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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Waste Hauler Ordinance Vote (?) an indication of how City of Bloomfield Hills is and will be governed ?

Last October, three of the City's current commissioners were running for election.

 All agreed  the City of Bloomfield Hills was wonderful place to live and if elected they as commissioners would maintain the City's character.

None were asked and none said anything about the city's waste management program.

If the question had come up the candidates  might have said that  their years  of experience in many endeavours made them uniquely qualified to handle such matters should they arise.

At tonight's  City Commission meeting those qualifications will be put to the test.

 If  there is a vote on Agenda Item 9

 It will  go a long way  in determining  how the City  is governed, by whom, and for whom.

Power does not exist in a vacuum, meaning it is indeed influenced  by outside forces. If our elected officials to not take control, others will, and that seems to be what is happening right now.

The issue, Solid Waste Collection,  is an old one whose recent return is the result an item placed on Goals and Objectives last June. Goals and Objectives is essentially a creation of Mayor McClure administration. Public input in regards to what goals and objectives the City might pursue is not sought. The goals arrived are only published in city's meeting agenda package which is rarely read by the residents. This in contrast to items the City wishes to share with residents which appear on the main body of the website or on the Facebook page.  

Goals and Objectives  follows the fiscal year which begins July 1st rather than the year of the City Commissioner ( Mayor elected for a one year term and the City Commission elected for a two year term which begin in November)

The  July-November intermingling of old and new can cause problems. By maintaining old issues it diverts the attention of the new administration from focusing moving forward;

The issue of solid waste and waste hauling is a good example.Talked about in the McClure administration it has become  the proverbial doomsday machine of science fiction. Maybe you saw it on Star Trek. A machine created eons ago by a long gone civilization wanders through space irreparably altering  all in its path because that is what it is programed to do. 

In February of this year a complete overhaul of the city's solid waste  and recycling  rules and regulations, in the form of a 16 ordinance revisions was presented to an unsuspecting City Commision. Mayor Hardy voiced the most intelligent question of the evening when she inquired , "where did these  come from ?" 

The City Attorney said they came from City Clerk Amy Burton.

In a  memo which appears in  the City's Agenda Package for tonight's and published here Ms. Burton explains her involvement in the matter. A non-resident City Clerk and salaried employee of the City her role in ordinance revisions is most unusual. The assignment of  tasks of such a consequential nature usually goes to City Commissioners the elected representatives of the people.

Tonight the commissioners will hear from City Clerk Burton and  City Manager Cravens who also wrote a memo for City Commission. Whether the privilege of being heard  will be be extended to City residents is not known. 

The recent practice of our City is to allow residents to speak only on non-agenda items. This determination by State Law,  is made at the discretion of the meeting Chairman. Our  discretion  is contrast to that of Mayor Moore in Birmingham and  Bloomfield Township Supervisor Savoie who allow public comment on each agenda item.

Thus  Commission may not have the opportunity of hearing from their constituents before a vote is taken. 

Even worse the City has not utilized means at it's disposal, and paid for the residents tax dollars to inform citizens 

Residents seeking information on City Commissioner meetings  usually find that information on the City website under Videos on Demand or Minutes on Demand. The Video for  the February meeting in which the waste hauling topic was  discussed, although being available elsewhere has yet to appear on the City Website. The actual minutes of any City Commission meeting in 2014 has also yet to appear in Minutes on Demand.

Six Months ago three City Commissioner candidates promised  to maintain the City's character. That character comes from the City Charter  which gives all authority in terms of governing the City to a five member City Commission. 

The Charter  gave  the people  the right to elect commissioners in an annual election and to authorize charter revisions. 

 The real power of Commission comes from the people who are the City of Bloomfield Hills and it's greatest asset. Without the people, City Commission is powerless and the future existence of the city questionable. The last item is not widely understood but also not hard to imagine. A city willing to ignore or otherwise squander it's assets loses its reason to exist.

In recent years the power of the people has been reduced by the City Commission  who changed annual election to an every other year frequency.
Various parties have also questioned in terms of money savings, the need to have the the citizenry approve all changes to the charter.

City Staff do not know the City of Bloomfield Hills and tend to like what they know and find elsewhere. If the three commissioners elected last fall who form a majority vote, approves ordinance revisions they did not make without any input from the city's citizens, one might be prompted to ask what master they serve.   

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