's of the Hills. It's a mini campus with Pond, fountain, chapel,  a huge church, school, and clarion tower. The Chapel is a popular place to get married  and around noon or two pm you might find a wedding in progress, completely oblivious to the roar of engines a quarter of a mile away.

The City of Bloomfield Hills is a special dream cruise attraction and your 2.5 mile cruise on Woodward will take diagonally across the 2 mile by 2.5 miles rectangle that is the city.

 For live Dream Cruise coverage as close as your computer  screen click on the Oakland Press Box midway down the right side of this page.,

 For a  print listing of  the many  attractions in other communities please click on the links provided in red below. (Oakland Press/Macomb Daily)
 Dream Cruise Hot Spots Detroit Free Press

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Do the Residents of Bloomfield Hills really want a Library ? Part 1

The City asked that question once  via the Planning Commission's  Master Plan Task Force Residents survey.The survey which included many topics was completed in the Spring of 2008, five years after the break with the Bloomfield Township Public Library and one year before the first of three library millage issue which would further reveal public opinion. The four questions asked were....

1)The city should negotiate with the Bloomfield Township library to allow city residents to borrow its books.

42.2%  Strongly Agreed 21.1% Agreed 14.2%  Disagreed 15.3%  Strongly Disagreed  7.1% Had no Opinion

Author's Note: What is interesting here is that  that close to 40% either had no opinion or were opposed to negotiations entirely. The 63.1 % agreed number would drop drastically when the topic of money was introduced. Surveys traditionally report that people queried  love children, puppy dogs, libraries and  housing for low income individuals but that love does not  necessarily translate into action.

2)City residents should vote whether to increase their millage to pay taxes to the township library to allow city residents to borrow books .

29.7% Strongly Agreed 24.5%  Agreed 18.8%   Disagreed  21.4%  Strongly Disagreed  5.7% had no opinion.

Author's Note: The Question is clear the answer is not. 54.5% say get our OK before you do anything.  45% seem to say that a prior OK is not necessary or they have no opinion on the matter. In early 2008 times were good but not that good. Maybe the 40% who disagreed or strongly disagreed were disagreeing to increasing their millage or holding an election do so.

3)The city should not negotiate with the township library to borrow books or vote to pay taxes to the township library to borrow books unless the library allows the city to verify what it actually costs the library to lend books to city residents.

 40% Strongly Agreed 24.2% Agreed 11.8%   Disagreed  13.9%   Strongly Disagreed  10% had no opinion.1100% has .7% had n
Author's note: A great idea which no library has ever supported. 64.2 % said great idea. 26% percent said they'd let it slide and 10% had no opinion.     

4)The city should continue the agreement with the Troy public library to allow city residents to borrow its books.
   32.6% Strongly Agreed 30 % Agreed10.9% Disagreed  14.8 % Strongly Disagreed  14.8% had no opinion

Authors Note: 15 % no opinion rings true. Probably people who never got to the Troy Library. 26% disagreeing probably also reflects an accurate number of residents who found the Troy library inconveniently distant  or of lesser stature than the Township Library. In 2008 the Township library was completing massive remodel. A similar one planned for Troy was put hold due to budget constraints. The 63%  who "agreed" were probably puppy dog lovers who's number totally dwarfed the number of residents who actually used the Troy Library.  The TPL annual usage from the City was in the hundreds. 63% of the City of Bloomfield Hills is approximately in excess 2,500

In short the only recent, written, and professionally compiled survey on the subject of  expanded library participation for the City of Bloomfield Hills revealed something far less than a ringing endorsement. To be continued...

November Library Millage Vote. Third Time's the Charm ? Or Everything goes in Threes ?

This November, City of Bloomfield Hills residents will vote on a library millage for the third time in three years. In 2009,  an agreement negotiated between the Bloomfield Township Public Library and the City of Bloomfield Hills for an approximate $500,000 for each of three years failed. In  2010,  a ballot proposal proposed by a private citizen,  asked for the creation of a City of Bloomfield Library Board and  $480,000 a year for six years to allow the board  to negotiate a deal with either or the Birmingham Baldwin Library or the Bloomfield Township Public Library. That  millage proposal also failed.. The 2011 proposal asks for a millage that will produce $270,000 a year for three  years for full service membership and access to the Birmingham Baldwin Library.
  The 2011  proposal is the most reasonable in price and not far removed from the $226,000 the city paid to the Bloomfield Township Public Library in 2002-2003 .  The current offer was  negotiated in good faith and good will by the City of Bloomfield Hills  and the Baldwin Library. All that is necessary now is the approval by City resident's this fall. Some believe it is the City of Bloomfield Hills' last best hope for establishing library privileges with an adjacent community library.

Is it ? 
Do the majority of city residents  want a library membership?  Does City Commission of Bloomfield Hills want a library or is it merely going through the motions one more time for the sake of its citizens. Does the the Baldwin Library really want the City of Bloomfield Hills or are they just being nice ?   Is the Troy Library still a viable alternative for the few city residents who use it. Could more be coaxed to do so?  Are libraries relevant today’s lifestyles?  Are books in print  being replaced with electronic books and does that make a Library in Los Angles California as relevant to the City of Bloomfield Hills as  the Township  or Baldwin Library ? What community  and communications functions does  a library serve ? How is this function to be paid for ? By whom ?. Can it be shared ?  What free  library service are  now available to all Michigan Residents . What does a recent Government study say about the future of libraries in the broad band age? What does Michigan Laws and courts say about libraries ? Are libraries required to prove they are acting in the public interest ?Are libraries sacred cows ? ? Could a public library survive in a free enterprise system ? Could  the principals of free enterprise help struggling communities and struggling public libraries ?  What really happened in the Troy millage elections of 2010 and 2011 ? What really happened in the Bloomfield Hills millage elections  of 2009 and 2010 ? Who are the personalities that play or played a role or roles  in the above ongoing drama ?

This post is the first in a series that will attempt to answer these questions and others we might meet along the way.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Agenda Packets Are Your Key to Understanding City Meetings

Agenda Packet August 9th City Commission Meeting
Agenda Packet August 9th Planning Commission Meeting

In order to provide greater transparency, more and more municipal governments are making agenda packages available to the general public.

An agenda packet is a folder of documents provided to each commissioner that relate to the business to be discussed at the upcoming meeting.  Your copy in the form of a PDF file is available on the city website. The Agenda packet for the Tuesday August 9th City Commission meeting which begins at 7:30 PM is 104 pages long. The Agenda Packet for the planning commission meeting which begins at 4:00 on August 9th is 52 pages long. The Agenda Packets for this week’s meetings appeared on the City’s web site last Saturday.  The packets can also include other information such invoices the city paid and police call reports.

Some municipalities make stylish packets that resemble a virtual spiral bound note book.  Troy Michigan’s City Manager provides helpful tips on City Government in their agenda packets. Curious minds want nothing of the sort. You want exactly what the City of Bloomfield Hills provides and that is the “Big Dump” or every conceivable document that relates to the matter at hand.  For you to get the  Big Dump Agenda packet for tomorrow night , City Clerk Amy Burton and her hard working staff had  to scan 152  plus pages into the computer. This year in addition to City Commission Agenda Packets, residents will also be provided with Planning Commission Agenda Packets.

What’s in the Agenda Package? Well for starters the meeting agenda is the first document. This will give you  a feel of what will be discussed at the meeting. For August 9th  Roads will be ddebated  and will be the first hard topic (agenda item 4)  at  City Commission meeting. Cell phone towers and mail boxes at city hall do not currently appear on the City Commission  agenda but agendas are not blocks of stone. Anything can change and the final agenda is available in short supply at the door to the meeting. Come early or read over somebody’s shoulder.

Next in the City Agenda Packet are  the invoices the city must pay. Car washes for public vehicles, $17,000 in legal costs, $7,000 for the road report from HRC, and  $645 for a lady’s mail box that got run over and was replaced with  one from Russell Hardware are all there.

Next are documents pertaining to the meeting‘s agenda topics. Some agenda items have no documents. Others have volumes and some present a dazzling array of city minute meeting from years gone which will be confusing. You could try to sort the big dump by topics but why bother? The fact that you’re reading it puts you ahead of the curve. And you don’t have to read every word or study every page. The Big Dump is not necessarily history but a reference point for future action. 

How do you get the Agenda Packet off the city website and on to your computer?  Easy.  Just copy it by clicking on the little disk picture on top when the PDF file opens. You can also put the PDF on a Nook (I don’t know about Kindle. Maybe it works there too.) and read it there or take it with you. You could even take it to the meeting and follow along. PDF files take up hardly any space.

Phase III of Road Improvement To Be Debated at Tonight's City Commission Meeting.

The topic is not new. It was discussed for over an hour at the July 26th gathering of four of the five city commissioners at what the commission likes to call a work session. From 5:30 pm to 7:50 the commission worked verbally and mentally. Roads got the entire first hour. With the exception of this writer no city residents were attendance for "the open to the public" work session. In need of a second opinion this publication decided to invite imaginary people to pretend that they attended the work session and to give their take on what they may have seen.  First we will present the actual minutes of the July 26th work session in blue which you will find in the August 9th City Commission Agenda Packet. Then we will present a short bio and the commentary from our imaginary guest author.
Phase III Road improvement Program from the July 26th Work Session  Minutes

Mr. Jamie Burton, with HRC Engineering presented the engineering options for the next phase of the city’s road improvement program.
In response to an inquiry from Mayor Zambricki, Mr. Burton briefly described the engineering standards used in designing roads.

Finance Director Lisa Dolan provided the financial analysis on the various bonding and pay as you go scenarios. Ms. Dolan suggested the pay as you go option fiscally responsible, yet still accomplishes the goal of road improvement. Ms. Dolan noted she prefers to avoid the interest rate payments by paying for the road improvements without bonding for the program.

Commissioner McCready requested updated information on bond interest rates. He also inquired of the balance at the end of 2010-2011 fiscal year could be used toward future road programs. Commissioner McCready suggested Orchard Ridge, Chestnut Circle, and Kensington be included in the next phase of the road program.
Commissioner McClure expressed her support for bonding for the future road program, perhaps less than the originally planned $3,000,000.

Commissioner McClure suggested the city consider improving the Long Lake Rd. and Barden Rd. common area.

A short introduction to Auggie (No Last Name).
 Auggie is a professional “gamester”, a name he prefers to Gambler. Auggie will bet on anything but he never gambles. Auggie is not a resident of the City of Bloomfield Hills but not because he doesn’t like it. It’s because he is not ready to drop three big ones (a big one is roughly equivalent to a million dollars) on a house. When told that that less expensive houses are available, Augggie says he only goes first class and declined to say where he actually resides.

Auggie ‘s (No last Name) take on the  Phase III Road Improvement program as discussed by City Commission at the July 26th Work Session.

 First off about those minutes …LIKE WHOA !  Were we at the same meeting or what? The Mayor question came late. The Treasurer lady did not steal the show as is implied and the big three Orchard, Kensington, and Chesnut  Circle were not names pulled out of a hat by Comish McCready. They were on the table before he even said a world. How they got  there, I don’t know.  You want the straight skinny? The Real deal? Let me tell you.

The early favorites are Orchard Ridge, and Kensington. Chesnut Circle which started strong fell to third as the evening wore on. If Orchard Ridge is the choice there may or may not be an  Epping Lane component. There is no straight up bet here. You can say Kensington at 2 to 1 and Orchard at 3 to 1 but its all how you pay for it and that aspect certainly had the odd makers scratching their heads. The two contenders are  Pay As You Go” an early front runner  and  Float a Bond” a dark horse that won't go away.  Lady Commish Sarah McClure said money is cheap right now. That is for sure. If you got cash you have to pay the bank to park it. She favors a small bond at a good interest rate. City employees Lisa Dolan the Treasurer and City Em  Gee R Cravens were pushing pay as you go but they don't get to vote. Assuming a correct hear in a good ear, Ms. Dolan said the City’s first bond won't paid until 2019. Commish McClure said with pay as you go we could save for three years just to do Orchard Ridge. She also noted she is Ms. Fiscal Responsibility which is generally acknowledged to be true. Then commish McCready comes up with a nifty combo. He asks Lisa how much we got in the cookie jar now and figures what probably will come in. You take that and do a mini bond and pay for Kensington or Orchard Ridge. Then he says the residents like Road Improvements and supports them. So commish McClure says they miss the “Tax dollars at work signs” or “they don’t miss them”. I don't know exactly because I was taking a call from Vegas at the time. Either way, it was a joke or everyone laughed. Then his honor the Mayor who was mostly pretty quiet moderating asks the man who came and talked about the road's big Picture, a question. Something about if they use best practices on roads.  The answer was   they like to find and fix a middle priority road before it becomes a high priority. Sounds good to me. My star of the evening was Commish McClure. She knows her money. I know that because I know my money. Commish McCready had some good ideas even if he didn’t invent Orchard Ridge, Kensington, and Chesnut Circle. Ms. Dolan and City Manager Cravens were also good. If truth be told and the meeting better attended somebody probably would have thrown a shoe at Commish McClure when after all was said and done she brought up beautifying Barden or whatever. One hour of roads is enough ! Sheesh! Hope this was helpful. Signed Auggie (No Last Name.)
As it so happens Auggie’s take is well taken. Hubbel  Roth and Clark, consulting engineers in a letter to City Manager Jay Cravens dated August 4th 2011 , and referencing Road selection Recommendations, based on input from the City Commission meeting of July 26th say it’s either Orchard Ridge or Kensington, with an Epping Road component  to go either way. Payment Options continue to be Pay As You Go or Float Bond issue.  The only suspense is will the Epping Road component go with the winner and get done now or wait with loser.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

News Your Might have Missed: Former City Mayor Ben Hoffiz Dies

Mayor Benjamin T. Hoffiz
February 21 1928 to January 30th 2011
Former two time mayor of Bloomfield Hills, Benjamin T. Hoffiz died on January 30th 2011. Mayor Hoffiz  served on the planning commission from 1979 to 1995. He served as Mayor in 1998-1999 and again in 2003-2004. The minutes of his  2003-2004 administration can be found the city's  website. Our Current Mayor Mayor Michael Zambricki served on both of Mayor Hoffiz 's administrations and was Mayor ProTem in the 2003-3004 term of office.  Rounding out the commission of that year were Rookie Commissioner  and future Mayor Pat Hardy,  and future Mayors John Davey and Dale Dawkins.  2010-2011 Mayor McCready sent his sincere condolences and said, "Ben was a dedicated public servant to the the City of Bloomfield Hills."
 Mayor Hoffiz was a graduate of Northern High school and Wayne State University. He was a  also World  War II veteran, an attorney, and dedicated family man who's marriage approached 60 years before his passing.

Of historical note, in  the era of Mayor Hoffiz's second term, the computer was just coming into wide spread usage in the work  place. The first  minutes to appear on the city website are the ones from 2002-2003. These minutes were the first actually written electronically on computer rather than on paper. The minutes  of  2003-2004  were quite detailed compared  to today's  and provide an interesting  glimpse into the Hoffiz administration and the issues and events the city faced  18 years ago.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Who You Might Meet at City Hall: Compensation of Mayor and City Commissioners How to Get In and How It Works.

Recently  posted on the City website was the job opening listed below in blue type.  This writer found it an interesting glimpse into the qualifications and duties of  people on other side of the counter at City Hall. People who may answer the phone when you call or assist you in obtaining a license. While the date of the this particular  job posting has closed  other similar opportunities may come  available in the future.

The hourly rate of $16.00 an hour depending on qualifications means that a highly qualified applicant could earn in more in an afternoon than the Mayor makes in a year. The mayor is a member of city commission and all city commissioners are paid $5.00 a month,  in one annual lump some of $60.00.

The mayor and the city commissioners  are  the collective employers of all employed at City Hall . Regardless,  the elected enter the building  the same way you or I  would  and that is through the front door. Then they would commence  their visit, the same way you or I would, by approaching the counter. There they would be assisted by a person meeting many of the qualifications and attributes listed below.

Job Posting: Part-time Support Staff to the City Clerk
Reports To: City Clerk
Hourly Rate: $16.00 / DOQ
Schedule: 12:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
Closing Date: July 29, 2011

To perform a variety of responsible administrative and clerical duties for the City Clerk requiring substantial public contact and a high degree of accuracy.

Typical Duties

  • An employee in this position may be called upon to do any or all of the following: (Does not include all tasks employee may be expected to perform.)
  • Receptionist to greet, assist and appropriately direct all inquires at the City Hall administrative counter.
  • Receptionist on phone system to direct calls or answer general municipal inquires.
  • Administrative support duties for all departments in City Hall.
  • Receive and review applications for various City licenses and permits.
  • Prepare a variety of letters, memoranda, and reports.
  • Update voter registration records and general municipal records.
  • Assist the Clerk in conducting elections.
  • Perform follow-up duties as a result of City Commission, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • Assist in assembling City Commission, Planning Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals agenda packets.
  • Administer annual business licensing.
  • Administer annual waste hauler application process.
  • Performs related duties as assigned.


  • Possession of a high school diploma, or its equivalent, supplemented by college coursework in Business, English, or Administrative Support.
  • Highly proficient in Microsoft Office.
  • Must be able to distinguish confidential material and apply department standards for security and privacy.
  • Possess the ability to communicate, orally and in writing and work constructively with others and the general public.
  • A minimum of 3 years of office experience with substantial public contact, municipal experience strongly preferred.

Other combinations of education and experience, which could provide the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job, may be considered.

Interested parties must submit a resume, professional references and an employment application to the City of Bloomfield Hills 45 E. Long Lake Road Bloomfield Hills MI 48304 by July 29, 2011 at 4:00pm. No telephone inquires please.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Troy Library Looks Forward to a Long Future

The City of Troy Michigan and the Troy Public Library are alive and well. The City of the future, has today, a future. Yesterday, August 2nd 2011 the Troy Library millage  passed by a vote of 12, 246 to 8799.  21045 people  or roughly a quarter of the city of Troy went to the polls. From the first returns the election was never in doubt.  The "58%  Yes to 42%  No" margin was  a landslide. 

Troy residents at ran a brilliant  campaign  that used creativity, and ingenuity to combat a sometimes nasty and often misleading politically charged opposition.

  The Detroit News  urged a no vote. Why ?  "Voters have already been asked twice for similar millages and rejected them. It's unfair to keep asking the same question." Maybe they the should tell that to the News telemarketers who call repeatedly with the same old offers. State law makes voluntary support for a public library  complicated.

The Troy Citizens United while stressing  their support of the Library asked  for a No vote saying  no millage was necessary because the money could be found elsewhere in the city's bloated budget.  This fairly tale surfaces frequently in Troy where Big Beaver is thought to be paved with gold. Even if there was some truth in it, no  mysterious  "money for library" funds have ever been found after a millage defeat.

SaveTroy  responded with an intelligent professionally polished campaign that asked residents to think and consider.  The above commercial drew international attention including the link from London England. On election day  in the City of Troy thought and consideration won in a landslide over the other alternatives. That is good news for all of us where ever we may happen to be.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Future of the Troy Library Decided Today

Polls open 7am to  8pm. A No vote closes the library Friday. A Yes vote keeps the library open.

Homer, the famous Greek poet wrote an  epic poem about  a ten year war that resulted in destruction of a city in Asia Minor called Troy. His work called The Illiad, probably was what the gave the City of Troy in Oakland  County it's name. It also gave us many other expressions like Trojan Horse, Achilles Heel. Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, and the face that launched a thousnd ships.

The City of  Troy likes to call itself   "The City of Tomorrow"...Today. If what is happening in Troy today is our future  I shudder to think of it. Thomas Wolfe, the author of You Can't Go Home Again, and Look Homeward Angel wrote that "Single selfishness and compulsive greed" would be our downfall. That is what  is   happening   in Troy. There is a leadership problem and  those who should lead decline to  or  are choosing to add fuel to the fire. Groups  that claim to represent the residents publish lists of presumably over paid city employees and say there is no need to pass a millage because there are millions of dollars in "saving costs" for  the city just waiting to be found.. The "No" vote requested by such groups  is a "Trojan Horse". The only way for the library to continue is for the millage to pass. If it fails nobody will asking what money if "found" might be possibly used to restore the library. The  City Council doesn't care . The allegedly  overpaid officials don't care.. The  information allegedly "being withheld until after the election"  will never revealed because what would be the point ? As in all confrontations where such pettiness and divisiveness dominate there are no winners.  Just losers and the people lose the most.

 As recently as five years ago , in 2006 the  Troy Library was voted in the top ten nationally.  Despite budget cuts, staff cuts, and reduced hours, the  facility in many  respects it has no equal in Oakland County. Unlike the Baldwin Library in Birmingham, the Troy Public Library is not cramped and there is plenty of front door parking. The Friends Gift shop is three times that of the a Bloomfield Township Library Gift Shop and The Cup at Chaucer Cafe in Troy easily out does Bloomfield Township's slightly out of the way, tables by vending machines cafe. The Troy Library's collection of  foriegn films shelved  by country will probably never be equalled. What should be a source of pride for the City and the Citizens of Troy  has become thanks the single selfishness and compulsive greed of city officials and  quarrelling citizens groups a  resource to be squander.

Author's Troy Library Card.
Why are you reading  this in a blog titled The City of Bloomfield Hills ? Why should this writer, a resident of the above mentioned city care ? Don't under estimate yourself, Troy. The whole world is watching.Maybe only a smattering internationally. Much more nationally where the closing of libraries, newspapers, and even bookstores is followed quite closely. You can read it on web. Right now you can read almost everything on the web. Will that always be the case ? Or as other avenues of information close will the web become  more expensive and restrictive ? Already we live a "broad band age." If you don't don't have access a computer or have email your chances of finding a job becomes much more difficult. For some the local library is their only source of computing  and only a library is willing to teach you the basics necessary to compute.

I also have a personal interest in the Troy Library. Thanks to my city and The Troy  library, I have had a Troy library card since 2003.  The Troy Public Library has  many friends in the City of Bloomfield Hills.

Today I hope the  Troy voters give the Library the money it needs too stay open.  Many libraries are closing or restricting non resident access.   If it stays open, The Troy Library with it convenient location and easy freeway access could draw support and the necessary monies from other communities countywide. The library is too important of resource to allow petty squabbles to shut it's doors.

A Warm Fuzzy Story about the Troy Library for City of Bloomfield Hills Residents

I tried my hardest to think of a story that would give everyone the warm fuzzies about the Troy Library but this  is the only one I could think of. It happened during my last visit.

The librarian at the counter kept clucking her tongue  and asking "How could something like this happen."

Oh it was easy. It tried to explain but whenever  I started the librarian lady would "cluck" again and look upward as though God  Almighty  might shed some light on the situation. She had my drivers license, library card, and my overdue DVD between us on the counter. The line in back of us was doubling and then quadrupling at  a geometric rate. "Bloomfield Hills " she said without expression fingering the license.. I nodded and said I was one of the people who came over on the boat.  I thought a little levity might help. I was wrong.  "Is Ruth here today, "she asked an adjacent librarian  who  processing cards, scanning numbers of books as fast she  could.. No Ruth was not there that day. "I just don't understand how something like this could happen," my librarian said again.

It was really very simple.  Just as we were  about to leave on vacation, a DVD I had borrowed from the Troy Library that I had forgotten about turned up. It was already four days overdue. I could tell the wife we had to make a mad dash to the Troy Library before going to the Airport but I am not suicidal, and besides I knew what would happen. She would call her  brother who lives in Troy and tell him he had to pick up the DVD and return it to the Troy Library immediately. It had already been four days overdue and soon it would be five and they charged a dollar a day. Then I would never hear the end of it. There had to be other options and I considered them.The movie had escaped me at the Detroit Institute of Arts, stayed only a day or so at the Maple, and would never ever turn up at Block Buster.  To see it in the theatre would be seven dollars at the very least. If  I bought the movie(assuming that I could find it)  that would be $20.00. 
Returning it after vacation seemed like the ideal $14 compromise. If I just returned movie  to the Troy library without watching it I would have been out $4 with nothing to show for it. If you figured the " minus four dollars for nothing factor" my total investment would be ten dollars.They also charge $5 to park  at the DIA. Figure that in and the difference between dumping the movie immediately  and taking on Vacation was $1 That I could afford. I could also watch the movie unlimited times while on vacation.

What I  had not calculated on was librarian who would have my best interests at heart.."You should
 have called," the librarian said. "we might have been able to work something out." When I asked,  she said the $14 was on the high end but not a record. "Would you like me to speak to someone on your behalf ?" I thanked her but declined. I had it all figured out and I made the rules.  Besides  the Troy Library needed the money more than I did. "Bloomfield Hills. " she said again picking up the license and writing some numbers on a check I had just written her. I hope they get the money the need.  They  seem  very nice and it's a pleasure now to  to speak on their behalf.