Thursday, June 30, 2011

First Impressions

A very successful local Troy property owner was recently sharing his impression of the City of Troy. Now, you should know that this gentleman runs a tight ship. His properties are PRISTINE...well-manicured, impeccably maintained, fully landscaped and decorated for the winter holidays.

Oh...and occupied at over 80% capacity IN TODAY'S ECONOMY. That's no coincidence; his tenants appreciate the time, effort and money he puts into maintaining his investment.

So he was sharing what he thought visitors to our city must think when the come off the exit of I-75 at the City Hall complex. If you've been there recently, you've seen what I have -- tall grass, weedy landscape beds, and a distinct absence of annual flowers. In the Big Beaver medians, there is also a noticeable lack of colorful annual plantings that we've previously had.

He asked, "What successful company is going to choose to showcase their business in a city like Troy when Troy can't even showcase ITSELF?"

You see, we might think that a small budget item like annual landscaping and flower planting is wasteful. We might think it's a little thing we can do without in the long run. But we would be WRONG to think that. In fact, it's the LONG RUN for which it matters most.

First impressions make for LASTING impressions.

Take the last three rounds of mailings from the Troy Citizens United. The TCU prides themselves on being educated professionals, leaders in their industries, and proud citizens of our city. But looking at their mailings, one would think grade school children wrote and illustrated them. Typos, grammar errors, numbers that don't add up, incorrect mathematical equations...

Why good people would donate their hard-earned dollars to this kind of thing is actually sad. That the TCU is proud of this effort? That they sent it to every business and residential address in Troy?

Well, it's kind of pathetic.

First impressions make for LASTING impressions.

I've spoken to numerous business owners and residents this week. Some of them are seeing a TCU mailing for the first time. Their reactions are priceless.

"They spent MONEY on this? My kindergartner could do better."
"Is their calculator broken?"
"They are asking for my money so they can send more of this out, but they want me to NOT spend my money on improving my city???"
"Why would I support an organization who can't write, can't add or subtract, and can't get facts straight?"

Now, I could sit here and refute nearly every single thing in their mailings. I could scan my teacher-edited red marks of all their mistakes. I could show you all the links on the city website or the www.trustroy.org website or the www.savetroy.org website that prove where and how they are dead wrong. I could explain (AGAIN) how outrageous claims of outrageous spending are usually just outrageous lies.

Or I could simply repeat this:

First impressions make for LASTING impressions.

Most Troy residents appreciate the time, effort and money we've always put into maintaining our investment in this city. By voting YES on August 2, we'll be saying that we want to preserve the time, effort and money we've always put into maintaining our library.

VOTING YES on August 2 makes a LASTING impression that we care about the future of Troy.

VOTE YES...Save Troy!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bottom Line

The city has been extremely helpful in providing an online calculator to show how the millage in August would affect your property taxes.

Here is the calculator. (Clicky)

For example, my 2010 property taxes for the city's general fund cost me $1165.79.
My 2011 property taxes for the city's general fund cost me $1072.37.
The millage would increase my 2011 property taxes for the city's general fund to $1151.47.

That means that in 2011, I'll end up PAYING $14.32 LESS than in 2010 EVEN WITH a new .7 millage increase.

Martin Howrylak doesn't like when we say it that way. He likes to point out that a .7 millage increase COSTS me $79.10 cents more a year than our current mill rate.

Martin Howrylak doesn't like to admit publicly that property values continue to decline, so taxpayers continue to PAY LESS TAX year after year, regardless of a .7 mill increase that would be DEDICATED FUNDING to the library.

I don't understand why Martin Howrylak is so against it given what he has paid to the City of Troy. Here's the breakdown of HIS property tax bill toward the general fund:

Value of the home Martin Howrylak owns in Troy: $0.00.
Property taxes paid to the general fund for that property in 2010: $0.00.
Property taxes paid to the general fund for that property in 2011: $0.00.
Change in tax that Martin Howrylak will see in 2011 when the .7 mill passes: $0.00.

You read that right. That's because Martin Howrylak doesn't own a home in Troy. Yet he thinks he knows what's best for us who do. And he thinks it's important to point out what the millage will COST you versus what you will actually PAY. Follow the example below:

You go to the store to purchase a $10.00 item with a coupon for 20% off.
It COSTS $10.00.
YOU PAY $8.00.
Martin Howrylak wants you to tell yourself only that it COSTS $10.00 and ignore the discount.
That you PAID less doesn't matter to Martin Howrylak.

Martin Howrylak can't do math. Why would you let him balance your budget?

The bottom line is that we CAN afford to pay for this millage.

Say yes on August 2. Save the library...and save Troy.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Thank you Dave Lambert!

For publicly ENDORSING a yes vote on the library millage!
The fans of the library salute you!
-Sharon

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The School Board, on the other hand...

Last night, our Troy School Board achieved something our city council cannot do.

They achieved something THEY wouldn't do in November for Proposal 1.

Last night, they came together as a unified body and gave support for the August 2 library millage.

Last night, they took a stand, putting aside personal feelings and beliefs, so they could support the GREATER GOOD of this city.

Last night, they did what Martin Howrylak is incapable of doing...they acted with integrity, courage and conviction.

Thank you, Troy School Board. Thank you for supporting our children, our schools, our library, and our city.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not on My Watch

When our girls were little...infants...my husband was often far more willing to allow me to be the one to do anything new for the first time. First bath...first bottle...first food tastings.

I used to kid him that the reason was because if some terrible reaction or accident happened, it wouldn't by by HIS HAND. It would be mine. He could then remain cleared on all charges of negligence.

It was a cute joke between a father and a mother.

Martin Howrylak works for our city the same way. It's not cute at all. It's cowardly.

Anytime some sensitive issue comes up in a resolution, you can count on Martin to disagree with it. He'll offer up any number of reasons why, enumerating them in long, stammering monologues punctuated with disdain for the resolution, his council members and anyone else that has any support for the issue.

He'll offer suggestions for how it SHOULD have been worded and how it SHOULD have been presented and what it SHOULD have asked for. Sometimes, those changes are then agreed to and made by the rest of the council.

And then comes the vote.

Every single time I've seen this happen in the last 6-8 months, Martin Howrylak will then vote down the very resolution he recrafted and changed to meet the picayune demands that he claimed would make these acceptable to him.

It's exceedingly clear he enjoys the grandstanding this process allows.

But what is even more clear is that Martin Howrylak is a coward. He is afraid to let his name go down in support of ANYTHING that might later have any sort of negative impact or repercussion with anyone. And when one is afraid to stand for anything...well, you know the trite saying.

No. Nothing will happen under Martin Howrylak's watch...NOTHING that will help save our city from further decline in property values, reputation and sustainability.

SAY YES IN AUGUST to Save Troy...and if you see Martin Howrylak's name on a ballot in November?

Just say no...NOT ON MY WATCH.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Another view of Janice Daniels hypocritical OP piece

From Rhonda
Regarding JD's Oakland Press guest opinion piece...


Janice Daniels showed her hand. She states her “game of preference is
politics.” No surprise. She and the Troy Citizens United are playing
games with our city. She is trying to re-write history, but she
underestimates residents who are on to her dirty dealing.
She accuses the city of cheating, while saying wouldn’t it be great if
“politicos” didn’t do that. 


  • Wouldn’t you call putting 3 bogus proposals on a ballot to confuse voters, cheating?
  • Wouldn’t telling people before the library vote, that no home buyer had ever asked you if Troy had a library, only later swooning how vital a library is to buyers, cheating? 
  • Wouldn’t anti-millage petitioners at polling places, intimidating voters, be cheating? 
  • Wouldn’t mailers, including one from Councilman Howrylak making patently false claims about library facts, cheating? 
  • Wouldn’t promising residents money in the budget for a library with no new taxes and then never producing REAL numbers, be cheating?
So, spare us your gee whiz nonsense about old-school political
tactics, because you and the TCU are running the playbook. You can’t
understand why people don’t like the game of politics… it’s because of
people like you, who think this is an ideological game at the expense
of Troy. We want a well-run city, respected in the region, with
services that we MUST have to protect our property values.  


WE WANT OUR LIBRARY SAVED ON AUGUST 2nd.
Stop playing games with the future of our city and find another
pastime. Your bluff’s been called lady.

3rd time? Not really

Before the election the folks who twice have thwarted our attempts to save funding for Troy Public Library will complain that we keep voting for the same thing.
Well, not really.
Feb 2010
The first time the city council asked for 1.9 mills to help increase funding for all and any city departments, as needed. They had to do this because all the characters who work to close the library today, fought in 2008 to cap our tax millage rate here in Troy. That money would have filled in the void left by falling property values. But they ran a smear campaign against the millage and against the city. 
They said the millage was too nebulous. It needed to be more specific. It needed to be less! 
So a group did what they asked.
Nov 2010
After Janice Daniels' Tea Party and TCU killed that chance to maintain the kind of Troy we loved, the Friends of the library did a citizens' initiative (against the will of some council members) and put Proposal 1 on the ballot. 
Proposal 1 was for almost 1 mill for 10 years.
Again the TCU smear/cheat campaign killed it. 
They said it was too much for too long! Why hadn't we made it a shorter duration?
So the city did what they asked.
Aug 2011
Cowed by the political prowess of unethical folks like Bob Gosselin and Martin Howrylak, the city council agonized over one more attempt to save the library. Finally they did it. 
Are they asking for 1.9 mills for 5 years? No. 
1 mill for 10 years? No.
The library millage election is for 0.7 mills for 5 years. Barely enough to keep it the way it is now (not great) and the campaigning for next time will begin in 3.5 years. What a waste.
But that's it -- we have to beg, just for this pittance.
So when someone tells you that Troy voters have already said NO to this millage twice, tell them it isn't true.
Each time the organization behind the millage has asked for less, for more reasonable terms -- bending to TCU's demands.
But of course, they don't say "Thanks for asking for less, this time!"
They don't say, "Now that it's so reasonable, I'm willing to vote yes!"
Of course not. The leaders of these groups are just silly greedy people who don't understand that saving a few bucks on the tax bill today will cost our community dearly in the long run. 
They are anti-taxers ONLY. It is their ONLY issue.
Basically they do not understand local economics at all.
Do you want a library?
Then vote yes...

Janice Daniels - Open letter

This election, Janice, will you vow not to cheat?
We are watching...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Little Too Ironic

I'm having a hard time writing this without laughing...which is actually a good thing. Most of the time that I write about this topic, I'm FUMING and banging away at the keyboard. But today?

Merry mirth abounds (wait...is that redundant? Hmmm...no matter...that's how amusing I find this...).

A few days ago, a local resident and founding member of Troy Citizens United (TCU) wrote yet another op-ed piece in the Oakland Press about the ethics in politics. Or rather...about those who don't use any. Here are some highlights:

"I can’t help but believe that just because you can use these types of hard-line, old-school political tactics does not mean that you should use these types of tactics."

Hear, hear! So from now on, I'll expect her to make sure that no spurious ballot measures go on a ballot to daze and confuse voters.

I'll expect her to advise Martin Howrylak against sending any last-minute letters to trick voters on issues.

I'll expect her to spurn any last-minute NEW AND IMPROVED budgets that Howrylak presents to the TCU BEFORE he presents them to his fellow council members on the very night they are to approve the SANCTIONED budget, and then to quote those numbers herself as though they are correct.

I'll expect her to renounce misleading political advertisements, letters and signs.

I'll expect her to stop eroding the trust of the residents in their city and council by refusing to spread misleading disinformation from the council podium and the local media.

"It is well known that even today many of the citizenry are so busy with their day to day lives that they don’t take the time to evaluate the information."

Ah...these words are most amusing...AND TELLING. We've known all along that the TCU counts on this very thing We've known all along that they craft their message on this very foundation. THEY ARE COUNTING ON VOTERS NOT TAKING TIME TO EVALUATE...and they've won because of it.

BUT THE GREATEST IRONY??? They've told everyone who would listen for months on end that OF COURSE the voters know what they need to know. NO ONE was ever tricked by their tactics! Very few people are confused by their numbers. They had to say that to save face...because the alternative confirms what we already knew: they lie, they cheat, they play political games.

And now that someone else is controlling the message, TCU is running scared. Suddenly, everyone else is playing games...playing on the weak sensibilities of the ignorant electorate. Oh, it's just too rich.


"When our political players resort to using bad card tricks to win in politics just because they can, we end up with bad policies and a losing hand every time."

Well, I have to say...I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you there, Ms. TCU. So here's an idea: why don't YOU and your MERRY BAND OF MISCHIEF MAKERS STOP playing games and let the people of Troy have a fair vote from here on out?

Why don't you stop trying to change the city charter to forward your political agenda versus trying to work for the good of ALL the residents?

Why don't YOU stop playing games?

Say no to politics as usual...SAVE TROY.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Martin's Magic Math...AGAIN

A while ago, I wrote something in pretty simple terms that explained why it is that there is no EXTRA in our city budget for anything...like a library or proper snow removal.

A lot of you readers got it...shared it...passed it on. I thank you for that. It's amazing how easy it is to understand what's happening in our city when people care enough to try.

What's not so easy is the PERSISTENT efforts of people like Martin Howrylak to CONTINUALLY claim that there is extra money in our three-year rolling budget.

That budget, by the way? HIGHLY REGARDED and LAUDED by Gov. Snyder and his financial folks for being EXTREMELY fiscally sound, cutting edge and forward thinking.

Funny how the loudest Conservative voices battling our city choose to simply ignore THAT. Selective politics and all, I guess...

Anyway, the tricky thing with a rolling budget is that things might look one way in the 1st year, but it is constantly being updated to reflect new expenditures, drops in revenue, increase in the cost of services, etc.

Martin Howrylak says we have over 20% in fund balance NOW, so we have money to pay for a library.

The MAJORITY of council, the financial administration and our City Manager KNOW that's not true...they've shown it to us. They've explained it to us. They've shared how the cost of everything is going up, our revenue is still going down, and that so-called EXCESS will fall below suggested limits by the end of the three-year budget as it stands now.

In other words, Mr. Howrylak is looking at the trees, not the forest.

For example, I have PLENTY of money in my bank account to cover what I want to do today. I've been dying for an iPhone arm band to use while jogging/biking. And I'd love to buy a new handsfree headset for my household phone to replace what the dog chewed up (the third time). I could even take my girls to lunch and get dessert, too.

Except I know that TOMORROW, I've set up some automatic drafts. That EXCESS today is spoken for by EXPENSES tomorrow.

The city budget is the same.

Martin Howrylak knows this. He's just banking on the hopes that we don't.

Fight misinformation and funny mathemagic...VOTE YES ON AUGUST 2...SAVE TROY.

Tick, tock...

There are six weeks left until the vote.

It's very clear there is a groundswell of support not only for our library, but for our city to return to solvency and service. Don't be fooled by what appears to be relative silence here, either...we're working hard behind the scenes in support of this issue, and we're making HUGE strides.

We're also being SWAMPED with help...questions about how MORE folks can help. It's pretty simple:

-- go to savetroy.org and donate and/or send an e-mail for whatever category suits you.
-- fill out an absentee voter form if you need one, and VOTE YES to save the library.
-- write the school board and ask them to endorse the ballot issue for the library. After all, why wouldn't they? This issue transcends politics, and it is in the best interest of EVERY SINGLE CHILD in our school system. (Thank them for all their efforts to preserve our educational program, too, while you're at it...)
-- write the six city council members who voted to put the issue on the ballot for August 2nd. (No need to bother Mr. Howrylak; he's still out looking for a NEW calculator to make up NEW inaccurate budgets to try to convince anyone that the money is really there to fund a library...)

Most of all? Share with anyone who lives, works, shops or has any business whatsoever in Troy that the REAL problem here is a REVENUE problem, not an expenditure problem. Even the person of the very littlest brain can see that when you take in less money, you are going to get less in service.

Asking for more service on less revenue is going to get you...well...what we have now: a broken city.

Vote yes on August 2...tell everyone you know to do the same...follow the suggestions above...and SAVE TROY.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Failure to Communicate

One major problem in the City of Troy has been a lack of communication.

Residents don't feel council and city management adequately inform them on various issues.
Council and city management don't feel residents are looking in the right places or reading what they do see. Recent polling and surveys show that what some feel are the BEST venues for messaging are the least watched/read.

And then there's the issue facing everything and everyone in Troy: the department responsible for much of the work of communicating has been all but eliminated. The Community Affairs department used to run a staff of about 4-5 employees. They took care of press releases, memos, contacting media, local cable, etc. -- all kinds of stuff we came to expect, read, consume and desire. We KNEW what was going on in Troy...we were well informed.

When the revenues fell and cutting started, that department was reduced to a 1/2 time employee.

You read that right...we have ONE PERSON working 1/2 time on Community Affairs issues for the city. That employee spends the other half of her time being shared with the Police Department and other areas of the city. That employee is doing the work of FOUR OR FIVE PEOPLE on a half-time schedule...or rather, NOT able to do the work of four or five people.

We are making do with less...for less. We are going from big city communications to small city information sharing.

Oh, sure, our loudest political naysayers will say, "Well, with technology, you can MAXIMIZE that employee! It doesn't take four or five people anymore!" But if the current data is to be trusted in any way, it's OBVIOUS there is no maximizing happening. Communication across all levels was one of the top things that kept coming up at community engagement sessions and in the customer survey poll.

So the city did what many businesses do when they need help but can't afford employees to fill positions: tried to hire a consultant. Consultants work on an as-needed basis and don't require the benefits of a full-time employee. It makes a lot of sense for the city to hire someone to handle some of what four or five individuals used to do.

At last night's council meeting, it was clear that we're not quite ready to hire someone YET...but we're on the right path. It will go out to bid, and a company who is a good fit for the city can begin working on a strategy.

Spending this money to provide ongoing communications with all stakeholders is wise. And the purpose is not only to keep everyone in Troy informed, it's to help present Troy in the best light to those OUT of Troy. After all, if we're not communicating what a great place we are (and can still be!), who would move here? Who would open (or keep) a business here?

Again, working on communications in Troy is wise...and hiring help to get it done is a no-brainer. In the meantime, let's help the city by sharing what we believe about Troy.

Stand up for your city...SAVE TROY.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Why ask why???

How can you tell a political operative from a concerned citizen?

A political operative will ask question to which they already KNOW the answer. They ask NOT because they don't know...they ask to plant a seed of doubt. If they can make you think the city is somehow doing something wrong, they can win your vote.

A concerned citizen will seek out information. When they don't know the answer to a question, they find it and SHARE IT.

I could list a bunch of examples...share the rational answers. But honestly...it's tiring. It takes ten times as many words to answer the inane questions Troy Citizens United asks.

So I guess I'll just ask some questions myself:

Why does Troy Citizens United want to destroy Troy???

What could they possibly gain in forcing a continued decrease of our property values by starving our revenue stream???

Why does Martin Howrylak leak information to Troy Citizens United before he shares it with the rest of the city council???

There is no answer to any of those questions that makes any sense.

There is, however, something we can all do that DOES make sense.

Support the August millage...SAVE TROY.