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Monday, January 31, 2011

Interesting presentation - ICMA Report, Part 1

Three things that spoke loudest to this viewer...
  1. John Szerlag saying that maybe when the entire city staff is down to 40 people they can move "City Hall" into the Community Center -- Whoa! -- Still want to claim they're not trying?
  2. Compensation packages in Troy are not Cadillac -- they are perfectly typical.
  3. Janice Daniels is unwise (wink). Did she tell Mr. Rapp that he should have considered the Constitution in his analysis of Troy's organizational structure? Is there anything she DOES understand? 

Public Comment tonight

There will be public comment after the ICMA Report at tonight's city council meeting.

Free Press article on ICMA report

But as you read this, or the ICMA report, one wonders if a city like Troy really needs to have the third lowest tax millage rate in Oakland County. 
Do we really WANT to have a skeletal city government and nonexistent services? 
Do I really need my taxes and services to continue their free fall?
I moved here for the services, ironically. I don't mind paying a few bucks to save some of these things.
What's good for rich folks like Bob Gosselin is not necessarily good for ordinary folks like me.

January 31, 2011
Report says Troy should shrink its staffs to cut costs

Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Troy officials should condense departments, cross-train employees and shrink the city's government, according to a report expected to be presented to Troy City Council tonight.
"The City of Troy is a very well-run city; that may enlighten some people," City Manager John Szerlag said when asked about the report's findings Friday. "That's what I thought jumped out at me the most."
Touted as an independent review, the 160-page analysis was compiled by three consultants from the International City-Council Management Association (ICMA), along with two consultants from the Center for State and Local Government Excellence and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
Other findings include:
• "The city's efforts to outsource and privatize services, such as building inspections and the golf courses, mirrors the leading practices found across the nation, and the privatization review process is well-designed."
• "Salaries and current benefits are comparable to similarly sized Michigan cities, and measures to contain these costs are leading-edge practices."
• "The city's actions to address the cost of employee benefits ... place it among local government leaders in managing these costs."
• "Most departments and functions are at or nearing the limit of their ability to 'do more with less.' "
• "The proposed plan(s) for addressing declining revenues balances the budget, but the decisions and detailed implications have not been fully acknowledged or embraced by staff."
The special council meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the council boardroom, a small conference room off council chambers.

read the entire article here

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Special City Council Meeting, 6:00 pm, Mon., Jan. 31, 2011 - ICMA Report

FYI - The meeting is slated to begin at 6:00pm and end at 9:30.
There is no mention of time for public comment on the agenda. Below is the entire agenda.

Current City Council Meeting Agenda

January 31, 2011 City Council Meeting - Special Meeting

Call to Order

A-01 Call to Order

Roll Call

B-01 Roll Call

Certificates of Recognition and Special Presentations

C-01 ICMA Report Backup Material

Saturday, January 29, 2011

“People don’t want to tax but there is a point below which they don’t want to cut.”

Those who want to cut taxes are doing so when the taxes we are paying are already much lower than a few years ago. We are starving our city.

Tea Partier Who Ran on Tax Revolt Line Causes Massive Local Budget Crisis; Situation a "Black Eye for the Tea Party"

n 2009, Republican Edward Mangano was one of the first politicians to channel the Tea Party’s anti-tax fervor into a political victory when he knocked off Democrat Tom Suozzi for Nassau County Executive in New York State. Suozzi was a major political figure with ambitions for statewide office, and Magnano was a local legislator “given little chance of winning leading up to Election Day.”
Upon taking office, Mangano — who ran on both the Republican and Tax Revolt Party lines — made good on a key campaign promise. On his inauguration day, Mangano signed a repeal of an unpopular home energy tax, instituted by Suozzi. The tax was implemented two years before as part of a deferred-pay deal Suozzi brokered with public worker unions, which was intended to spread around the sacrifice to deal with the county’s budget problems.
In a special report, Reuters details how the repeal of that tax lead to a budgetary crisis and ultimately a takeover of the county’s finances by a state-appointed fiscal overseer. Noting that Mangano’s actions are “a black eye for the Tea Party,” the report explains how the Tea Party county executive had no plans for how to replace the lost tax revenue:
The home energy tax cost households on average $7.27 each month — a fraction of most tax bills. But in an area already paying some of the highest taxes in the country, it took on symbolic importance. [...]
[Mangano's] struggle began almost the minute he repealed the energy tax. “I’m not sure that (Mangano) understood the magnitude of the fiscal problems that he faced and he had promises from the campaign that he had to keep,” said Lawrence Levy, a dean at Hofstra University and a former member of the editorial board at Long Island daily Newsday. Eliminating the energy tax “blew a bigger hole in his budget and added to the problem with really no plan to replace the revenue,” he said.
Within two working days of Mangano’s inauguration, a letter from [the Nassau County Interim Financial Authority] landed on his desk — the opening salvo of what would fast become a testy relationship. In a two-page letter, NIFA’s chairman Ronald Stack requested a revised multi-year plan and asked Mangano how he planned to make up for the lost revenue.
He never did provide an answer that satisfied them. On Wednesday, NIFA said the county’s $2.6 billion budget was out of balance by $176 million, meaning it could take control of its finances. Mangano said he would sue NIFA….In November, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the county and put its finances on outlook negative, citing weak liquidity and an over-reliance on nonrecurring revenues. The rating agency singled out the energy tax repeal as problematic.
A June 2010 study found that 65 percent of counties in the United States are suffering from large budget shortfalls. Reuters quotes Richard Ravitch, who advised New York City during its fiscal crisis in the 1970s, about the situation in Nassau: “It’s a metaphor for what is happening in the Western world,” he said. “People don’t want to tax but there is a point below which they don’t want to cut.”
If politicians like Mangano continue to demagogue against reasonable tax measures, many communities may reach that point and beyond. Last year, for example, the “tax-averse” city of Colorado Springs, CO shut off one third of its streetlights and laid off large numbers of public workers, including police and firefighters, after voters continually rejected tax increases.
By George Zornick 

Friday, January 28, 2011

City Council Meeting, Monday, Jan. 31, 2011 - ICMA Report

Things are going to start getting interesting again.
Please come to the meeting and educate yourself.
Don't rely on the "creative interpreters' to explain the report in their mailers.
Go here to see the agenda and click on "Back Up Material" to read the ICMA Report.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why allow people like Bob Gosselin to run Troy behind the scenes?

from Randy
Both Glenn Clark and his good friend Bob Gosselin are despicable human beings who will do anything and I mean ANYTHING to get someone elected or to get a ballot issue approved. The one thing that is most confusing to me is why would anyone vote to elect someone like Bob Gosselin...arrested for soliciting a prostitute, arrested for exposing himself in public (twice), arrested for felonious assault, and twice tried to use his position as a member of the Troy City Council to get out of a ticket one time by telling the officer a blatant lie.

Is this the kind of people we want representing us...I sure don't

Randy Husk
former councilman City of Troy 1978-1996. Check and see how much the city's millage rate went down during that time....see who the real tax fighters were. 

Tick Tock - Are both sides just being quaintly political? No.

A conversation from the comments of this blog:
Anonymous: It's all a very interesting read, but does nothing about the immediate pending situation , library closure... tic toc ... (and anticipating criticism for the 'tic toc' comment, look to the right of your page here, and see the countdown clock you put there) ...
Sharon: I am very mindful of the tick tock. Problem is, as I and many people see it, our Plan B went down in November. Last May we saw Proposal 1 as the last ditch-effort to save the library because of the timing.
You see, I understand that there IS NO money for the library and thus it will close. And some silly Kempen petition will just force the city to open a joke of a library.
The problem in Troy is so much bigger than just the library. The library is the tip of the iceberg.
If the 2008 millage cap had not happened, we never would have noticed a thing. Council would have temporarily raised the millage to pay for what we want and need, as dozens of other councils had done in the past. Our revenue is shrinking by the millions each of the next few years. They just learned that they would lose an extra $700k.
Now we have to vote our own tax increases, which the good people of Troy might consider doing if they didn't have all of these liars disinforming them about what is going on.
Revenue is the city's tax income. We pay for what we get. My taxes went down. I was willing to pay a small percentage of my decline to keep the library. But no. Greed prevailed.
All I can think to do is to make Troy residents understand that we WON'T have a library because Troy politicians like GLENN CLARK LIE TO WIN--and they apparently don't care about the results of their efforts. They only care about the little check they put in the win column.
And do you believe, as Ms. Daniels said, that people don't care about whether we have a library when they move to a city? That is nonsense and proves she doesn't even know her OWN business. These are dangerous people who have too much media attention and are getting out ridiculous distorted messages that HURT Troy.
Tick tock. I wish the alarm would ring on this clock, because if people don't wake up soon Troy is going to be a great town that used to be.
Anonymous: Sharon, at a high level, you are right, the problem is much bigger than the library. The problem is politics. As an overall, can you agree that politics is politics? I mean, try to look at the politics issue from a distance. Can you honestly say that one side of the aisle or another is completely free of 'tricksters'? I cant. I certainly dont condone questionable tactics OR attitude from either 'camp'. The city council in principle is supposed to be non partisan. I think the current council is far from that... I think they are very partisan. You have 'camps and covens'. It's like watching survivor, or celebrity apprentice. Schilling, Kerwin, Slater, Mcginnis VS Howrylack, Fleming, and sometimes Beltramini... It's POLITICAL sattire at its finest. I dont think those people have the best interest of Troy in their sights at all. That's my opinion. Your results may vary.
And, if you can blame a previous political machine (2008) for the current situation, then I can say the current machine is responsible for keeping us there.
Sharon: I know I write long, so I'll try to keep this brief.
I am not trying to attach blame as a hobby. I want people to understand what is happening in Troy.
The uninformed middle in Troy needs to wake up and see that our last two elections were filled with lies and manipulations. 
Yes, I can say the side I have been on in the last two elections, which is the pro-city, pro-library side, has not cheated, lied and been unethical. Manipulations? Perhaps. THAT is politics. Outright unethical lying and cheating like TCU? Absolutely not. There is a difference.
Until people educate themselves about the facts and stop relying on people like TCU/Gosselin/Clark/Kempen/Daniels and Howrylak for "facts" we cannot save Troy.
One example. All of the above say we have the highest taxes in the area. That is a lie. Our tax rate is one of the lowest. So they compare dollar amounts which is misleading because our houses are worth more.
Why lie so much? If your motives are good, why always lie and cheat? Why manipulate Troy voters? Why?
The only thing I can do is shed a light on the horrible process and try to see who those little cockroaches are before they scurry back under the cabinet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are you kidding me?

So I have posted the truth about Glenn Clark, according to newspapers, 2 Republican politicians and a court that said his campaign lied and had to pay a settlement. And what do I hear from his fans?
They tell me I should be nicer.
They say I should find common ground.
What on earth is wrong with me?

Here is my reply...
Find common ground? Find common ground? How would we do that? Is that what Janice Daniels does when she drips with nasty sarcasm at the city council microphone and informs Troy Republicans that they are the “wrong kind” of Republican and must change to be just like her?
Is it about finding common ground when TCU lies on their website and mailers, smears city council and city staff and lies about their salaries and their very motivation? 
Is it common ground when area Friends of Bob Gosselin put confusing, fake proposals on the ballot, cheating people out of their fair vote so they can get what they want?
Is it about finding common ground when Glenn Clark tells despicable lies about same-party political opponents, and bullies and shoves women around at rallies and in CHURCH?
What is wrong with you all? Why is it you think you deserve respect when all you do is dish out lies and cheating and disinformation campaigns that are bringing our city to its knees?
We pay low taxes so we can’t afford stuff. THAT is the truth. 
We pay low taxes because in 2008 Kempen/Howrylak/Gosselin convinced the Troy populace to cut and cap its taxes--a move leading DIRECTLY to where we are today.
For too many years the moderate, average, thinking people in this town have been polite and have trusted the garbage that comes from TCU, but no more. You get the respect you earn.
Have any of these people apologized for their bad deeds? No. Have ANY of their political friends who benefit from their bad deeds (e.g., Howrylak) disavowed them? No.
So thanks for your advice, but I think I'm not going to sit down, shut up and take it anymore. 
I’ll just keep up with my little blog and call a court-, newspaper-, and peer-labelled creep a creep. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

If Troy residents aren't mad yet, they will be after reading this! Meet Glenn Clark--Troy’s dirty politician

Fighting against the lies and dirty tricks of the TCU, Bob Gosselin and Glenn Clark are exhausting. Trust me and the hundreds of people who tried to save the library last fall.
Many people know how dirty these people’s hands are. 
Last February, on a Troy political blog, one person commented anonymously, “I am a Republican and am embarrassed by the likes of Glenn Clark and the rest of his bully cronies!”
Another anonymous respondent replied the way most people do when we say these folks are unethical--claiming Glenn Clark is simply the “Conservative boogie-man of choice for local RINOs.” [RINO means Republicans In Name Only and is the way far-right wingers, like Janice Daniels, refer to normal, non-extreme Republicans.]
Well, Mr. Clark has finally been caught red-handed for the disgusting, unethical political operator that he is. What he did may even surprise Troy residents, who are getting pretty used to dirty tricks.
But real quick…who is Glenn Clark? He is the Vice Chair of Troy’s Board of Zoning Appeals. He is the Chairman of the 9th Congressional District Republican Party. He is a founder of the Oakland County Tea Party. In the 1990s he was the Director of the Michigan Christian Coalition and not too long ago he was on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners with his pal Bob Gosselin. He also has a police complaint filed against him for roughing up a female Republican activist at a Tea Party meeting.
What was he caught doing? He lied in a campaign. He lied big and dirty.
In the Jan. 24, 2011  Oakland Press – by Chad Selweski.
“In a rare move, former state Rep. Kim Meltzer has admitted in writing that her campaign lied about the legislative record of an opponent, Leon Drolet, during the hotly contested 2010 state Senate campaign in north Macomb’s 11th District.”
Who was Meltzer’s campaign manager? Glenn Clark. What did they lie about?
Among the many pieces of nasty literature that blanketed the district were fliers from Meltzer’s camp that falsely claimed that while in the House Drolet had introduced legislation to legalize gay sex in public places. Meltzer said on Monday that she was unaware of the content of the flier and did not approve it ahead of time.”
Drolet and Meltzer issued the following joint statement regarding the lawsuit’s settlement:
“A piece of campaign literature distributed by the Meltzer for state Senate campaign contained statements about Leon Drolet’s legislative record that are not true and were unapproved by state Rep. Kim Meltzer.
The campaign literature falsely stated that ‘Drolet co-sponsored a bill that would have allowed sexual acts between homosexuals in public places, public parks and public restrooms — exposing our children to that filth.’
“In fact, Leon Drolet did not introduce or support legislation that would allow such acts or homosexual gross indecency in public places, as was inaccurately stated in the campaign literature. False statements contained in the campaign literature were not approved by state Rep. Kim Meltzer. A countywide apology to both Leon Drolet and the residents in the 11th District was submitted and printed in a local paper dated Aug. 12, 2010. All matters pertaining to this issue are hereby fully resolved with any and all financial settlements undisclosed.”
And who was the filthy politician in the story?

Troy’s own Glenn Clark.

The man who helped lead the fight against the Troy millage vote in February, 2010. The man who helped lead the fight against library-saving Proposal 1.
Drolet issued one parting shot, blaming the incident on McCarthy-like tactics by Meltzer’s campaign manager, Glenn Clark, a longtime figure in Macomb and Oakland counties’ GOP politics.
“I’m glad Kim and I amicably resolved this matter, and I believe she didn’t approve spreading lies,” said Drolet, who also served on the Macomb County Board of Commissioners. “Meltzer’s campaign consultant, Glenn Clark, has a long history of specializing in reckless, gay-oriented smears (and) ... his obsession with persecuting gay people has come to define him.”
Is it any wonder Troy residents are afraid to come forward and fight for what's right and run for office in Troy, with dirty politicians such as Clark lurking about?

The Martin Howrylak Show

From Sue...

Anyone looking for a laugh watching the Troy City Council Meetings is probably left feeling as I do. It seems the though nearly the entire process has been lowered to the realm of a campy cable channel comedy.

And the head prankster? Mr. Martin Howrylak. I am left staring in amused bewilderment at every comment that boy makes on every single motion brought forth to the council. I am in AWE of the patience shown to him by the other professionals on council, in administration, and by our city attorney.

Week after week, Mr. Howrylak stammers his request to speak and brings forth an issue that has obviously been discussed by council in either public forum or (appropriate and legal) closed session. Week after week, he attempts to embarrass and defraud the council members and the process. Week after week, his weary and yet still very patient colleagues are forced to clarify ONCE AGAIN how what they’ve done or are considering doing is prudent, appropriate, reasonable and legal.

Week after week, like a child who doesn’t like the answer he hears from one parent, Mr. Howrylak tries to appeal to the other. He whines, they clarify, he rebuts with a petulant retort. And then the thrilling vote on whatever issue it is at hand – usually a slam-dunk and clearly beneficial issue. I can hardly believe when (gasp) the only detractor is (again) Mr. Howrylak.

Insert eye roll and heavy sigh.

It’s time to give Mr. Howrylak the same treatment a child in our home would receive for such behavior. He is clearly in need of a time-out, and I am quite sure he will receive one in November.

Martin Howrylak for Mayor? That’s one comedy I won’t watch. And I hope you won’t, either.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Another silly thing Ms. Daniels said

Complaining about the Kempen Initiative being sent to Oakland County Circuit Court for clarification, and that it's taking so long, Daniels said about our city attorney, "It would seem to me she could have sent an urgent request for clarification, with a mandate for a response within [the city's] 30-day limit that is unambiguously defined in the [Troy city] charter. Even a sitting judge, with all due respect, doesn't have the authority to ignore the city charter at will."
Really? But, apparently that judge does indeed have the authority and our city attorney does NOT have the authority to tell an Oakland County Circuit Court judge what to do.
Is this person really going to run for office in Troy?

No violation of city charter

Janice Daniels and Thomas Burke claimed at the Jan. 24, 2011 city council meeting that Troy City Council has broken our "constitution" by, as Daniels claims, "violating the Troy City Charter."
That's simply more TCU smoke and mirrors. And frankly, it's getting a little boring.
A judge approved the extension of the Kempen Petition decision (or Kemper, as Tom Burke kept saying), so the city did not violate the Troy City Charter.
If Mr. Kempen had so much time to play games with our library's fate last summer and fall (after all, his deceitful petition was from the "Friends of the Troy Public Library with No New Taxes," another example of how Mr. Kempen defrauded those who signed it believing it was from the REAL Friends of TPL) he probably has lots of time now to continue to fight for his meaningless petition that helped destroy Troy's best chance of saving the library.
My answer to the faux horror of Daniels and Burke?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why hasn't Troy considered privatizing the library?

They have. from supporting materials for Jan 24, 2011 city council meeting--Item N-10:
Cathleen Russ has contacted Library Systems & Services, Inc. (LSSI), a library management company, regarding outsourcing library services and staff.  LSSI typically looks at three areas when analyzing possible cost savings:  technology, materials, and staff. George Bateman, Vice President of LSSI, recommends that the City Council decide what level of service it wants the library to provide, if any, and then bid the job accordingly, at which point LSSI would respond to an request for proposal (RFP).

Why has no one considered making our library nonprofit?

They have. But it doesn't look good. from supporting materials for Jan 24, 2011 city council meeting--Item N-10 :
Cathleen Russ is exploring the possibility of the library operating as a private, non-profit 501 (c ) 3 organization. Preliminary results indicate that such an organization would not be sustainable. A legal opinion is also necessary to clarify some issues, such as use of city assets by this organization. 

Why not merge with another library?

from supporting materials for Jan 24, 2011 city council meeting--Item N-10

John Szerlag and Cathleen Russ contacted the City of Birmingham regarding sharing a library director, when the Baldwin Public Library directorship was vacant.  John Lamerato and Cathleen Russ contacted the City of Royal Oak regarding sharing a library director, when the Royal Oak Library directorship was vacant. Neither community was interested in a shared directorship for its library. 
Cathleen Russ has contacted library directors in communities that border Troy, to see if any of those communities were interested in forming a district library. Forming a district library requires a vote of the people in all participating communities. It also requires a funding commitment, usually in the form of a dedicated millage. No communities were interested in forming a district library with Troy. 

Our library closes in 96 days

What cost savings initiative saved the most money in the library budget? The one that TCU claims was city council's way of punishing the people of Troy. No folks, the library director made the decision for one reason. To save the money that had to be saved.
From a memo for the Jan. 24, 2011 city council meeting:

Date:        January 21, 2011                     
To:  The Honorable Mayor and City Council Members 
From: John Szerlag, City Manager 
Subject: Library Update
Council Member McGinnis and I were talking about comments both of us have received over the past several months from concerned residents and business owners about cost saving measures for the Troy Public Library.  Ms. McGinnis thought it would be a good idea to advise Council and the community what cost saving measures Troy has accomplished or attempted relative to this issue.  I also think it’s a great idea and attached you will find an update on this matter.
Please know that our largest cost saving measure to date has been going from a full-service library open seven days per week with a total budget of $4.5 million to one that is now open six days a week with reduced personnel, programs, materials and services having a budget of $2.7 million.  

Thank you Troy city employees! We know you're trying to help!

from Sharon
It gets a little dull to go to the city council meetings and continuously hear Janice Daniels, Tom Burke and the supporting cast claim that the city is doing nothing to bring down costs. And why not? Ms. Daniels has told us she doesn't care how children feel about losing the library, that people considering moving to Troy don't care about whether Troy has a library and is "blame labor first" in mentality. She really just doesn't get it.
The city, in truth, has worked diligently to cut costs over the past few years. Further evidence will be presented at tomorrow's meeting--Item N-8.

To:   Honorable Mayor and Troy City Council 
From:  John Szerlag, City Manager 
  John M. Lamerato, Assistant City Manager/Finance and Administration 
  Mark F. Miller, Acting Assistant City Manager/Economic Development Services 
Peggy E. Sears, Human Resources Director 
Subject: Update on Employee Concessions – Classified and Exempt Employees 
In order to address the current budget situation, City Council directed that City management pursue a 10% cost savings from each employee group.  This 10% is calculated on payroll costs which include base pay, pension, workers compensation and FICA.  On November 22, 2010, City Council ratified a contract extension for the Troy Fire Staff Officers Association (TFSOA) that achieved these cost savings.   
Consistent with the direction of City Council, we have met with the Classified and Exempt employees to discuss further concessions beyond the furlough days that had been implemented.  (Since February, 2010, the Classified and Exempt employees have been contributing furlough days which represent a 5% savings.)  These meetings resulted in achieving a 10% reduction in payroll costs, approximately $919,000.  This cost savings is comprised of a combination of furlough days and pay reductions, as well as the same changes to health insurance that were agreed to by the TFSOA. 
We have now met our objective with three employee groups representing 32% of our full-time workforce.   

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Unlike the 'TCU Advertorial' that was the recent Oakland Press story...

The Troy Times article explains what is really happening with the Kempen Petition -- without the kooky, Tea-Party, ain't-TCU-a-victim hysteria and, more importantly, without taking sides.

Action on library petition awaits court ruling
By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

TROY — Although one citizens group charges that the Troy City Council has violated the city charter by not taking action on a voter-initiated petition calling for the city to fund and operate a library, city leaders say there is no violation.
Last spring, the City Council approved a rolling three-year budget that does not include funding for the library past July 1.
Troy Citizens United, a group that opposed a tax increase to establish an independent library board last fall and a general operating millage increase in February, believes that the council violated the city charter by not passing the request into law or taking action to place the request before voters by Jan. 4, 30 days after the City Clerk’s Office verified the signatures.
In November, the council voted 6-1 to allow City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm to seek clarification of the petition from Oakland County Circuit Court. Councilman Martin Howrylak opposed the move.
“Council has done neither and is in violation of the Troy city charter and their oath to uphold that charter. … Council did not authorize attorney Bluhm to exceed her authority by requesting the court to extend the 30-day charter limitation. The council resolution did not authorize attorney Bluhm to violate city charter,” states Troy Citizens United.
Ed Kempen initiated and circulated the petition, which states: “In order to assure access to quality local library service, the city of Troy shall operate and maintain a public library open to the public for not less than 55 hours each week.“
Bluhm said the petition language for the proposed ordinance does not provide a funding source for the library, and the city filed the lawsuit for guidance from the court and for “more time.”

read more here

Why should we pay more taxes to pay for stuff we want?

Hey, Troy -- Don't want to pay more taxes to pay for all the stuff the city can't afford because your taxes have already gone waaay down?
What could go wrong?

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Troy Citizens United lied, cheated and misrepresented facts on their way to a victory over saving our library last November. And now?

... They are poor itty, bitty victims who just wuv our library.
Yeah, right.
They're upset because the city sent the Kempen Initiative off to a judge before acting further on it. As I've written, if you read the Kempen initiative, it said nothing. A one-sentence bit of nonsense that says the city must keep open a library. What was the poorly researched, written and planned sentence?
"In order to assure access to quality local library service, the City of Troy shall operate and maintain a public library open to the public for not less than 55 hours each week."
I asked a gentleman who was holding this petition why the petition was impossibly vague, nonbinding and didn't mention funding and didn't even mention the library by name -- it says "a library" not the library at this address or the Troy Public Library. He said, "Well, you can't make it idiot proof." Nope, not when an idiot apparently wrote it.
I think the city IS acting in good faith. They could easily open a broom closet at the community center and put 10 books at it and say Voila - a library!
A full-service library is another question. With what money? Shall we cut employee salaries or benefits and be sued by the State of Michigan? I know, they want to dump our cops and outsource to the Oakland County Sheriff, right? Remember the joke that this petition promised to Keep Our Library with No New Taxes, then the Monday after the election Howrylak told the Free Press he wouldn't be "adverse" [sic] to considering a half-mill increase.
Where's the money, Howrylak and Kempen? Don't be so sly. You must know. You keep saying it's there. Then where?
In the piece Deb DeBacker says "we would like to save the library." Yet her organization put those 3 fake proposals on the ballot to kill Proposal 1. They don't want to save the library, they want toy with it.
Howylak, the TCU darling lied and said we would have to buy all new books and computers and a building. If they cared about saving the library, they would have supported the only proposal that WOULD have saved the library.
What also amazes me is that whenever TCU so much as sneezes, The Oakland Press runs out to cover it! And look, TCU always gets the last word.

Get your tissues ready for this Oakland Press piece. Those poor victims at the TCU - boo hoo hoo
Troy Citizens United: City violated charter with library petition

Saturday, January 15, 2011
The grassroots group Troy Citizens United (TCU) says the Troy city attorney and City Council have violated the city charter by not acting on a petition signed by 2,560 residents calling for the city to fund and operate a city library.
The library is scheduled to close July 1 because of a financial gap in the city’s general fund.

The petition, submitted by Troy resident Edward Kempen on behalf of Friends of the Library with no New Taxes, says, “In order to assure access to quality local library service, the City of Troy shall operate and maintain a public library open to the public for not less than 55 hours each week.”

The petition was submitted to the Troy city clerk on Nov. 9 after voters rejected four requests to operate an independent library to be funded by a separate millage and run by an elected board of trustees. It was verified by the city clerk on Dec. 3 and presented to the City Council on Dec. 6.

According to the City Charter, the council had 30 days — until Jan. 4 — to approve the petition or bring the issue to voters within 180 days.

However, the City Council voted 6-1 on Nov. 22 to have City Attorney Lori Grigg Bluhm seek clarification on how to proceed with the petition in Oakland County Circuit Court.

“Deliberation and decision on defendant’s initiative petition has the potential for far-reaching financial and legal ramifications and therefore requires, at a minimum, a comprehensive analysis ... Due to the complexity of this issue, and the lack of precedent, Troy requests an extension of time to allow full exploration of the issues,” the complaint reads.

“However, Troy council members, in spite of constitutional and legal requirements at the federal, state and local level, and their oath of office to uphold these laws, are denying 2,560 petitioners this right. Instead, council has launched a heavy-handed lawsuit using the city’s taxpayer-funded Law Department to intimidate and financially burden the individual who brought the petition, Ed Kempen.

“Presumably this is a threat that we are all supposed to learn from — to never try to exercise this right.”
read more here

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Imbalance of wealth

from economist Robert Reich

The Big Lie

Republicans are telling Americans a Big Lie, and Obama and the Democrats are letting them. The Big Lie is our economic problems are due to a government that’s too large, and therefore the solution is to shrink it.
The truth is our economic problems stem from the biggest concentration of income and wealth at the top since 1928, combined with stagnant incomes for most of the rest of us. The result: Americans no longer have the purchasing power to keep the economy going at full capacity. Since the debt bubble burst, most Americans have had to reduce their spending; they need to repay their debts, can’t borrow as before, and must save for retirement.
The short-term solution is for government to counteract this shortfall by spending more, not less. The long-term solution is to spread the benefits of economic growth more widely (for example, through a more progressive income tax, a larger EITC, an exemption on the first $20K of income from payroll taxes and application of payroll taxes to incomes over $250K, stronger unions, and more and better investments in education and infrastructure.)
But instead of telling the truth, Obama has legitimized the Big Lie by freezing non-defense discretionary spending, freezing federal pay, touting his deficit commission co-chairs’ recommended $3 of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increase, and agreeing to extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.
Will Obama stand up to the Big Lie? Will he use his State of the Union address to rebut it and tell the truth? Maybe, but so far there’s no evidence.
In his weekly address yesterday, the President restated his “commitment” for 2011 “to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class.” He added that it’s important “to look ahead - not just to this year, but to the next 10 years, and the next 20 years” to find ways to stimulate the economy through innovation. And that it is critical that the U.S. discover ways to “out-compete other countries around the world.”
Become more innovative? Out-compete? Who or what is he talking about? Big American corporations are innovating like mad all over the world, with research and development centers in China and India. And their profits are soaring. They’re sitting on almost $1 trillion of cash. But they won’t create jobs in America because there’s not enough demand here to justify them.
In the Republican address in response, U.S. Senator-elect Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) restated the Big Lie. “The American people sent us to Congress with clear instructions: make government smaller, not bigger,” she said. Deficit reduction “isn’t a Republican problem or a Democrat problem — it’s an American problem that will require tough decision-making from both parties.” And the way to shrink the deficit is to cut government. The extension of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts over the next two years, she said, was an “important first step” to jump-start the economy.
Starting Wednesday, when the 112th Congress convenes with a Republican majority in the House, we’ll be hearing far more of the Big Lie.
George Orwell once explained that when a public is stressed and confused, a Big Lie told repeatedly can become the accepted truth. Adolph Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that “the size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed” and that members of the public are “more easily prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell big ones.” 
Only the President has the bully pulpit. But will he use it to tell the Big Truth?

Monday, January 10, 2011

A thought

from Ellen
My heart goes out to the victims of the shooting in Tucson. And I pray that perhaps this will serve as a turning point in the tone and tenor of our collective political discussion. There is no question in my mind that the anti-government vitriol we seem to be accepting as a norm can provoke the unstable among us to violence. May God protect all of our public servants and those who surround and support them.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What's the plan, Howrylak?

The Troy Public Library will close in 112 days.
Councilman Martin Howrylak said that he could save it. Now he has no plan and points fingers every which way.
He wrote in the letter below, "It takes the vision and leadership of a hardworking city council and city manager to make tough budgetary decisions to ensure the continued operation of all functions of the city. It is what we have been elected to do."
Yet, when I ask his army of defenders why he's not spending every spare minute (and I believe he has quite a few to spare) finding the money he assures folks the city has for the library (how does he know if HE can't find it?), his defenders say, "Boo hoo, he is at the city manager's mercy and can't do a single thing on his own."
Then I ask, why do people believe in Martin Howrylak?

  • He can't think outside the box.
  • He can't make good on his promises.
  • He has no ideas.
  • He has no plans.
  • He isn't scouring the books and bringing up brilliant ideas.
  • He isn't showing us where the money is he claims exists.
  • He can't save the library.
  • We will have no library in 112 days.
  • He lied.

And at Monday's council meeting, when he says those big bad council people are all to blame, remember the lies in this letter he sent out (below) a week before the election over Proposal 1, which would have saved the library. He claimed that the one-sentence Kempen Initiative, which was not worth the paper on which it was printed, was a great plan.
He was wrong.

In 112 days, I say we put a sign on our former library -
The Martin F. Howrylak Memorial Library

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Don't Believe the Troy Library Rumors!

from Sharon
A friend from another city told me she heard at a Troy organization's meeting yesterday that the library will sell off all its assets before closing its doors at the end of April. 
Not so!
The official plan is to shut down the library carefully so that in the event it is saved it won't be difficult to open up for business once again. They plan to keep the books on the shelves temporarily with the hopes that some intelligent folks will find a way to save our library...SOON.
Also, the Friends of the TPL will NOT be having a fire sale to rid themselves of all the assets that have been donated to them over the years.
It sounds like they'll all be in stand-by mode waiting for the THIRD shoe to drop.
If you hear people telling these untruths, tell them it's not so! Please. 
We can still save the library!