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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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday is Trash Day for West of Woodward Residents and Wednesday for East of Woodward Residents. Snow, an Unanticipated day one Guest.

Note cart tire tracks and  foot prints going and coming.

The lingering leaves of Autumn on a Spring day from a picture taken last week. Note the season identifying greenery. What is it that they say about Michigan Weather.?
Green and Taupe anyone ?  The colors of the golf course or for that matter the U.S. Army but not  the colors of  the City of Bloomfield Hills. What if the cans were re-done in Army forest camouflage would they be less apparent ?  We hate to be critical but the City is very picky about it's colors. Black is more apparent close up. Army green at a distance. Regardless the cans
seem popular to the point of some becoming permanent edge of driveway fixtures.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie: Our Message to the Community. We are here for you.

When DTE Energy  began   (December 2014) its “ground to sky” tree removal program in Bloomfield Township and Bloomfield Hills, it unleashed a firestorm of protest from residents who watched grand old trees reduced to sawdust and stumps. Almost immediately my office was inundated with calls from concerned residents demanding that action be taken to halt the tree removal. I called DTE, which agreed to stop the work. I, along with DPW Director Tom Trice, met with DTE officials onsite where trees were being removed. We expressed our extreme disappointment and displeasure in how this matter was being handled. A follow-up meeting was held on Feb. 6. Along with myself, attending was Mike McCready, Jay Cravens, Bloomfield Hills Mayor Michael Dul, Bloomfield Hills City Commissioner Michael Coakley and several representatives from DTE

As a result of the meeting it was determined: 

  •  DTE will reach out to property owners along an affected line route using a combination of mailings, door hangers and phone calls. 
  •  DTE will meet with representatives of the Township and go over its entire plans for properties in the Township. 
  •  DTE will mark all areas of clearance and mark every tree it plans to trim or remove. 
  •  DTE will meet with every affected homeowner to go over their scope of the project and will not remove trees on private property outside of its easements without the written permission of the property owner. 
  •  DTE will not initiate the program on the property of homeowners who object to it until first meeting with Township or City officials to go over the impact on that property and what the options are. 
  •  DTE will remove any logs, stumps, brush and debris from the property unless the homeowner objects.  In some cases, DTE will replace removed trees with other trees or vegetation.

Additionally, we discussed the possibility of DTE placing wires underground. However, that is cost prohibitive. It is estimated that it would cost each household in excess of $150,000 to place wires underground. That option is not feasible. However, we did recommend that DTE confer with the Hubbell, Roth & Clark engineering firm to learn how it has worked with neighborhoods during the construction of the safety path system in the Township. HR&C has a long association with the Township and understands the sensitivities of the residents and how to deal with that. This communication will be sent to the United Homeowners Association of Bloomfield Township and made available to all members of the community. Our goal is to maintain a free-flowing open line of communications with all persons and let them know that we, as Township officials, are attuned to their concerns. Our message to the community is that we are here for you.

Monday, March 9, 2015

December 4th 2014 Case Number U-17542 after a year before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

 It seems every one has an opinion on what  the report says but few have actually read it.  

 The report is ten pages long. What everyone is curious about is what  exactly what the MPSC ordered  the utility  companies to do.  Through editing  we have provided that information at the outset.
Then after a few  observations of things we have noticed, so that  that  the reader might  better appreciate what is  being reported,  we have printed the report in it's entirety without  editing  or modification. 

It is important to understand that the MPSC is a regulating body. Like your parents when you lived at home it makes the rules. If you read this report and  the two other that provided  earlier in the this series of articles you will realize that  the MPSC is always on the utility's back about a number of issues on a consistent  basis.

 Examples include response time on such things as  the  response time for downed power lines, customer refunds for outages and how fast they are processed,  and of course  the big bug a boo tree trimming money and how fast that money is processed and spent for  it's intended purpose
In the below report  Consumer's energy is chided for having spent only 46 million of the 53 million  requested in vegetation management money. (page 4).

On page five  It is noted that DTE  "is currently spending  all of its allocated  funding  on vegetation management. Note the use of the present  tense." Would some of that allocated money be spent  ground to sky  initiative DTE launched on Kensington road later in the month ?
Read  the MPSC report of December 4th 2014  and you will see no mention of  a Ground to Sky program. That is because it is  a  DTE program DTE came up with  to show the MPSC that it is  doing it's homework in terms of tree trimming money spent and Pilot programs. Grand to Sky was harsh , The actual  assignment given by the MPSC on December 4th 2014 was rather benign.

 The data for the hazardous  tree removal program was to be drawn from Pilot programs from many communities including the City of Bloomfield Hills. 

Staff Report to the Michigan Public Service Commission Hazardous Trees and Pilot Programs.

 The excerpt below is from the report  prepared by the the Staff of the Michigan Public Safety Commission and used in making determinations at the December 4th 2014 meeting. It is of interest to residents of the City of Bloomfield Hills because it provides detailed information on the Pilot Program City Commissioner  Michael Coakley was working on.with DTE. 
To read the 33 page staff report in it's entirety  click here. It has a table of contents and  is relatively jargon free and easy to read.

Hazardous Tree Programs 
A significant challenge faced by DTE Electric is the negative impacts on the distribution system arising from trees outside of the utility easements or right of way (ROW). DTE Electric currently has a pilot program to remove a limited amount of such hazardous trees. This pilot program currently consists of removing trees beyond DTE Electric’s current ROW borders in areas of poor reliability or during system upgrades. This program targets structurally unsound trees that lie outside the row 
and pose an imminent threat to nearby electric infrastructure.
 Removing trees outside of easement requires owner consent prior to removal. Obtaining this consent is often difficult, especially if owner does not live on the affected land parcel, thus limiting the effectiveness of the hazardous tree removal program. 
DTE Electric is currently working with select municipalities to develop a streamlined process for addressing these hazardous trees and conveying the benefits of such tree removal in terms of increased reliability. 

DTE Electric is currently working with Bloomfield Hills and St. Clair Shores to develop a community wide action plan for hazardous tree removal. 
In the future, DTE Electric will develop a hazardous tree removal program to better serve their customers. 
Staff recommendations: 

Staff believes both utilities should use the results of their pilot programs to develop an outside of ROW hazard tree removal program in 2015. This program should be incorporated into their normal vegetation management program so outages caused by hazardous trees outside the ROW (Road right of way) in future years will be minimized.
(Staff Report Pages (13 and 14).

City Manager Cravens response to DTE letter of February 24 Re: Vegetation Management Program nee Ground to Sky.

In a stunning reversal DTE buries ""Ground to Sky" edict and vows to obtain written permission from property owners before removing trees on private property outside of the Utility easement.

Below is a copy of the letter from DTE  written to  City Manager Jay Cravens  on February 24th 2014.

DTE spokesman, Scott Simon  was quoted in the   Sunday March 8th Eccentric Newspaper  as saying the letter sent to Township supervisor Leo Savoie  was tailored specifically to Bloomfield Township.     

This publication found the letters to be remarkably similar however. In both  letters sent,   DTE promises that the utility will no longer  remove trees outside of it's easement without written permission from the property owner. The letter to Township supervisor Leo Savoie  has been published in the  On line edition of the Oakland Press. As is this blog. There is no charge for the reader to benefit  from either. Both provide  convenient  access links for  the reader   to review  prior stories  and  with a click of the mouse to go behind the scenes  to view documents that contain literally hundreds of pages.  The letter to Leo Savoie is reproduced below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The last War. The storm that was. Lansing Michigan 2013 and how it came to effect The City of Bloomfield Hills. a year later

As the saying goes, the military.always prepares to fight the last war. The storm in in Lansing in December of 2013 was in regards to the Michigan Public Service Commission and the  Utility companies they regulate the last  war. The Lansing storm was a an ice storm and as storms go ice storms are particularly  pernicious. Power was out in the Capitol City from four to ten days in some areas.

The  Michigan Public Safety Commission studied that storm and  issued orders on December 4th 2014 following  a year long investigation. 

The  MPSC found that a large part of the storm damage was caused by falling limbs and trees — especially dead, brittle trees decimated by the invasive emerald ash borer.

  When the tree cutting began on Kensington last December DTE spokesperson was quoted in the Eagle edition of  December 19th  as " saying they were responding to complaints about service reliability from both customers and local officials as well as the Michigan  Public Service Commission who as a result of the ice storm last winter (2013) directed us to be a lot more aggressive with  tree trimming. While we make every effort to  work with our customers right now we are no longer no asking permission. It is totally different approach to laying clearance but it is something that is needed to provide our customers with reliable electric service."  

Point of fact The MPSC  did not order DTE to be a lot more aggressive with Tree trimming. in the December 2014 Ruling.  Rather It always  expects the Utilities to be aggressive in their tree trimming as seen  in the use  the funds allocated for that purpose.  Not asking for permission  was new wrinkle that as of this writing (March 8th 2015) has been rescinded in select communities.

Lansing Michigan in 2013 was served by  municipal utility company  governed by the Lansing Board of water and light or BWL. While the BWL is not governed or regulated by the Michigan  Public Safety Commissioner, the Mayor of Lansing  in December 2013, Virg Bernero   invited  John D. Quackenbush, the Chairman of the MPSC to serve as an advisory role in evaluating the Lansing storm in terms of readiness,and causes and corrections.
The below report, is that evaluation published in May of 2014  is 33 pages long. Parts of it are technical and will not be understood  by laymen. Still for  one seeking answers there in a wealth of information that is interesting. Like causation and culprit . Falling trees, particularly the Ash Bor are cited. As is the need to maintain proper tree maintenance by the utility companies. Burying the wires,  a mantra of City of Bloomfield Hills Officials is rejected  with  a figure of a million dollars a mile or forget about it.

Also of note are  the  hazardous trees which exist outside the utilities  right of way and came  tumbling down in the ice  storm of 2013.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

First World War and its global impact 100 years later. This Spring at the Baldwin Library.

 Since 2014 the world has been commemorating the centennial of World War I. Baldwin will be continuing its remembrance this spring with a program series that includes:

The Dug Outs: The Music Hall Music of World War I 
Wednesday, March 25 at 7:00 p.m. at the Community House

Book Discussion: Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the  Modern Middle East by Scott Anderson.

Thursday, April 16 at 10:00 a.m. at the Baldwin Public Library
This discussion will be led by Library Director Doug Koschik
When asked about the program series, Doug Koschik, Library Director, offered, "One hundred years on, the Great War still haunts us. There is a direct line from World War I to World War II and now to the Middle East wars of the 21st century. Baldwin is proud to be offering a series of programs that explore the impact of the Great War on politics, literature, and the arts."

Fleur de Lys Chamber Ensemble: Music of Ralph Vaughn Williams
*New Date* Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the Baldwin Public Library.

Note that the date for the Fleur de Lys Chamber Ensemble performance has been changed. The program has been rescheduled for Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. Those who come to the Library on the original date, Sunday, March 8 at 12:30 p.m., will enjoy a classical performance by violin duo Andrew Wu and Melody Wootton.

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