Monday, November 22, 2010

What to expect at tonight's City Council meeting regarding the Kempen Initiative

Tonight we will hear this rhetoric:
  • The people have a right to FREE LIBRARY! (not if we can't afford it!)
  • 2,500 people's desires must not be denied! (except those people were lied to so much, who knows what they wanted)
  • Even though Kempen's Mandate Petition was lamely written, insufficiently considered and completely inappropriate, City Council must STILL accept it without quibbling! (nonsense!)
  • The city hasn't even TRIED to cut the budget or staff, they are acting like it's business as usual (lie!)
  • The city spent $2.5 million on the park and red bricks at Big Beaver and Rochester (no, the DDA did!)
  • The will of the people! (They didn't care about the will of the people when they cheated to defeat Prop 1)
  • Ed Kempen is a great patriot! (he's either none too bright or a total fraud)
  • The City Manager makes too much money! (though less than they'll say)
  • Pensions! (they are locked into contracts, which the city is trying to negotiate down)
  • If the City Council accepts its attorney's advice and refuses to accept Kempen's Initiative, deciding to send it to a court for clarity, the City Council members are a bunch of: a) Communists, b) Liberals, c) Nazis, d) Totalitarians, and/or e) Dictators! (Well...all except Mr. Howrylak, of course.)
  But let's remember the facts.
  • BEFORE Ed Kempen left the City Clerk's office with his initiative petition, he was informed that even if he got all the signatures he needed, the petition would be NON-BINDING, because it addresses an administrative, rather than a legislative issue. He knew that before he started. Apparently the purpose of the petition was only to DRAW VOTES AWAY from Proposal and confuse voters, which it certainly did. 
  • The city is following through on its claim that this petition is non-binding and taking the issue to court in order to avoid 1) having to fund the library and lay-off dozens more cops or 2) a $90,000 special election that Mr. Kempen's little ruse would require.
  • For all Kempen's and TCU's concern over the "Will of the People," they weren't afraid to lie to voters signing the petition in good faith, by telling them the Kempen Initiative would "guarantee" the library would not close. Mr. Howrylak also said that in his letter to voters. That was NEVER true. It was always Kempen's Mandate to Nowhere. They simply wanted Proposal 1 to fail. 
  • People signing the petition had no idea what it meant. I had people tell me excitedly that they had signed the "Friends of the Library petition," not realizing it was a TCU bait-and-switch scheme. 
  • These cynics don't care. TCU leaders like Janice Daniels repeatedly said that having a library was no big deal. They even mocked the Citizens to Save the TPL for talking about children when it came to the library, as if that was political rhetoric--huh? 
  • Ms. Daniels claimed that people buying homes in Troy cared only about the tax rate and NEVER asked about the library. Her sudden interest in libraries is too little, too late, especially after she personally did her best to kill Prop 1, the only initiative that would have saved the library.
  • After the TCU cheated to defeat the 1.9 millage increase in February, no one from TCU attended the budget study sessions last spring to implore the city not to close the library. Therefore they learned nothing about why the City Council chose to do it. The real Friends of the Library attended and, with the information they learned, wrote and promoted Proposal 1. TCU then worked desperately to defeat Prop 1. By the way, don't think Mr. Howrylak knows too much about it either--he missed all those budget sessions too.
  • In 2008 the people of Troy made a huge mistake by passing an amendment to our city charter capping our tax rate at 8.1 mills. The city isn't "out of money" due to mismanagement. Rather, because of our plummeting taxes/city revenue, the city can't affect the budget in any way other than to cut staff and our programs and amenities. The sad irony is, considering our shrinking budget, the city council was acting fiscally responsible by closing the library.
  • The library has a budget threshold of about $2 million dollars. I've seen people recommend a $1.4 million library budget. They don't know what they're talking about. The council is not going to be able to scrape that kind of money out of the budget which is now shrinking even more than previously expected. 
  • If given the choice to have no library and a full-service police force or a library and a part-time police force, what would you choose?
  • Mr. Howrylak will fight desperately for the initiative NOT to go to a court for clarity. I believe he was sure he could play this two ways -- either the council accepted the initiative and Howrylak and Kempen won, or the council rejected the initiative and Howrylak would have claimed they were wasting money by sending this to a special election--but then he was planning to piggyback his brilliant 1/2-mill proposal on top of that special election and voila -- he would be hero. Yet, I think he remains nothing but the guy who put the final nail in the library's coffin.
There is no magic cure. There is no slush fund. There is no way to scrape enough money out of the budget to save the library.
The only way to save the library was Proposal 1 and TCU and Kempen and Howrylak saw to it that didn't happen.
So what's the plan now, Howrylak?

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