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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dissecting City Manager's September 30th letter to residents. Paragraph by paragraph of arguments made.

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 In the first paragraph  City Manager Jay Cravens  bloops the ballot language  by beginning with the word  "Should " instead of "Shall". Should is advisory and Shall commands a course of action. The difference was discussed in great detail  at the August 12th City Commission meeting. Mr. Cravens  then provides the reader  a paraphrased and  abbreviated  version. which omits much what actually appear on the ballot.

The actual ballot language that will appear on the Ballot on 
 November 4 per Oakland County Elections  is  in the box below.

Shall the City Commission of the City of Bloomfield Hills adopt an ordinance whereby the City, after competitive bidding, would enter into a contract with a single 
waste hauler for exclusive garbage and recycling collection for all City residents, with the City residents paying the garbage and recycling collection bills directly to 
the single waste hauler?

The City seems to have  penchant for  paraphrasing, encapsulating. or omitting words it doesn't like in descriptions or references to  the actual legally approved, by the state of Michigan  ballot language. Last fall  in the charter revision, vote unless you were particularly well read you did not see the actual ballot language  until you were  in polling booth. The key words Mr. Cravens omitted are in red in the actual ballot language. A Yes Vote asks the City  to adopt an ordinance  whereby the City  would contract  with a single  waste hauler for all residents.  A  No Vote maintains the present multi  hauler system but does not preclude  the continued pursuit of  improvements with one or more haulers.

Below in blue we have included for those who have not read Mr. Cravens, his letter verbatim, and because you pay for our analysis in  your free subscription, we have included that as well.

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In the second paragraph City Manager Cravens mentions City Commission three times. 1)City Commission realizes... 2)City Commission respects...  and 3)City Commission will abide
So why doesn't City Commission if they have authorized this letter and  the expenses incurred tell us themselves ? Mr. Cravens is a City Employee, not an elected or  voting City Commisioner,  and as it so happens not a City Resident.

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 We know Mr. Cravens to be correct in 33 miles of paved road. We  will assume that he  is correct in a cumulative $9.2 million in road expense which  approximates the City annual budget for a single year. He does not specify a period of time, So we will consider the time that Mr Caravans has been City Manager which seven years. That leaves and an annual expenditure of $1.3 million. In recent years City Commission has increased  road repair as way of providing  as visual reference to a City Commissioner  hard at work with your tax  dollars.
 Of the six current licensed waste hauling companies, Mr. Cravens mentions only 4 are strictly residential and have served the community for years. The last fact is important, because as in many industries  there are changes at work.  In  waste hauling  big companies are  acquiring smaller ones. 
Of the two waste haulers who are primarily commercial  both service City Hall.
Other key numbers to consider are 1 and 0. One is the exact number of  solutions Mr. Cravens and City Commissioner have considered to improve waste hauling and the City's roads

 Commisioner Sherr did  however say that he didn't care  how many waste haulers the City had as long as that number wasn't 0.

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Hubbell Roth, and Clark is  the City's prime consultant on road construction and repair. Over the years they have presented the City with  many reports on why roads deteriorate. Garbage trucks and other large trucks are a definite factor. The question is then how to mitigate the damage. One report that  Hubbell Roth provided the City said that roads were most vulnerable to garbage pick up in early Spring and late Fall. That is when there is freeze thaw factor and waste hauling companies add vehicles for summer yard waste and fall leaves. What Mr. Cravens is proposing to City Commissioner  however in his 40 page trilogy makes almost no mention of road protection.   He, however  proposes doubling the number of trucks in a mid March to mid December  pick up  cycle  where every residence  will be visited by two large  trucks weekly . Of note  but not considered  by City Hall or Mr. Cravens proposal  is that current City waste hauler Howard's Disposal   uses a small van to pick yard waste, leaves, and recycles. Also the garbage  trucks of both Howard's and Nichols are smaller than those of their competitors.

At a recent City Commission meeting Hubble Roth  provided  other reasons why our roads deteriorate as fast as they do.  One was excessive lawn watering which runs off onto the street. Another was the parking of home improvement and and  yard maintenance vehicles on streets.  By ordinance  they are to be parked  in the driveway of the customer they serve, an ordinance that is seldom enforced, and would not be popular if it was. Then there are the heavy trucks  that seem to be constant. Cement mixers. Tank Trucks  to water down the City's dirt roads. Mack trucks multi  axle behemoths  to take away  the tear downs.  Tear downs ?  Indeed. New residents  want the lot don't care for house. Tear it down and rebuild from ground up. You only go around once in life  so why not ? It is an attitude that is Tres  Bloomfield Hills and such projects may  may  take years to finish  and involve continued coming and going of commercial vehicles.
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Seven months late the City has provided residents with a list of three of the four residential haulers and the services and prices they provide.The city failed to obtain that information from  the fourth due to "No Response." That company is the largest Waste Hauler in world  and has advertised Superbowl.  Descriptively named Waste Management is  quite  popular with many residents. This reporter called  as Joe Nobody and said I was chagrined that our city had them listed "no response.'That got  me all the information I needed. So much so I couldn't write fast enough to keep up with it. 

This is another  example how problems the City blames on the waste haulers stem from City Hall. While on the subject of data collection consider the following.

Is the  City, which does not have enough staff to enforce existing ordinances, getting into the trash business ? Auditing mandatory monthly waste hauler load receipts ?  To what end ?  More ominous  is that any and all information  audited  is the accumulating of confidential and a trade secret material that shall  not be subject to public disclosure. How does the resident benefit from said ? Or does the resident even matter in what seems to be a  private conversation between City and Contractor ?

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 While City Commission, has not made a final decision it evident in  the length and detail he provides  in his Trilogy that Mr. Cravens has something very definite in mind. Cravens however writes, "the specifications to be addressed in a Request for Proposal (RFP)  are as follows...".

In actuality,  the RFP  is only eight pages of the forty pages Trilogy. Some of  specifications (but not all ) Mr. Cravens refers  to turn up in the third section with  28 pages which is sub titled Service Descriptions and Specifications.  For the reader, in our next post we have matched up Mr. Cravens  bullet points with the actual language in the the Service description. 

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