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

Search This Blog

Friday, January 27, 2012

Rainy Night at East Hills Middle School.BHSD Town Hall Meeting Schedule and Survey.

At a  recent Town Hall meeting at East Hills Middle School, Bloomfield Hills School District superindant Robert Glass made a promise to the audience.

If the proposed bond issue, failed, Glass would be a firm believer that the people’s answer to a new high school, hybrid or otherwise was firm “No.”

There would be no more bond issues for years to come. The School Board would work with what it had and make the best of it

Perhaps in five years if and when things became desperate the issue could be revisited.

 According to Robert Glass eight years of controversy was enough and the time had come to resolve the matter one way or another, and to move on.

Glass then detailed the eight year history of the bond issue.

 In 2003 the Board asked for $123 million for new high school and the voters rejected it . In 2007 the amount of $146 million was voted down. In 2010 $97.5 was sought and failed to pass.

The superintendent said the bond issue were indicative of failure for five reasons.

The plans were too elaborate and expensive. The people wanted a reasonable plan. The public was left to ask, “Where’s beef?” The public felt like it was providing a blank check. The public wanted to keep both schools.

Glass said that when he first came to Bloomfield Hills, he wondered why the district would abandon two schools with excellent reputations. The high cost of maintaining two facilities that averaged more than fifty years of age convinced him of the nee of a new high school.

The purpose of the many town meetings the school board has scheduled is to get the public’s opinion, and  provide information.

Is the message getting through and going both ways? 

According to Chris Fellin a spokesperson for Bloomfield 20/20 the answer at East Hills was the connection was less than 40%.

Media room/Library  at East Hills is a wide series of interconnected rooms. A computer lab is far right.
He counted 39 people in attendance. 16 of which he believed were either school board members, members of Bloomfield Hills Education Associates, or teachers.

Eight others  he knew to be members of One Bloomfield United an organization which usually supports the school board or 20/20 which often opposes the board.

That left 15 members of the community as true participants.

The meeting at the East Middle School was the second  in the series. Future Town Hall meetings  are scheduled for...

 Monday, Jan. 30 7-9pm West Hills MS Cafeteria

Tuesday, Jan. 31 1:30-3:30pm Bloomfield Township Library Meeting Room 1
Tuesday, Jan. 31 7-9pm Conant Elementary Media Center
Wednesday, Feb. 1 9:30-11:30am City of Bloomfield Hills Commissioners Auditorium
Monday, Feb. 6 10am-12pm Bloomfield Township Library Meeting Room 1
Tuesday, Feb. 7 7-9pm Lone Pine Elementary Media Center
Wednesday, Feb. 8 10am-12pm Bowers Farm Farm Schoolhouse
Wednesday, Feb. 8 7-9pm Bloomfield Hills Middle School Cafeteria

Wednesday, Feb. 15 7-9pm Eastover Elementary Fine Arts Rooms

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jan 19th BHSD Students Recognized for Noteworthy Achievements.

Grand Prize, Chairman's Award 
 Elizabeth Sabol, Lahser High School

Patriot's Pen Essay Contest
Lilyana Wolberg, Mandy Lu, and Jeremy Taiqman

Three Bloomfield Hills Schools eighth graders took the top three local awards out of more than 350 essays submitted to the Patriot’s Pen Essay Contest. Sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the essay contest askedmiddle school students to answer the question, “Are you proud of your country?”

Answers, in essay form, submitted by Jeremy Taigman (first place), Many Lu (second place) and Lilyana Wolberg (third place) earned each student a $50 prize and an award ceremony dinner hosted by the VFW Post 2269 in Wixom. These students now advance to the VFW Post 1146 district competition on January 9, 2012.

Patriot’s Pen provides sixth, seventh and eighth grade students the opportunity to express their opinion on a patriotic theme and improve their writing skills while they compete for worthwhile awards and prizes. Awards are given at the local, district, and state levels. The state winners compete for $91,000 in U.S. Savings bonds at the national level. The national winner receives a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond and an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington D.C. where they tour the city.

Daughters of the American Revolution 
Piety Hill Chapter Essay Contest
Emily Hong
Emily Hong was unable to attend and wiil receive her award at a later date.

West Hills Middle School  Rolling Robots
Recognized as part of the West Hills Rolling Robots, Benjamin Kaufman, Bradley Kaufman, Adrain Ashtari, Jacob Fishkind, Husain Rasheed, Charles Gertner, Tamaer EL-Gamal,Erza Kalmowitz

Bloomfield Hills Middle School 
Mega-Bites Robotic Team
Recognized as part of the BHMS Mega-Bites robotic team, Alp Aydin, Beste Aydin,Sarah Gerendasy, Kathryn Jorgesen,Hannah May, Andrianna McKendrick,Max Perimuter, Zack Piper.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Jan 19th Bloomfield Hills School Board Meeting

At the recent Bloomfield Hills School Board Meeting, Superintendent Robert Glass said that if Bond issue failed the price tag for deferred maintenance on the two existing high school buildings could be as high as $29 million.
He said the $65 million dollar Hybrid High School (36% remodel 64% new construction) was (excluding athletics) “a one and done for 30 to 40” years of normal maintenance.
The superintendent said the choice was one of continual patch up or doing it right.
According to Glass eight years of debate had taken its toll on the community. It was time to bring the issue to resolution. By the end of February the dollar amount asked for in the bond issue and the election date would be decided.
 In seeking Public opinion By Glass said he chose the “town hall” concept to engage the community.
Polling or statistical survey would not in the superintendent’s opinion get the right input.
 The number of town hall meetings has been increased from to 7 to 12. Next week two town halls consisting of 45 minutes of input and ninety minutes of public comment and discussions are scheduled.
 Tuesday board members will be at Way Elementary 7pm to 9pm and Thursday from 7pm to 9pm at East Hills Middle School.
The board continues to debate and seek public input into how much cash to contribute to the bond issue kitty. Last month that figure was 7 to $11 max. Upon further review it can now be increased to $11 to $20 million max.
 If all cash monies were run to zero and anticipated income is included the figure could be 50 million  plus. Tina Kostiuk Assistant Superintendent of Business warned that large cash depletion would jeopardize the school system’s triple a bond rating.  Realistically Tina she said it would not be prudent to go over 20 million.
School District residents and 20/20 Leader Chris Fellin speaking at public comment said he saw $55 million that could spent. $25 million which he said was stolen from his children. “Money that should have been spent on my children’s education rather than squirreling it away. “  
Superintendent Glass said the school board was obligated to stay within the budget but having reserves was no good if you couldn’t use them.

   In other matters the school board announced that it was favor a full day kindergartens schedule and would approve such at the next Board Meeting.
Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Laurie McCarty said this move had already been adopted by school districts throughout the county.
The consensus is that in today’s completive world which emphasis early learning. Kindergarten is the new first grade.
One or two half day kindergarten sessions would however be maintained for circumstances that required it.
Lahser student Elizabeth Sabol was recognized for winning the North American International Auto Show Poster Contest.
 Her design combining man and machine was used for  the cover of programs and posters promoting the NAIAS better known to locals at the Detroit Auto Show..
Assistant superintendent Ed Bretzlaff said that personnel decisions concerning the coaching staffs would be announced at the end of each 2012-2013 sports season. 
For example the Head football Coach for the combined schools will  be announced in November.
Bretzlaff also reported that the new Mascot/School colors competition to be decided by the students was entering the third round.
Mascot survivors are Blackhawks, Chargers, and Royals. School Colors finalists are Black and Blue, Blue and Gold, and Silver, Purple, and Black.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Baldwin Library remodel piques Birmingham City Commission's interest. Meeting with City Manager to follow. Joint Library-City Commission exploratory sub committee a possibility.

The City of Birmingham’s Saturday January 21st Long Range Planning Agenda was a big  half day, annual event. Before it occurred, it was widely discussed, analyzed and much anticipated. There would be pastries for breakfast. The Press would be there. There would ten presentations in varying form and length . Some sort of eat-on-the-spot 15 minute lunch would be provided. Finance, Building, Engineering, the Principal Shopping District, Fire and Safety, Planning, The Historical Museum, the City Clerk’s office and the Baldwin Library would all have their say. Some Agenda slots were thought to be better than others. Comments from the commission would be good. Silence would be awful.

The Baldwin Library had been preparing for the meeting for a long time. Library director Doug Koschik said the remodel had been a topic of internal casual  conversation for ten years.  Now it was time to seek other opinions. At the  December 18th Library Board Meeting,  the public was treated two re modelling presentations intended to present possibilities and start conversations.In prior posts on this blog  readers can find the written and  graphic version of these presentations. Click on Baldwin Library  Considers Expansion  Options
for a written version of the Library's presentation. It is currently in second place on our top ten post ranking found on the lower right hand corner of the blog page. Click on Baldwin Library  Presentation of Proposed Building Plans by Fanning Howey and Victor Saroki.

 At the library’s last building meeting (click on Baldwin Library Board Building Committee  Meeting of  January 6th) the art of think and double think had advanced to the point of  asking “what if the commission asked the library board  what they thought of  the two plans. To that end the library board drafted a statement at the last library board meeting  saying in essence the Fanning Howley plan would be practicality at a reasonable price but the Saroki Plan if any way possible would be the ultimate. A slide to that effect was tacked on to the Saroki  presentation.
Both Plans were presented at the Long Range Planning meeting and the dreaded silence did not occur. As a matter of fact the Saroki Plan stole the show.

The Mayor began by saying it seemed  "other communities look at our library as though it's their library." He said the  Baldwin Library board was doing a great job in initiating the current dialogue and maybe it was time to take the next step. Then asked the commissioners for input.  
Commissioner Rinscher advised against getting too hung up on design  too early. He advised looking at how the City managed three park project. He reminded the Library that it now served 35,000m people only 20,000 of which were Birmingham Residents. All in all he thought a sub committee to discuss things further might be a good idea.

Commissioner Mc Donald thought the Saroki design very compelling which presented a classic fund raising opportunity.
Commissioner Hoff  wondered why Fanning Howey addressed one floor instead of three. Library Director Koschik said it was intended to be a modest solution. He said he felt Fanning Howey did not address the needs of the handicapped. The Mayor then asked what was wrong with the library's current meeting of those needs. Wasn't there that big ramp by the front door ? Koschik said there was but it wasn't particularly popular because it was considered steep. 
Commissioner Hoff would suggest a sub committee and suggested looking at other libraries and getting public opinion.
Mayor Pro Tem Dilgard  wouldn't rule out a millage and mentioned recent projects like the YMCA or the  United Methodist Church which encountered road blocks along the way.
Commissioner Sherman said all related to how one saw the library fitting into the community.the he said "I like where this is going. That's Good." Public Feedback was needed. Library's were changing. E-Books, smaller collections, etc.

City Manager Robert J.Bruner  Jr.

          Public Comments                                                                                       
 One speaker mentioned the Novi Library upgrade at $15 million, Bloomfield Township at $26 million and concluded the Birmingham Saroki plan could be done on a low per capita bond issue. Another resident preferred improving the library's collection first. A third  said the library should not overlook operational costs and wondered if one of the the city's two golf courses could be sold to provide money for the Library.
Time Table ? 
At the Baldwin  Library building meeting,  Director Koschik said maybe ten years. The plans and the interest they have generated indicate something sooner. Saturday January 19th 2012  it was obvious that the the library has done it's home work but there is much work to be done before the project leaves the drawing board. Could the Sarioki plan be done in modular stages ? Could both the Fanney Howey Plan and the Sarioki be implemented. The Next step is for Library Director Doug Koschik to meet with the City Manager. That wouldn't happen if the  City Commission had no interest or the timing wasn't right or the city didn't think the library had done it's homework. That meeting could take place this week. The next step after that would be the formation of a Library-City Commission sub committee. That would indicate need for more discussion and a mutual quest for answers. Last Saturday an   enhanced Baldwin Library went from being a conversation starter to something that important people who don't have time to waste are willing to plan. That is a big leap forward.

To the readers of this blog who live in Birmingham ( We are told there are more than a few) who are interested in the other presentations made at the Long Range Planning Agenda, the  Birmingham Patch covered them all  in quite comprehensive detail. You may connect to them here by clicking on Birmingham Patch

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Invention of Hugo Cabret (book) and Hugo (the movie) A world worth visiting.

How good is the movie Hugo?  Well when you walk out of the theatre you have a half a mind to get in line for tickets to see it again.  From the first scene the film takes you to a world you will never physically get to but which is certainly worth visiting  more than once. That  world is not the just the Paris of  1931, but a world of dreams, machines, magic, and movies.I avoided this this movie because I thought it might be a biography of  Victor Hugo, and it was directed by Martin Scorsese who had yet to direct a movie I enjoyed seeing. I relented only because the Golden Globes picked him for Best Director but Hugo did not get Best Picture. That sort of split almost never occurs with the Academy.

 I went with Uncle Mike who screens four to six movies a day and is a tough critic. Believe me if Uncle Michael sits through the credits the picture has scored a knock out. Hugo put him down to for the count.
The only disappointment was my inability to explain the picture to my wife.  Face wrinkling and a sarcastic, “sounds wonderful,” greeted my  explanation of orphan living in the walls of a Paris train station who encounters a mean old man and….” I’m usually good a movie synopsis but I struck out on Hugo. Must have  been  the sports analogies.

So the next day I struck out on the internet to see what could be said that I wasn’t saying. What always amazes me about art is how collaborative it is. It’s not just the skills or Martin Scorsese. It is also the book by Brian Zelznick  and the creative genius of a magician turned movie maker, Georges Melies.  The movie which is fantastically and beautifully portrayed on the screen is based the real life of the latter. 
Should you see it in 3D $8 or 2D $5 Birmingham Palladium (which currently does not offer the 3D version)? See it in 2D for the full effect without distraction. Even in 2D you can get an idea of how
fantastic the movie will be in 3D. Then see with the added dimension because George  Melies  would have wanted you to see it that way. For Mr. Melies  in the last years of the 19th century the illusion of film knew no bounds so why stop at two when you could go on to three D. Then you can buy the book, read it and enjoy the illustrations.Finally knowing you have exhausted all aspects for the time being, you can buy the DVD  for posterity in the dimension of your choice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

From November 15 2011 to January 13 2012 342 city residents got Baldwin Library cards.1411 items were checked out by residents in 2011.

Of particular note to Bloomfield Hills residents is an article, Library Director Doug Koschik, contributed to the current issue of the Hills Highlight  our city's official newsletter on the subject  of Baldwin's services to the students of Bloomfield  Hills. To further than end the the Director has scheduled an meeting with The Bloomfield Hills School District.The Book return and lending shelf at the Bloomfield Hills is similar to the one Baldwin has established in Beverly Hills. The books promised, Koschik said would be good  books. Recent best sellers where the library purchased many copies. The honor system will employed although it seems in Beverly Hills  bringing replacement books for ones taken has proved popular.
You have friends at the Baldwin  Library
In a very short time all residents of the City of Bloomfield Hills will receive postcard  like the one displayed below. They are a welcome from the Friends of the Baldwin Library  Look for yours shortly and prepare a spot on your fridge.Full of useful information this card is a keeper.The Friends are generously paying for the cost of printing and postage. The group also sponsors many  of the programs held at Baldwin. Barbara Suhay is the  Friends of the Library Baldwin  Liaison and her husband  James W. Suahay was just elected to the Library Board for a three  year term that will expire in 2015.

Some of the programs sponsored by the  Friends of The Baldwin Library
2012 Student Members of the Baldwin Library Board
The Baldwin Library a selected a young man and a young woman  from Beverly Hills  to share the duties as 2012 student member of the Library Board. Aside from voting they will be in essence be board members performing all duties of a board member and providing the board with a young person's point of view. The Library did not have a difficult decision to make since the students selected were the only two who applied.

"Kid are too busy," the wife explained when I mentioned it. Yeah well we adults have been known to die for a crack at the school or library board. If I were16, my year on the Baldwin Board  would be the keystone to my community service oriented application to Stanford or Yale. I'd have  recommendations on letter head. from the  Mayor  of every community that contracted with the library plus still more from all the captains of industry and civic dedication  currently on the Library Board.

"Your not sixteen," the wife said.  True and when I was 16, if  I recall correctly I had.very few thoughts that might have been regarded as ambitious.
 Congratulations to the Baldwin Library  for sponsoring such a program and to the inaugural participants  from Beverly Hills who will make it a success.For the rest of the Baldwin communities who had no applicants there is always the rallying cry of the Brooklyn Dodgers. "Wait until next year."

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baldwin Library at City Hall. Hills Highlights out of hiatus.Tree ordinance more than a hat rack?

The Baldwin Library  will soon be as close to residents of Bloomfield Hills as our  beloved city hall at 45 East Long Lake Road. A collection of Baldwin Books will be available for residents on the honor system. Take it and read it but please bring it back.No library card necessary. No questions asked. If you have good books you would like to bring by for others to read this might be the ideal opportunity. In addition a book drop for books you have checked out at the Baldwin Library will also be available for easy returns. The project was a campaign promise by the Baldwin Library and one I assume they took the initiative in fulfilling. Our city Government can at times be hesitant but Baldwin Library Director Doug Koschik, however said that our City Manager Jay Cravens and Library Liaison Commissioner  Pat Hardy had been been active participants in the process. At he last City Commission Meeting Cravens was very upbeat about the mini library and book drop due in March.

More details are expected to  be forth coming in The Hills Highlights the official newsletter of the city which is reportedly due any day now. Fans of the Hills Highlights know that the publication has been on hiatus since the last edition appeared in June 2011. At one time City residents received as many as four glossy editions mailed to their  home. In the last issue residents  were offered either two glossy  editions or if they opted out of home delivery six bare bones (words only) electronic editions. So far the six electronic editions have not materialized. With a website already in place cost is not a factor in an electronic newsletter nor is there ant reason why graphics and pix need to be omitted. It seems our City Commission the actual publishers of Hills Highlights  have been too busy slaying dragons and conquering worlds to communicate with us. In that regard Hills Highlight author and City Commissioner Connie Salloum has promised an article  explaining the tree ordinance, it's origins  and it's implications. Look for it when the newsletter arrives. Also look here for  Hills Highlights reviews and critiques from your unofficial  City of Bloomfield Hills Blog which is proud to publish three times a week.

You have the expression. "that is using your head for more than a hat rack". Well maybe the mechanics of the Tree ordinance can work for other things besides trees.

For example the upcoming mini library at City Hall. Say you saw a book there you really wanted . Not only to read but to keep.The City Commission is not in any way shape or form trying to limit the number of books you may own  but there has to be management . If you  announced at the City Hall desk your desire to keep the book the clerk could via the tax rolls look up the size of your home in square feet and tell you how many replacement books would be necessary to facilitate the request. Of course there would be an appeal process that either you  or the city could utilize but  the arbitrating board is already in place. The City already has a Board of Review to assist you with your tax assessment which is coming up in March. The rest of the year the Board  is relatively y idle. Why not make better use of  the board  as  the year round  Board of Book Reviews. Who better to decide if a paperback edition of  the third Harry Potter novel is balanced by a  bound  (high quality vinyl) volume of   Readers Digest Condensations  which includes Ernest K. Gann's  novel The High and The Mighty (the movie featured John Wayne).

While pie in the sky at  present, there is no denying that the city is ready for a literary leap. Why at the public hearing of the tree ordnance a former mayor referenced  Thomas Paine the author of Common Sense down to the very day of the meeting. Another quoted  John Donne( up to the semi colon) Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions.

"No man is an iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee...." 

Two world class "go to the head of the class" literary references beginning and ending a  paragraph. of  less than 100 words. Is that inspiring or what?  Maybe it will inspire a member the newly minted  Board of Book Reviews to assist in publishing the Hills Highlight on a more frequent basis.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Are city residents invited to witness and observe development of city ethics code ? When will meetings be held ? Don't tell us it is a back room, behind the scenes deal which doesn't sound very ethical. Early media accounts don't mention city residents. Please Advise!

 In an article  in Downtown Birmingham Bloomfield (the on line section dated 1/13/2012) the following appeared.

"The Bloomfield Hills City Commission announced at their Tuesday, January 10 meeting, they were beginning the process of writing an ethics code to govern all city officials, leaders and employees."

What follows is excerpts from  the article and are are printed in blue. If  you would like to read the entire article  click here.City Commissioner, Sarah McClure is the only  commissioner quoted, states "Our city charter has some broad ethics guidelines, but in today's day and age, some of us felt we needed some more specific criteria, so myself, city clerk Amy Burton, and city manager Jay Cravens are looking at some other communities' ethics codes, and will be developing a specific code for our city,"

The  development of  a  code of conduct  for those hired, elected or appointed  to serve our  city of  4000 people is very important to our residents and many would like to observe the workings of our city commission in developing such a code. We believe we are entitled to do so by the  Michigan Open Meetings Act. We realize our participation may be limited to   observation only particularly in the draft stages but that is better than being kept in the dark.
The second paragraph of the article indicates that meetings may have already started yet  we see no notification of said on the city website.

(Commissioner Sarah) McClure said they have begun looking at ethics codes from Troy, Bloomfield Township, West Bloomfield, and some municipalities from the western part of Michigan.

Dear Commissioner McClure:Maybe you call each other on the phone but that is not what Open Meetings is all about and because you are public figures you do owe the people the City of Bloomfield Hills more than that. You close the article by saying 

We're trying to adopt best practices, and the ethics code has become an objective."

Well best practices is not something you find only in Troy, West Bloomfield or cities west Grand Rapids. The residents of the City you were elected to represent may not look like much but someday they may surprise you.

Dear Residents:If you are interested in researching municipalities and ethic codes it is really very easy. There is a search engine in top this page. A box beside it says "Search". Underneath are the the words "powered by Google." Type in Ethics Codes and click the search box.Then you will be presented by three boxes.This Blog-Linked From Here-Other News Sources. Choose Other News Sources and relevant stories from The Patch, The Eccentric., The Eagle, and Downtown Birmingham Bloomfield will appear. The mini search engine by Google's own admission, works better with distant matters than more recent ones. To simplify even further there is an excellent article by Lisa Brody  in  Downtown Publications   which relates to Ethics codes in adjacent cities. The  article dated March 2011 mentions Public Act 196 of 1973 and says that is it  remains the gold standard for ethics policies and standards of conduct for public officers and employees throughout the state. There is also Handbook for Municipal Officials Published by the Michigan Municipal League, November 2005. That is 200 pages long. If you just with the five or so pages they devote to Ethics  click on the red highlighted words.

P.S.The above is just a start. Do plan to attend ethic code development meetings when announced.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

“Remembering Jacobson’s” presented by author Bruce Allen Kopytek Tuesday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at Baldwin Public Library.

 On Tuesday, January 24 at 7 p.m. at the Baldwin Public Library, Bruce Allen Kopytek will give a talk based on his book Jacobson’s: I Miss It So!, published this year.

Return to the elegance of Jacobson’s, a beloved Michigan institution
for well over one hundred years. Reenter the marvelous stores
and meet the personalities who transformed Jacobson’s
from its humble Reed City origins to a staple of sophistication
throughout the region and in Florida.
The brainchild of a retail genius, this deluxe specialty store
gave customers a peerless social, shopping and dining destination.
Experience  anew the refined beauty of its Williamsburg-style Grosse Pointe store,
the chic designer world of its Birmingham ensemble or the charm
and allure of its original Florida branch in Sarasota
revealing along the way, secrets that made Jake’s the dazzling store it was
and why it remains so profoundly missed
by anyone who entered through its solid wooden doors.
(Over 100 illustrations, most never published
before - a true scholarly study of this
beloved, lost specialty department store)

Jacobson’s department store was founded in Reed City, Michigan in 1868, expanded to Jackson in 1904 and to Dearborn in 1920. The Birmingham Jacobson’s opened in 1950 and remained a local favorite until its closing in 2002.

Mr. Kopytek will share his stories of Jacobson’s with us, including some special anecdotes about the Birmingham store. He will have his books available for signing and purchase.

One of Mr. Kopytek’s particular interests is the American department store. He maintains a blog, “The Department Store Museum”  where he pays homage to the great American independent department stores, a dying breed, with photographs and facts.

Bruce Allen Kopytek was born and raised in Hamtramck in what he describes as “a very inquisitive Polish-American family.” He earned an architecture degree from the University of Detroit and pursued an extensive career in this field, both commercial and residential.

This program is sponsored by the Baldwin Public Library and the Friends of the Birmingham Historical Museum & Park.

For more information, visit the Baldwin Public Library at 300 W. Merrill, Birmingham, Michigan, call Adult Services at 248-554-4650, or visit the Library’s website 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tonight Another Tuesday Triple Header

Planning Commission Meeting City Hall 4pm
Tree Ordinance Public Hearing
Birmingham Community House Travel Presentation  6pm
City Commission Meeting 7:30 pm
Key agenda items for tonight's City Commission's meeting.
The City is paying about $10,000 for this survey. That is about 1/5 of a new fire engine. Do you think our surveying satisfaction is worth that ? I think not. So let's look for an alternative motive. The Commission has some thing up their sleeve that they would like us to "approve of " before they announce it. Then when everyone screams bloody murder they can trot out the satisfaction survey and say "see it says you said.."
In October when  survey companies made presentations to the commission two possible topics were suggested by commissioner Sarah McClure (See our post of October 15th,)  who said

" the point of the survey was to help us (city commission) answer more controversial issues. Like should we move elections from May to November or have one city wide trash hauling company."

At the time we wrote
These were not  casual "for instances"  and commissioner McClure knows that or should. The residents of the City don't consider the topics mentioned as particularly controversial and most probably believe they have been resolved. In 2009  at a special town hall meeting residents stated a definite  preference for the multiple trash haulers. A change in election date changes much more than date and would require a city wide vote to amend the city charter. In 2010 at a public hearing residents stated  a  strong desire for keeping the election dates the same. The mention of such relics which even in their day weren't exactly "controversies" may presage a resurrection of these topics as agenda items.

Or packaged in a satisfaction survey One of the Survey Groups who made a presentation but was not invited back touted their efficiency  at changing people's minds.

When you have a City Commission that oversees an Ordinance Subcommittee which spends six months working on a tree survey which will impact on all city lot owners without seeking any public input, and then decides it needs to spend $10,000 on Citizen Satisfaction Survey, Paranoia may be prudent.

Where to begin ? How about adhering to The Michigan Open Meetings Act. That is not ethics. That is the law. The Baldwin Library Board abides by Open Meetings Act with no deviations.

 The City Commission  is pretty good in most cases about publishing meeting announcements. Two notable exceptions lapses were  Tree Ordinance  Subcommittee  and the Dec 6th City Commission meeting which received , as far as we could ascertain little or no notice.  The meeting was on a Monday at  5pm and at that meeting the  decision to spend $10,000 on a citizen satisfaction survey was made.

Where the Commission is at is worst is in the publication of timely minutes. Here the Michigan Open Meetings Act is quite specific. It says

3) Proposed minutes shall be available for public inspection not more than 8 business days after the meeting to which the minutes refer. Approved minutes shall be available for public inspection not later than 5 business days after the meeting at which the minutes are approved by the public body.
History: 1976, Act 267, Eff. Mar. 31, 1977;—Am. 1982, Act 130, Imd. Eff. Apr. 20, 1982.

There are two types of minutes. Approved and unapproved. You as a concerned citizen have to the right to read the draft or the unapproved  minutes of tonight's meetings no later than eight business days at the place where the meeting occurred (City Hall). The Baldwin Library published "unapproved minutes" on their web site no later than eight days after meeting. Eight business days from today is one week from Friday. To inspect the minutes or (even to make a copy of them which you are allowed to do) you will have to go to city hall and demand them. Otherwise the City Commission simply waits until next month's  meeting and puts them in the Agenda Package. The meetings in this month's agenda package (From December 2011) bear the notation "Draft" and  a date no more than eight business days after meeting.  They do that to show that they are "complying" with the law. They do not tell you that the seldom changed draft that appears a month later in the agenda packet must be by law must be made available to you at City Hall eight business days after meeting. They will be say nobody ever asked. Now we are asking. The point of the Michigan Open Meetings Act is to inform the public.The point of an ethical open and transparent Government should not be any different.