To understand how the current Government of Bloomfield Hills works you need to be familiar with a program called Goals and Objectives.
The Goals and Objective are decided about this time of the year by the five sitting Commissioners, the City Clerk, and The City Manager. The seven pick goals and objectives for the commission and the City to point to. They are then submitted in writing to Jay Cravens the City manager who then analyzes the suggestions , discards some a assigns the remainder to Commissioners. Sometimes City staff assigns goals to themselves.
Two years ago Mr. Cravens assigned himself to the city’s be sole determiner of the seemingly very successful, inaugural celebrate Bloomfield Hills Day. It was a day that offered open house at such City attractions as Cranbrook museums, Historic City Churches and the Village Club. While no such event is perfect in its first year (many visitors said there was not enough time to do everything) Cravens found it wanting and to avoid “attendance fatigue “canceled it indefinitely.
Three months later City Clerk in analyzing the City’s waste hauling, per Goals and Objectives, re-wrote all the City’s waste hauling ordinances based on what she had learned by studying other the program of other communities.
Since it was started in 2012 under then Mayor McClure there has no residents input in Goals and Objectives and none has been allowed. At the first meeting when the program started former Mayor Zambricki and current Mayor Dul suggested “bringing the residents in to the process of identifying Goals and Objectives.
Such suggestions were ignored and apparently the commissioners were dissuaded from making such populous comments in future years.
Ironically it is the City Commission that is often on the outside looking in.
. The Commission had little say in the waste hauler issue.
City employees City Clerk Amy Burton wrote the ordinances, City Manager Jay Craves wrote the 40 page document of waste hauler duties and the guidelines for hiring a single waste hauler. When it came time for the latter, Cravens excluded the commission from the selection process and instead appointed a committee consisting of two “super citizens” When commissioners objected Cravens allowed a single commissioner (Commissioner Sherr) to serve as a non-speaking, non-voting observer.
Because it operates outside the normal bounds of traditional open government mandated by the state of Michigan there is no legal basis for Goals and Objectives as practiced by our City Commission and City employed.
Including the residents would help the programs legitimacy but it would not provide the checks and balances necessary for good Government,.
When it started in 2011City Beautification became the poster child for future Goals and Objectives. Money was raised by soliciting donations which paid for tree planting and Woodward avenue islands. The initial program was wildly successful and tax payer dollars were not spent
Four years later, as indicated by the memo below Beautification as an objective continue but the emphasis has changed . The memo City Manager Cravens sent to the Commission dated September 4th 2015 request a cushion over $5000, to be applied to three projects.
1) Tree planting on the islands at the Long Lake intersections of Pembroke and Country Club to improve drainage. How much of the cushion is to cover this inherent city expense is not provided.
2) Planters and plant to “beautify” the West Long Lake Merchants store fronts. How much of the cushion will go this to “goal” was not stated. The Long Lake merchants beautification goal has been on the books for years and there is a little bit of irony here. Three ago years Mr. Cravens tossed the crown jewels of the City (Cranbrook, Village Club, Christ Church Cranbrook, and the Chapel at St. Hugo’s) to persuade store front merchants to beautify.
That fell on deaf ears until the City started providing incentives like drawings and plants. One wonders if what would have happened if he retained Celebrate Bloomfield and through clever marketing provided the Merchants with what they really wanted which is more customers.
3) The last item is also not itemized in terms of much of the cushion expense it requires but it will have the City planting trees along Long Lake beside the Country Club. Why exactly is not stated. On its own the Country Club is very well landscaped. Maybe they want to shield it’s golfing members from traffic noise. If so that is something the club should take care on its own.
One could say that $5000 is peanuts to a City with a 9 million dollar budget but it is still tax payer money unless donors with money to burn emerge. It has already been said that the City may find the money from other funds and sources and not need the $5000 plus cushion at all but with exception of the Islands at Pembroke and Country Club the emphasis is on befitting third parties as opposed to residents.