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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.

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