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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cities without walkable downtowns and public transport are in peril -- OpEd

Now let's listen, for a moment, to someone who actually knows what he's talking about...

The Death of the Fringe Suburb

DRIVE through any number of outer-ring suburbs in America, and you’ll see boarded-up and vacant strip malls, surrounded by vast seas of empty parking spaces. These forlorn monuments to the real estate crash are not going to come back to life, even when the economy recovers. And that’s because the demand for the housing that once supported commercial activity in many exurbs isn’t coming back, either.
By now, nearly five years after the housing crash, most Americans understand that a mortgage meltdown was the catalyst for the Great Recession, facilitated by underregulation of finance and reckless risk-taking. Less understood is the divergence between center cities and inner-ring suburbs on one hand, and the suburban fringe on the other.
It was predominantly the collapse of the car-dependent suburban fringe that caused the mortgage collapse.
In the late 1990s, high-end outer suburbs contained most of the expensive housing in the United States, as measured by price per square foot, according to data I analyzed from the Zillow real estate database. Today, the most expensive housing is in the high-density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in their metropolitan areas are Capitol Hill in Seattle; Virginia Highland in Atlanta; German Village in Columbus, Ohio, and Logan Circle in Washington. Considered slums as recently as 30 years ago, they have been transformed by gentrification.
Simply put, there has been a profound structural shift — a reversal of what took place in the 1950s, when drivable suburbs boomed and flourished as center cities emptied and withered.
The shift is durable and lasting because of a major demographic event: the convergence of the two largest generations in American history, the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the millennials (born between 1979 and 1996), which today represent half of the total population.
Many boomers are now empty nesters and approaching retirement. Generally this means that they will downsize their housing in the near future. Boomers want to live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.
The millennials are just now beginning to emerge from the nest — at least those who can afford to live on their own. This coming-of-age cohort also favors urban downtowns and suburban town centers — for lifestyle reasons and the convenience of not having to own cars.
Over all, only 12 percent of future homebuyers want the drivable suburban-fringe houses that are in such oversupply, according to the Realtors survey. This lack of demand all but guarantees continued price declines. Boomers selling their fringe housing will only add to the glut. Nothing the federal government can do will reverse this.
Many drivable-fringe house prices are now below replacement value, meaning the land under the house has no value and the sticks and bricks are worth less than they would cost to replace. This means there is no financial incentive to maintain the house; the next dollar invested will not be recouped upon resale. Many of these houses will be converted to rentals, which are rarely as well maintained as owner-occupied housing. Add the fact that the houses were built with cheap materials and methods to begin with, and you see why many fringe suburbs are turning into slums, with abandoned housing and rising crime.
The good news is that there is great pent-up demand for walkable, centrally located neighborhoods in cities like Portland, Denver, Philadelphia and Chattanooga, Tenn. The transformation of suburbia can be seen in places like Arlington County, Va., Bellevue, Wash., and Pasadena, Calif., where strip malls have been bulldozed and replaced by higher-density mixed-use developments with good transit connections.
Reinvesting in America’s built environment — which makes up a third of the country’s assets — and reviving the construction trades are vital for lifting our economic growth rate. (Disclosure: I am the president of Locus, a coalition of real estate developers and investors and a project of Smart Growth America, which supports walkable neighborhoods and transit-oriented development.)
Some critics will say that investment in the built environment risks repeating the mistake that caused the recession in the first place. That reasoning is as faulty as saying that technology should have been neglected after the dot-com bust, which precipitated the 2001 recession.
The cities and inner-ring suburbs that will be the foundation of the recovery require significant investment at a time of government retrenchment. Bus and light-rail systems, bike lanes and pedestrian improvements — what traffic engineers dismissively call “alternative transportation” — are vital. So is the repair of infrastructure like roads and bridges. Places as diverse as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Dallas, Charlotte, Denver and Washington have recently voted to pay for “alternative transportation,” mindful of the dividends to be reaped. As Congress works to reauthorize highway and transit legislation, it must give metropolitan areas greater flexibility for financing transportation, rather than mandating that the vast bulk of the money can be used only for roads.
For too long, we over-invested in the wrong places. Those retail centers and subdivisions will never be worth what they cost to build. We have to stop throwing good money after bad. It is time to instead build what the market wants: mixed-income, walkable cities and suburbs that will support the knowledge economy, promote environmental sustainability and create jobs.

Who is the author?
Christopher B. Leinberger is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and professor of practice in urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan.
President of Locus; Responsible Real Estate Developers and Investors, advocating for the upcoming transportation, climate change and energy bills before Congress. Locus is a partner and member of the executive committee of Transportation for America, a broad coalition of environmental, business, real estate, unions and government bodies. Please refer to
Leinberger was voted one of the “Top 100 Urban Thinkers” of all time in a poll conducted by Planetizen, the international urban planning and architecture web site, in 2009 (
For 21 years, Mr. Leinberger was Managing Director and co-owner of RCLCO (formerly Robert Charles Lesser & Co.), the largest independent real estate advisory firm in the country that today works on over 600 projects a year for developers, corporations and municipalities. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

T-shirt for sale

The Transit Center project is a no-brainer... to the rational people in Troy

from Rob

Mayor, council: 
I have followed the transit center issue with a certain degree of interest for the last several years, wondering at times why it was a contentious issue for anyone.  As far as I could tell, we were being given money to build something in Troy, with very little outlay on the city’s part in return for a large sum, 8.5 million dollars worth apparently, from the federal government being used to build it.
Seems like a no-brainer to me. In fact, I was pleased to actually see a return of some of the tax money I invest in my country every year come back to the community I live in, and glad it was being used for mass transit, something that saves energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and gives people without the benefit of cars, the freedom to move about that I enjoy as an American lucky enough to own a car. Plus, I just like trains, and wish we had more of them. I’ve traveled extensively in this country and some abroad, and always have been impressed by how every great city I’ve ever been to has lots of trains and subways to get around in. Every single one. 
But for some reason, every time I’d show up at a city council meeting or watch one on TV, someone would bring up the transit center as an example of the Troy city council or mayor wasting our money. In fact, it was, and is, always someone from Troy Citizens United who does the complaining about the Transit Center. Apparently, they think that if we turn this 8.5 million dollars from the Federal Government down and say no to the transit center, all that money will somehow magically be returned to us in the form of a refund or something, or that they’re doing their patriotic duty by saying no.  
Well, it doesn’t work like that. If we say no, the money gets pegged for some other transit project somewhere else, maybe in another town or another state. Troy loses out, and all the jobs that would be created in order to build this center won’t be needed.    
That bears repeating, I think:  We lose the 8.5 million dollar investment in our town, it goes away to somewhere else, and the jobs needed to build the Transit center are lost, which means a lot of people who could really use the work won’t get it, all because of a certain small group of people, including, apparently our new mayor, are willing to put an obviously flawed ideology over the welfare of the city.  
This is not just naivete, it is foolish, willful political stupidity. If I were one of the architects, engineers or construction workers who lost out on the opportunity to have a good paying job for a year or two while this center was being built, I think I’d be extremely upset.  As it is, I’m pretty upset about it even being an issue.    

Money, money, money...

For weeks, everyone connected to the political scene in Troy has been talking it relates to the proposed new multi-modal transit center.

Well...what if we just forget about the cost of the project?

Seriously...what if we didn't frame every decision with discussions about a pricetag? Someone very wise said recently,

"What if the notion that all activities should have an economic benefit is a flawed premise? What if economics should have nothing to do with the way we live? It may be a stretch for some people to imagine but I think there are things that humanity needs to do that should have nothing to do with the economics of it."

You know...I think he/she is on to something.

Recently, a very vocal council member shared that the past several years of economic strife has hit his family hard. He had to make some difficult decisions, one of which was buying a USED Cadillac. Clearly it wasn't all about the money for this gentleman. There are hundreds of other cars that would have accomplished the same task as his Cadillac for a lot less financial outlay.

That same councilman likes telling us that there are other options to a transit center that cost less...and maybe he's right. So why didn't he buy a used car of a lesser cost/stature? Wouldn't something else have accomplished the same task of getting him to and from work just as well?

The answer is yes.

But he clearly had sound reasons for choosing such an extravagant vehicle within his depleted budget. So it doesn't always need to be about what it's going to COST us, but rather how it could make our lives easier, better, more comfortable, more efficient...any number of things that aren't directly related to the price tag.

Take some of the other amenities in Troy, like the Family Aquatic Center. Right about the time I moved in and joined that facility, there was a HUGE call to close it, bull-doze it and move on. Mayor Pryor was unhappy it wasn't making money, and rather than be patient about figuring out how to help it along...he wanted to be done. Didn't matter that it was a GREAT convenience for residents, a feather in the cap of Troy, a lovely amenity to offer was a drain on a portion of the city budget.

Short-sighted and narrow-minded thinking would have closed it (just like that same thinking would have closed our library)...

An important difference with the transit center is that the money is coming from the federal government. NO ONE is asking Troy taxpayers to spend $8 million+ for it.

Oh, I know...I've heard the same rhetoric about that money:

"It's still OUR money! We gave it to the government!"
Did you know that if you DON'T spend it in Troy, it'll go to another city for THEIR transit projects?

"The government should put that money toward the federal deficit!"
Did you know that money won't be put back for that? It was collected and earmarked for transit projects.

"Sure, the $8 million will pay for getting the trains here...then what??? Troy will be on the hook!"
Did you know that folks have been working on this project for as long as 10-12 YEARS and have already worked out a lot of those details? Much -- if not nearly all -- of the ongoing cost/maintenance of the center will be covered by the leases of the businesses occupying it.

Just because some in our viewing audience (and on council) might only just be waking up doesn't mean these same issues haven't already been raised.

For months we've been hearing all about HOW MUCH money Troy really it could fund our library for 7-day service...plow all our for all our services. Why would this project suddenly now be such a huge burden?

For months we've heard two new city govt. members who are real estate agents tell us how rosy the outlook is. Why are they NOW stone-walling on this project because, they say, we don't need it in tough times?

We're talking about an estimated $30,000/year cost MAYBE to run maintenance on the Transit Center after it's all paid for with federal dollars. If we have ALL that money...why NOT spend it to provide convenience, revenue, and progress?

So if it doesn't have to be about the money...why wouldn't we move forward with this project?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Exchanging pleasantries?

Some say we are being rude because we are being tough on new Troy mayor Janice Daniels, the woman who has been screaming at city council for two years.
When was she ever gracious?
When was she ever kind?
Was she ever considerate to city staff?
She has shown ZERO respect for anyone in office or for anyone working for the city. Yet we she be gentle with her now?
Mayor Daniels says she wants to have a can-do council and ram through her ideas,  even overturning contractual agreements and votes made by previous councils, while handing back the hard-won $8.5 million in transportation funding to the federal government.
Well, if she's going to be ramming her nonsense through we need to stand up to her NOW, not let her do her damage for three months to be polite.
Don't be naive.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Troy Chamber of Commerce President's open letter to council

Dear Mayor Daniels and Members of the Troy City Council:
Twenty-three days ago, I stood on the platform of Shanghai’s Maglev Train with 57 fellow travelers from the Troy Chamber.  The Maglev is the fastest ground transportation in the world, and it hovers ten millimeters above the Earth as it races forward at 431 km/h.     As we boarded the train, there was a buzz in the air and an excitement that mirrored that of the Great Wall.  Who would have thought a mere train could compete with the grandeur and history of the Great Wall, history’s most massive public works project?
I suppose the answer to that question lies in the fact it is not a mere train.  It represents a mastery of innovation and technological advancement.  It suggests a clear understanding of what a vital, on fire society is all about.   It is also a symbol, and a remarkable one at that, for it symbolizes a hunger and a desire to be the fastest and the best in the world.
When coupled with the 4,000 skyscrapers built in Shanghai since the 1990’s, the notable architecture, the outstanding public transportation system, and the overall commitment to achievement, the Maglev makes it clear China is positioned to compete, and to do so strongly.  In fact, it was a bit unsettling to arrive back in New York, only for it to feel “small” in comparison.
What does this mean for our future?  It means we need to recapture the innovative spirit that formed our country, and that made Troy what it is today.  As the Troy City Council debates whether or not to go forward with our own transit center, I feel a bit rattled by what I see as imminent danger, for we are in danger of losing a strong competitive advantage.  I see the transit center as an important problem solving tool, one that can resolve our revenue crisis, and inspire forward movement that can lead to far more opportunity.
I’m not going to burden you with the facts and figures that form the basis for making this most important investment in our community, for you’ve heard them before.   And, the Chamber has exerted considerable energy toward ensuring this is a solid investment for Troy.  Rather, my hope is to awaken in our community an awareness of what is needed to compete in the global marketplace, and to remain a community of choice. 
People want walkable communities, people want to reduce commercial vacancies, people want higher property values, people want transportation options, people want additional revenue to support community infrastructure, and people want an innovative community ripe with opportunity.  The transit center can make this vision a reality.
Henry Ford once said “If I would have asked my customer what he/she wanted, it would have been a faster horse”.  We can’t settle for the faster horse.  We must go for the Maglev.  We must be the bullet that seizes this opportunity to solidify resources that address the challenges we face.  The transit center is our future.  The hard work has been done, and all we need to do now is enjoy the benefits that will transpire for years to come.
Michele Hodges, President
Troy Chamber of Commerce

A note to Cristian

No, I didn't post the racist lawyer information. I actually sat on it for a week and decided NOT to use it. It has been swirling around for some time because the person who found it was so wildly disgusted that the mayor of this city wanted this person to sully the council chambers and the city and speak before us. He has made himself an enemy of many, many, many good people. 
It is clear to me his reasons for not being a fan of the transit center have more to do with his "concern" of folks of different races and he doesn't want them to have access to Oakland County more than anything else. He is a Neanderthal.
But here's the deal, it is ALL true. How can you call posting these things he wrote "character assassination?" 
Here's more bad news for you...people want the truth to come out, in Troy. They are quickly learning that the ideologues are not going to be happy simply shaping Troy's future, they seem to want to turn back the clock, force everyone to think like them, tell people how their families should be run, tell them what religion to have and destroy opportunities for growth here in Troy.
I am not the only one who will not stand for it. I believe many people who voted for Ms. Daniels are increasingly dismayed by her behavior and her loose grip on decorum, business practices, community spirit and perhaps mental health.
The cavalry has arrived now, sir. I don't have to be the one to post such unpleasantries. Many others are willing. Good quiet people are alarmed by the craziness and are coming to the rescue.
These posts are true. Just as the comments YOU wrote were true.
p.s. I also had nothing to do with the Gadafy stuff. Saw it. Thought it was bogus. Didn't touch it. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Troy Mayor Janice Daniels thinks our City Charter is a "WHIMSICAL DOCUMENT!"

From today's Free Press. Troy Tea Party Mayor Janice Daniels refuses to take an oath to uphold Troy City Charter:
Daniels said she made the change because "I didn't think it was appropriate to take an oath to the city charter," which she called "a whimsical document that changes with the opinions of the City Council."
Read the article here

See Sue's information about the oath here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why a transit center?

Final Agreement

Why are people mad about the Troy Transit Center?

The main reason so many people are angry about Troy's Transit Center plan, I believe, is because they were lied to about it for so long by political ideologues in Troy who claimed that Troy taxpayers were footing the bill for the whole thing. Who are those liars? Janice Daniels, for one.
The federal government is chipping in $8.5 million of the nearly $9 million funding, but you wouldn't know that if you'd read anything written by Troy Citizens United, the group our illustrious Tea Party Mayor Janice Daniels fronted for the past two years.
Proof is here, from an anti-library mailer they sent out in October of 2010. It claims that instead of funding the library the city was wasting $9.4 million on the library. 
Some of the new council members may STILL believe this. Dave Henderson was still claiming this nonsense this summer!

FYI, every one of the points in this clip is untrue -- all of the items had been moved to the general fund long before this TCU flier was written. They just made these numbers up!

On TCU's website TODAY they continue to claim that Troy has spent millions on the Transit Center:

Here is the portion of the city hall documents that shows where the vast majority of the funding is coming from. 

Care about the Transit Center one way or another?

At least read this city document so you can understand the history behind it and its purpose.
20111121 Agenda - O-01 - Troy Multi-Modal Transit Facility

'We had a moderate who was going to run for the mayor's office -- and that's a tragedy!' -- Janice Daniels

Janice Daniels on Blog Radio
She tells us
  • she is "mainstream"
  • she belongs to several Tea Parties
  • Moderates are horrible
  • her supporters were from the Tea Party
  • she IS the citizen legislator that the Founding Fathers envisioned
  • she loves the police (do they believe that?)
  • people are trying to recall her (who?)
  • the Left believes people are stupid, and they want to destroy our schools and make people stupid
  • Indoctrination of children with Marxism and Communism is a problem because we allow 1970s radicals to become university professors
  • she agrees with the host is right that The Left's full time job is destroying this country
  • She wants Michael Ross to speak before council on his work with intact families because, "I want to use this new role I have to promote the healthy aspects of society."
  • 41:11 Pictures of her in the media were hideous (!)
  • The Left subscribe to Karl Marx and his belief that the ends justify the means (wrong, it was Machiavelli)
  • Biggest goal is to reconfigure our understanding of government, and desires to make changes nearby and in the state and country
  • She is very active in the Tea Parties
  • 53:35 - "The Tea Party is maturing, educating itself growing and a force of goodness and kindness and god-fearing love for this country. We're not radicals. We are quietly going to restore this country to its constitutional basis."
  • Host would have slept better if Sarah Palin won the presidency and fixed our country
  • She is impressed with Sarah Palin's mental tenacity, charm, vitality
Listen for yourself:

Listen to internet radio with Megan Fox on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, November 18, 2011

Under Oath

This past Monday evening, our new mayor and council were sworn in.

An abbreviated version of prior oaths was used, and the version used omitted any reference to the City of Troy and any pledge to uphold the City Charter.

It also omitted the phrase, " help me God."

It was the first time in anyone's recent memory that this had been done. The oath, typically administered by the City Clerk, was given by Judge Michael Warren.

Judge Warren created "Patriot Week" and often speaks at area Tea Party events.

As a result of this obvious change-up in proceedings, the social media world, phone lines and e-mail circuits have been jammed with speculation as to WHY our new mayor would make such radical changes. So, I went straight to the horse's mouth to find out.

Here is what I asked our mayor and new council:

I have a question regarding the oath that was taken Monday night, and rather than continue to add to the speculation swirling about I'm coming to this body. Why was any mention of the City of Troy left off the oath? And why was the oath different from those taken by previous councils/mayors? Any insight to this would be very helpful.

Mayor Daniels answered quickly:

In response to your question, elected officials are only bound to take an Oath to the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the State in which they will serve. This is stated in Article XI Public Officers and Employment, Section 1 of the Constitution of the State of Michigan. City Attorney Lori Bluhm was fully briefed and concurred with my decision to limit my Oath to the constitutional requirement. Thank you so much for your interest and concern for our City.

Do you see an answer to my question there?

Nor did I. So I pressed again by asking:

I do understand the LEGALITY of the issue and that your chosen version of the oath was within the bounds of law. However, my question was to the omission of any mention of the City of Troy and our city charter. Why, specifically, was that left off? Ms. Bluhm could also then speak to whether or not you are still bound by the charter and obligated to uphold it.

Ms. Daniels' next response:

One example comes to my mind. Section 3.8.5 of the Troy City Charter states that the Mayor will send an annual proclamation to the U.S. Congress encouraging them to pass a constitutional amendment in favor of term limits upon themselves. I don't agree with term limits. I think they are unconstitutional and so I would have a problem sending in such a proclamation. The best term limits are an informed citizenry who will vote out perceived bad leadership.

I read this over very carefully several times. It seemed a natural conclusion TO ME that Ms. Daniels was saying that she didn't mention the city or the charter on personal principle -- because she didn't agree, she wouldn't pledge to agree. So I responded:

I thank you for your interesting response. I will, as I said, await Ms. Bluhm's legal opinion on whether you are required to uphold our city charter. But can I assume from your answer that you do not intend to follow the aspects of the city charter with which you do not personally agree?

Next I received word from Ms. Bluhm, our City Attorney:

... any city official not compliant with our charter could face misconduct in office charges.

And, finally, hours later, Ms. Daniels's response...

Your assumptions are not accurate.
The Constitution of the State of Michigan binds me to the city charter subject to the constitution and all laws. See Article VII, Section 22

So...there you have it. No matter Ms. Daniels's personal ideology, rest assured. She is OBLIGATED (and apparently has been briefed with the law) to uphold our charter whether or not she agrees with it. She is bound by the Constitution of the State of Michigan.

And we'll be holding her to help us God.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The sophisticated TCU/Janice Daniels reason for giving $8.2 million BACK?

Why should Troy cancel the transit center project and give $8.2 million back to the state and federal governments and let some other town benefit from that money?
Don't you worry. TCU has our economic and business concerns at heart.
Why just look how very refined, strategic and sophisticated their thinking is.
From TCU's Facebook page, written by their moderator no less. Janice Daniels, is that you?

Who is Janice Daniels' friend David Wisz, whom she wants to give a voice in our city council deliberations???

He is an anti-labor, anti-public transportation, $300-dollar-an-hour lawyer who loves the Tea Party. Gee… surprise, surprise. Here's an essay he wrote back in 2010.

"A Great Essay About Waste in Government on Transportation
This essay was submitted to me by David Wisz of Birmingham, Michigan. I edited it only slightly.
Next to National Health Care, no liberal dream has lingered longer than forcing people out of cars and into mass transit – even in Michigan. Like health care, the justifications shift with the political winds; the current rational is “jobs”. However, unlike real jobs created by the private sector, taxpayers are forced to subsidize these public sector union “jobs.”
The 2010 SMART bus operating budget is $122 Million to support 900 union employees. About one-third of the total bus operating expenses are siphoned from Michigan’s Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF) - a mass transit subsidy carved fromMichigan’s annual road budget. Nearly all CTF funds come from federal fuel taxes (18.4 centers per gallon), state fuel taxes, and state vehicle registration fees.
CTF is a redistribution of wealth from the Michigan’s car and truck drivers to public sector union-controlled mass transit agencies like SMART bus. Car and truck drivers actually pay substantially more for bus trips they never take than do the bus riders themselves as less than 10% of SMART bus revenue comes from ridership.
Even now, MI House Bills 5768, 5769 and 5770 have introduced a TAX HIKE of 8 cents on gasoline (currently 19 cents per gallon) and 12 cents on diesel (currently 15 cents per gallon).
Yet even this is not enough…
MI House Bills HB 5731-33 have been introduced to form a Regional Mass Transit Authority which will have the power to levy taxes to subsidize Michigan mass transit projects similar to those in France, Spain and Japan which cost an average of $51 million per mile.
We have also seen attempts at the County level by “Republican” Oakland County Commissioner Dave Potts who was the only “Republican” to vote with ALL the Democrats for a $17 million county-wide bus TAX HIKE – despite a veto threat by Oakland County Executive, L. Brooks Patterson - in his attempt to subsidize the public sector bus unions.
Now too, on the local level, Troy is pushing a 29% TAX increase, the largest property TAX HIKE in city history and BloomfieldTownship is pushing a similar TAX HIKE with the encouragement of Mr. Potts. We already pay for bus trips we never take and may soon subsidize the Troy-Birmingham Transit center Bus Station we will never use.
Citizens and Business owners are fed up with high taxes and wild government spending on such inefficient mass transit ploys which are primarily designed to TRANSFER WEALTH from taxpayers to public sector unions. Rather than spending more, we should follow the lead of New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie and cut millions from these mass transit boondoggles."

To paraphrase something I said to Janice about kids and libraries -- Jeepers, David, what could public transportation possibly have to do with jobs???
Please, Troy City Council and Mayor -- you claimed you desired to END the political rift in Troy, not to ESCALATE IT!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Out of Curiosity...

I wonder how many of the voices at the council table or from the podium calling for the very important need for Saturday library hours at the Troy Public Library have actually USED the library in the last...oh...EVER.

Monday, November 14, 2011

About All I Can Say Tonight...

...after seeing only half of the council meeting after walking in from a 14 hour work-day is this...

Thank goodness for rules and procedures and common sense because the council table is not the place to make commandments and expect them to pass without full and reasonable study of their efficacy.

And you thought grand-standing left with Mr. Howrylak...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just having a little fun

with our web design.

If you are not a Teapublican, you are a RINO - The world according to Janice Daniels

So after the sad political week I went off to the Henry Ford Museum yesterday for my daughter's Brownie field trip. How great to get away from the politics, right?
Every one of my Facebook friends who saw me gave their condolences on the results of the election. Everyone who brought it up to me was very surprised and displeased by the election, even a very conservative couple I know.
The dad told me that he had seen me in the audience at the Troy candidates' debate that he had watched online. Then, with absolutely no prompting from me, he told me this.
He watched the debate fully intending to vote for Janice Daniels, because she was the "conservative" candidate. But as he watched the debate, he told me, he realized that Janice Daniels, leader in Troy Citizens United and co-founder of the Troy Tea Party, was not a simple conservative. "She's just all about her own ideology" the dad's wife chimed in. He said she seemed to have an odd demeanor and once he heard Robin Beltramini speak it was clear to him that she was the better, smarter and more experienced candidate. He then assured me, after watching the debate, he and his conservative wife quickly decided to vote for Beltramini, NOT Daniels.
Then he turned to me and asked, "What happened? How could she have won?"
I guess the answer I find most logical is that Janice Daniels played "innocent, moderate, library-loving conservative" for the last two months and she fooled a lot of people.
It was so nice of this dad and his wife to tell me what they had learned. Of course, if they hadn't been responsible voters who tried to go beyond the campaign literature, they never would have known the truth.
Now they do. And they are just about as scared of the next four years as I am.
Janice Daniels would no doubt brush her hand through the air and label them "RINOs" (her name for any Republican who doesn't agree with her).
So what can we do?
We can only wait and see what will happen.
Will Janice Daniels be herself and make it clear that if you are not the most extreme, conservative Teapublican, she will do nothing for you while in office?
Or will Janice read the city books, see what trouble our city is in and begin to see city workers as actual human beings? Will she be able to moderate her plans to reflect the real world?
Sadly, as Janice Daniels has made clear over the past two years, "Democracy" is not a word in her vocabulary.
Neither is "moderate."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Crystal Clear

I'm sure this has been explained before, but let's clarify one more time so we're all on the same page.

KEEP TROY STRONG - an independent blog started by Sharon MacDonell in October of 2010. Sharon invited several individuals to write, many of whom were not ever involved in Troy politics before that time. I was one of those individuals. KEEP TROY STRONG is NOT associated with TRUST. Members of TRUST write for it. But the two entities are SEPARATE. KEEP TROY STRONG does not speak for TRUST, nor are the opinions here those of TRUST as an entity.

It is possible for individuals to speak for themselves, those who write here certainly do. The author of each post is shown at the bottom of each post.

TRUST -- grassroots citizens group formed unofficially in Jan./Feb. of 2011; formal papers were not filed with the county until a few months later, as I recall. Mutli-partisan in membership, TRUST seeks to advance progress in Troy for the good of all residents, businesses and visitors. TRUST does not collect or spend money. It is not a PAC.

SAVE TROY -- ballot committee formed to campaign toward the millage proposal to provide dedicated funding for the Troy Public Library. SAVE TROY was formed by members of TRUST, and that was NEVER a fact we hid. It dissolved with the victory of the millage.

SAVE TROY 2.0 -- PAC formed to campaign for specific candidates in the mayoral and council elections. SAVE TROY 2.0 was formed by members of TRUST, and that was NEVER a fact we hid. It may or may not dissolve now that the election is over. We used the SAME NAME so there was no confusion about who we were.

It would be nice if all citizen groups were as forthcoming with their committee names and ballot action groups, wouldn't it?

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Sorry kids. It wasn't me. I have the same hairstyle.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just Over a Year...

Sharon started this blog just over a year ago.

Some time shortly after that, I met her as we tried to sort out our feeling about the loss of the Proposal 1 millage to save the TPL.

It seems so very long ago...reading over past entries allows me to see how very far we've come!

One year.

Over 86,000 hits...that's more than the number of residents in Troy.

Someone is reading...a LOT of someones.

Do us a favor...if you are one of them...share this blog. Tell every one you know who lives, works or shops in Troy.

We have lots more work to do...and this blog is an excellent way to stay informed.

Let's Keep Troy Strong together...

Don't Count Us Out Just Yet

I woke up today and looked in the mirror and knew that I truly had done everything I could to work for the good of all the residents in this city.

All of them...

I also know that there are some folks who now work FOR ME.

I wonder if they can say the same...that they will work for the good of ALL of us?

Something tells me we have to help them remember that it's their DUTY to do so...and oh, we shall. At every single council meeting until they are out of office, if necessary. By social media...they shall know the success of their term by the outcry of the people.

And if being on council is TRULY a stepping stone to higher office -- as promised as a guarantee by an especially extreme right-wing political activist in Troy -- we'll be ok.

Because the people who REALLY want to serve TROY and save TROY will still be here to do it.

Down for a day or two...but FAR from out.

The Real Janice Daniels

I am amused that now that Janice Daniels has won the mayoral election, journalists feel free to call her what she is -- a "Tea Party" activist.

Below is the post I wrote in August over my frustration that no one, including Janice, would admit WHO and WHAT she really is. Now that all these papers are willing to speak the very simple TRUTH, it's too late.

The Fourth Estate -- HA!

It's funny too, as I tried to define Doug Tietz as the career-long politician that he is, his devotees told me that I was "digging up dirt" on him. By saying who he really was? A man who has run ethically-challenged statewide ballot campaigns in multiple states called "Civil Rights Initiatives" that were anti-civil rights? Nice. I guess I see why he didn't admit it.

These are our transparency politicians, folks. Good luck.

from August: 

Janice Daniels' Extreme Makeover

When I first became aware of the politics that were tearing Troy apart, I was smacked in the face by the group TCU -- Troy Citizens United. This was in February of 2010 when they were fighting viciously AGAINST a millage increase that would have preserved Troy as the city that was known and respected throughout the area.

The only reason we had to vote on that millage increase was because the same TCU had pushed through a City Charter Amendment in 2008 that said Troy residents have to make every millage increase decision. And what did that bad policy create? The need for all these millage votes by the people. And who complains about all these votes? TCU, the folks who made it happen (including Mr. Kempen, who is running for city council).

And when I asked a member of TCU why TCU had lied and said that the advisory board I was on had supported a No vote on the millage, the man said, "That's how the game is played."
Nice folks, eh?
As I began trying to help save the library, I recognized that the single shrillest, most partisan, most divisive and most negative voice in Troy was TCU leader and Troy Area Tea Party founder Janice Daniels. She is someone who gets all of her facts and numbers wrong and doesn't really care. She is an aggressive anti-Democrat, anti-moderate Republican (who wrote that RINOs need to change their ways to be allowed back into the party) and is so ridiculously extreme, that she refuses to allow anyone to describe America or its system "Democratic."
I remember once talking at city council about the importance of the library to my children. Janice Daniels then made fun of me for "pulling at people's heartstrings" by talking about children and libraries. Apparently she didn't see a connection. She also said people considering moving to Troy didn't care about a library, only about taxes.
Daniels only cares about taxes and thinks that is how everyone else must feel, too. But as a mother of two elementary kids I can tell you taxes pay for stuff like books and education and snow plowing and public safety. Janice Daniels may want to live in a part time town, but I don't.
But here's the rub.
Now that Janice Daniels is running for mayor, she is trying to exorcise all the evil intent she has shown over the past two years. We who know her tricks were fascinated that at the city council meeting following her defeat in trying to close the Troy Public Library, she said it was time for forgiveness. 

Apparently she meant we should forgive HER. And not only does she expect forgiveness, she expects us to buy into her new makeover. She is no longer the extreme, shrill, anti-moderate Republican politician that she has long claimed to be. No. Now Janice Daniels is a "political newcomer" and an "independent" and apparently, no longer a leader of the local Tea Party.
The Oakland Press says she "is active with Troy Citizens United."
"Active"? Daniels is a spokesperson of this group that is destroying our city and pitting neighbors against one another. The Oakland Press also did not mention that she is founder of the Troy Area Tea Party. How come? Perhaps because the Tea Party is losing some of its luster?
The Troy Times says she is "a self-described independent." How convenient. When I think of independents, I think of people who believe that both of our major parties are too extreme and thus they come down in the middle. That is NOT Janice Daniels. Daniels is so extreme that she cannot find a party extreme enough, thus she had to join TCU and found the Troy Area Tea Party.
Read some of our past articles on Janice Daniels, mostly based on her own words in countless goofy Op-Ed pieces she wrote herself. Here's a line from one: "We do not need a full service, 40 hours a week city hall." This woman would put the Troy in des-TROY.
Don't let her do it.
Read more
To see more just look on Keep Troy Strong's homepage here and scroll down the page to see her name on the right side.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sad day

Well, it looks like the ideologues who value pennies over community, ideology over thoughtfulness, and pettiness over kindness have taken over the city. 
Good luck to all of us in Troy, Michigan.
We're bloody well going to need it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Playing to Win...Not Playing to Serve

I know that for some, politics is nothing more than a game.

Every move...ever reaction...every message is part of a complex and infinitely well-crafted framework all built for one thing and one thing only: victory.

Victory at any cost.

Sometimes, the cost is nominal...perhaps it causes an opponent or an issue to slow down temporarily.

Other times, it's devastating. The lives, livelihoods and families of political candidates have been ruined, misrepresented, tarnished -- often unfairly. For some people, there is nothing better than being able to say,

"This man/woman is FINISHED!"

They will go to great lengths...maybe steal signs, publish slanderous mail pieces, post heinous and deviant things on the internet about others. Truly malicious things, I mean...not merely sharing unflattering information that is TRUE.

Noo...this goes much further, what I'm talking about...

I often wonder how anyone with a conscience can take part in this. I wonder what it feels like to destroy someone's reputation for no good reason. For example, in our current election, I've heard one candidate's military history derided in reprehensible ways.

"He thinks being a veteran makes him qualified? Ha!"

He was told to get out of the race...he refused...they took him on to destroy him.

Another candidate is being vilified for having been part of a grassroots effort from which he eventually resigned when he decided to run for city council...among other things.

He stood up to advance noble causes...they didn't like it...they took him on to destroy him.

It's all here on the blog...

Decent men like Neil Yashinsky and Allen D'Aoust who have served our community and our country are being taken to task by individuals who serve only themselves.

Luckily, those who seek to destroy often slip-up...get exposed. Good people refuse to allow bad behavior go unchecked.

We're starting to see that happen in Troy.

Make wise all you can about every candidate. Keep your eyes open. Think LONG AND HARD about voting for anyone whose name is on a flyer that destroys another human being's reputation, that tells outright lies about their voting history and/or platform, and that is misspelled. Ok...that's snarky. But honestly...if you can't even SPELL the name of your committee correctly, why should you be taken seriously???

And then vote for the candidates with INTEGRITY...HONOR...SINCERITY.

Beltramini for Mayor

Depending on your own personal feelings on issues...

Blooomingdale, Campbell, Yashinsky for council -- all endorsed by TRUST, fire/police personnel, all library supporters

D'Aoust for council -- endorsed by L. Brooks Patterson and Dave Lambert, former Troy City Councilmen and deep-thinker

Hashmi for council -- library supporter, endorsed by Troy Michigan Blog

Robert Outland part II

A little more from The Oakland Press:

Troy Police asked to probe library petition  
"Robert Outland, who submitted the fourth library millage proposal, refused to comment on his proposal, but directed his comments to the petition calling for an amendment to a city ordinance that calls for a city owned and operated library.
"'That’s the right thing to do,” Outland said. “That (the proposals) will all be negated if the people do what they’re supposed to do.'"

In other words, he refused to admit that his petition was meant to defeat the Library Proposal, but said people should approve a DIFFERENT petition from the one he circulated.

These people are sick. Truly.

Robert Outland -- the missing link?

Robert Outland is the link that proves TCU masterminded those three fake library proposals last year.
Robert Outland:

  1. is a friend of anti-tax extremist, TCU supporter Bob Gosselin
  2. circulated a fake library proposal petition in November 2011 (clicky)
  3. donated $1,000 to Troy Voter Guide (endorser of TCU and attacker of other candidates) this campaign season 

Whenever we have accused anyone from TCU of putting the 3 fake library proposals on the ballot last November, an act that muddied the waters and confused voters at the polls, TCU folks look sort of glassy-eyed. They never admit it, but they never deny it. But we don't have to look any further. Our missing link is Robert Outland.

I've written before on the topic, in the post: 

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

They were all mentioned in newspaper articles as the people who put the fake proposals on the ballot, yet they would never explain who they were and why they did it. But there Robert Outland is.

And oh, lookee what I just found, Robert Outland is a goooood friend of Bob Gosselin, Troy Citizens United own, behind-the-curtain Wizard of Oz. This is a letter to the editor from Bob Outland.

Gosselin is only candidate with conservative record
 Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2004
Actions speak louder than words. Nowhere is that statement more applicable than in Troy's race for state representative.All four candidates claim to be conservative, but only one actually has a strong record voters can count on. Robert Gosselin voted for income, fuel and property tax cuts. He also actively fought ridiculous spending proposals in Lansing.His actions demonstrate a strong commitment to using my money wisely. That record clearly outweighs the empty words of his opponents.Bob Outland
And now what is mayoral candidate Janice Daniels doing? She's pretending to be the library's biggest backer. But as a spokesperson and leader of TCU, as a person whose recent fundraiser was held at Bob Gosselin's house, as a person who said on October 13, 2010, "In my 21 years of selling real estate I have never once been asked if a city had a world class library or if a city had a library at all when deciding to move into a city.” AND “I would encourage all the citizens of Troy not to be fooled by the emotional [pro-library] rhetoric that is swirling around this town by adults and children alike.” Daniels cannot be trusted to protect our library.

Please do not buy into the TCU's sudden adoration of the library. It is political fakery.
Elect the people who fought to save the library FROM Janice Daniels, Dave Henderson and the TCU.
Vote for Robin Beltramini, Bruce Bloomingdale, Neil Yashinsky and Jim Campbell.

Endorsements for the candidates who will keep Troy strong

Library Saturdays

Now that Janice Daniels is trying to become the library's savior, after she personally spent a year and a half trying to shut it down, she and her minions like Dave Henderson are claiming it was ALWAYS a promise that if the library millage was approved in August we would get our Saturdays back. 
Not true. 
Never true.
An article written at the time:

It's amazing how they can make this a political issue, especially when, as anti-library campaigners for over a year, they have absolutely NO standing on this issue.