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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Monday, December 24, 2012

Yes Virginia There still is a New York Sun Newspaper. In fact more than one.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old. 

"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. 

"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.' 

"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?



 105 years ago Virginia  sent the above  letter to the New York Sun. In those days The Sun was  a big New York Daily competing with the newspapers of Hearst and Pulitzer on the eve of the Spanish American War. In fact her  letter arrived six months before war  was declared in 1898.

Most of us know Virginia's  letter and the answer she received from newspaper  reprints. or TV. At  this time of the year the September 21st 1987 front page of the Sun can being found on many refrigerator doors. .The preferred method of attachment  is  magnets that feature such things as  pizza delivery phone numbers or zoo animals.The magnets are  an  indication  of a permanence worthy of other treasured  Christmas ornaments  that appear and disappear with the season. The reprint  at the top of this page  devotes the whole front page to Virginia's letter and the reply.That is called editorial licence.  In actuality her  letter was one of seven published that September  day  and the newspaper's  answer was unsigned. The letter and the reply did  did however get good ink as the red rectangle on the left indicates. The Newseum tells us the reply was.....
The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church. It has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Unfortunately some of the more recent TV specials give short shrift to the New York Sun. One even has the paper ignoring the letter all together (because it's not news)  until an ex-employee turned  street corner Santa, bell ringing,  pan handler shames the newspaper  into responding.

In reality the Sun took Virginia's letter  quite seriously.  The father's "if you see it in the Sun it must be so " put them  on the spot. Today it is easy to imagine a modern day newspaper not wishing to offend anyone or any group,  rejecting the letter as too controversial.

The Sun assigned the reply to veteran editorial  writer  Frank Church. He was a graduate of Columbia University where every holiday season Virginia's letter and his reply are read in a special ceremony. He was also a Civil War  Correspondent  who had seen much of life's unpleasant side. In fact he was still recovering from the death of his first wife. The paper usually  went to Church when they had an editorial topic of a religious or theological nature. He did not disappoint.

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

So Virgina  There is a New York Sun. Is and will be in some form or another ad perpetuum. We are told that the  life we live is  is finite. We are told that Frank Church  died in 1906 and the New York Sun you  wrote to folded in 1949. You yourself  Virginia, lived quite a productive life before passing in 1971. Still every Holiday Season  we remember all of you and benefit from your  presence.
Think of it Virginia . If you hadn't had the gumption to question your little friend's skepticism and your father hadn't suggested writing the Sun, Frank Church wouldn't  have written the editorial he is famous  for. In fact we wouldn't have known any of you or had a definitive reason to believe and the world  would be a poorer place.No New York Sun the skeptics say ?  Thank God the paper lives on refrigerator 
doors every  Holiday Season and rather recently in another incarnation as an on line newspaper.
You can look it up. The Masthead is the same only smaller to fit a computer screens. They take themselves a bit seriously at the new Sun  but they are young and perhaps affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. A thousand  years from now, Virginia, nay ten times ten thousand years from now there will be newspapers in one form or another published on line, in ink, or even by a spirit duplicator to answer the questions in the hearts and minds of all.

Last Minute Christmas Gifts for the Last Eight Hours of Christmas Shopping !

You need a gift.. You need it now, It must be " in and out quick" and it has to be good. A couple of  last minute suggestions in the $3 to $199 price range.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
I pads  are all the rage this year. The mini starts at $329 and the mob at the  Apple Store will put a dent in your shoe shine.  So why not give instead an Amazon Fire High Definition tablet  for only $199 .Available  at all  big box office retailers, Best Buy ,and most everywhere. If you have time to shop, some stores offer a $20 in store rebate that you can pocket. If  money  is a factor you can get the smaller screen, non HD Amazon Fire. for $159.

At first glance everyone  will think your being cheap. An Amazon Fire is not an I pad and that's just your point. An Amazon  Fire  is an entertainment  emporium with a claimed 22 million movies, TV shows, songs, magazines and books. We haven't counted but we have seen  Season one and  two of  Downton  Abbey, and are concurrently sifting through the first four years of Fringe and 30 Something  all with  a touch on the screen. To get all most of the 22 million offers  you need to be a Amazon Prime member which costs  $79 annually . Your first month is free and after that you won't mind paying such a reasonable sum for everything ! The Amazon Prime membership compares favorably to Netflix and is already built in to travel with you. You will need  Wi Fi to connect to the net  for movies,TV,  and You Tube  You can download available titles from the Baldwin Library  to your Amazon Fire without any additional software or cost. To read those  books 24/7 all you need is battery power. With some titles you will  have the choice of reading your book, having it read to you, or switching back and forth.. A great feature when you are driving the car. Magazines, Newspapers, and Songs are also available for downloads at a price. Last but not least the USB cord you need to power your Amazon Fire (by slow boat to China ) is included. The Plug in high speed  adapter is an extra cost option for under $20.00. You should buy it. Amazon has a zillion things it thinks you should buy, That is why with an I pad like High Definition  Screen, Amazon HD is is available for  almost half the price.

But the  Amazon HD  Fire is not an I-pad. and they don't really compete,The I pad is a tool one could use in Business or Education. The Amazon Fire is HD is  entertainment with a touch of social enlightenment.  For Business or School the I pad competes with portable computers now coming in the mid three hundred dollar range.

The Amazon Fire HD  does  a surprising  number of useful things however. Getting your E-Mail at any particular time is as easy as opening up a book. Replying is not difficult with a fairly decent on screen  key board and spell check.

Amazon Fire shines at learning a  languages. You can load your primer, a grammar,and a dictionary plus a a half dozen  movies in the language you are learning and carry it literary in the palm of your  hand, If you are actually going  to the country  whose language you are learning, you can also toss in a dozen  travel books or find Rck Steves or other Travelogues on You Tube. Then you have it all  in the size  and weight paperback book .

I pad, or portable computer, notwithstanding, The  Amazon Fire is a star of it's own in the category of "slightly more than I wanted  to spend " gifts that  will be greatly  appreciated.
Bay Bridge Wine 
If you are over the World Series enough to consider a  California Wine, This one will surprise you. The price $3 (with your Kroger Card or you may get one on  demand from the store's Customer Service desk) surprised me as did the name. The Detroit Michigan equivalent would be Davidson Freeway Wine. a name of a heavily traveled thruway with no particular glamour or glitz  stated or implied.. Since San Francisco has more glamour and glitz than Detroit the practicality of the Davidson Freeway may even put it ahead of the totally  declasse San Francisco Bay Bridge, which goes by it's description rather than a name. The Golden Gate Bridge has all the charm

Intrigued enough to buy a bottle,  I found it to be  a decent wine which compare favorably to $7 imports from Chile or Australia. I looked it up on line and discovered that people out West where the wine comes from like it and say  so on line.They say it is a  good table wine and compares  to wines twice  it's cost,  Most preferred  Bay Bridge  Merlot to the Cabernet,  We served  Bay Bridge  at a number of gatherings. When the Bay Bridge story was told the reaction was a good wine probably on par with wines twice it's cost. Many expressed dismay at buying wines in the $20 to $40 range which turned out to be disappointing.
When I made my initial  purchase Bay Bridge Wines  were sold via  a prominent display with  bottles stacked as high as an elephant's eye. When I went back The display was gone. I had to ask for Bay Bridge  by name.. I was surprised to learn the Bay Bridge had earned a place on the shelf and I decided the name is rather apt. A  No fuss wine,from  a city with a no fuss bridge that gets you there.
"You know that wine compares a favorably to wines costing twice as much, " I told the wine steward at Krogers. He did not disagree.

 100 years ago it was said that all America needed a decent  five cent cigar. Well now America has a decent $3 bottle of wine.

Major Triumph ! Bloomfield Township publishes minutes of all Township meetings dating back to 1827 on City's website for easy access !

Township of Bloomfield Book of

Records 1827
Jan Roncelli  City of Clerk of  Bloomfield Township was named 2012 City Clerk of the Year. No need to  wonder why when the Township is the first community in our area to publish minutes of all township meetings going almost two centuries  (to 1827) on  City's web site for  anyone to access.

In an article the Birmingham Bloomfield Eagle , written by Robert Ruelen, City Clerk Roncelli described a 2 year effort to put the  the minutes of every meeting  on line.   It  started in November of 2011  and was facilitated  local company Ameriscan  Imaging Services. The Goal was to provide easy access to all data on a variety of  platforms  such as computers, tablets and  even cell phones. Easy Data search that could cover many years and many the meetings of many governing  bodies  was also sought..

As of Today  all Township minutes can be access going back to 1827. All meetings from the beginning and into 1928 were handwritten and can not as of now be searched by computer. The minutes from 1928 to present day were typewritten and can be searched by Key words. Initially this worked only with groups  of say a dozen years. By November 1st 2012  all written minutes of the Board of Trustees, The Zoning Board of Appeals, The Design Board,  and the Planning Commission from 1928 to 2012 can be searched across a variety of Boards and Commissions.. Roncelli was quoted by the Eagle  as saying, "with this program you are able to type in a restaurant  like Jimmy John's, and it  (the program) will search for all references to all  in each board's minutes"

American Scan Representative representative Kevin Serbenski,  in the Eagle article  cited The compatibility with  tablets and smart phones, advanced search options, aand the ability to sign up for electronic alerts when newe documents are added as key features.
Advanced Key Search  Selection Box.


To access Archived Bloomfield Township Minutes 1928 to present Click Here
Then pick the  Board or Commission you want,. Pick Agenda or Minutes from the drop down box. A list of years 1928 to 2012 will then appear on the left. To pick years 1827 to 1928 and click here.
Then follow the instructions below the "township records heading. These minutes are grouped by numbered entries in three separate books. They are all hand written entries. The year grouping for each book is listed big and bold. From there you just have to hop in and and get your bearings in terms of what year you landed in and where you want to go. Sample pages form the "" modern era " are presented below to whet your appetite for time travel. Samples can be made larger by clicking on them.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Birmingham/Bloomfield History a matter of interest.

Bloomfield Townships has just published  archives of Township meetings dating back to 1827. It is an invaluable resource and tool for historians, scholars and  journalists as well as many others. Interest in our area's history is however nothing new.
Birmingham has a Historical Museum and Park.

Bloomfield Hills has a Historical Society

And publishes a  bi-annual  newsletter the Legacy.

The Bloomfield Historical Society works with Preservation Bloomfield which raises money to preserve and maintain historic buildings like the Barton Farm house.

If you are interested in reading a rather good history of the Bloomfield Community there was a book  published the the Bloomfield Township Bicentennial Commission in 1976. Lavishly illustrated and  titled Bloomfield Blossoms, it was written by Kay Smith  and promised the reader "Glimpses into the History of Bloomfield Township. and (The City of) Bloomfield Hills. Michigan.

City Residents who attended the City's 75th anniversary celebration  in 2007 received a copy in a gift bag. Regrettably the book is now out of print. You may however read the complete book on line and go to specific points of reference or interest.. Directions  explained on the Township's web site are reproduced below.

To connect to Bloomfield Blossoms Click Here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Baldwin Public Library Board seeks student representative.


Contact: Matt Church, 
Baldwin Public Library
Phone: 248-554-4682

BIRMINGHAM, MI (December 7, 2012) – The Baldwin Public Library Board supports student leadership development, community service and future citizen participation in local government. To promote these interests, the Library Board invites interested juniors who reside in the Village of Beverly Hills, the Village of Bingham Farms, the City of Birmingham or the City of Bloomfield Hills to apply to be the Student Representative to the Baldwin Public Library Board.
This opportunity requires a commitment to serve a one-year term on the Baldwin Public Library Board.  The term of service runs from February 18, 2013 to February 17, 2014.  The commitment to this position requires that the Student Representative attend the monthly meetings of the Library Board and review the monthly agenda, minutes and reports prior to the meeting. Visit to review past meetings and minutes.

Visit for application details.  The completed application, essay and two letters of recommendation are due back January 11, 2013 to Josh Rouan in the Baldwin Library, 300 West Merrill, Birmingham, MI 48009 or via email to

“This provides a wonderful way to develop leadership skills, earn community service hours, and to experience first-hand how local city government operates and libraries make decisions, as well as the chance to learn more about careers in libraries,” said Sheila Brice, Library Board Secretary.

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

Editor's Note: This an excellent opportunity. If you don't believe me see what happens when adults seek election to  the same position. The applicants selected last year were very talented candidates who happened to be the only two who applied. If a City of Bloomfield Hills student candidate  were selected  history would again be made. 

Currently City Resident  Maida Portnoy is the first person from our town  to serve on the Baldwin Friends of  The Library Board.

A  letter for eligible High School Juniors and their parents, written by current LibraryBoard member  and Board Secretary, Shelia Bryce can be found by scrolling down or by checking the index at the bottom of this page. Also included is a copy of an application and requirements.

A letter to high school Juniors and their parents about the Student Representative position on the Baldwin Library Board.

Dear High School Juniors and Parents:

The Baldwin Public Library Board in Birmingham supports student leadership development,community service and future citizen participation in local government.
The BPL Board invitesinterested juniors who reside in the Villages of Beverly Hills or Bingham Farms, the City of Birmingham or the City of Bloomfield Hills to apply to be the Student Representative to the Baldwin Public Library Board. This opportunity requires a commitment to serve a one-year term on the Baldwin Public Library Board. The term of service runs from February 18, 2013 to February 17, 2014.
Board meetings are held the 3rd Monday of every month at 7:30 pm in the
Library's Rotary Room on the lower level. Packets for each Board meeting are available on the Library's website the Friday prior to the meeting. The commitment to this position requires that the BPL Student Representative review the monthly agenda, minutes and reports prior to the meeting.

The selected student will be appointed as a non-voting member on the Library Board, but will be asked to perform all other meeting duties of the elected City of Birmingham trustees. The Student Representative will receive all materials, participate in discussions and help shapedecisions by lending a high school person's perspective.

This position requires that the appointed student will be comfortable speaking in public and appearing on cable television. Visit and the "About the Library link to review past meetings and minutes.

The completed application, essay and two letters of recommendation are due back January 11, 2013 to Josh Rouan in the Baldwin Library 300 West Merrill, irmingham, Ml 48009 or via email to

We hope you will give serious consideration to this unique learning opportunity. This provides a wonderful way to develop leadership skills, earn community service hours, and to experience first-hand how local city government operates and libraries make decisions, as well as the chance to learn more about careers in libraries.


Sheila Brice
Library Board Secretary

Application for Student Representative to Baldwin Library Board.

To enlarge click on Application

Page 2 

Baldwin New Titles 12/18/2012

Diary of a Wimpy Kid (DVD): When Greg Heffley's dad threatens to send him to military school if he doesn't stay out of trouble, Greg finds all-new ways to land himself in the doghouse! For starters, Greg's in over his head when he pretends to work at the swanky country club where Rowley's family has a membership. Things don't go much better on a father-son camping trip with the Wilderness Explorers, and then there's the Heffley's new dog, Sweetie, who fetches even more trouble for Greg. 

Pitch Perfect (DVD): Arriving at her new college, Beca finds herself not right for any clique but somehow is muscled into one that she never would have picked on her own: alongside mean girls, sweet girls and weird girls whose only thing in common is how good they sound when they sing together. When Beca leads this a cappella singing group out of their traditional arrangements and perfect harmonies into all-new mash-ups, they fight to climb their way to the top of college music competitions. CHECK AVAILABILITY

Total Recall (DVD): Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid, even though he's got a beautiful wife who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. CHECK AVAILABILITY

Trouble With the Curve (DVD): Gus Lobel has been one of the best scouts in baseball for decades, but, despite his efforts to hide it, age is starting to catch up with him. Nevertheless, Gus - who can tell a pitch just by the crack of the bat - refuses to be benched for what may be the final innings of his career. The one person who might be able to help is also the one person Gus would never ask: his daughter, Mickie, an associate at a high-powered Atlanta law firm. CHECK AVAILABILITY

The Baldwin Public Library and the City of Bloomfield Hills. A report on our relationship After the first year of library service. Prepared by Doug Koschik, Director of the Baldwin Public Library.

Since November 15, 2011, the City of Bloomfield Hills has had a contract with the Baldwin Public Library. ln return for the City's payments to the Library, the Baldwin Library provides full services to residents and employees of Bloomfield Hills. People from Bloomfield Hills are allowed to check out materials,
borrow items through interlibrary loan, participate fully in the Library's programs and events, and use Baldwin's subscription databases, like Value Line and the New York Times, both in the Library and from home.

As soon as the Baldwin/Bloomfield Hills contract was signed, the Library returned to full service hours (67 hours per week), which it has maintained ever since. lt also beefed up its expenditures for both programs and the collection, especially electronic materials.

ln the past year, 785 Bloomfield Hills people, from approximately 500 households, have registered for library cards and have checked out a total of 18,189 items. The average number of items they checked out in Fiscal Year  2O11,-12 was 1,322 a month. So far this fiscal year (since July) the number has risen to 1,655 a month.We aim to keep increasing these numbers.

In order to raise awareness of what the Library has to offer, Baldwin sends every City household and business a quarterly newsletter called Books & Beyond, which lists the Library's activities for the coming
three months. ln addition, this past February, Baldwin did a special mailing of postcards to all City residences in order to promote the Library's services.

As Baldwin promised to do a year ago, it installed a book return box and a lending bookshelf at the Bloomfield Hills City Hall in February 2012. ln another attempt to raise the Library's visibility in the community, Baldwin participated in the Bloomfield Hills Public Safety Open House on September 8. We registered people for library cards, answered questions from those in attendance, and talked about the Library's services and programs. We intend to return next year for the same event.

ln an attempt to make Bloomfield Hills students feel welcome at Baldwin and let them know that we are their home library, we have done a lot of outreach to schools. ln late summer, Youth Services hosted a
couple of Saturday programs for first graders, which allowed them to take a tour of the Library, get a Library card, participate in a special story time program, and receive an early reader paperback book as a gift from the Friends of the Library. The Youth Department is in frequent contact with the media specialists at all public and private schools serving Bloomfield Hills. lt forwards program information to them and makes our services available to them; in return it receives homework alerts from the schools.
The schools have also put a link to Baldwin's website on their media center websites.

The Birmingham community was pleased that a number of Bloomfield Hills residents participated in the Books & Bites fundraisers that Baldwin held in fall 2011 and fall 2012. Each fundraiser brought in over $20,000 Last year's money was used to renovate part of the Youth Room. This year's money will allow
us to expand and liven up the Teen Room.

As part of its 2011-13 strategic plan, Baldwin embarked on a review of its physical facilities in 2011. The Birmingham City Commission, which owns and maintains the Library's building, set up a Joint Library Building Committee (JLBC) with the goal of tackling a possible Library renovation or expansion "from the inside out"-i.e., by basing it on public input, benchmarking against other area libraries, and a needs analysis of the Library's various functional areas. As a result, the JLBC held focus groups and a community forum, received comments from Birmingham and contract community residents, visited other libraries, commissioned a study of the literature involving the future of the public library, and hired a library building consultant toer 4,2012" is now on the Library's website at  or by clicking HERE You will find it the right hand column  and it is the fifth item from the top.
The specific link is:
You may also find it  by clicking Here. 
The programc calls for an expansion of approximately22%,with thelargest increases occurring in the children's area and study/collaboration rooms. The program also specifies that the building's handicap accessibility must be improved. lf the City Commission gives its approval in February, an RFP incorporating this building program will be issued, requesting architectural services for
the purpose of developing conceptual drawings and cost estimates. The process we have embarked on is a long one. Completion of it remains uncertain and would take, at a minimum, several years. Since the building is owned by the City of Birmingham, it is the City of Birmingham that will need to finance
any work on it, although private fundraising activity for the building will include both Birmingham and the Library's contract communities of Bloomfield Hills, Beverly Hills and Bingham Farms.

ln conclusion, the first year of the Baldwin Library's relationship with the City of Bloomfield Hills has been a success. Approximately a fifth of all Bloomfield Hills residents and a third of all Bloomfield Hills households have registered at the Library during this 12-month period. We aim to move those numbers even higher in the next year by promoting our services more aggressively. We have reached out to the schools serving Bloomfield Hills students and established a close relationship with them in order to provide better services to the youth of the community. We have held two fundraisers to improve the Library's physical presence and are working on a comprehensive expansion and improvement of the facility and its technological infrastructure, which would enhance the Library's ability to serve all ages in the 21't century. As it moves forward on all these fronts, the Baldwin Library is looking forward with pleasure to a continuing close and mutually beneficial relationship with the City of Bloomfield Hills.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Baldwin New Titles 12/11/2012

Political Suicide by Michael Palmer: Supervising an unrepentant alcoholic doctor who has been implicated in the death of a powerful Congressman, Dr. Lou Welcome uncovers a wealth of incriminating facts, including the doctor's alleged affair with the victim's wife, before stumbling on a high-level conspiracy that places Lou's life at risk. Check Availability

Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln ChildSpecial Agent Pendergrast assists NYPD Lieutenant D'Agosta in the investigation of a number of killings that ultimately prove to be messages from his wife's kidnappers. 
Check Availability

The Bourne Legacy (DVD): Aaron Cross is an agent groomed by the government program that also unleashed Jason Bourne, but with a few new wrinkles. Cross is busy training in Alaska when he's caught in a tsunami of hurt, thus beginning a frantic search for answers to who and what he is. Check Availability

Ice Age: Continental Drift (DVD): Scrat's nutty pursuit of the cursed acorn, which he's been after since the dawn of time, has world-changing consequences - a continental cataclysm that triggers the greatest adventure of all for Manny, Diego and Sid. In the wake of these upheavals, Sid reunites with his cantankerous Granny, and the herd encounters a ragtag menagerie of seafaring pirates determined to stop them from returning home. Check Availability

Ted (DVD): As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett's teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John's side ever since. Their friendship is tested when Lori, John's girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship. Check Availability

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Commisioner Dul's third ballot vote change, makes Stuart Sheer 3-1 winner over David Kellet for City Commision Vacancy.

The First Ballot saw Commissioner Pat Hardy nominate former Mayor David Kellet. Mayor McClure and Commissioner Dul made no nominations. Commissioner Zabricki  nominated Planning Commissioner Stuart Sheer and  Civic activist Mary Juras. In the voting Hardy and Dul voted for David Kellet. McClure voted for Sheer and Zambricki voted for Juras. The vote was an inconclusive 2-1-1 tally with a 3 to 1 margin being required to appoint.

The Second Ballot: Hardy and Dul voted for Kellet.  McClure and  Zambricki voted for Sheer. Another inconclusive 2 to 2 vote.

Second to Third Ballot Intermezzo: City Attorney Bill Hampton reviewed the options open to the commission for dealock work arounds. Take more nominations. Delay decision to another day. No one seemed very interested in either suggestion. Both Candidates  were given the opportunity to speak. Former Mayor Kellet spoke of  his interest in serving the City for the remainder  of the term,  He said he would "to help out" and added  he did not plan to seek re-election. He then devoted half  his allotted time praising Building Inspector Larry Rosperski who won a significant award from a National Builders Association. Ropsperski was a Mayor Kellet appointment. Stuart Sheer spoke of using his talents to give back to the City.

An exchange some described as heated occurred between Mayor McClure and Commissioner Dul. McClure reminded Dul that his landscaping company did work for David Kellet's construction company and there could be a conflict of interest. There were other candidates to consider. Dul did not care for the remark and said so.

Third Ballot:  Hardy voted for Kellet . McClure, and Zambricki, voted for Sheer were are joined by Dul. The three to one vote  put Stuart Sheer on City Commission.

It is not first time that  Commissioner Michael  Dul has made a deciding vote in manner that would disappoint  the people who voted for him in the last City election. In  June after opposing the City's tree ordinance in the election he found he could live with a modified version and  voted  in favor of it in a 3 to 2 vote. Commissioners Hardy and McCready felt differently and  voted no. Mayor McClure and Commissioner Zambricki voted yes

Commissioner Dul's support  of Sheer was not unexpected. Dul likes and respects  Stuart Sheer. He voted for him to be on the Planning Commission  and he served with him on the Planning Commission. Dul is the City Commission appointee to the Planning Commission. The possibility of Dul's support and  that  of  Mayor McClure and Michael Zambricki made Sheer the presumed favorite among  the seven.candidates.

Was Dul's final vote a surprise ? Not really. With Dul's support Kellet was still a long shot. Without it he was finished and we think the Former Mayor deserved better. He served the city for almost two decades but few if any remember. Commissioner Hardy who nominated Kellet and spoke passionately for him asked when Commissioner McCready became Mayor. Why that was May of 2010. What was not asked was what was McCready's first act as Mayor. Why It was to give outgoing Mayor Kellet a plaque for all his years of service to the City.

Over the years McCready and Kellet worked on a number of projects together including a library millage. which failed. When McCready ran for State Rep Kellet put a McCready sign on his lawn. Others who considered themselves on the opposite side of the divide where McCready stood  were not so forgiving.

Michael Dul at podium
 In November of 2011, It was Kellet who invited Dul to a meeting of the Ordinance Task Force which was considering a a tree ordinance. The former Mayor probably believed that  Dul  a landscape architect by profession had knowledge to impart and many ideas to offer. Unfortunately the Ordinance Task Force which operates under the auspices of the planning commission wasn't taking any public comments at the time. Dul, then a private citizen was told he would have an  opportunity to speak at the public hearing when the planning commission considered the ordinance.
Former  Mayor David Kellet

He did get that opportunity in January and brought  slides and a  projector to illustrate his points   Months of material he had saved for public comment made for a lengthily presentation which  was cut short by the planning commission chairman who later said he gave Dul more than the allotted time per person for a  public comment. That was true but Dul hadn't been previously allowed to say anything about the ordinance despite attending months of meetings.

 Kellet attended that meeting and spoke in Dul's behalf. He reminded the Commission that Dul was once a member of the Planning Commission and the City was lucky to have him and would be lucky if they got him again  He also reminded everyone that  January  10th  2012. that very day  was a historic day. One  that  day 236 years ago Thomas Paine had his work "Common Sense " published.

Dul would later write a letter to all members of the Planning Commission, making his points and expressing his frustrations as a resident in a system which made it difficult to be heard. A copy of the letter was published in this publication  and it received quite a few readers.

In June McCready met with the Ordinance Task Force along with newly elected City Commissioner Michael Dul  who after a few changes decided he could  support the Ordinance.  McCready could not  and said so. This writer was  present and mentioned  that residents  had hard time being heard by the task force. That was vehemently denied. So the writer asked Michael Dul if he remembered any such difficulties. Dul  said he had no such recollections.

 We are sure that when the times comes to pass through the pearly gates, David Kellet will put in a good word for Michael Dul. We are not so sure that if the order is reversed, the latter will inquire about the former's whereabouts.

Last but not least, former Mayor McCready who also served the City for the better part of two decades and is now our Representative in Lansing will be honored by City Commission someday soon.  Mayor  McClure and City Clerk Amy Burton are presumed to be working on a proclamation. If  that sound vague it's because it is.
Jan 10 2012 Planning Commission. Dul  upper left.  Kellet  lower right.

Intriguing and profound aspects of elections requiring an absolute majority.

Before John Fitzgerald Kennedy ran for President he ran for Vice President and his father was furious. The year was 1956 and Adlai Stevenson was the again the Democratic Nominee for President.  In 1952 Stevenson ran with John Sparkman of Alabama as his running mate but lost to the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket. In 1956 instead of picking a Vice President, Stevenson in a surprise move  opened  the vice presidential nomination  to the convention.

Kennedy wanted that nomination but father Joe who could sniff the wind as well anyone knew that Stevenson would  lose to Eisenhower and Kennedy's Catholicism  would be blamed. Just  like Al Smith in 1928. There were however many reasons why Smith lost in 1928. He was a "wet" when prohibition was still popular. Smith also was an old style  politician with ties to Tammany Hall. Last but not least in 1928 the country was still prosperous. The crash of  29 was a year away. Regardless Al Smith's religion was always the first factor cited in his defeat. Joe was afraid the same thing would happen to son Jack.
The Nomination for Vice President went three ballots. Deals were made in hotel suites and on the convention floor. State Delegations switched their votes and forgot about favorite sons. On the second ballot Kennedy came with in 15 votes of the required number for victory. On the third vote the momentum shifted to winner Estes Kefauver.
 In the 56 years since neither a Democratic or Republican convention has had more than one ballot. There is a reason for this. Kennedy knew the old guard in the Democratic Party weren't going to  nominate him.In 1960 he hit the primary trail to prove his support. He beat Minnesota  Senator  Hubert Humphrey in Wisconsin and later in West Virginia where he addressed the religious issue. Ever since candidates have  used an expanded primary process to come to the convention with enough delegates to win. Gone are 100 ballot elections that were decided in smoke filled rooms. The last of those was before Roosevelt, (Television, and air conditioning. Somewhere in 1920's would be a good guess.
The Ballots after every Vatican Papal election are burned. Black
smoke means no decision. White smoke means a new Pope.

The same political process working the 1956 Democratic National Convention works for the Vatican and the selection of a Pope by the College  of Cardinals. In fact their saying "He who enters the Conclave a Pope comes out a Cardinal " is a favorite of politicians everywhere.

Angelo Roncalli was the fourth child of 13 born into an Italian Village of sharecroppers. His election as Pope in the fall of 1958 surprised everyone.  He was  a so-called "stop gap " Pope, a compromise whose best attribute was his age. Meaning he wouldn't live very long and probably wouldn't do any harm.He lived almost five years but his vigor and energy changed the face of Roman Catholicism. Today many consider Pope John XXIII to be the greatest Pope's of the Twentieth Century.

Crowd in St Peter's Square awaiting the 
smoke then cheering the outcome

Seven residents apply for vacant City Commission seat. Decision possibly as early as Tonight's Commission meeting ?

Seven residents have submitted applications for the City Commission seat to be vacated by State Representative elect Michael McCready. They are Michael Hamblin, Ruth Holmes,Mary Juras, Mark Kapel, David Kellet, Ron Marks, and Stuart Sherr.

It is expected that McCready will vacate the seat he has held  since 2007 on December 14th. His swearing date as the representative of the 40th District is January 1.

City Commission then has thirty days or until January 14th to appoint a successor. In an unusual move for the sometimes reticent commission, resumes and applications were sought from city residents who were registered voters. The Commission did not have to do this. The  Charter leaves matters like this up to commission. At the annual appointment meeting after the commission election , the newly elected Mayor  having sifted  through the stack of applicants past and present and would submit sub candidates for vacancies in on the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Board of Review which reviews property assessments. Then the commission simply voted on who the Mayor recommends.  There were  occasional  nay votes  but in recent years  no  not out and out rejections of a Mayor suggested  candidate .

An appointment to a partial term vacancy on the City Commissions is  different because of the importance of  City Commission which is  the highest and only elected position the City. The Mayor for all intents and purposes is just another commissioner. Still one can imagine in years gone by the usual suspects might have pulled from the usual stack to reveal  Bob, Joe, Beth,  Tom, and Judy before the remaining commissioners decided it would probably be be either Bob or Judy. After  a discussion  with everyone sort of deciding on Bob that would be  announced at the meeting.

This year is different.  Everyone who wished be considered  was.

Tomorrow night residents who attend the commission meeting may see the process begin and perhaps according to some observers, come to a successive conclusion. That is because until the vacancy is filled four commissioners will have to do the work of five. If the commissioners can come to an agreement as to who is the best candidate sooner is better than later.

Initially the applying for the job got off to a slow start.  First announced at the November 13th  City Commission  meeting only one application had been received a week later on. By Dec 1st that number had increased to four and finally seven  by the deadline.

How does that compare to other communities ? In 2011  Bloomfield Hills School Board  received  13 inquiries,  ten  of which  submitted applications that included essay questions. The group of ten then was reduced to 5 semi finalist by the school board.
 Those five were the interviewed at a meeting open the public. From the group of five three finalists were chosen to attend a regularly schedule school board meeting  where the other board members announced their vote and the reason for it. It gave the public a chance to see the the board's "visible thinking".

There are estimated 30,000 registered voters in the Bloomfield Hills School system.  There are 3500 registered voters in the City of Bloomfield Hills. Our seven applicants compared to their ten is rather impressive.
What we lack is protocol  and what is hopefully being developed is  a procedure to follow. To that end  City Attorney   William  Hampton wrote the following letter to the remaining commissioners with his suggestions.  It is published in this week's City Commission Agenda Package and appears below. With four commissioners per Roberts Rules of Order  three votes will be required to elect. Of note in  Mr. Hampton's letter refers to four candidates since it was written before the deadline. The actual number who applied before that deadline is seven.

The exact number of votes required to be met or exceeded in order  to elect or nominate is common to political conventions, and the Vatican's College of Cardinals. Often this type of elections which usually  require multiple ballots and a  certain amount of compromise can  produce  interesting  and sometimes historical results.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Tonight Birmingham Community House begins month long series of Travel Presentations telling you where in the world you can go in 2013.

Tonight is Cuba. Last year the Community House went to Cuba. Apparently the trip was so successful they are going again.  The only way you can visit Cuba is via an arranged "Person to Person Cultural Exchange Tour."Community House is one of the few Travel organizations able to qualify for such trips. Get the complete details and more at tonight's free of charge presentation which begins at 6pm.

Need a  Winter Break ? This March 23-23 trip  be just the thing. The trip includes round trip, non stop air fare and  three nights at the Bellagio  Hotel. While all Community House presentations are free of charge, this one on  Tuesday December 18th  at 6 PM will require you to roll the dice a little. Be prepared to make a deposit at the Presentation because that  will be your opportunity to sign up. Need more information ? Call Community House Travel Direction Zelma at 248-554-6583 for details on  this trip or any of the others.

Northern Italy is the destination  for the Thursday January 10th Travel Presentation at 6pm. This trip scheduled for May 5-14, covers a lot of ground.  You will see Milan, Florence, Venice, and Montecatini  (pictured below ). You will also and travel to the northern Italian lakes where you will see sights  like Isla Bella pictured above .

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Today Santa is at the Birmingham Max Broock Office 1 pm to 4 pm !

 Is Santa moving to Birmingham?
 We don't know and haven't heard anything that might indicate that.  

 As best we can tell Santa, the ultimate multi tasker has simply added one more stop to a busy itinerary of pre-Christmas meet and greets. 

We believe the location selected  that of the Max Broock realty office at 275 S. Old Woodward is part of Santa's goal for increased efficiency and productivity. 

As you know Santa is busy taking requests with a merry Ho-Ho-Ho but he is also making a list and checking it twice to see who is naughty or nice.

What better place to talk turkey than a professional business office ? Such a venue has that added advantage of insuring  that all written correspondence received gets to Santa in an expeditious and professional manner and are answered in the same spirit.

Yes, you can see Santa at the end of a parade, at a breakfast, or in a department store but a chance to see Santa up close and personal at Max Broock is a opportunity not to be missed. Bring a camera, take a picture and share your joy with the world this Holiday season!