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

Search This Blog

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fifteen minutes to midnight, Birmingham City Commission votes 6-1 (Sherman lone dissenter) to send Library Re-do Bond to Voters. May Election Planned.

Presentation to City Commission
Approval of Library
Renovation and Expansion Project
11 . 25 . 2013 | JLBC & Quinn Evans Architects

Click Here for  the Complete Presentation 

The  Monday 11/25/13  night meeting of the Birmingham City Commission started at 7:30  and for the first two hours played  to a standing room only audience.The library made it's presentation at approximately 10:30pm  and by then the crowd had thinned to less than a dozen. 
Readers may read the entire presentation by clicking on the red link above.
It is a Power Point presentation which means few words and lots of pictures. It is  32 pages in length and covers two years of fact finding, and debate by the Baldwin Library and then the  Joint Library Building Committee (three City commissioners. a Representative of the City's planning committee  and three members of the Library Board) 

Readers who link to the plan will find it quite graphic in detailing the options before the the Joint Library Building Committee (JLBC) and the decisions that led up to last night's final presentation.

Mayor Moore (then City Commissioner) and former Mayors(currently Commissioners)  Hoff, and Rinschler as members of the JLBC were familiar with topic and perhaps the presentation itself which is believed was  to have been distributed to all the commissioners in their meeting agenda packet. A link to the presentation was (and perhaps still is) on the City's web site along with the agenda of the 11/25/13 meeting.
Birmingham City Commissioners
 Mayor Scott Moore

Commissioner George Dilgard

Commissioner Rackeline J. Hoff

Commissioner Tom McDaniel

Commissioner Mark

Commissioner Gordon Rinschler

Mayor Pro Tem Stuart Lee Sherman  

After the presentation four Birmingham residents of the nine remaining chose to speak at  public comment. Two were opposed. Twowere in Favor.  The opposition believed not enough information had been made available to residents, and that a  May election seemed to be rushing matters. Cost which could preclude other avenues of city improvement were also mentioned.

The two speakers  in favor were more diverse in their reasons why. One lady said she was very well informed, attended meetings , and favored the proposal. A man said he thought the proposal a clever blend of old and new  which gave the City a much larger library at  a reasonable cost.

The Birmingham City Commission as befitting their role of of representatives of the people went back and forth. At times it seemed as though the proposal was doomed. It's passage by a 6-1 margin  was somewhat of a surprise to this writer who is  unfamiliar with the dynamics of the Commission as a whole or nuances of the individual commissioners.
Sitting left to right (former Mayor now Commissioner)  Nikita was in the worst position to see the projected presentation which was to his left and behind him. By twisting and turning  however he showed quite an interest. Current Mayor Pro tem Sherman showed no interest in the presentation and starred straight a head throughout it. That may have been because he read it in the Agenda packet, but Sherman was clearly not a supporter. Commissioner Dilgard (and former Mayor) seemed interested and supportive of the presentation and the proposal. His vantage point for the presentation was not much better than the corner of his eye however. Around the bend Moore, Hoff, and Rinschler , and Commissioner  MacDaniel could see the screen just fine. The latter seemed to be reading (presumably) the presentation. In the commission comment section McDaniel  did state that the price tag asked by the library would buy two senior centers. Moore, Hoff, and Rinschler as developers of much of  what was being presented were expected to be affirmative votes. Moore however as Mayor was now wearing a different hat. Both Hoff and Rinschler  have unique ways of  verbally expressing considerations . Hoff 's  "more than one point considered" and  Rinschler's "tongue in cheek analysis" along the lines of "I'd vote that way but.." added to the evening's drama.

The group arguments against moving forward centers on cost which could preclude other projects. Other con arguments included a May election which was deemed too soon and a general reference to  the proposal "needing" more work. Pro sentiments included  an extensive two  years of preparation by arguably the City's best and brightest. Cost savings of acting now when interest rates are low and a May election which focuses on one  issue were also pro arguments

When it came time to vote, Sherman made a motion to accept the building plan (schematic),thank the JLBL for their efforts and to reconsider the Library renovations  in the unspecified future.
Rischler in what seemed to be a clever bit of maneuvering then said he would support the first part of Sherman's motion if the second part were amended to considering the Library proposal going forward that night. The first part passed by a unanimous vote. The  second vote which seemed to surprise Sherman began with one last call of the Commissioners.  Nikita while giving due to both sides was clearly in favor of going forward. Sherman was not. Dilgard , Moore, Hoff,  and Rinschler voted for going forward. 

The reader should note that "going forward" does not necessarily mean supporting the library bond. It means six months of debate by the residents of the City of Birmingham concerning the library they own. It's future will be decided at the  ballot box on May 6th 2014. The alternative would have been to .put the library proposal on the shelf  for future consideration in an undefined period of time.

  In the words of Commissioner Hoff , of the many issues now before or coming before the City, none were ready to be decided that night.  Even if all the emphasis were placed on a  new Senior Citizen Center an  interest of Commissioner McDaniel it would take a year or more of study and information gathering. The Library was ready to be determined by the voter and it was time to move forward.

Concurring McDaniel cast the last affirmative vote in a 6-1 decision.

It is believed that the next step will be determination of ballot language by the Library Director and the City Manager. That too will require approval by the City Commission.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Baldwin Library Director Doug Koschik's Presentation to the City Commission and Citizens 11/12 /2013,

Baldwin Public Library and the City of Bloomfield Hills.The First Two Years of Service.
Presentation to Bloomfield Hills City Commission November 12, 2013
Baldwin has served Bloomfield Hills since November 15, 2011.
Services used by Bloomfield Hills residents & employees:
Check-out (circulation) of materials
Interlibrary loan
Homebound service
Programs for all ages(e.g., summer reading program)
Electronic resources (databases, e-books, downloadable audio books & music, etc.)
975 people are registered—25% of population.
Over 700 households have at least one cardholder—close to 50% of all households.
Circulation has kept increasing:
2011-12:  1,322/month
2012-13:  1,698/month
2013-14:  2,113/month
We expect Bloomfield Hills residents to check out 25,000 items this year.
83 Bloomfield Hills children participated in this year’s summer reading program—8% of the total participation of 1,037.
Visibility in Community
Books & Beyond newsletter.
Book return box at City Hall.
Lending bookshelf at City Hall.
Participation in Public Safety Open House.
Helping Students
Programs for first graders.
Contacts with public and private schools serving the City.
Homework alerts sent to Library.
Program announcements sent to schools.
Link to Baldwin’s website from school media centers.
Financial Soundness
Full service: 67 hours/week.
Enhanced collections and programming.
Balanced budget.
Contract communities pay 27% of Baldwin’s operating budget.
Voluntary Contributions
Friends of the Library:
Group donates $40,000/year to Library.
Bloomfield Hills resident on Board
City residents are members.
Donations to Trust, including named endowments.
Naming rights.
2013 Books & Bites fundraiser will take place on November 21.  Goal is to raise $20,000 for outreach services: homebound patrons & special needs children, in particular.  $50/ticket.  Call 248-554-4683.
Building Plans
Renovation & restoration of 1927 building, including second-floor auditorium.
Elimination of 1960 and 1981 additions.  Construction of new building.
Expansion from approximately 40,000 square feet to 56,000 square feet.
Increase Youth Room by 75%.
Increase study rooms & collaboration space
Ground floor entrance, with two elevators.
Greater efficiency, flexibility and suitability for technology.
Conceptual Drawing of the
 “New Baldwin”
Future Steps
If Library Board and Birmingham City Commission approve, bond measure will go to Birmingham voters in 2014.
Cost:  Approx. $21.5 million, $125/year for average household.
Construction would begin in 2015 and last until 2017.
Some disruption in services inevitable during construction.

Impact on Bloomfield Hills
Birmingham owns Library building, will decide its future, and pay for it.
Contract communities have no ownership rights, will not decide on its future, and will not pay for it.
Birmingham voters must consider whether this investment in Birmingham is justified.
Contract communities pay for operating expenses, not capital investment.
Future of Baldwin/Hills Contract
Contract expires in November 2014.
Library Board would like to hold discussions with City of Bloomfield Hills on extension of contract.
A contract  for longer than three years is desirable.
Baldwin values its relationship with the City
 •Success Story
We’ve fulfilled our promises.
We’ve grown Bloomfield Hills participation.
We’re financially stable.
We’re working on improving the physical plant.
We’re always attempting to improve services and outreach.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bakdwin New Titles 11/19/13

King and Maxwell by David Baldacci:  The teenage son of an U.S. MIA in Afghanistan hires Sean King and Michelle Maxwell--former Secret Service agents turned private investigators--to solve the mystery surrounding his father. But their investigation quickly leads to deeper, more troubling questions. Could Tyler's father really still be alive? What was his true mission? Could Tyler be the next target?
Check Availability
Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich:  New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore "Uncle Sunny" Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it's up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in--not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton's hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because "just Stephanie's luck" the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail. Check Availability.

We're the Millers (DVD): David is a pot dealer in need of a fake family to use as a cover story in order to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the U.S. He is in major debt with his supplier and is desperate for the money to pay him back. He hires a stripper to be his fake wife, a runaway as his pretend daughter, and a goofy counterfeit son. Antics and madcap adventure ensue as this faux-family attempts to cross the border with the loot. Check Availability

Paranoia (DVD): Fired from his telecom job, Adam Cassidy is forced by company CEO Nicolas Wyatt to infiltrate Wyatt's longtime rival's company to steal trade secrets. Soon, Adam realizes that he's caught between two ruthless players who will stop at nothing to win. But, desperate to win over an Ivy League beauty and help his blue-collar father, Adam risks everything in a dangerous race against time                Check Availability

Planes (DVD): Dusty is a crop dusting plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty's not exactly built for racing, and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator, who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty's courage is put to the ultimate test.Check Availability

Books & Bites to Benefit Library Outreach Services. Tonight 6pm-9pm. Tickets available at the door.

 This year’s Books & Bites at Baldwin, the Baldwin Public Library’s annual fundraiser, will raise money to benefit the Library’s Outreach Services. Outreach Services include collections and services that target patrons with special needs such as physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, or different learning styles.

The Baldwin Public Library is planning to use the funds raised from Book & Bites at Baldwin in different departments around the Library. In the Youth Department, librarians are preparing the creation of a manipulative collection aimed at children with different physical abilities or learning styles. Funds contributed will help to purchase new materials for our Homebound Program, a service that mails books to patrons who are physically unable to come to the Library. The Library is also investigating adding a collection of magnifiers to assist the vision impaired. These services, as well as others, will be added to the Library and marketed to patrons through the use of Books & Bites funds.

“Providing access to patrons, regardless of any physical or developmental challenges, is a core tenant of Library service,” says Doug Koschik, Library Director. “Baldwin is committed to serving all of our patrons to the best of our abilities and our Outreach Services help us to accomplish that goal.”

Books & Bites will be held on Thursday, November 21 from 6:00 to 9:00p.m. at the Baldwin Public Library. The event includes an evening of dinner, music, and a chance auction. Attendees will have their choice of wine and beer provided by Big Rock Chophouse. A strolling dinner is being prepared by Bistro Joe’s, Café Via, Churchill's Bistro & Cigar Bar, Frank Street Bakery, Townhouse and What Crêpe?, with desserts from Le Petit Prince. Live music will be performed by Sean Blackman. Complimentary valet parking is provided by In House Valet. Tickets are $50 and can be obtained by calling Josh Rouan at 248-554-4683 or the Circulation Desk at 248-554-4630.

In past years, the Books & Bites at Baldwin has benefited the Library’s Youth Early Learning Corner (2011) and Teen Space (2012).

The Baldwin Public Library is located at 300 West Merrill Street in downtown Birmingham.

Books and Bites Fund Raiser at Baldwin Library Tonight ! Tickets available at Door. Doors Open at Six. Dinner and Entertainment.

Man of Steel DVD, Patricia Cornwell Novel Dust, Martin Cruz Smith, and mysteries top Baldwin New Titles 11/12/2013.

Dust by Patricia CornwellAfter working one of the worst mass killings in U.S. history, Scarpetta returns home to Cambridge, Massachusetts, when she receives an unsettling call. The body of a young woman has been discovered on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's rugby field and physical evidence links the case to a series of uniquely weird homicides in Washington, D.C., where Scarpetta's FBI husband has been deployed to help capture a serial killer dubbed the Capital Murderer. Check Availability

Sins of the Flesh by Coleen McCullough:  It's August 1969 in the sleepy college town of Holloman, Connecticut, and police Captain Carmine Delmonico is away on vacation. Back at home, first one, then two anonymous male corpses turn up--emaciated and emasculated. Sergeant Delia Carstairs and Lieutenant Abe Goldberg connect the victims to four other bodies, and suddenly they realize Holloman has a psychopathic killer on the loose. Luckily Carmine decides to come back from vacation early. Carmine's team begins to circle a trio of eccentrics living on a beautiful estate; they readily admit to knowing all the victims, but their stories keep changing. They share a dark past, family ties, and painful memories. One of them is a woman who has recently become a friend of Delia's, along with another woman who is the respected head of the insane asylum. She has done groundbreaking work rehabilitating one very difficult patient who is now her most trusted assistant. The three women met while rescuing a cat from a tree, and now they find they share a love of intelligent conversation and their enjoyment of living the single life. When a gas station attendant is viciously murdered, and then Carmine barely escapes being next in the body count, it becomes apparent that Holloman has two killers at large with two completely different modus operandi. Suddenly the summer isn't so sleepy any more. Check Availability

Stella Bain by Anita ShreveAn epic story, set against the backdrop of World War I, from bestselling author Anita Shreve. When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in. A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield. In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation. Check Availability

 By Martin Cruz Smith:  When the brilliant and fearless young reporter Tatiana Petrovna--based on the real-life journalist Anna Politkovskaya--falls to her death from a sixth-floor window in Moscow in the same week that notorious mob billionaire Grisha Grigorenko is shot in the back of the head, Renko finds himself on the trail of a mystery as complex and dangerous as modern Russia itself. The body of an elite government translator shows up on the bleak sand dunes of Kalingrad and the possession he was killed for is nothing but a cryptic notebook with drawings of animals and symbols. A frantic hunt begins to locate and decipher this notebook, a copy of which falls into the hands of Zhenya, the closest thing Renko has to a son--who does not realize that the document will put his life in grave danger. In a fast-changing and lethal race to uncover what this translator knew, and how he planned to reveal it to the world, Renko makes a startling discovery that propells him deeper into Tatiana's past--and, at the same time, paradoxically, into Russia's future.  Check Availability
Man of Steel (DVD): A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

Law Makers McCready and Kesto work to protect families from exploitation.


Lawmakers work to protect 

families from exploitation

State Reps. Klint Kesto and Mike McCready are working  to prevent human trafficking in Michigan.
Both Kesto, R-Commerce Township, and McCready, R-Bloomfield Hills, met with residents from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the West Bloomfield Public Library, 4600 Walnut Lake Road, to address the issue of human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is one of the most costly criminal activities in the world. Unfortunately, as a border state, Michigan is a prime target for trapping people in forced labor and sexual exploitation in the United States,” said Kesto.  “It is our duty as Michigan lawmakers to meet with members of our communities and discuss the issues and concerns surrounding this subject so we can protect families.”
McCready said human trafficking is widespread throughout Michigan, and the Legislature is working hard to crack down on what is often referred to as modern-day slavery.
“Whether it is in small towns, suburbs or big cities, there is rarely a spot in Michigan that has not been touched by human trafficking,” McCready said. “The Legislature is taking active steps to identify and eliminate this heinous crime.”
Joining Kesto and McCready will be guest speaker Kathy Maitland of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is made up of more than 90 agencies in Michigan working toward the prevention and punishment of human trafficking.

Election 2013: The Unknown Absentee Voters.

In probability we will never know who the absentees voters of 2013 were, or what issue or candidates motivated them in selecting commission candidates or voting yea or nay on four ballot  propositions. On the Oakland County Elections web site there is a table a  called "Vote Type summary" According to the numbers on the table no in the City of Bloomfield Hills  as indicated by a column of zeros voted absentee. In reality exactly the opposite happened.  The Precinct vote was less than a third of the absentee vote which was by far and away was the dominant decider of the election.

 The Absentee Ballot Hole.

If the reader is interested in delving into the arcane world of local elections, this writer would suggest one truism. When whenever contrary presents itself the culprit more often than not the smallest denomination of Government. The State of Michigan is really quite fine and has been a long time advocate of dispensing information to it's citizens. Likewise  Oakland County Elections  strives to be helpful to candidates and voters alike.
So when the particulars of the absentee vote  are unavailable one need not look any further than the City of Bloomfield Hills City Hall at 45 East Long Lake. The County publishes what the City provides.  In the case of candidates or the ballot propositions of the November 5th election the number was zero.

So we asked City Clerk. Amy Burton why. She said that was because the absentee ballots were counted in their respective precinct as  precinct votes rather than absentee votes. Below  are the pure absentee vote totals which we believe has not been published anywhere else. Once the the Absentee votes went in with precinct vote the actual vote count didn't change but it became impossible to determine for whom or for what the absentee votes (AV)  were cast.

Combining the votes is how The City  counted ballots in spring City election of 2010. That is how small communities  like the Village of Clarkson count ballots. The City of Bloomfield Hills is a small community but it has reputation a far bigger than it's actual size. 

 In 2010 the absentee voter was just becominga factor  in local elections. After the 2010 City election, in the next four elections (two millage and two City elections) absentee votes were counted in what is called and AV counting room. That separates the AV count from the precinct vote. In the City of Bloomfield Hills candidates in recent elections had vote totals from Precinct 1 (City Hall), Precinct 2 (Congregational Church) and absentee votes which in  essence becomes a de facto third precinct.

You may ask why is important to have a separate absentee and in precinct vote total and there are many reasons. The AV vote has grown enormously in recent years and has spawned related alternatives such as

  •  "No doc" absentee voting (which unlike Michigan) does not require  the signing of an affidavit, certifying  under the penalty of purgery, a valid condition for casting a an absentee vote.
  •  Early voting (AV voting without the precincts) which is how Ohio votes.
One could argue that in terms of long term consequences,  how one voted in the City election of 2013 is more significant, than the short terms consequence of who they voted for.
To that end the State of Michigan in 2014 will begin mandating AV counting rooms for precincts in communities of certain size.

Election 2013: What the absentee vote totals provided by City Hall tell us.

On election day, November 5 2013, the votes 750 residents of the City of Bloomfield Hills  were counted. 248 voted by going to Precinct 1 (City Hall) or Precinct 2 (Congregation Church) and voting in person. 502 voted by absentee.

The numerical superiority of the absentee voter was double that of the In precinct voter. In an election where 1750 total votes were cast from a possible 2250,(each voter had  three votes) the absentee voters had the potential clout of 1506 votes. In Precinct voters had a 756 votes to cast.

A curious statistic is the number of residents who requested absentee ballots, received them. but do not return them. There were 82 such potential voters in the last election who represented  a clout of 246 potential votes. Divide that number by 4 for the four candidates  and you get 61 and fraction. In an election in which 112 votes plus or minus would move any candidate up or down a notch, that is indeed cutting it close.

Who is to blame for not returned absentee votes ? Traditionally that would be the fault of the Candidates for being uninspiring. After all the candidates are  supposed to serve as catalysts separating  the absentee ballots from the magnets on refrigerator 
doors  and off TV tops and getting them dispatched to to the ballot boxes. 

It has been said the  the Precinct voter enjoys seeing his or her vote go into the voting machine and thus get counted.
To provide similar enjoyment for absentee voters the State of Michigan on the Secretary of State's (SOS) web site had a box that allowed the voter to track his or her vote.
 There were three dates in the sequence.The day you request an absentee ballot, the day it sent to you by the City, and the date you returned the ballot it to the City Hall. 

The City began sending out Absentee ballots in early October. Around the Ninth it published  list of approximately 500 voters people who requested absentee ballots. That number compared quite favorably to the 597 who voted by absentee ballot in the 2012 City election whose vote total was bolstered the school millage.

According to voter lists requested by the candidates. All absentee ballots completed by residents were returned to the City on only one of two dates. The dates  were October 25th, eleven days before the election, and November 4th the eve of the election.

While a seemingly amazing coincidence it most likely that City didn't get around processing absentee votes until those dates occurred. Therefore for the most of the election  candidates were in the dark as to  which absentee voters had "voted" by returning their ballot and who was still undecided. When asked about the phenomena of absentee ballots arriving on just two days, it was explained that City Hall other duties to attend to. Certainly a valid consideration but indicative of a one size fits all approach which on election day would combine absentee and precinct votes.
Clearly it was not the better election we had been promised the year before when the change was made to go bi-annual election in odd years only.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Election 2013: Precinct Totals for the Charter Amendments.

November 5, 2013 Election



Precinct 1

Precinct 2



Precinct 1

Precinct 2



Precinct 1

Precinct 2



Precinct 1

Precinct 2