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Friday, October 29, 2010

Councilman Howrylak threatens to subvert the will of the people

In a move that has earned him a special city council meeting at which other members will apparently attempt to censure him, Troy City Councilman Martin Howrylak has sent out a letter to tell Troy residents to vote AGAINST a citizen-sponsored initiative to save our library.
According to coverage in the Oakland Press, his key point is as follows:
"The current library facility, books, computers, etc. are and will be property of the city of Troy, therefore, any new library district will need to find a building, buy books, computers, etc.,” and “property owners will thus end up paying twice for one library.”
But we have been told that other cities undergoing this transformation, simply lease these things to the new library or sell them for a dollar or some minor amount. Why would Mr. Howrylak threaten to allow our precious assets to mold away in a closed library? Why would he threaten to not release our assets to us, should Proposal 1 pass?
Perhaps Mr. Howrylak doesn't understand that the city's assets don't belong to him or to city council. They belong to the people. Who is he to stand in the people's way, to subvert our will if we choose to keep our library open with our own books and building?
Would he be happier if the books are never touched again and the building crumbles to bits, unused?
This is astonishing.
Of course he claims we can just sign the mandate, but here are the reasons it won't work.
Ever since I started working with the Citizens to Save the Troy Public Library I have been telling people there would be some October Surprise, some last-minute piece of ugly political garbage they would throw at us.
And here you have it, courtesy Mr. Martin Howrylak.
Please vote YES on Proposal 1 to Save our Library.
Write to all council people here to let them know how you feel about this.


  1. I wish people would step back and calm down over this. It's an important sign - desperation. I'm disappointed in Marty, and I'll say so later on my blog,, because I see this as a reversal of his commitment to us back in June to support a library millage as long as it was under 1 mill. It's fine that he changed his mind, after all I don't think he anticipated an independent library, but to it in this manner is disappointing. However, he is exposing something that no one seems to be aware of, because Dane Slater told us back around the same time that he would push to sell the collection immediately after the library closes, so there are some scary views on this council. As if we didn't already know that.

  2. My question is how much will this "lease" cost? Since the money will be going to the city and not the library then the statement that all the money will go to the library is not true as if any "rent" and O&M on the building is paid to the city.

  3. Hi Hobbs,
    I have been following this a long time. Councilwoman Kerwin said at one meeting something to the effect of, 'while I can't speak for all of city council, in these cases it is typical of the council to let the indie library lease the assets for virtually nothing or sell all to the indie library for a dollar...' She said that she would recognize the will of the people wanting the library and she would find a way to make sure we had access to our assets. Howrylak says the opposite in his letter-threatening to withhold OUR assets and make us buy all new. That's what I have a problem with him.
    And as two councilpeople say in the freep article below.

    "Councilwoman Robin Betramini said she supports Proposal 1, but she went over to the Community Center to talk to the group of residents.
    She negated Howrylak's contention in his letter that a new library board would have to pay for a new building and books, contending those things could be donated by the city.
    "I believe our library will not survive without additional funding, because the city council has written it out of the budget," she said. But she said she wanted to talk to community members in person.
    "I wanted you to hear that from me, straight up," she said.
    Mayor Pro Tem Wade Fleming, who also followed Howrylak to the Community Center meeting, said he's against Proposal 1 but wanted to hear from residents.
    "Whatever the voters decide tomorrow -- and I can't wait for Wednesday to come -- if it's yes, I'll work with the council on the transition," he said. "But if it's no, I'll do what I can to fund the library going forward.""

  4. Hi again Hobbs, the city attorney has also said that since there is no library board, the negotiations for the library assets cannot begin, however, it is common wisdom that in these cases the city provides assets as cheaply as possible.

  5. The will of the people ?

    LMAO. The people have already voted and voted overwhelmingly for no new taxes back in Feb. This excuse of a Mayor and her cohorts don't seem to understand fiscal responsibility. Therefore it's up to the residents of Troy to once again explain it to them.

    My house has 2 no votes for Prop 1. When will this Mayor and council, excluding Mr. howrylak understand this?

  6. It's important to understand that in most organizations where independent departments serve internal customers, such as the city's IT department and the library, there is a method of transferring funds through the budget process. As I understand it, the IT department's existing contract with the building department was transferred intact to Safe Built when the department was outsourced. This is something I would expect in this case. And most organizations have a line item called "general and administrative expenses" that is often referred to as "overhead." This includes things like legal and insurance fees, and, in the case of internal entities, building costs. I haven't been able to get independent confirmation of this yet, but I'm relatively certain the library is already "paying" the city for the building overhead, including maintenance, insurance and reserve funds for unexpected expenses (roof leaks, foundation issues, etc.). So while the city may gift the building to the library, it is my hope that they don't, but simply provide a reasonable lease rate based on prevailing market conditions (this would be a good time to negotiate one of those, no?) so the new library doesn't have to worry about insurance and reserve funds and can rely on the building to be maintained. Given that the library is already paying some, if not all, of these costs, it should be pretty close to a wash.

  7. @detredwingnut69, what people voted against in February was a convoluted argument that asked the voters to spend $44 million to cover a $22 million hole. Make sense? Of course not. And then they threatened the library, nature center, museum and community center which clearly just ticked people off. Understandable. Problem is, the real deficit is not $22 million, but $83 million and once you get your mind around that you begin to see that the simplistic and simpleton notion that "no taxes" but keep all my services is nonsense. I don't blame you for your ignorance of the truth, but you can find it here:

    BTW, it might surprise you and others, but Mr. Howrylak was not opposed to a tax increase in February, but he was opposed to that tax increase. I hope this difference in not lost on you because even the good Mr. Howrylak understands the dire condition the city is actually in. I know this because I've met with the man and discussed our plan, noted above, and he told Mr. Meyer and myself, as he told the entire city when he voted no on moving the 1.9 rate increase forward, that is was too much, not that it was entirely unnecessary.

  8. wingnut, I know many people who voted NO in the Feb millage election who will vote yes today. There is a difference.
    And what the political infighting of city council tells me is that I want the precious library out of their hands as soon as possible.
    And independent public library sounds pretty good to me.