Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What's it like to work at City Hall in this environment?

Below Ellen tells what it was like working part-time for the city during the February election. She is responding to the idea that people like Sue and I are bullies because we speak at city council meetings AGAINST the folks the TCU likes (bullies!). The fact that they speak out against the mayor and other council members is apparently cool (not bullies!).
This was when the TCU had all those lawn signs out saying the 1.9 millage increase would be a 29% tax increase. Anyone not paying attention (what would that be? 60-80% of Troy voters?) would think that meant a 29% increase to the entire tax bill, when it was just on the city portion (for me, it would have meant that instead of going down $600 in 2010, our taxes would have gone down $400, to pay for services we were in danger of losing).
Ellen was laid off shortly after as part of the city's ongoing budget cuts, so don't tell her that the city is operating as if it's "business as usual" (another in the series of commonly told TCU lies).
~~

I was thinking about the whole "bully" idea being discussed... if you care, here's the type of bullying I experienced first hand at City Hall in the midst of the "discourse" surrounding the February millage election ...


A resident walked into the Community Affairs office demanding why the City could possibly be about to increase his property taxes by 29%. He was outraged. He was also a big man and, frankly, his rage and size were of personal concern. I tried to explain that the "City" was not going to be increasing his property taxes by 29%. He insisted that was what was going to happen ... "it says so on those election signs." I proceeded to explain that was a campaign slogan, of sorts, and that even if the millage passed his taxes were not going to go up 29%.

His voice raised, he moved closer to the counter and he actually slammed his fist on the counter and said: "They wouldn't put it on the signs if it wasn't true." I patiently tried to explain that the 29% wasn't a reference to his own property tax payment (as I considered how to pick up the phone and call for help from the police). He grew more and more agitated. "I trust those signs more than I trust YOU in this City Hall!" he said.

I took a deep breath. My challenge was to state facts without trying to sway a vote one way or another. And, meanwhile, his hatred of me was apparent due to the fact that he was convinced I was part of a group just trying to rip him off. "Well, ok, then, sir, then go ahead and vote 'no' because that is your right," I assured him. "But before you do, you are more than welcome to check at the Assessing Department and you can see for sure what will happen to your taxes if you vote yes and also if you vote no. Actually, either way, your taxes are likely to go down," I patiently tried to explain.

"But this is so confusing and I'm not sure who to believe," he said. About then, the City Assessor walked by the door, glanced in at me, read the look of fear on my face and came in to see if he could be of assistance. The man sort of calmed down as he once again reassured his property tax payment was not going to go up 29 percent, no matter the outcome of the election. But, he was completely confused as to how this could even be going on. We explained that home values are dropping and so property taxes were dropping and thereby the income to the city was dropping, so the millage was to partially offset that income drop.

"I am so frustrated and I can't believe you people are doing this," he said. He left angry at us, full of mistrust and not sure exactly what to believe, but was planning to vote "no," just to be sure.

And so it went throughout the winter and even into the spring. Phone calls and "stop ins" that were laced with venom and hatred toward City Hall and me, a faithful servant. We're not taking about discourse, we're talking about an irrational hatred and mistrust. I was even accused of being at fault for being at war in Iran at one point. And, yes, I was often afraid. You just never knew exactly what was going to be on the mind of the next resident coming in the door.

That is what bullying feels like. Those who appear before Council questioning, probing and seeking truth in discourse have not even come close to the type of behavior I experienced first hand provoked by the misleading information disseminated by this group. 

So, please, really ... don't cry wolf here. It's yet another exaggeration that, following the effect of the political tactics of the TCU, is making me nuts. You push and shove on the playground of life, eventually several kids are going to push back. Deal with it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Freedom of speech, TCU style

Back in the fall of 2009 I heard about the trouble the Troy City Council was having balancing the budget. No surprise there, since the recession was causing property tax revenues to go down and the 2008 City Charter Amendment that capped our tax millage rate has locked Troy in at a devastatingly low rate.
I went to the meeting with a friend and for the first time saw the Troy Citizens United in action. They would stand up at the microphone before city council and claim that council members were all liars, incompetents and fools. They would claim any number of falsehoods that city council and staff would correct, and then the next TCU leader would stand up and say the same disproven things all over again.
Then after seeing how the Troy Citizens United cheated and lied their way through two elections, many of us right thinking citizens started speaking out against TCU at city council meetings.
We’ve been doing precisely what TCU members and leaders have long done. We told the people of Troy what we believed. What happened?
One TCU leader said he didn’t like the “tenor” of our comments. This was a particular gentleman who had railed against city council continuously and lied for TCU, not to mention that he’s part of the machine that sends out those ludicrous 4-page mailers that are filled with dis-information. He also spoke of our inappropriate “anger” as his own face turned bright red and veins stuck out on his forehead.
Another TCU leader, who had constantly paraded a series of lies before the council (the city council paid for the red bricks at an intersection, transit center costs $9 million, blah,blah,blah) and never waited around afterwards to hear the council correct him, called me and another anti-TCU woman the “High Priestesses of Name Calling.” I kinda liked the artistry of that name, though it wasn’t true. We weren’t calling people names. We were calling their underhanded activities underhanded.
Councilman Howrylak then threatened me, saying his good buddy could sue me for libel for repeating what his buddy had said. (Huh?) Howrylak said I could say whatever I liked about council members because they are public figures, while his friend was not. Really? A man quoted as a Troy Citizens United leader in various newspapers is not a public figure? Hmmm. And I can't repeat devious things the TCU admits to me? Oh. I must have missed that in citizenship class.

Conclusion: TCU folks can dish it out, but they can’t take it.

More evidence?
I was long ago banned from TCU’s Facebook page for showing my anger over the February election. Admittedly I expressed it in an inappropritate manner (I’ll admit mistakes, they never will), so I can’t blame them for censoring me, I guess. However, since then I often see TCU folks praising themselves for being pro-Freedom of Speech, I remain surprised by what I see on that page. Yesterday a fan of TCU quit the group’s Facebook page because 1) They refuse to say who is the secret moderator of said page and 2) they silence detractors for, in their words, being bullies at city council meetings.
Now that’s rich! The people who have beaten up on the mayor and city council for a year have now got their panties in a bunch because we speak back to them? Do they ban folks for being rude toward the mayor or councilmembers that TCU doesn’t support? No. Of course not. They will ban people who speak rudely to their own prized Councilman Howrylak—the man whose father gave $500 to the anti-Proposal 1 campaign run by TCU, the man who sent a letter to 3,200 Troy homes lying that a new library could never have the current library’s assets, the man who told people to go ahead and sign the Kempen Petition instead because it was a “better plan” even though all of them knew it was not going to work!
Oh, I see. Howrylak’s the good guy. I guess I have a hard time understanding that because I understand the TRUTH!

Conclusion: TCU folks can dish it out, but they can’t take it. 

My favorite example of the TCU/Troy Tea Party’s anti-Freedom of Speech attitude comes from Janice Daniels’ Guest Opinion piece from the Oakland Press. She wrote about how much Republicans LOVE freedom of speech:
If you look back to the Republican Platform of 1856, you will read a concise, well defined plan of specific actions designed to defend such things as the citizenry’s right to bear arms, clear opposition to slavery, and the right to free speech.
Then she proceeds to tell Republicans not only how they are allowed to act and think, but what language they must use (Democracy is a dirty word, I guess 'cause it sounds like Democrat--brilliant--so they have to use Republicanism) and what their motto MUST be:
So, RINOs must chant: “I will use the phrases American Republicanism, liberty, freedom and Representative Republicanism in place of the word democracy for the rest of my life.”
So since everyone keeps saying I am a "name caller", perhaps I should indulge them. 
I have to conclude that people like the TCU bunch -- who tell everyone else how to act and then act the opposite way -- are simply a bunch of hypocrites.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wall Street Journal mentions Troy's Tea Party (TCU)

In this Wall Street Journal piece from Nov. 23, 2010, reporter Jennifer Levitz discusses how tea partiers plan to take over the country by taking over one locale at a time.
They even interview Tea Party/Troy Citizen United Leader Janice Daniels, who demonstrated her great management chops at a recent city council meeting by saying all city council has to do is cut the top 5 city employee's wages and benefits in half to save $500K (no doubt inaccurate and surely a head scratcher).
I guess she didn't tell WSJ (as she told city council) that people looking for homes in Troy don't care about libraries.
Don't forget--she'll probably be running for city council, with Ed Kempen and Howrylak for mayor. If they do to the country what Howrylak & Co are doing to us...ho boy!
Here are some key lines from the article, entitled "Tea Parties Turn to Local Issues." Read the whole article here
...Local leaders say that to truly stem spending, they also must stage what Steven Vernon, vice president of the Tea Party Manatee on Florida's Gulf Coast, calls "a ground-level attack."
"We have to start at the lowest level and take our country back," Mr. Vernon said.
It's also more convenient for tea-party activists—typically volunteers with separate full-time jobs–to be local gadflies than national ones. "We can't go to every congressional hearing in D.C. but we can go to every school-board meeting in Manatee County," said Mr. Vernon, a technology-contracts negotiator.
On the local management side, they sound a lot like Troy's weary leaders...
 Meanwhile, many recession-weary local officials are gearing up for a potential clash with tea partiers, saying they have already squeezed all they can out of their budgets.
"Good luck! If they can find the fat, I want to know where it is," said Craig Dowling, the superintendent of the Harris County School District, who said he had a visit from local tea-party activists in late October. "We are driving school buses that are 20 years old. I wonder how many of them are driving 20-year-old cars."
And 
Already, tensions are brewing in some municipalities, with local officials saying they need new revenue to maintain public services, while tea-party activists say new taxes aren't an option.
And then Troy comes in:
Earlier this month in Troy, Mich., tea-party activists delivered a petition to city hall, seeking to force officials to keep the Troy Public Library open without a new tax.
"We really are embroiled in a big controversy here in Troy," said Janice Daniels, co-founder of the Troy Area Tea Party.
Local voters narrowly shot down a proposal for a library tax on the Nov. 2 ballot. Now, the library is scheduled to close in June.
The tea-party members believe the city can find money for the library by cutting compensation packages of municipal employees, but Mayor Louise Schilling said that "the suggestions made by the tea party are not realistic."
"If you're going to have services, you have to pay for them," she said.

Kempen's latest petition and Troy's low property millage

While Kempen/Howrylak/TCU & Co. stand by to see how much their last petition is going to cost Troy, whether it's $90,000 for a special election, or forcing the city to lay off a passel of cops to pay for a two-bit library, Kempen has yet another petition coming. 
First I'll say, Kempen tells a friend of mine that we shouldn't blame him if the the library petition goes to a special election--it wasn't his fault because he didn't want to do it in such a way that might force a special election - but he was "over-ruled." 
Wait...what? Kempen was "over-ruled" about how he filed the Kempen petition?
Over-ruled by whom? If you ever wondered if Kempen was a puppet of bigger fish like Howrylak/Gosselin, well... now you know. This is also more proof that the petition was merely a stunt to draw votes away from Proposal 1. 
OK, so the latest is in the Oakland Press:
Troy resident Edward Kempen, who filed the petition with the Troy city clerk on Nov. 9, said: “It’s important that we understand the implications to the city and the implications this petition would have on the budget. Ultimately, the city council has to respond to the request of the citizens.”
and just in case the court goes against Kempen's first petition:
In a pre-emptive move, Kempen and his group, Friends of the Library with no New Taxes, are circulating a petition to amend Troy’s city charter. The petition states: “In order to assure affordable access to quality local library service, and to honor the spirit of Section 2.2(W) of this charter, the city of Troy shall dedicate funds from its general operating fun sufficient to operate and maintain a public library open to the public for not less than 55 hours each week.”
Kempen needs at least 3,000 signatures to place the proposed city charter amendment on the Nov. 1, 2011, general election ballot.
So, finally they have worded their petition properly. I guess in their haste to kill Prop 1 they didn't have time to make it clear the first time around.
But this one is much bigger. It will change the city charter. And it will guarantee that we can never create an independent library.
It will also strangle the city budget. As I have said before, Troy has an extremely low tax rate compared to other cities, and due to the 2008 Amendment, passed by Troy voters, there is no way to raise taxes except through an election (which the TCU/Kempen/Howrylak & Co will lie cheat and steal to win). 
Troy city council is not incompetent. They simply have decreasing funds and no way to raise revenues, so their only method of balancing the budget is to slash, slash, slash our budget.
Our taxes are plummeting and our services will plummet.
The Troy Citizens United constantly say that Troy taxes are the highest in the area. That is a big ol' lie. Our millage is locked. Look at the mills of other Oakland County communities. Also, many of these communities fund their libraries with a separate millage. 

Troy 9.2800
Rochester Hills ** 9.3700 
Novi 10.5416 
Auburn Hills 10.5602
Bloomfield 11.1200
Farmington Hills 11.6072
Royal Oak 11.6860
Birmingham 14.2221
South Lyon 16.0601
Farmington 15.4019
Southfield 16.3428

Northville 16.3650
Clarkston 17.8556
Madison Heights 18.0021
Pleasant Ridge 18.2328

What kind of library will we get, squeezed out of that millage rate?
So what are we going to do, folks? 



As Troy's Library Closes, Clawson's Library Re-opens

In the article "Expanded Clawson library ready to reopen" from Monday, November 22, 2010, the Daily Tribune covers the re-opening of Clawson's Library after $15. million of upgrades. Read the article in full here.
Staff writer Michael P. McConnell writes
Patrons can check out the city's newly expanded and upgraded public library when it opens Monday.
"We have wonderful new areas for children and teens," said Blair Memorial Library Director Elizabeth Gulick.
Workers added about 4,000 square feet to the library, which is now more than 10,000 square feet.
Clawson voters in 2009 approved the $1.5 million bond to fund to expand the library. The 10-year bond is expected to cost the owner of a house with a taxable value of $60,000 about $30 a year.
Prideful Troy gets a mention too:
City Manager Mark Pollock said residents of smaller communities tend to support and more willingly fund their libraries than larger cities like Troy.
Troy voters defeated millages for their library Nov. 2 and the library has been cut from the city's budget for next year, which will likely shutter the library unless some cuts are restored. Facing a $22 million revenue shortfall over the next four years because of declining property values, Troy officials have made deep cuts to city departments.
"Obviously, we believe the library expansion adds real value to the community," Pollock said. "We're extremely pleased and believe the residents will welcome and embrace the opening as much as we do."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Our Banana Republic, by Nicholas Kristof

This is an article I found in the International Herald Tribune about why extending the Bush Tax Cuts may not be the best idea for our country or our economy.
Kristof is a NYT columnist.

November 6, 2010
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
In my reporting, I regularly travel to banana republics notorious for their inequality. In some of these plutocracies, the richest 1 percent of the population gobbles up 20 percent of the national pie.
But guess what? You no longer need to travel to distant and dangerous countries to observe such rapacious inequality. We now have it right here at home — and in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election, it may get worse.
The richest 1 percent of Americans now take home almost 24 percent of income, up from almost 9 percent in 1976. As Timothy Noah of Slate noted in an excellent series on inequality, the United States now arguably has a more unequal distribution of wealth than traditional banana republics like Nicaragua, Venezuela and Guyana.
C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.
That’s the backdrop for one of the first big postelection fights in Washington — how far to extend the Bush tax cuts to the most affluent 2 percent of Americans. Both parties agree on extending tax cuts on the first $250,000 of incomes, even for billionaires. Republicans would also cut taxes above that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why I can't stop (was: Last night at city council...)

I'm taking no joy out of appearing in front of city council at every meeting and trying to tell the truth about what's happening in Troy. I feel, rather, like I'm on a mission.

Twice now I have been on the opposite side of the folks of TCU in an election. Twice I have seen the lowly level to which they are willing to sink in order to win.

In February I was on the City Council's Ethnic Issue Advisory Committee with a young man named of John Witt. I knew nothing about him. But just before the special election to raise our city millage by 1.9 mills a four-page TCU mailer came out. It was filled with untruths and dis-information, just like the one they used in the subsequent November Library millage. But the most distressing bit of information was on the back page.

The mailer claimed that "Members of these city committees recommend voting NO on" the millage. And there was my little committee endorsing a NO vote. It was Friday before the Tuesday election. There was no time to fix it. Calls to committee members by our chairwoman proved that no one she could reach had anything to do with the mailer. Everyone was voting YES. Then I learned that Mr. Witt was in a leadership position in TCU.

When I asked Mr. Witt how he could have done such a thing, put lies in that mailer and send it out just before the election so there was no time to correct it, he said to me, in City Council Chambers, "That's the way the game is played."

And thus began the radicalization of Sharon of Troy.

The library, the city's welfare, the city's amenities are not a game to me nor to my family. This is our lives we are fighting for, not some bullet point on a political resume.

Our committee virtually censured Mr. Witt at the next meeting, voting unanimously that no one should use the committee for such political purposes in the future.

In the months after the February election, I began to see the TCU pattern of destruction and how the same suspect's fingerprints are always on everything: Howrylak, Witt, Daniels, Clark, Gosselin.

On November 22, 2010 Keep Troy Strong blogger Sue Martin and I spoke before Council, as is our right, I believe. And we took some heat from a woman who I have often seen pointing fingers at and being rude to Mayor Schilling. She angrily criticized us for being mean to Mr. Howrylak and repeatedly called us Angry Women.

The woman completely defended Mr. Howrylak and said of his letter, asking voters to vote NO on Proposal 1, "You're giving Councilman Howrylak way too much credit if you think he could influence the election by 700 votes."

But then why would he bother?

Why would the TCU put three phoney proposals on the ballot if they didn't think it would help kill Proposal 1?

Why run the Mandate Petition to Nowhere if you didn't think it would influence the election?

Why would TCU cheat so much if they didn't think it would work?

After Proposal 1 was defeated, Councilman Martin Howrylak's dad Frank told a newspaper that he is, "humbled" by the election results. I guess our councilman's daddy is proud of his boy's achievements, even if the nice lady last night doesn't think he has the power to influence elections.

They know cheating works. That's why they cheat.

This is my problem.

I don't want the cheaters to decide Troy's fate.

I don't want the cheaters to win every time.

I don't want the cheaters to run this city, either. Because they prove by all that they say and do that;

  1. They don't understand how city government works (e.g., you can't change legally-binding, arbitrated pension plans ala Janice Daniels' claim that you just go ahead and do it, law be damned, apparently), or
  2. They don't care about the truth and say whatever they have to say to win.
So, yes. I am an angry woman. Sue is, too. And Ellen. And so many more.

And we have to keep telling the truth.

And hope someone is listening.

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?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

TCU's glorious leader tells Republicans how they MUST speak

In her odd, semi-coherent diatribe against moderate Republicans in the 11/3/2010 Oakland Press, Troy Citizens United/Troy Tea Party leader Janice Daniels tells people how to think and how to speak--while wrapping herself in the Constitution!
Ah, irony...
In case you don't know her, she's the one always holding up Howrylak for Mayor signs or lying/babbling incoherently at the city council meeting microphone.



With election over, let’s bring back wayward Republicans


Really? And how do the people benefit from the state? By allowing our elected officials to lie in order kill a citizen-initiated ballot proposal? Ha!
My personal favorite part is here, because at least I know she is against slavery:

It is with this focus that I look at the Grand Old Party and their past legacy of defending free men, free markets and private ownership of land. If you look back to the Republican Platform of 1856, you will read a concise, well defined plan of specific actions designed to defend such things as the citizenry’s right to bear arms, clear opposition to slavery, and the right to free speech.
This is sound doctrine. There is no good reason why the Republican Party should have allowed the party faithfuls (or unfaithfuls as the case may be) to transform themselves into virtual shadow dancers of the opposition party’s big government players. 

She ends the piece with this demand:

So, RINOs must chant: “I will use the phrases American Republicanism, liberty, freedom and Representative Republicanism in place of the word democracy for the rest of my life.” That is Step One in the new RR recovery plan.
Janice L. Daniels is co-founder of the Troy Area Tea Party.



FYI, the standard definition: Republican In Name Only, or RINO, refers to a member of the Republican Party of the United States (the GOP) whose political views or actions are perceived as insufficiently conservative or otherwise outside the party mainstream. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Who copies whose lies?

Fascinating!
I just found a website showing a letter from Howrylak in February in which he throws his colleagues and workers under the bus and parades all those lies from the TCU website!
Wow!
So is he copying off their paper or are they peeping at his?
They'd all be just darling if they weren't trying so desperately hard to destroy this city.
Go here for the truth about these lies.
See for yourself:
Letter from Councilman Martin Howrylak on the Proposed 2/23/10 Tax Increase
FEBRUARY 22, 2010
Dear Neighbor,
I am writing to encourage you to vote NO in the Tuesday, February 23 election. An affirmative vote will increase our operating mill levy by 29%! This nearly $40 million tax increase is unnecessary if the City of Troy properly adjusts its spending to the current situation. This is no different than the tough choices that countless individuals, families and businesses have had to make during this very painful recession.
Don’t be fooled by the scare tactics of draconian cuts. The election is principally about allowing the City’s municipal management to continue running this City in an unsustainable fashion. Instead of rationalizing pay and benefit scales, consistent with what the rest of us have had to deal with, management comes to you, the taxpayers of Troy, begging for a
handout. They threaten us with terms like “Keep Troy Safe”. Are they inferring that they will negate their moral responsibility to provide for the safety of Troy’s citizens? I think not. They simply want to scare you into submission. It is dishonest and it saddens me greatly that they seek to tug on your heartstrings and mine in order to manipulate an outcome.
I offer the following as examples of my frustration:
1) Ignoring fiscal prudence, the Downtown Development Authority spent $2 million to “beautify” a perfectly functioning Big Beaver and Rochester Road intersection.
2) The City took the lead in a project that will toss away over $6 million in your tax dollars for a transit center without any plan for a transit system.
3) The city manager receives more annually ($220,500) than the governor ($177,000)!
4) Benefits packages for staff you and I can only dream of – 10% defined contribution paid by the city with minimal employee contribution and a defined benefit plan which allows many employee groups to retire after 25 years with most of their salary, in addition to extraordinarily generous health benefits.
My position in this fiscal debate has always been about shared sacrifices and honesty in the information flow from city hall to you. Neither of these two are happening now. If nothing else, you need to VOTE NO on Tuesday, February 23 to send a message to city management to stop trying to manipulate you. We are not fools and we deserve better than this!
Please join me in asking the city to tighten its belt and implement recommendations of reorganization and cost rationalization first, by voting NO on February 23, 2010.
Martin Howrylak
Councilman, City of Troy

"Kempen Library Initiative" to be considered on Monday

At the Troy City Council meeting on Monday night we're going to hear these things over and over:

  • 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! (Blah, blah, blah!)
  • 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?

On Transparecy: A Tale of Truth in Troy 2010

For weeks, every time I point out a misleading fact in a tea-drinking political group's talking points, I get accused of being any one of the following:

-- stupid
-- uneducated
-- ignorant
-- Liberal (not that there's anything wrong with that, except that it's spit at me like I'm a leper)
-- un-Patriotic
-- over-sensitive
-- melodramatic
-- did I mention stupid?

See, digging around for the facts behind the claims sets some people off. They don't WANT anyone to know the facts behind the claims even though they toss around words like "transparency" and "truth" with every breath. Their brand of Patriotism is better than anyone else's, and if you point out that they've mislead you...they will ban you from their online sites, they will insult you, and they will accuse of you bullying.

Voting down the library millage and the prior millage last February meant that they were guardians of transparency in the city budget. Except their form of transparency means publicizing budget items that no longer exist. Their form of transparency means sharing the total cost of a city employee in hard numbers, but calling it total compensation. Their form of transparency means allowing a city council member speak for them...a council member who is perhaps not even a Troy resident, and is certainly not a tax-paying resident, nor a parent in our schools. Their form of transparency means often outright lying about what was or was not done with city monies.

Their form of transparency is a sham.

These people take part in these transparency games daily, speaking at our council meetings, circulating petitions and mailings, and commenting on news stories or Facebook pages or on local blog sites. They use their real names. It doesn't take a Google genius to then find out who they really are. They are local accountants, consultants, business owners, and more.

I ask you: do you want to do business with someone guilty of these tactics? Would you want that kind of transparency in financial dealings over which they have power and control? Would you support a local business who allows an employee or owner to regularly mislead the public with mathe-magician accounting practices? DO YOU WANT THEM ON YOUR CITY COUNCIL IN THE FUTURE?

If someone has to twist facts that can be easily verified with very little digging...what are they doing with the information not so readily available? How else are they manipulating voters and citizens?

Many innocent and sincere Troy residents were conned by groups who claim to want transparency. Good people who truly wanted to save the library believed the silver-tongued devils who promised to do exactly that, knowing full well there was no money for it. Hard-working citizens voted down the only viable option to save the Troy Public Library because they were told THERE WAS A PLAN.

There is no plan.
The petition does nothing.
We're right back where we started.

To paraphrase Walter Kelly, we have seen the enemy in Troy...and they are among us.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ideal neighborhood's include libraries, just ask children!

From friend of the library, Edna...
Detroit boy's winning design will be float in Thanksgiving parade
By KRISTA JAHNKE
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
When 13-year-old Za'Cyrus Gaiter closed his eyes and pictured his dream neighborhood, it had necessities like a hospital and library, but also a roller coaster winding its way through downtown, a Ferris wheel and a science center.
Za'Cyrus, a student at Duke Ellington Conservatory on Detroit's east side, put colored pencil to paper and drew that vision for his eighth-grade art class. His teacher, Patrice Wilson, submitted it as an entry in the annual Skillman Foundation Float Design Contest. Za'Cyrus called his float "Dreams Do Come True."
On Thursday, Za'Cyrus stood in the Parade Co.'s headquarters with his parents and four siblings and saw that for himself. He was announced as the winner of the 19th annual float design contest. And he will ride that dream-turned-to-life down Woodward Avenue next week in America's Thanksgiving Parade, which begins at 9:20 a.m.
"It's wonderful," his mother, 33-year-old Elonia Gaiter, said after seeing it unveiled for the first time. "Better than I expected."
A spiky-haired kid with buck teeth sits on the front of the float. Behind him is the neighborhood of Za'Cyrus' imagination: a book-shaped library, a science center with a spaceship on top, a tall mall, a spiraling roller coaster, an ice-cream stand and a hospital. Towering over it all, a twirling, turning Ferris wheel.
"Our art teacher gave us a vision and said to make it different," Za'Cyrus said. "She said to make it a neighborhood you'd like to live in. This seems like it would be a fun place to live."
It was the first year Za'Cyrus entered the contest, but he said he's been interested in drawing since kindergarten. His parents both draw, too. Elonia Gaiter draws clothing, and dad Walter Gaiter said he draws mostly cars.
"We've been trying to steer them into areas they should be, and all of our children are artists," Elonia Gaiter said. "I'm so glad that this happened, because when the world tells him he has talent, it's different. With parents, it's just us trying to encourage him. But this makes it more real."
Unlike previous years, Skillman and the Parade Co. didn't hold a contest for a balloon design this year.
"We decided together we wouldn't put the money into purchasing a balloon," said parade CEO Tony Michaels, who called Za'Cyrus' design "a feel-good vision."
"We'd put it into bolder, bigger floats and do things more creatively here at the Parade Co., because we don't make balloons here."
Contact Krista Jahnke: 313-222-8854 or kjahnke @freepress.com

TCU Lies still on their website

The key Troy Citizens United tactic is to lie and lie long after the lies have been dis-proven, in order to exhaust the truth tellers--and trust me, I'm exhausted!
Here are dis-proven lies still on their website:

          TCU LIE - "Why does the City spend $2.5 million breaking up the Rochester/Big Beaver intersection and adding a fountain while it kills our library?" 
          FACT - The DDA spent that money, not the city. That money comes mostly from businesses and the county. -- IRRELEVANT

          TCU LIE - "Why does the City spend more than $100,000 for a Library drop box and canopy – which it never had before – if it is threatening to close the library?" 
          FACT - Go to the library. Is there a canopy? NO. Is there a drive-thru drop box? NO. The money was moved back into the general fund long ago.-- IRRELEVANT

TCU LIE - Why does the City have one of the highest if not the highest paid top administrator in Michigan – over $220,000 including currently paid pension?
          FACT - That is not his salary, so TCU should stop claiming he "makes more than the governor," etc., etc. The people think this means that's the guy's base salary. See Sue's brilliant post for an explanation. -- The truth is more complex than a lie.

TCU LIE - If the County of Oakland is committed to balancing its budget without a millage increase, why can’t Troy do the same? Does this indicate bad management on the part of the Council and City Manager?
          FACT - No, fools! The council is committed to balancing the frickin' budget, which is why they had to close the library. Pay attention!

TCU LIE - Why not use reserves for unnecessary and undesignated items like the $2 million for Trails, the $1.75 million for City Hall grounds, the 700K for non specified Park Development? 
          FACT - These items have ALREADY been rolled back into the general fund. 
Go to the summary of the current three-year budget here and read on page 3:
Please know that this budget document utilizes
all of the approximately $3.8 million that was
reserved in non-essential Capital projects in
order to delay lay-offs in the public safety area.
This incorporates the trail system reserve of $2
million, park development reserve of $0.7
million and Civic Center reserve of $1.1 million.
I don't understand how the TCU can criticize the budget when they have not read it!?!?!?

If you've ever been to a city council meeting, you will see that the Troy Citizens United (TCU) folks stand up again and again telling these lies. Then they prance out of the chambers before the city explains their misinformation. 
Do they know how misinformed they are? Is that the plot of their political operative gurus, like Glenn Clark and Bob Gosselin?
I really want to know--Are they wicked or just stupid?

Kempen Library Initiative action on Monday

Also on Monday, council will consider whether to file a declaratory action with the Oakland County Circuit Court to obtain clarity as to the Kempen initiative library ordinance petition.
In Agenda Item I-07, a memo from the City Manager, City Clerk and City Attorney states that:
"The Kempen Initiative contains an administrative initiative ordinance proposal, as opposed to a legislative initiative. This is significant, since compliance with this ordinance would mandate an amendment to the City Council adopted budget."
Therefore, the council may choose to get a court decision on the matter:
"Unlike the November 2, 2010 defeated independent library proposal(s), which contained dedicated maximum millage options, the Kempen petition is vague and incomplete, and does not provide any funding. If approved, the ordinance would be unsustainable and would circumvent the City Council administrative budgetary process, and could also be in conflict with other provisions of City Charter and State law. As a result, the receipt of this petition raises several complications for City Council. Therefore City Council may wish to obtain procedural clarity from the Court, which would be binding. This can be expedited through the filing a declaratory action lawsuit, where a stay of proceedings could also be requested. It is possible that if such a lawsuit was authorized, that a court decision  could be rendered prior to the expiration of the thirty day time period, as provided in Section 5.12."
The council will possibly vote on the below "Suggested Resolution"

RESOLVED, That Troy City Council hereby DIRECTS the City Attorney to file a declaratory action with the Oakland County Circuit Court to obtain clarity as to the Kempen initiative library ordinance petition.
The entire agenda packet is here (though sometimes these links may not work)

Real Library Closure Date - April 30, 2011!

In this memo to City Council from the city managers and the library director, regarding Monday's council meeting agenda item N-09 the initial proposed plans for closure come out.
1) As of April 30, 2011 the public will no longer have access to the library, so that full-scale closure procedures can take place.
2) For the short-term, the books will remain on the shelves. (Good news there, at least--if anyone wants to sell the books, it's time for pitchforks and burning torches!)
~~
Date: November 17, 2010
To: The Honorable Mayor and City Council Members
From: John Szerlag, City Manager
John M. Lamerato, Assistant City Manager/Finance & Administration
Cathleen A. Russ, Library Director
Subject: Closure Plan for Troy Public Library
In order to affect the complete closure of the Troy Public Library by June 30, 2011, the following steps should be taken:

  • Library service to the public will end at close of business on Sunday, April 30, 2011. All library materials that are checked out will be due no later than May 14, 2011.
  • The library’s collection will remain on the library’s shelves, for the short-term. Returned material will be reshelved and an inventory taken. The collection will be covered and protected by June 30, 2011.
  • Library staff will be retained through June 30, 2011, to assist with closing responsibilities such as checking in returned material, inventory, and other closing responsibilities.
  • The Friends of the Library will dispose of their inventory in the Friends Shop and Book Shop.
  • The City of Troy will retain the services of a collection agency, so that significant unpaid fines/fees will be recouped. Also, fees for library material that have not been returned will􀁙􀁈 not been returned will also be recouped by the collection agency. 
  • Agencies affected by TPL’s closure, such as the Suburban Library Cooperative, the Library of Michigan, and libraries with which TPL has a reciprocal borrowing agreement, will be notified of the closure date.

Next Monday's City Council Meeting

Here is the agenda for next Monday, Nov. 22, Troy City Council meeting. 

Note underlined items of interest.

November 22, 2010: Regular Meeting

Call to Order

A-01 Call to Order

Roll Call

B-01 Roll Call

Certificates of Recognition and Special Presentations

C-01 Certificates of Recognition and Special Presentations

Carryover Items

D-01 Carryover Items

Public Hearings

E-01 Public Hearings

Public Comment

F-01 Public Comment

Response/Reply to Public Comment

G-01 - Response to Savage - Signs on Big Beaver Backup Material

Postponed Items

H-01 Postponed Items

Regular Business

I-04 - Troy Nature Society Startup Seed Money Request Backup Material

I-05 - Ratification of Contract-TFSOA 2011-2014 Backup Material

I-07 - Declaratory Action-Kempen Petition Backup Material

Consent Agenda

J-02 - City Council-Regular-Draft - 11.15.2010 Backup Material

J-03 - National Family Caregivers Month-November 2010 Backup Material

J-04 - SPR 3 Snow Removal Rental Equipment Including Operators Backup Material

Memorandums and Future Council Agenda Items

K-01 Memorandums

K-02 Future Council Agenda Items

Council Referrals

L-01 Council Referrals

Council Comments

M-01 Council Comments

Reports

N-01a - Employees Retirement System - Final 07.14.10 Backup Material

N-01b - Employees Retirement System - Final 09.08.10 Backup Material

N-01c - Liquor Advisory Committee - Final 10.04.10 Backup Material

N-01d - Employees Retirement System - Final 10.13.10 Backup Material

N-01e - Board of Zoning Appeals - Draft 10.19.10 Backup Material

N-01f - Liquor Advisory Committee - Draft 11.08.10 Backup Material

N-02a - BidNet On-Line Auction Services - October 2010 Backup Material

N-03a - LofA from Madison Heights Police Dept. Backup Material

N-03b - LofA from Macomb County Sheriff's Dept. Backup Material

N-05 - State of Michigan-Hearing for Electric Customers Backup Material

N-06 - Enbridge Oil Spill-Marshall Michigan Reimbursement Backup Material

N-07 - Salary-Fringe Benefits-City Mgr-Cty Atty-Dept Directors Backup Material

N-08 - Police Grants Report Backup Material

N-09 - Closure Plan for Troy Public Library Backup Material

Study Items

O-01 Goals and Objectives