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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April 4 -- another date to remember -- or will it live in infamy?

I'm thrilled that Martin Howrylak may be willing to support the last-second funding of Troy's library. It's especially amazing because Mr. Howrylak has done so much to ensure the library's closing in the past.
But hey, I say let bygones be bygones. If he wants to redeem himself by doing the right thing--great!
However, not many people believe that Mr. Howrylak is being sincere. They are certain he is going to play his old bait-and-switch yet again, like last year when he promised to support a millage for the library, then one week before the election sent out a letter filled with"untruths" (shall we say) about the impact of Proposal 1.
So the idea that he wants to save the library today, well, it is the least he can do, though it stretches the imagination.
My children would be grateful. 
Have I just read too many books? Too many novels? I believe the apparent heartless lout can redeem himself and be the hero in the end? Blame the library.
So, what's it going to be next Monday? 
Is he going to forward a resolution that council pass the Michigan State Library Law with sufficient funding to maintain a real, stable library? 
Or is he going to prove his haters right by 1) offering .4 mills so the library limps along 3 days a week? 2) Get other members to vote yes and then vote no and scream GOTCHA? or 3) try to ram through a budget using money that doesn't exist, endangering the city's very existence. 
The silence of all of his followers isn't giving me hope. They should be mad, as they bitterly threatened council members who never even mentioned the State Library Law. 
Hmmm, what could they all be up to?
And even if he motioned to approve the millage, would the other members bite?
We should know more this Friday when the council meeting agenda comes out.
I wish the library wasn't such a political game to everyone involved. 
I have kids in elementary school. The library's future is not a game to us.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mark this date down: Monday, March 28.

This is the date that Martin Howrylak, Troy City Councilman, said something with which I actually agree. Well...a few things, actually. He said:

"Council OWES IT to the public to address this library law issue that would allow them to levy up to one mill to create an independent public library."

In fact, they COULD HAVE done it all along and chose not to...chose not to even MENTION IT. Several members of council will give you a laundry list of why they haven't if you corner them into answering a question about it. And to be fair, there are some problems with it. Mary Kerwin even addressed some of the major issues right after Howrylak's bombshell. For one...HE HIMSELF advocated against an independent library last fall by saying it would create "a new governmental agency," and his friend Edward Kempen warned against the "new taxing authority" of an independent library. Rationally, we know this is not exactly how an independent library works. But they planted that seed of doubt in many people that led to the defeat of our library. And though we would HOPE that saner heads would prevail and keep an independent library in the same spot as the REAL library...there is no guarantee.

Still...I've been saying for weeks that we need an explanation...I've sent at least one letter asking them to address it, and I've brought it up in public engagement.

Why HAVEN'T any one of the council members said anything publicly until now?

He also said:

"It makes NO SENSE to close the library down NOW if we plan to open it LATER."

Opening it later isn't guaranteed, and it could happen any number of ways. The council COULD levy this millage, thereby making Martin Howrylak the savior of the library. They could "find" some money in the budget, thereby UNDER-funding something else. They could dip into fund balance as a stop-gap measure, putting us at risk in other ways. But how many of us have said this very same thing, OVER AND OVER? It makes no sense. It's NEVER made sense. WHY would anyone close it, lay off all that staff, pay to maintain the building...all while you intend to RE-OPEN it someday??? Naysayers will tell you, "Well, it may never re-open!" Some of us waffle between believing that or not. Somewhere deep down in my Pollyanna heart, I still refuse to believe anyone will ever let it close.

Because what kind of heartless, spiteful person COULD let it???

More and more, I'm seeing this issue for what it truly is. My firm belief is that Council majority voted for the budget that eliminated library funding because they felt Proposal 1 would pass. I believe they put all their faith in that CITIZEN INITIATIVE, and they let the public hold the bag of responsibility for saving the library so funding could be spread around elsewhere after the February millage failed.

It could have been a win-win situation, really...we'd have had DEDICATED funding for an INDEPENDENT library that would have been free of the political game-playing we get to see at the council table week after week.

Instead, we've had a year full of shenanigans. And who was at the CENTER of the shenanigans???


Both by his own hand and by becoming the poster boy for the radical anti-tax advocates who sing his praises daily...MARTIN HOWRYLAK has been instrumental in creating this entire fiasco.

So yes, I'm stunned that I finally agree with something he said. He's right: we are owed an explanation, and it doesn't make ANY SENSE to close that library. Thank you, Mr. Howrylak, for finally addressing what we all have been waiting to hear. Many of us SINCERELY want to believe this is it. We want to believe that you now plan to do something to save the library instead of continuing to work against viable plans to support it.

We want to believe you, Mr. Howrylak.

But what we REALLY want to know?

What are you going to do NOW?

Monday, March 28, 2011

OK, council, let's go

Mr. Howrylak raised the possibility of passing the Michigan State Library Law option to raise taxes to fund the library!
I know it's possible that Mr. Howrylak is simply stalling for time, drawing out his options, but if that saves the library, I'm with him.
I know that Mr. Howrylak is particularly guilty of killing off all decent efforts to save the library, but if this works, I'm with him.
I know that he is the ONLY one on council who can possibly run with this, because his followers will find a way to support him for doing it (while they would have crucified anyone else), but if it works, I'm with him.
But will he truly have the guts to put the resolution on the table?
Let's get it done, Howrylak!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"We can't take these people on as refugees" -- Southfield library director

from today's Detroit News
Odds stacked against libraries as cities feel pinch
The Detroit News
Troy— Draga Palincas says she may have to start buying books she used to borrow when the city library closes in a few weeks. But she worries about people who don't have that option.
"A lot of people use this library — all different types, from old to young," said Palincas, a 44-year-old mother of three, during a recent trip to the library on Big Beaver Road. "You've got people who can use bookstores, but then there's people who can't necessarily afford to buy a lot of books. And children need to be exposed to new books."
The May 1 closing of the 40,000-square-foot, 49-year-old Troy Public Library, one of the busiest statewide with a circulation of 1.36 million items and 700,000 annual visits, is a stark reminder of painful budget choices facing communities across Metro Detroit. In Wayne County, the Romulus city library closes the same day, after a February millage vote to save it failed. And throughout the region, many other public libraries have reduced hours and services.
The cutbacks come as polls show public library usage is on the rise in Michigan. So when some communities shut the doors for good, where are patrons supposed to go?
Around Troy, most nearby libraries offer services only to residents or patrons living in communities with reciprocity agreements or contracts. In other cases, nonresidents will be required to pay about $100 to $170 a year for a library card to check out materials and register for adult and children's programs.
Representatives of the remaining libraries worry about the possibility of overcrowding and resource shortages if outside residents start visiting.
The Southfield Public Library on Evergreen Road, one of the largest in the region at 127,000 square feet, allows nonresidents access to printed material on the premises, but no checkouts are allowed and computer use is limited to two hours.
"We can't take these people on as refugees," said Southfield library director Dave Ewick. "My heart goes out to Troy residents. But I can't give them for free what my people are paying for — they need to realize how valuable a library is and pay for it."
read more here

RE: Sue's "Why there's no magic $1.7 million..."

When I went to a city engagement session one man at my table truly, sincerely said future be damned! Use the money to save the library this year and we'll deal with our budget crises next year.
Of course, now that Governor Snyder is training literally dozens of czar-like Emergency Financial Managers to take over cities who can't balance their budgets, we can't be messing around with our budget this way.
Using Mr. Howrylak's scheme would pretty much ensure the EFMs would come take over our town.
How can those crowing about fiscal responsibility be so fiscally irresponsible?
The answer is, now that they've gotten their way and Troy residents see what their brand of "fiscal responsibility" has wrought (no parks and rec, no library, poor services) they certainly don't want to take the BLAME for the disaster they've created.
But we know who brought us this broken Troy, don't we?
Thanks for wrecking Troy, TCU! 
We won't forget.

Why there is no magic 1.7million "extra" in the city budget

Imagine this scenario in our own homes:

Wife: Good news, honey! We finally finished paying for Precious's braces, and we now have an extra $200 a month. I also brokered a deal to have my cell phone costs reimbursed through work since I use it so much on the road for clients. There's another $100/month! We have $300/MONTH TO SPEND ON SOMETHING FUN!

Husband: You would think, right? But actually, our budget payment for both electric and gas adjusted. We now owe $50 more on each per month because we had such a cold winter and used more energy than previous years. Gas is up .50 cents at the pump, so our monthly fuel allowance just rose another $50. I also just noticed that our adjustable rate mortgage ticked up 2 points. That's nearly $200 more a month right there we'll have to find.

Wife: Soo...wait...we saved $300 in one hand, but we're spending $350 more from the other??? That means we have a DEFICIT????

And that, my friends, is essentially why there is no $1.7million extra to put toward a library. The money is TECHNICALLY there is the first year of the three year budget. But projections show deficits for which that amount is needed to cover in the second year of the budget...starting July 1.

Moreover, property taxes just dropped they are predicted to do for several more years. That's LESS money in to cover more money out.

Would you go spend that 'found' money from your own household budget today if you knew you had shortfalls tomorrow??

If not, why would you ask your city to do the same?

Friday, March 25, 2011


Sensationalism: subject matter, language or style producing or designed to produce startling or thrilling impressions or to excite and please vulgar taste.

Yellow journalism: reporting that presents little or no legitimate news and relies instead on eye-catching headlines to sell information.

Surely you’ve all seen the tabloids -- or rags, as they are often called, because they are only fit to scrub the dung off our shoes -- in the supermarket check-out stands. Headlines blaze with salacious details of the lives of notable individuals in our society. Often, there is the tiniest shred of truth to the story, but the headline definitely pumps that up. When one actually reads the article, it’s clear that there is very little substance to the story, and often nothing close to the level of information the headline promised.

And sometimes it's just a downright lie.

A handout given to some attendees of the most recent community engagement sessions reminds me a lot of the supermarket tabloids. I’d credit the author, but there isn’t anyone claiming authorship. I was told it came from some representatives of the Troy Citizens United, but that cannot be verified because the person handing it out wouldn’t answer definitively.

(Which begs the question: if one cannot claim ownership and will not cite sources, how can we be expected to support the information or believe the numbers presented on that sheet??)

Anyhow…one of the most oft repeated complaints from this group relates to our city manager and his salary…and his pension/retirement package from his FIRST stint as our city manager.

If you’ve just joined us, John Szerlag was the City Manager for Troy…retired with a pension/benefits…and was re-hired again WITHOUT added benefits at a lower salary than any other City Manager would have to have been paid. Then, when times got tough, he took a pay cut. THEN…since times are TOUGHER…he’s taking ANOTHER pay cut that is DOUBLE the one he already took.

TCU won’t tell you those details.

Instead, they’ll add up what he earns annually from his pension (THAT HE DESERVES FOR THE WORK HE PERFORMED) and what he earns annually from his salary (THAT HE EARNS BY DOING HIS JOB) and whine REPEATEDLY that Mr. Szerlag’s total compensation is astronomical. They will try to tell you that his retirement benefits could pay for the now defunct Troy Daze and median grass cutting – as though the city is just spending that money capriciously. They will compare Mr. Szerlag’s total pension and salary earnings to the Governor’s base salary (with no mention of Gov. Snyder's additional housing, transportation, travel and other costs) and try to claim that it’s absurd that Mr. Szerlag collects what is owed him.

Remember…Mr. Szerlag EARNED that pension with years of service…the City of Troy IS OBLIGATED BY LAW to pay that pension no matter who currently holds the City Manager job. Any other city manager would have been hired in at a higher rate, with a full benefits package, and with an additional retirement package.


Sensationalism and yellow journalism..there is no other name for the game being played here. It’s unethical, it’s immoral, it’s despicable…and it’s unacceptable. I'm not sure it's even fit for scrubbing dung.

So, like so many of us do in the supermarket check-outs…look if you must at the train-wreck of a publicity scam the TCU is pulling.

Then walk away, shaking your head in disgusted dismay at the irresponsible waste of the paper on which it’s printed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Daily Tribune and former councilman warn risks of 2nd Kempen Petition

The Royal Oak Daily Tribune has taken the Oakland Press's article about new ways people are fighting to save the library and concluded the best chance to save our library was Proposal 1.
Does the OpEd say Troy voters hould scurry to support Kempen's 2nd petition? No. They even blame the TCU/Howrylak/Gosselin 3 fake proposals for dooming the library!
About petition No. 1?
Judge Denise Langford Morris ruled the petition would have constrained efficient administration of the city and that it was not truly legislative.We, too, thought it unnecessarily tied the city's hands, forcing it to cut elsewhere, in areas that might be even more painful. Kempen didn't suggest where those cutbacks might be found.He had also started to circulate the current petition, the one asking for a charter amendment instead of an ordinance, but held it back until legality of the other was determined.The better move was a proposal offered last year by Friends of the Troy Library. Taking a route of many Michigan communities, those in Macomb and Oakland included, it proposed a dedicated tax for the library. It had a good chance at passage, we thought, until three nearly identical proposals also advanced to last November's ballot. Those intentionally confused some voters and angered others. All were defeated.But that's the direction those wishing to preserve the library need to take, along with continuing grass-roots campaign support. That support is all the more needed if the phonies try again to confuse voters.
read the rest here 

Also, former city council member Dave Lambert is apparently concerned that if the petition does pass this time, it could hurt the city and cause us to lose our police department to outsourcing. He wrote on his blog:
"If this petition reaches the ballot, hopefully it will lead to full and accurate discussion of the potential impact of the proposal on the City’s budget. Passage of this proposal in light of the City’s current budgetary situation would probably require even more cuts to the Police department or the outsourcing of law enforcement to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department."
Do you want to help save the library and save Troy?
Go see what the new grassroots organization in Troy is up to.

Who are Kathleen O'Laughlin, William Redfield, and Robert Outland?

It amazes me that the folks who brought us the three fake library proposals on the November ballot, designed just to confuse the voters enough to win, have never shown any public guilt or embarrassment over this political dirty trick. Most, like Mr. Howrylak, simply pretended they didn't know their friends had done this. Yet they benefitted from the lie, and that makes them just as guilty as the people who did it.
So what DO the anti-Proposal 1/anti-library funding people SAY about those 3 fake proposals?
They always say, "It probably didn't affect the vote, no harm done."
Proposal 1 only lost by about 300 votes. 
Harm done.
So why did 
Kathleen O'Laughlin (local politician)
William Redfield, and
Robert Outland (among Howrylak's politcal supporters?)

put forward these fake proposals? 
Why have they never said?
Whose friends are they?
Who are they? (tell me, tell me!)
What will YOU do when something like this happens in this year's election?

With Troy library closing, Berkley increases fees

From Troy Times, March 22, 2011
By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer

BERKLEY — The city is more than doubling its library card fee for people outside of Berkley in an effort to offset an anticipated increase in demand from Troy residents seeking a new library once theirs closes down.
The change includes an increase from $50 to $125 per year for non-Berkley residents hoping to utilize the library’s services and will go into effect on April 1. The City Council unanimously approved the Berkley Public Library Board of Trustees’ recommendation at its March 7 meeting.
As Library Director Celia Morse explained, the board wanted to raise the fee in order to bring Berkley more in line with other libraries in the area.
“We’re looking at a situation where there are neighboring libraries that are currently charging considerably more than we have been for nonresident library cards,” she told the council. “Up until now, we’ll sell maybe two cards a year. It’s not a huge money maker, but frankly I think it’s not really a service that we’re looking to advertise or encourage.”
The Troy Public Library will be closing its doors on May 1 following the narrow defeat of a millage proposal — which would have included a tax increase of just under 1 mill over a 10-year period — by voters in the November election. According to Morse, in recent months, regular Troy library users have been contacting other nearby libraries to determine how much it would cost them to purchase a library card and what services they would be offered.
“We don’t want to be the $50 bargain just three miles down the road,” she said, “so I recommended to the board that we might want to look at this. The board decided that $125 would be a suitable number. …We’re already taxed to our limit now serving the residents of Berkley, and we don’t really want a huge crowd of new people coming in and putting more demands on the library than we can actually handle.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Janice Daniels' hypocrisy (the smoking gun)

-from Rob
(Thanks, Rob for the evidence that she's proud NOT to care about children, libraries and property values)
How convenient for Janice Daniels to suddenly get amnesia about her active role in wrecking every effort to keep the library open by legitimate means (I.e. Prop 1, any millage whatsoever).  So now, she's always supported the library and what it means to our community?  Aw, really?
Her own words say otherwise.  Janice, in case you've forgotten, you wrote a column for the Oakland Press back in August of 2010 where you complained about having to support, financially or otherwise, things like libraries, children, etc.  But don't take my word for it—here are yours, verbatim from your column:

"And, closer to home, what about those folks who prefer to keep the hard earned fruits of their labor in their own pocketbooks instead of in the taxman’s coffers or the politico’s war chest — Guilty — Uncaring, unconcerned, uncommitted to the advancement of (you fill in the blank for the issue of the moment: Children, libraries, home values, poor people, old people, safe streets, parks, museums, fairs, Washington insiders). The list of issues that you should be ashamed of yourself for not supporting is as endless as the requests for taxes or retributions or contributions or revenue enhancements or commitments or condemnations."
It's always been about nothing but the money for you, hasn't it Janice?  If you ever actually set foot in the library and saw how it is used by so many every day and what it means as Troy's real civic centerpiece, maybe you wouldn't have taken such a low road to ensure its closing. Maybe a self-proclaimed patriot such as you might have realized how important libraries are to a country like ours—you know, the old educated, informed citizen thing. But somehow I doubt it in your case.
Honestly, I don't know how you look at yourself in the mirror each day.

(see key related post here)

Buy One, Get One...

Ed Kempen states that since John Szerlag, our City Manager, has a professional membership to the ICMA, the recent reports that the city paid for and obtained must be tainted. After all, as Mr. Kempen states, "Can we trust the results they create or is this just passing money to his longtime buddies while he essentially writes the content?"

So it appears he thinks the research ICMA completed and the data they presented is invalid.

At a recent session with Councilwoman McGinnis, Janice Daniels -- Mr. Kempen's TCU associate -- stated that she and others have provided all the same results FOR FREE to the city, and that the city unwisely spent all that money.

Soooo...GREAT NEWS...the TCU can offer the city FREE AND INVALID information.

Which begs the question:

How would that be any different than anything they've been offering?

The L word

I have been criticized for claiming that members of our loudest anti-tax group in Troy lie.
I know it sounds harsh.
I know it is rude.
But what else can you call their constant, intentional tactic of cheating and disinforming to get what they want?
If you have any colorful suggestions, send them over.

Crystal balls

Last week I looked into my crystal ball and foresaw that everything on TCU's website front page would not happen! They said on March 21, Troy's City Council would hit us with a surprise tax!!!!!
See my brilliant soothsaying here!
I must be a genius!
How could I have possibly known that everything they wrote was nonsense?
It's easy. I've been fact-checking them since October of 2010. Nothing surprises me anymore.
It's like the joke: 
Q: How do you know if  Mr. X is lying? 
A: Check to see if his lips are moving.
As for their prognosticating? Time to get their crystal ball fixed.

Troy City Council public engagement sessions

Last Thursday night I attended one of the many public engagement sessions being offered by city council members.
Very interesting.
There were 12 people at my table. The woman to my left was very upset, like me, about all of the amenities we are losing, considering that we have small children who enjoyed the Jr. Naturalist's Club (gone), the library (gone), classes at the community center (gone next year?).
She asked everyone to take turns explaining how they feel about the library closing and what they would do to keep that and other amenities open.
Eight of us said we would do anything and freely raise our very low millage rate to save these amenities.
Two people said that they want to save services but don't trust the city.
One man, who said he voted No on the Feb 2010 millage because he knew a lot of what the city said was disengenuous at the time said that after listening to "these guys" (pointing at two anti-tax-at-any-cost fellows at the table) he would follow whatever the city says any time.
So what did our anti-tax folks have to say?
Well, that was very interesting. Councilman Wade Fleming was sitting at our table and helped me dispel some of the MYTHS these fellows were trying to forward to the folks at the table.
"We pay three times as much for our police department as Rochester Hills does!"
I asked Mr. Fleming, "Is that true?"
No, he said.
Another gentleman said, "So the DDA spent 2 million dollars and we could take that money and use it for the library."
"Is that true?" I asked Mr. Fleming.
"No," he said and explained that if the money isn't used for the DDA it goes back to the state.
The man who fronted the idea waved his hand at Mr. Fleming and said, "Ah, we can get it back." So, truth means nothing? Facts means nothing?
The men also mentioned that the police budget went up 7%.
Mr. Fleming said that was because they had moved staff around, making the city spokesperson half city, half PD, for example, which changed the look of the budget, but did not mean that police got 7% raises.
The men didn't care.
One of the men was asked how he really felt about taxes and our millage cap that means when property taxes fall our city revenue falls and the city can only make cuts. He replied that the city should just keep cutting, he doesn't care. Keep cutting till there's nothing left? Yes, he said.
"But when we pay for city services we benefit, it helps our property values, it helps our schools when Troy is appealing to families looking for homes," people said to him, begging him to understand.
"I don't care," he said. "And I'm going to come to every meeting to repeat my ideas," he said. 
That is what I mean when I say these people are "anti-tax-at-any-cost." 
Do you want THEM in charge?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Can We Meet on Common Ground?

From Sue...and the Rhythm Corps (click for musical inspiration as you read)

Can we meet
on common ground?
Or are our views so far apart
there's no room to be found?

The one thing I keep being told in all of this chatter around the city is that perhaps the sides of the issues are not so very different.

Everyone says they love this city.
Everyone says they support the Troy Public Library.
Everyone says they want to see Troy regain strength and vitality.

Can't we just find that common ground and being to dialogue from there, then?

I honestly do not know if we can.

Can we meet
on common ground?
Are you walls of brick and stone
And far from tumbling down?

Now, before you accuse me of being pessimistic or close-minded, hear me out. One definition of common ground means “a foundation for mutual understanding.” So far, my attempts to lay that foundation have consisted of me banging me head against wall of brick and stone.

For example, when I say I want a library…that I DESPERATELY want the city to find temporary funding so it doesn’t HAVE to close…but that all evidence we’ve had points to a lack of funding, those who disagree with me call me names and say I’m wrong. They don’t prove WHY I’m wrong, though. When I further explain that funding a library “with no new taxes” means DE-funding something else to the detriment of the rest of the city infrastructure, I’m accused of wanting “all or nothing!”

Ok…if that’s true, then why can no one tell me what THEIR common ground is?

What KIND of a library will we get with no new taxes?

How MUCH will it cost?

WHERE will it be?

There’s no substance in response. There’s no answer.

There’s no common ground.

I'll not play the scene
where the threats start flying;
you'll not have to scream
because we're not that stupid.

For me, the ability to meet on common ground further disappears when the political tactics are pulled out.

Anyone truly interested in SINCERE dialogue doesn't lie to me.

Anyone truly interested in working with me doesn't pander to one audience one day and then turn around and woo the next audience with a different tune.

Anyone truly interested in common ground doesn't shout louder and louder and become more and more unglued when simply challenged to prove a point or to provide factual evidence to support claims.

Most especially, anyone looking for common ground doesn't work with every fiber of their body and lots dollars in their bank account to defeat honest citizen initiatives.

(On that note, if you can explain to me the logic of spending thousands of dollars to save yourself $100, I’d appreciate it.)

For me, there is no common ground when one side has to play tricks and tell lies to make their point.

Can we meet
on common ground?
Or are our views so far apart
there's no room to be found?

Another troubling point for me has to do with labels and political posturing.

Suddenly, if I support my library and don't mind paying for it, I am a tax-and-spender.

If I say that our revenue stream is too low to sustain our services, I'm a radical tax and spender.

If I support the library, know the revenue stream is too low to sustain the city services, and feel a millage might be beneficial to shore up our general fund, I'm a card-carrying party member and precinct delegate of the radical tax-and-spenders and BY GOLLY I SHOULD BE TARRED AND FEATHERED AND DOUSED IN TEA!

Silly me; I thought the reason we paid taxes in Troy was so that our city government COULD spend those dollar on things I like and appreciate.

We pay taxes, they spend them, I get services. Why is that so wrong???

Can we speak
without a sound
of a world gone quite insane?
Can we start settling down?

It also seems that many of my fellow residents believe that the louder you talk, the more truthful your words become.

At one recent community engagement session, a gentleman stated an inaccuracy as though it were truth. Another Troy resident corrected it. He refuted the correction and repeated his bogus claim again. Then Councilman Fleming stopped him and corrected him. YET HE STILL INSISTED HE WAS RIGHT.

Why? Because another tactic seems to be that when faced with irrefutable proof that you are wrong, you should simply interrupt, reframe the argument and say it again another way. Better yet, insult the city government when you do it. It appears that even if you are completely wrong, kicking dirt on someone in charge taps into a general mistrust of government – no matter who is in office or who was ultimately responsible for whatever it is that made you unhappy.

If that is the only noise anyone hears, we have no choice but to listen. However, what I’m beginning to realize is that if you let these shrill voices speak and let a growing audience of skeptics hear it without agitation in response…that new audience will begin to challenge. That once quiet group of “sleeping giants” as I’ve heard them called will then take up the mantle of reasonability and reform.

Then we can start settling down to the real work of rebuilding our city.

Can we meet
on common ground?
Or are our views so far apart
There's no room to be found?

Maybe it’s not really a question of meeting on common ground.

Maybe it’s a question of rescuing those on shaky footings and bringing them to a firm foundation – one built on respect, common sense and a mutual TRUST.

I'll stand on that ground. Will you?