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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

City Manager Jay Cravens promises April/May Town Hall meeting to get Citizen's Input.

In the January 6th 2016 Edition of the Birmingham Bloomfield Hills Eagle, in an article titled  

As another year closes out, local leaders discuss what’s ahead in 2016, 

  Mr.Cravens is is quoted  as saying “I’m really excited about this opportunity. We will have a town meeting, probably in April or May, to get citizen input on issues or matters that concern them,” Cravens said. “If any of these matters need to be budgeted, we can do it as we adopt the 2017 budget in May.

 Since the last town hall meeting in the City of Bloomfield Hills was October of 2010  that is indeed news. The 2010 Town Hall meeting was not however about residents  providing        input for  City Commissioners.  Instead It was an opportunity for residents to  express their views on  a $600,000 contract  to restore services with the Bloomfield Township library. The Commission which donated it's time from a regular scheduled meeting for the Citizen Town Hall  claimed neutrality on the subject and let the residents go at it.

One  would think that after a six year absence  such a reversal of  policy  would deserve a fanfare  greater what a phone call to City  Manager Cravens could muster. Say trumpets blaring and cymbals crashing. Perhaps even an announcement from City Commission  and the  Mayor  himself. Mr Cravens   who has a tendency to talk 
out of his hat, did not however say  on what authority he was speaking.

 The idea of the town hall meeting is a good one. Having  it at the time of  City Budget meeting in which money is allocated for various departments and  projects  for the coming  year  is not  so good . Budget meetings are already  open to  residents provided that they realize that  a ticket to a baseball game  allows one  to observe but does not allow one to play in the game.

In recent years residents attending the  annual budget meetings have  been offered  only no view admission. The audio visual  aids at City Hall are  one sided  but for the Budget meetings the City does not  even employ something as  basic as an overhead projector.  One needs the binder that is given to the "attending"commissioners to follow along. Commisioner attendance at Budget meetings  has not been outstanding.  Once to force  attendance a former Mayor schedules a budget meeting immediately following a  regular evening  Commission Meeting.
Residents were welcome to stay but without   visual aides  in the court room like setting all they saw was the top of commissioners head behind binders as  the particulars were narrated to them by a droning voice  of a presenter also staring at binder.

If you want to attend  a Budget meeting(s) one should   file a  Freedom Information Act  (Foiya)  in advance by simply by writing  on a sheet of "I want to attend the (Date) budget meeting  and request a copy of what is being discussed at the meeting be made available to me at the meeting (the Binder)." Then you take  your request it to City Hall , get  it date stamped, submit it, and ask for  a copy of the request which will cost you ten cents.  The date stamping and the copy  is not  a requirement but I included them  lest you arrive  to discover the your request got lost in a bureaucratic shuffle of big government. Even simpler, e-mail your request which is automatically  date stamped  and you save ten cents in the process. 

No you can not  take the binder home or anywhere off premise  but you may return  to City Hall and review it any time until budget is approved and the material used to prepare it trashed.

Now back to the  Birmingham Bloomfield Eagle which is best bare none at reporting local Municipal news, and every  City of Bloomfield  household an receives an  edition in the mail free of charge.  The Eagle does not fancy itself  a King  or Queen maker,  endorse candidates or positions, or preach. It simply provides the news. The newspaper  is unique  in it's ability to get scoop caliber   comments  from the high and the mighty that  is the envy of other publications including this one. The Credit is due to  Eagle writer

Who actually covers many  communities, county services and even a school Board in addition to Birmingham Bloomfield  Hills. The newspaper  has also has what seems to be a new and expanded 
.archives for finding back issues or topics on line

So  Mr.Cravens, a Town Hall Meeting,(the first in six years) in April or May to coincide Budget 2016-2017 planning time ? So the commissioners can pencil in residents requests as fast they 
come up ? 

Actually it is much simpler than that. If the City Manager, The City Clerk,, and the  City Treasurer could  prepare four or five extra Budget 2016-2017 binders for the  four or five residents who would wish to attend, a better  budget informed citizenry would make for a better Town Hall in say September. 

If the extra binders. are a problem interested residents could be asked To RSVP them in advance to prevent over loading the system.

 If security is a concern(IE residents going off with the binders) The binders could be chained to the tables medieval monastery style. Last but not least do not give up on the overhead  projector. They are fairly bulky and not likely to be put somewhere and then forgotten. Try the basement under the fire station 

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