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, March 28, 2012

Baldwin New Titles 3/27/2012

A Dangerous Method (DVD): Check for Availability
The relationship between fledgling psychiatrist Carl Jung and his mentor Sigmund Freud is torn apart when Sabina Spielrein, a troubled but beautiful young woman, comes between them and forever changes the face of modern thought.

The Unseen by Heather Graham:  San Antonio has become a dumping ground for battered bodies. All young women, many of them long missing, almost all forgotten. Until now. Texas Ranger Logan Raintree cannot sit by and let his city's most vulnerable citizens be slain. So when he is approached to lead a brand-new group of elite paranormal investigators working the case, he has no choice but to accept the challenge. And with it, his powerful ability to commune with the dead. Among Logan's new team is Kelsey O'Brien, a U.S. marshal known for her razor-sharp intuition and a toughness that belies her delicate exterior. Kelsey has been waiting all her life to work with someone who can understand her ability to "see" the past unfolding in the present. Now she has her chance. Together, Kelsey and Logan follow their instincts to the Alamo and to the newly reopened Longhorn, which once tempted heroes with drink, cards and women. If the spirits of those long-dead Texans are really appearing to the victims before their deaths, only Kelsey and Logan have the skills to find out why.
Letter from a Stranger by Barbara Taylor Bradford:  When award-winning film maker Justine Nolan returns to her beautiful childhood home, she is intrigued by an envelope she finds in her absent mother's post. But the letter inside contains a shocking revelation. If genuine it will change everything she believes about her family's recent history, her mother and her adored grandmother, Gabriele.
Guilty Wives by James Patterson:  Only minutes after Abbie Elliot and her three best friends step off of a private helicopter, they enter the most luxurious, sumptuous, sensually pampering hotel they have ever been to. Their lavish presidential suite overlooks MonteCarlo, and they surrender: to the sun and pool, to the sashimi and sake, to the Bruno Paillard champagne. For four days they're free to live someone else's life. As the weekend moves into pulsating discos, high-stakes casinos, and beyond, Abbie is transported to the greatest pleasure and release she has ever known. What happened last night? In the morning's harsh light, Abbie awakens on a yacht, surrounded by police. Something awful has happened – something impossible, unthinkable. Abbie, Winnie, Serena, and Bryah are arrested and accused of the foulest crime imaginable. And now the vacation of a lifetime becomes the fight of a lifetime – for survival.
Betrayal by Danielle Steel:  As Tallie Jones, a Hollywood legend, is in the midst of directing the most ambitious film she has yet undertaken, small disturbances begin to ripple through her well-ordered world. An outside audit reveals troubling discrepancies in the financial records maintained by Victor Carson, Tallie’s longtime, trusted accountant. Mysterious receipts hint at activities of which she has no knowledge. Soon it becomes clear that someone close to Tallie has been steadily funneling away enormous amounts of her money. In the wake of an escalating series of shattering revelations, Tallie will find herself playing the most dangerous game of all—to trap a predator stalking her in plain sight.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

60 in attendance for Bloomfield Voice Open House include Giltterati from both sides of the issue.

While adults occasionally act like kids, they usually don't like listening to them. Michael  Banerian  a Junior at Lahser High School  the is the sort of young man adults listen to. He, as founder of Bloomfield Voice, may  have  more political savvy than than his mentors.  They  touted a another student group  "Lahser Knights or Die" as  another example of dissent in the district.Michael when asked said the the Knights  were an younger group but many were willing to help Bloomfield Voice achieve real political goals and indicated with a smile and a wave that there was more to politics than threatening to expire.

In attendance was School Board member and supporter  Joan Berndt who said she came to listen and added  her tongue was bloody from having to bite it constantly. Although there is an age gap between her and Michael  Banerian  she too is to be credited for her maturity. In today's cynical and confrontational world,  no one comes to listen anymore and restraining one's self is even rarer. Also spotted at the Open House were Howard Barron, and John Roach who like Joan Berndt were finalists in the selection of a School Board replacement for departed member Kate Pettersen.

 A self confessed, "I do  the big stories"" editor Art Aisner of the Bloomfield -Bloomfield Hills Patch was there as were many Vote No on the bond issue supporters like  Jenny Greenwell,  and Chris Fellon.

Announcements published for the event said "Refreshments will be served."Actually that was understated. A feast was provided and the two hours later food was still going strong  while a loud speaker announcing  that the Senior Center would be closing in five minutes blared repeatedly for more than five minutes.

Actually the School District also impresses  with   hospitality through food as well . Broken animal crackers compliment fresh coffee on the worst of days. Whenever there is recognition of students or staff  however a to die for sheet cake or gourmet caliber oatmeal and raisin or chocolate chip cookies are provided. At the last meeting which centered around staff recognition, the district's, Director of Facilities, Brian Goby  stayed late  and working with an industrial strength saran wrap dispenser and cutter provided  for those who wanted take home.

It must be  a township tradition that is unheard of it the City.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bloomfield Voice an organization of students and young adults opposed to the May 8th Bond Issue hosts Open House. Tonight.

My name is Michael Banerian, I'm a Junior at Lahser High School, and the founder of Bloomfield Voice. We are an organization that is against the May 8th bond that the BHSD has put forth, and the high school merger in general. We provide a voice to everyone who is being silenced, especially the students. Though we target young voters also (ages 18-30) we wanted to give a voice to the students who have been shut out. We have already gained overwhelming support from students, and it grows everyday. If you would like to learn more about us  you can email me  at  mbanerian1994@gmail. Or attend the Vote NO event at the senior center Tonight.
You and your neighbors are invited to a
Vote NO 101 Open House
Learn why the proposed $79.8-million high school MUST BE DEFEATED on May 8.
Come hear why voting no actually benefits tax payers, students and our property values!
To get this benefit, you must Vote No on May 8. This is our chance to put this issue to rest.
Come learn what the school district is not telling you.
When? Monday March 26
From 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Where? Bloomfield Township Senior Center
4315 Andover Road, Main floor conference rooms A&B
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302
Refreshments will be served.
Michael Banerian.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Baldwin Library New Titles 3/20/2012

Clicking on the phrase  Check Availability marked in red takes you directly to the computer status page for that title. There you will see how many copies are available and where they are. Sometimes it is available at the library immediately . More often however you will have to put the book or DVD on hold. You can do that directly from the page you are on. If you see Check Availability at  it means that the links the library provided and our  Google Chrome system  don't link up. This happens frequently with DVD's. When it does we send you the library's main web page. Type in title the library's search engine and request a search in the library's catalog. I did this with the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

. My search produced this.
It says that one copy is available in Hot Picks DVDs. Perhaps  but knowing my wife's plans and mine for the day I decided to place it on hold by clicking the bottom box. 
Occasionally  however it's not so simple and  you get a screen like the one below which says No Results.

 Sometimes hitting OK  in the center of the screen puts you through. When it doesn't or produces a title different from the one you want try Search/Home from the shaded bar, far left. That will provide another search engine which which works much better.

Incidentally both The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy now available here were with in the last week available at Best Buy on Special at $20 each. They are also now on Directv (and probably cable pay per view). Just think how much my the library saves you with it's timely acquisitions !

 Mudwoman by Joyce Carol Oates:  M.R. Neukirchen – the first female president of a lauded Ivy League institution – struggles to hold onto her self-identity in the face of personal and professional demons.
Check Availability 

Fall from Grace by Richard North Patterson:  Adam Blaine arrives at the funeral of his estranged father, Ben Blaine, a famous and charismatic writer who left behind him a string of secret legal and financial arrangements. Using his training as a CIA operative, Adam seeks to find the truth of his father's death, even if it means exposing one or more of his own family members as the killer and discovering secrets about himself that he was never supposed to know. Check Availability

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (DVD): Hoping to distance himself from the fallout of a libel conviction, journalist Mikael Blomkvist retreats to a remote island in Sweden's far north where the unsolved murder of a young girl still haunts her industrialist uncle forty years later. Ensconced in a cottage on the island where the killer may still roam, Blomkvist's investigation draws him into the secrets and lies of the rich and powerful, and throws him together with one unlikely ally: tattooed, punk hacker, Lisbeth Salander.
Check Availability at

The Muppets (DVD): While on vacation in Los Angeles, Walter and his friends, Gary and Mary, try to raise ten million dollars to save the Muppet Theater from Tex Richman, a business man who wants to demolish the theater in order to drill for oil. Check Availability at

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (DVD): At the height of the Cold War, a former agent for the British Secret Intelligence Service is called back to root out a Russian spy who has infiltrated the organization's highest levels. Check Availability

Baldwin Library New releases 3/13/12

Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green:  A woman marries into a ready-made family and learns the true meaning of motherhood.

The Descendants (DVD): Matt King is an indifferent husband and father of two girls, who is forced to re-examine his past and embrace his future when his wife suffers a boating accident off of Waikiki. The event leads to a rapprochement with his young daughters while Matt wrestles with a decision to sell the family's land handed down from Hawaiian royalty and missionaries.
Check Availability
My Week with Marilyn (DVD): In the summer of 1956, 23-year-old Colin Clark, determined to make his way in the film business, worked as a lowly assistant on the set of The Prince and the Showgirl, the film that famously united Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. When his diary account was published, one week was missing. This is the story of that week: an idyll in which he escorted a Monroe desperate to get away from Hollywood hangers-on and the pressures of work.
Check Availability at

The Adventures of Tintin (DVD): Unquenchably curious young reporter Tintin and his fiercely loyal dog Snowy discover a model ship carrying an explosive secret. Drawn into a centuries-old
mystery, Tintin find himself in the sightlines of Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine, a diabolical villain who believes Tintin has stolen a priceless treasure tied to a dastardly pirate. With the help of Snowy, Captain Haddock, and bumbling detectives Thompson & Thompson, Tintin will travel half the world to find the final resting place of The Unicorn.
Check Availability

Young Adult (DVD): Mavis Gary is a writer of teen literature who returns to her small hometown to relive her glory days and attempt to reclaim her happily married high school sweetheart. When returning home proves more difficult than she thought, Mavis forms an unusual bond with a former classmate who hasn't quite gotten over high school, either. Check Availability at

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Final Four Dreaming Starts Tonight !

We are not mentioning any names. We don't want to jinx anyone. You know who you are and that  two wins will put your team  into the final four. This article will tell you how you can go on the cheap (more or less) at the last minute and in a manner the missus or in this day and age the Mr.(if he isn't allowed to go with girls) will approve of of.

Tickets ? Stub Hub, Prime Sports official NCAA re-seller, and Razor Gator for starters. For the three game package $200 (Nosebleed) to $500 front row nosebleed or mezzanine. As the seats get better the prices is go into the stratosphere.That's the per person rate.Want the best seat in the house ?  Don't go and watch inton TV. What can you do to lower ticket prices ? Root against number one seeds. No North Carolina, Kentucky, or Kansas please ! How about the Mid American entry the Ohio University Bobcats ?Last year in Houston, Virginia Commonwealth and Butler produced "No reasonable offer refused" game night ticket prices. Kentucky's loss to Butler also insured great rates for the Monday night Final.

Accommodations ?  Forget New Orleans. Forget MSY (The New Orleans airport code). Think alternate City. Think Baton Rouge BTR . It's the state Capital and home of  Louisiana State University. You are  seventy miles north of New Orleans and the freeway from NOLA(New Orleans Louisiana) will take you directly to the Superdome.  You can visit the LSU Campus, visit the state capitol (a big tower) see a half dozen statutes of  Huey Long ( Get the movie All The Kings Men with Sean Penn or the 1949  Broadrick Crawford which won the  1949 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture and Best Actor) and even stand on the exact spot where Huey was assassinated . Students of Literature can also read the book by the same tittle  by Robert Penn Warren on which the movies are based. There is also the Nursery Rhyme  about Humpty Dumpty who suffered a great fall. After which none of the Kings' men were able to put Humpty Dumpty back together again

On top of the state capitol square tower you will get an excellent view of the City. LSU is to your south, The Mississippi is river to the west, Petro Chemical complexes as far as the eye can see to the north. Suburbia replete with malls and Best Buys are due due east. $52   you can get a nice room at a Days Inn, or the Sleep Inn  above for $79 Both are on the south side of town by LSU and the freeway to sthe Superdome.. In New Orleans he rate for similar properties in suburbs including distant Slidell the same properties will be fetching $100 to $150 A Choice Hotel  in the Nola Garden District if availablestill  was $329 last time I looked. Compare the local hotel web sight rates versus the 1-800 rates for chains. Use the local rate (if it is better to negotiate with the 1-800 national number. Then Book with 1-800 national who should provide no questions asked up to 6pm day of arrival  cancellation. Got that ?  Call Joe's Comfort Inn Baton Rouge or Biloxi with your free cell phone after 7pm minutes. They say there rate is $59. Two weeks cancellation notice which is over so  No cancellations. Hang up and call 1-800-Comfort. They say the rate is $75.  You say the wife heard the rate is $59. They say they can do $63. You say the cancellation rate is full refund if you cancel before 6pm of the day of arrival,They say that's right. Book the room on your credit card.

Getting there ? Got frequent flyer miles ? Delta will take you to Cincinnati, Lexington Kentucky,  Atlanta , and Baton Rouge in more or less that order, due to the late date,if available, for points that might be better spent going to Europe. Paying ? Check out flights to Houston  which has two airports. George Bush (IAH) and Hobby (HOU). Hobby is often but not always cheaper Houston and NOLA are separated by 278 miles ,There is also  Gulf Port Mississippi  (GPT)(50 miles). You could also drive and tell yourself that  Detroit to New Orleans  is the same distance as New Orleans to Miami which is also true.

Timing ? If your team plays tonight your team can clinch on Saturday which gives you a one day jump. Only two schools will know they are in and if you call Saturday night or Sunday before the games start you will be a head  on travel plans and prices.

There is also another option to consider. The Final Four is fun if your team wins on Saturday Night If they lose you will have to sit through 48 hours of University of Kentucky-University of North Carolina Game of the Millennium Hype which will be irritating . A nerves of steel, speed dial alternative would be for you to see the Saturday game at home on TV  and depart on Sunday or even Monday to see your team in the Championship game.Tickets for that game are usually available because two fan bases have been eliminated but are not not always cheap. If your doing frequent flyer miles and your team duds  you may have to pay $150 to put your miles back. A hotel reservation Baton Rouge may not even be necessary. In Nola the hotels demand a four night final four stays  but some not so cheap rooms may come available.

So good luck too your team  or teams. Oh and by the way, our local  by tradition drop all coverage of the Final Four when the Michigan teams are eliminated. For those who went to school outside the state of  Michigan or enjoy stories like this one which provides never before revealed facts on the Tournament rest assured. We will not sign off on the Final Four until Midnight Monday April  2nd when the 2012 Trophy is officially re-awarded somewhere in NOLA. Where exactly is yet to be determined but when we know. You'll Know!

City of Birmingham and Baldwin Library, Joint Library Building Committee holds first meeting.

The first meeting of the Joint Library Building Community' consisting three members of the Baldwin Library Board, three members of the Birmingham City Commission, and a member of the City's Planning Board was a historic event. For the Library Board members who had worked hard to achieve the  moment, a giddy  of  "going to meet the wizard" excitement was hard to resist. Not everyone however was so thrilled  The Birmingham City Commission sent the" A" team consisting of pair of two time  former Mayors (Racky Hof and Scott Moore) and single term former Mayor Gordon Rinscheler The City Commission team were veterans who had seen it and  done it many times before. Rischler had participated in  the Shain Park expansion and Barum  re-do  and spoke their names like they were World War Two battles. In contrast to the  commission's veterans, Janelle Boyce of the Birmingham Planning Board was laid back but eager to explain the unique and not always understood purpose of the planning board. The Library team consisted of the building committee. Frank Pisano, James Suhay, and David Underdown. Pisano however was absent and his place was taken by Board member Sheila Brice. In addition Board member Robert Terra  was present as an observer  The public is welcome at all meetings.  

It was decided that the Library as host would appoint one of it's own committee members as Chairman. That  person , according to Library Director Doug Koschik would be determined at the next meeting of the Library Board Building Committee.

The came a bit of hard ball. How many votes determine a majority on the seven person board ? The answer was five. That way if the the library and city commission people split 3 to 3 the onus is not on number 7 and the winner is the team that picks up two additional votes.

There was also a bit of disconnect on the issue of gathering information. The City commissioners said that was the roll of the library not the Joint Commission. "If I wasn't on the committee and I were on the Library Board, I'd say they were taking my job away.,"  Commissioner Rinschler explained.

Commissioner Moore said by way of  example that "staffing needs can't come from us."

Library Board Member James Suhey provided the "No but" adding that Library was interested in the City's opinion and input. On surveys the an almost instant consensus was reached. The the City Commissioners were not big on surveys but liked the way the library conducted their in house survey.

"You can do it best ," Commisioner Hoff said.

"Survey money is not  money well  spent" said Commissioner Rinschler. " There is always a group who feels you asked the wrong questions. (In regards to a  library)  The 20% who pay the bills(through taxes) say they hate (what is being asked in the survey). The 80% who don't (pay) say they love it.

Library Board Member James Suhey said that Library would also be using focus groups as well. A town Hall meeting was mentioned but none had been planned and nobody  seemed to think it would be a good idea.

The roll of the Planning Board was also articulated. First of all it was not the City's Planning Commission which was board mandated by the State. It was an advisory board which often provided input to City's Historical Commission. If the Joint Library Building Committee (JLBC) determines a need to renovate then the Planning Board would assume a greater roll on the committee.

Library Director Koschik then passed out copies of the "The Baldwin Library at 75" a  book celebrating that anniversary which occurred in 2002. Then with a narrative which included humorous  and sometimes dramatic  pauses he then brought everyone up to speed on the last ten years. "Unhappiness with the Birkerts design continues to this day, " The Director who has been at the library for more than two decades said. "That design is however still supported by a small dedicated group of  Birmingham residents, he added."

The Birmingham commissioners stressed the need for one plan. Koschilk mentioned that the Fanning Howley   plan was very similar to the Osler  Plan  a same footprint plan  of  years ago. In fact Fanning Howley team had studied it. The Ferndale Library included a similar remodel. Maybe that plan would be a good place to start.
The Victor Saroki plan was stunning but no one (including some ventured Victor) knew how much it would really cost.

An April Date for the next meeting was set and the library was charged with determining  needs and wants of the people. Commission members spear headed by Racky Hoff asked for  the Cooks Tour of the library and were promised one at  the next meeting.

So like the  couple who overcomes grey skies and few glitches on their wedding day to begin a lifetime of happily ever after, The JLBC  completed first meeting of what will be a year of meetings in pursuit of the happily for a good long time library of the 21st century.

Of note to the citizens of all contract communities of the Bladwin Library  but in particular residents of Bloomfield Hills,where the subject has recently come up, The JLBC is what is known as an ad Hoc committee.That means that it  is formed to discuss a particular subject "at hand". In this case, a expanded Baldwin Library. Final decisions will be made by the the full Birmingham City Commission and the full Baldwin Library Board. Since  the JLBC  is not a  the final decision maker but an advisory committee  with less members than constitutes a quorum fore either the governing city commission or the library board, it is not subject to the State's Open Meetings Act. That means that is not mandatory that residents or concerned citizens be invited. It does not mean that  that residents are forbidden or barred from attending. As in the case the Joint Committee between The City of Bloomfield Hills and the Baldwin Library which was another Ad Hoc committee residents of both communities were invited to attend meetings. Thus they were privileged to see the whole process from beginning to end.

Residents are also invited to the JLBC meetings, but the library does not stop there in pursuit of public knowledge or involvement . In a  Baldwin Library one sheet titled "Thoughts on Getting Started"  the following appears under the topic of bench marking.

A small sub-team of City and Library representatives should conduct the visits (to other libraries). Note:         Some Library supporters have been visiting other libraries and doing informal bench marking on their own. Should we invite them into this part of the Joint Committee  process ?

In today's cynical world only In Birmingham and only at the Library and very probably only with the current Director would  a question like that ever be asked.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bloomfield Hills School Board recognizes outstanding support staff at March 15th meeting.

At the Board meeting, the School District  recognized outstanding members of its Support Staff. To be eligible five years of service and at least two nominations were required. This year’s award winners are Barb Radabaugh Audio Visual Technician Lahser High School, Danny Young School District Bus Driver, Joanne Mackey, preschool child care secretary, Debbie Baylerian Para Educator Eastover Elementary, and Cindy Antonis Para Educator Way Elementary.

Robert Herner, the Board’s secretary and liaison officer to the Financial Facilities and Legal Affairs Committee also delivered a good news/bad news report.
The very good news is that the District’s deficit for 2011 -2012, once believed be as high as $3 million dollars will be in fact be $200,000. The bad news is that’s still a deficit.
The bad news is that 49% of the School District’s total payroll goes to pay retirement care. The good news is the county average for such expenditures is 51%.
The bad news is projected declining enrollment means declining revenue. The good news is the school may qualify, based on Meap scores   for $100 per pupil performance bonus.  The District may also qualify for a Best Practice bonus of $75 per pupil.
On the subject of declining numbers in another area, Board member Mark Bank reported that student enrollment in the Bloomfield baseball league is the lowest in ten years. The low total includes students from Detroit Country Day School who are participating in the league for the first time.

The School Board also approved $142,796 for the purchase for 4 Boilers from Howley Agency Sales to be used at Lone Pine Elementary and International Academy.
 Bids were selected from 28 vendors and 
with five responding. This was Bid # 795 requested by Brian Goby District Director of Facilities and Operations.  The original amount of the Bid was $315,000 but unforeseen complexities in the Lahser Dehumidifier Unit prevented awarding the bid at this time. It will be bid upon at a later date.
The board approved expenditures of $78,358 for 2012-13 Art Supplies and Equipment.

This is an annual bid for supplies to be 
used district wide. Bids were solicited from 45 vendors with 15 responding. This Bid number #799 requested by Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Laurie McCarty.
$19,323 for 2012-13 Physical Education Supplies and Equipment. This is an annual bid to be used district wide. Bids were solicited from 34 vendors with 17 responding. Bid #800 requested by Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Laurie McCarty.

$52,345 for Science Supplies and Equipment. This is an annual bid to be used district wide. Bids were solicited from 34 vendors with 23 responding. Bid #801 requested by Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Laurie McCarty.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Big week for Baldwin. Library and City to meet Wednesday 3/21 2pm at Baldwin. Library Board meets Monday 7:30 to discuss budgets and millage. System upgrade Wednesday and Thursday.Tuesday Making sense of the Civil War reading and discussion series begins.

PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Joint Building Committee of the Baldwin Public Library Board
Will take place on Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 2:00 PM. In the Board Room at Baldwin Public Library 300 West Merrill Birmingham, MI.
The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the 
possible renovation or expansion of the Library.

Representatives from both the Library and the City of 
Birmingham will be present.

Baldwin Library Board to Meet Monday 7:30 to discuss 
2012-13 and 2013-14 Budgets. Click links below to read.

A meeting of the Baldwin Public Library Board will take place on Monday, March 19, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Tribute and Donor Rooms of the Library.  This meeting will include a hearing to consider the 2012-2013 budget for the Baldwin Public Library.  The property tax millage rate proposed to be levied to support the proposed budget will be a subject of this hearing. 

 The Baldwin Public Library will be upgrading its online library catalog and patron database on Wednesday, March 21 and Thursday, March 22. During this upgrade, the Library’s online catalog, database resources and downloadable collections will be unavailable for those attempting remote access. eBook holds and downloads will not be possible during the system upgrade. These services will be restored as soon as possible after the upgrade is complete on Thursday, March 22.
Databases, public computers, wireless internet access and printing will be available within the Library building during the system upgrade. Borrowing and return of materials will continue during the upgrade as well.
This system upgrade is one of the capital projects being pursued by the Library this year.
The Baldwin Public Library is located in downtown Birmingham at 300 W. Merrill Street and can be reached at 248-647-1700 or through the Library’s website at  

 The Baldwin Public Library will host a free five-part reading and discussion series called “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War.
Group discussion events will be held Tuesdays on March 20, April 3, April 17, May 1 and May 15 at 7 p.m. at the Library on the following works:
  • “March” by Geraldine Brooks
  • “Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam” by James McPherson
  • “America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries,” an anthology of historical fiction, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biography, and short stories, edited by national project scholar Edward L. Ayers and co-published by NEH and ALA.
Dr. Roy Finkenbine, Professor and Chair of History at the University of Detroit-Mercy, will lead a discussion of the readings at each session. To obtain copies of all program materials and to register for the series, please contact Matt Church at 248-554-4682 or
Baldwin is one of 65 public libraries nationwide receiving grants to host the series developed by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Local support for the series is provided by the Birmingham Historical Museum & Park and the Oakland County Historical Commission.
We are delighted to have been chosen to host this unique series that will allow patrons a chance to discuss the legacy of the Civil War with fellow community members and with the help of a well-qualified scholar,” said Matt Church, Associate Director.
All programs will be held at the Baldwin Public Library at 300 West Merrill Street in downtown Birmingham. For details or to register, please visit or contact Matt Church at 248-554-4682 or   

Friday, March 16, 2012

City Survey Provides and Prompts Questions. Requests response by 03/21 Wednesday.

Recently  3200 registered voters received a Citizen Engagement Assessment ( also referred to as a Citizens' Satisfaction Survey) in the mail.  The City has spent close to $10,000  for the survey and it was mailed to you the Cobalt Community Research. Very possibly you saw and propped it up against a mug or  salt and pepper shakers on your kitchen table.
If yours did not arrive, you don't remember seeing it, or you inadvertently  tossed it  call City Hall or the Survey company. There  are control numbers on the covering letter and the survey itself to be used in such cases. These numbers are used to insure participation. They are not used to identify you. The surveys are returned to the survey company not to City Hall. The City only receives only the results. Not the actual surveys. The proof of that assertion ? Read the contract the City signed with the survey company. It is provided below.
Unless one is very perceptive and attune to city government you may think the survey arrived without   preamble.. Actually the survey draft appeared in an earlier edition of this blog and was mentioned in the last issue of the Hills Highlight the official newsletter of the City  which is reproduced here.
If you have not completed your survey as yet, this weekend would be the ideal time to do so. The covering letter requests that  the surveys be returned by March 21st which is next Wednesday. It also says that the survey, "takes fewer than ten minutes to complete." A careful reading of the survey and responses will actually require more like thirty to 45 minutes.As with any question there is a reason why it is being asked and you should ask yourself what that reason is . Thar even applies to a simple "How are you ?" which sometimes is a greeting and sometimes contains a soon to be apparent  motive of asking you  to drive the kids to soccer or choir practice. Back tracking off the perfunctory"fine" to perhaps an honest explanation that your recovering from illness  is not easy.

The first two and a half  pages contain questions about your satisfaction of livening the City and your perception of the services provided and the quality of life.Questions ask that you agree or disagree.. The last page and a half  is more pointed . You are asked if you will support or oppose possible actions by City Commission. Questions 21, 23, and 24 have been been criticized for providing too little information for  complicated  questions that are beyond the range of  a survey that claims less "than ten minutes" to are necessary to complete.

Regrettably the residents of Bloomfield Hills  were not invited  to provide input or participate in the development of survey questions. According to Mr. William St. Amour the head of Cobalt Community Research and minutes of the January  City Commission meeting, the questions were developed by Commissioner Sarah McClure and City Manager Jay Cravens. They then articulated the question and Mr 
Mr. William St. Amour  formulated the written query. Thus there seems to be  a noticeable "lost in translation" quality to some of the questions.

Three  of the questions in the "support or oppose" category make  reference to proposals, supporters,  or planners,  that is not explained.  . Question 21 asks "Some residents have proposed the construction of a paved pedestrian walkway on Woodward Avenue and Long:Lake  Road.". That prompts the question what residents ?  When ? Such  walkways were suggested  by the City's Consultants in 2007 but City Commission minutes since that date provide no proposals, updates or even discussions on this topic. Question 22 says "As City Planners think about the future development  of  Bloomfield Hills would you support the city planting trees in residential areas ? What City Planners ? What do City Planners have to do with  question which is simply "would you support the city planting trees on the street where you live."  Question 23 states that "As a convenience to voters, and to reduce cost a proposal to move the City elections to November has been discussed."  It has ? By Whom ? When ? The last time City Commission discussed this matter in a meeting where minutes were recorded was 2010. A public hearing was held for just that the topic. At the time residents said they preferred a May election. A switch to November election will require odd year elections which will mean residents will vote every other year instead of annually.The Charter gives the residents only two rights, one of which is the right to elect or reject city commissioners on an annual basis.

Question 24 relates to Question 23 but provides no more information. It asks about changing  the term of office for City Commissioners. A four year term, is the outcome of a switch to a November election date would require. The choice would be four year  terms with staggered terms meaning one set of commissioners are elected in 2013 to serve terms ending in 2017. Another group would serve terms starting in 2015 and ending in 2019.  The alternative, to staggered term  would elect all five commissioners at each and every election. There would be no guaranteed carry over of officers or continuity. In a City governed by only one body, the election of all  five elected city commissioners each , doesn't make sense. Does it ? Any change in the term of office would legally require a Charter amendment which would require the vote of the people. That is the second right of granted by the charter to the residents. The Charter can only be changed by a vote of the people. In the past however some city commissions have chosen to remain unaware of what the charter actually stated.

.Some survey companies say they like to call on the phone at dinner time. Some claim this insures accuracy. Some surveys are based on a sample projected against a whole. Our City Commission, to it's credit, rejected those approaches and insisted that all registered voters (which in some cases involved mailing two or more surveys to a household) receive the survey. It's hard to think about  City Planners thinking about  the future of the City of Bloomfield Hills when the phone rings, a pot is boiling over and the kids or family dog are providing distractions.

Last but not least there are no right or wrong answers to a survey which is a modern (not adjusted for inflation) version of the saying "penny for your thoughts." There is no legal obligation.If the views expressed in a survey are to be made law they would have to be passed as ordinances (which requires an affirmative vote of the the City Commission) or as Charter amendments (which would require an affirmative vote of city residents). In the case of ordinances residents currently elect and or reject  the commissioners who vote on ordinances  on an annual basis. In odd years three of the five are elected.In even years the other two are elected.

 The only problem with "penny for your thoughts" is that it is not as good an offer as "I'd like to get your thinking... Can I buy you lunch ?"

Below is the agreement  City Commission made with Cobalt Community Research. It was published on the City Web sight in  December13th 2011 City Commission Agenda Package.

To enlarge click on document

Thursday, March 15, 2012

What $3.99 Will Buy and How to Keep Everyone Happy After You Bought it.

Today's \Games
What will  $3.99 Buy ?  Lunch at a fast food restaurant perhaps. In most cases it won't buy a movie, very much gas, a paperback book or even a magazine. This year however $3.99 will buy viewing rights on your computer, I pad, or Android to  the 63 games  remaining  NCAA Basket Tournament games. The four "play in" games have all ready been played. That leaves 16 games today, 16 Tomorrow, 8 on Saturday, 8 on Sunday, 4 next Thursday, 4 next Friday, 2 next Saturday, 2 next Sunday, and on April  Fools weekend March 31st through April 2, the 3 games of the final four. To order your games go
In addition to the game you will get up to minute stats, comments from other viewers on line and more. Like a button which delivers only a radio portion of the game. Great for when you really can't watch or want hear legendary announcers like Bill Frieder (Michigan and Arizona State) or John Thompson  Jr.(Georgetown). TV broadcasts skip a lot of steps because you can see the game. Radio is more detailed in order to build theater of the mind.

If you don't have a computer, I pad, or Android, But do  have cable or satellite TV you can see all of the games for free on Television. The TV provider and today's schedule is listed above which is also  part of your  $3.99  on line package. Michigan State, Michigan, and the University of Detroit make up three of tomorrow's sixteen games. The games will be shown on CBS stations, TBS,TNT, and Tru TV.The last three are Turner Television stations and not all cable provider or packages offer Tru TV which has caused a last minute scramble of excited fans who must see each and every game.

The way this writer looks at it for the price of  one halfway decent ticket to the three games of the Final Four you can  buy a portable computer or I pad and lug it around while doing chores for the wife. Then when the tournament is over you could keep the I pad or what ever. Of course the Mrs. always prefers you do the chores without buying anything.

There is also a group of technologically advanced people who will be watching the tournament on a mobile device like a blackberry or a smart phone. How that that works I have absolutely no idea. My wife and I have the last cell phones in America that only behave  like wireless telephones. In my day we would have called them stupid phones.Today we realize that such communication tools are technologically challenged.

Also to be considered  is the fact that a three week, non stop, glut of college basketball may not be in keeping with the finest in family or generational  values.

My father spent a life time in commercial television. His last words to me delivered virtually on his death bed were "Whatever you do don't get hooked on watching sports on television. The owners keep increasing the rights fees and the networks despite every indication to the contrary believe they can pay for it with advertising. Well they can't. The day of Pay Television particularly  in sports is coming. So take  a walk. Read a book.Play with  the dog. Go shopping with the wife. Don't be a slave of sports on Television."

I have always hoped my father would come back. At least for a weekend but not in the fall. Then I would have to explain ESPN to him. It was around in his time but in those days ESPN offered Ball State vs  Temple while the  free of charge, over the air networks had the Big Ten Game of the week. Now it is the reverse. He would call  ESPN pay television and I would say that it wasn't very costly and it came in a package with a lot of other viewing options. Dad would then multiply the monthly cost by  twelve and whistle. Then would come the lists. What did I watch on Network TV ?. Sixty Minutes, the evening news,The Good Wife and The River. all of which cost me nothing more than the electricity. What did I watch on Cable ? Uh,,,  ESPN and The Walking Dead. "The what ?" he'd ask. Zombies take over Atlanta, I would mumble. Silence would follow and  I would ponder  if a further explanation was necessary. Sometimes  he'd just guess "something like Boris Karloff ?" and I'd nod. When we were finished it the results would be tabulated and it would be revealed, that because I never watched Animal Planet, The Gospel Hour, or the Home Shopping Network,  ESPN which I said was so inexpensive actually cost 97% OF MY NOT SO CHEAP cable bill which on annual basis ran close to 4 figures. "So what happened to walking the dog ?" he'd ask. Even my wife joining the conversation late would agree the dog needed a walk.

In 2008 two years after my father passed away, in a moment of sheer and utter madness, I ordered the Direct TV All game tournament package for $69. I renewed the package in 2009 but in 2010  Directv decided two of my receivers from the late 1980's were legacy models  and no longer accessible to their sophisticated 2010 sports signals. So  I cancelled the package. Then in an amazing feat of coordination and split second timing I managed  to tape all 64 games on satellite radio. I then transferred the games to my car radio which has a hard disk. The games are still on the disk. Every now and then when nothing else of interest is available I turn it on and revisit the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament. It's surprising how much you forgot if you haven't tuned in a while.  In 2011 I tried the same with TV but was not as successful and as my wife correctly predicted ,"Your never going watch any of those games again"

Now it is March 2012.
To my father I concede that $3.99 is  pay television. It works out to slightly more than ten cents a game. Of course if I live to be 100 and assuming no price increases my total investment would go into the hundreds of dollars and could assuming a longevity  of 125, exceed  $300 .The current  figure is however one I can live with. The Agreement between The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the CBS Television Network, and Turner Television runs through  until 2024. My participation in it is subject to annual renewal  Thus it is adaptable to the both future plans of myself,  The National Collegiate Athletic Association, the CBS Television Network, and Turner Television.. By the way the start times are staggered so I will be watching at least a portion of each and every game. Promise.

 For my wife, thank you for inviting me to be your guest. You remember that day I loaded up four college football games from ESPN 3 on your new Apple and  Aunt Sophie came by and needed help lugging veggies from the farmers market inside ? Then you wanted show her pix or something and nothing on your keyboard or computer screen, including the four games I put there, were working.  Meaning the computer  crashed. While Aunt Sophie cooled her heels in the hallway you told me between clenched teeth to fix it. I did by turning the computer off  and then on. Later after Aunt Sophie had mercifully left, you said you didn't want college football games jammed on your computer. I said that I would then  have to buy my own computer since my 2001and my 2005  dial up models were as slow as molasses in January.
I remember you giving me a very even look and uttering in measured tones the immortal words "Then be my guest." The next day I bought a HP 17" screen portable computer with enough power and pizzaz to fly to China, which prompted nothing but pleasant and complimentary comments from you. Thank you. For the mad month of March I have put in my computer all the Paint, Wallpaper, and Fabric samples you wanted me to look at.  They can be accessed  by button called "the boss button." Hopefully they are from upcoming projects and not something we have already done that I have not noticed. In the next 18 days whenever there are basketball  games, I will be on my hands and knees scrubbing floors while  pushing my computer forward with my nose. Honest.

 For The family dog: My wife says you sleep because you are bored. Therefore I will strive  to be more sensitive to your need for outdoor romps chasing squirrels and rabbits. In addition I will be tolerant of your need to plop right down where I wish to clean  or saunter in with muddy paws and pickers. When Alma Mater wins you know from past experience that you will be well taken care of. When Alma Mater loses a bonus walk to clear the air and put life back in proper prospective will also be included.. At any rate for the next 18 days you and I will be on the same level seeing eye to eye. You may find that strange. Perhaps it is. Someday I will explain it to you. It's a long story.

Now let the games begin !

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3/13 Tonight's Planning Commission Meeting and Public Hearing Cancelled. Tree Ordinance Committee to Discuss Revisions 4:30 to 6pm. City Commission to Discuss Cell Tower Proposal 7:30pm

Tonight's Planning  Commission Meeting is cancelled. Instead the Tree and Woodlands Subcommittee  will discuss the latest revisions to the Tree Ordinance in a 4:30pm to 6pm meeting at City Hall

City Commission will meet at 7:30 Pm This evening.
Agenda Packet for Tonight's City Commission Meeting

"American Tower would like to know if the City Commission is interested in Pursuing this offer further, " so writes City Manager Jay Cravens in a City Commission Memorandum available in agenda packet linked to above and reproduced here. The is the third time American Tower has been before City Commission. The first was in July 2011. The second was six months ago in October 2011 . In both cases the City's answer was neither yes or no but a request for more information. This the third visit. For a variety of reasons the residents have not had the benefit of a full presentation of  what the proposed tower will involve. If "interest in the 140 foot Tower"  is indicated, the matter will go before the planning commission where a public hearing will be held.
This is agenda item number five of tonight's meeting which states,
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