Four years ago in 2010, The City of Bloomfield Hills was the first community in our area to, in the spirit of open transparent Municipal Government to televise it's City Commission meetings.
The above video represents the last 30 minutes of the February 11th City Commission meeting in which new regulations for City Waste haulers were discussed.
Below for those with older computers or who's time does lot allow a half hour is a written synopsis with quotes and commentary by this writer.
The first to speak on the topic is City Attorney Bill Hampton who volunteers "a little background for the City commission, who as it will become apparent is in the dark about the the proposed revisions to our ordinance and how they came about. He also invites City Manager Jay Cravens ""to chime in on this" before explaining, "Amy has been doing work looking at not only the ordinance that regulates solid waste collection but also the regulations that govern the various waste haulers. About two or three weeks ago Amy sent over to me her recommendations which we have put in the form of an amendment to the regulations. We also prepared, an ordinance, I am not sure it is really needed, on savaging, but Amy thought an ordnance on the savaging of garbage might be in order."
Mind blogging. How exactly ? Amy Burton is the City Clerk. It is not the function of the City Clerk to revise ordinances or to suggests new ones. That is the function city commission, the elected representatives of the people. Ms. Burton is a City employee. As such she is hired to serve the people not to decide for them.
If City Commission saw a need to explore the waste hauling issue it could appoint a committee of three to explore the issue.If three commissioners were appointed meetings would be open to residents and a paper trail via kept minutes of what discussed would available.
If the reader wants to assume that commissioners are too busy with other things, the Mayor could appoint Amy to fact find and bring the facts to City Commission for discussion and consideration.
The waste hauler resolutions however went directly to from the City Clerk to the City Attorney and then dispatched to City Commission in official looking documents which required City Commission only to vote and fill in the blanks.
Hampton concludes his introductory remarks with
"My only thought on this is.... if you (the commissioners) want to vote on this tonight you certainly can. No public hearings are required by law. However in the past when we have taken up matters pertaining to the waste haulers... we invited all the waste haulers to come in and comment and I don't know as to whether these regulations have been given to the waste hauler that service our community."
City Manager Jay Cravens answers with "No they haven't but we have mentioned in our correspondence at least in my managers comments to commissioners that we (?) were stepping up the aspect of the rules that we had in place. That what was one of the goals....
Hampton cuts in with " As you can see we are imposing quite a few regulations, whether or not these regulations would form a hardship.. for example we talk about a million dollars of insurance, no vehicle can be over five years, I don't know to what extent some of these regulations that Amy is recommending would pose a problem or a financial hardship on our waste haulers and I only throw it out because you have every right to adopt the resolutions tonight you want . I just throw out the fact that you may at your discretion obviously want to consider giving this ti the waste haulers for their comments before you vote.
Then Mayor Hardy asks the question of the evening, "Bill I have a question for you. Who wrote these regulations ?"
Hampton: "Amy came up with concepts. I think she drew some of them from other communities."
Cravens: "Yes, she and I met weeks ago."
That would indicate that Amy was acting in under the authority of the City Manager. The loop would then be City Manager to City Clerk to City Attorney before presenting themselves in turn key resolution ready form in the Agenda Package at February 11 City Commission meeting.
Cravens continues in a long reflection, in which he (admits using both words) to bias and prejudice). He explains that both he and Amy are residents of Rochester Hills and he prefers their waste hauling procedures over ours. He wishes we would emulate Rochester Hills which has single waste hauler. He is also big advocate of recycling and says that he thinks most people in the City of Bloomfield Hills do not recycle.
Commissioner Dul when asked his opinion ventured that the standard garbage truck was similar in size and cost to a popular landscape truck. He estimated the cost at approaching six figures and thought that a five year replacement could be a hardship.
Commissioner Sheer stated that whether or not the new regulations preclude various haulers from operating in the City of Bloomfield Hills was not his concern. He would only be concerned it they precluded any company from operating the City.
Commissioner Coakley said he would favor moving to a higher standard of waste hauling but no elaboration on what that standard would be or how the current system was deficient was offered/
During the course of the discussion of City Commissioners it becomes apparent that Mayor Hardy, Commissioner McClure, and this author have the same waste hauler which also is popular with many other residents.
Mayor Hardy had no complaints. Nor does this writer who lives on the same street.
Commissioner McClure however was quite critical of the company's recycling components which is nothing more than a man in a van.
That brings to mind an interesting point. How well has the City Commission researched the alternative to the man in the van.
Scratch the surface and the easy alternative is a couple of men in a two ton truck.
When the issue first came up and prompted a public hearing in January of 2010 , the residents at the meeting voted informally to keep the multi hauler system as opposed to going with a single hauler. The City Commission then voted 4 to 1 in favor of keeping that system and "authorized the City Manager Cravens to investigate additional recycling options for the City.
Has he done so ? We think not. We believe the ordinances suggested by city staff are more negative than positive.
What will happen next ? The Commissioners have said they approve with minor modifications the resolutions provide. .They could vote on them as soon as tomorrow afternoon at a 5:30 pm special meeting intended to discuss roads. The meeting will be held at in the small City Hall conference room as opposed to the main commission room. The Commission also could wait until the March meeting. If it issue appears on the March agenda there will be no chance for the public to comment on it.
Prior to the close of the meeting Commissioner McClure advised her fellow commissioners on what not do as opposed to what should be done. saying,"And to be honest I think asking the people to regulate or comment (on the waste hauler issue) is opening up a can of worms. I wouldn't do that I mean , I think, I probably wouldn't do that. At least not now.
If not now when ? It seems after the fact, on a matter probably already decided.