Monday, September 19, 2016

Brownfield Plan - Will Bl. Township Lose Revenue?

Hi All,

At the 9/12/16 Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting,  REDICO presented a "cursory" review of their preliminary Master site plan for the Village at Bloomfield project on Telegraph Road (former Bloomfield Park site).  Township planning director Patti Voelker and Redico representative Tim McCafferty gave their presentations to the Board and public.

However, it was once again only Treasurer Dan Devine that brought up the issue of the shared tax revenue that Act 425... the agreement that this property operates under via the Joint Development Council.  Why isn't the Supervisor, Redico, or our attorney discussing the agreements ? 

Devine asked: "I received a notice of a Brownfield meeting, which would get rid of Pontiac's mills for 32 years. Do you know if there would be any changes to Bloomfield Township's three mills?"

Redico representative said he didn't know of any.  Interestingly,  the Township Attorney Bill Hampton was not even aware of any scheduled Brownfield meeting 9/15.  However, Supervisor Savoie did know about the Brownfield scheduled meeting.  

In response to Devine's question, attorney Hampton said:  "We believe if there would be a Brownfield, it would only apply to Pontiac and our mills would be preserved and we would fight to preserve those three mills."  Hampton went on to say that they hired an attorney from Miller Canfield that specializes in this area of law and he would notify them to attend the scheduled Oakland County Brownfield Authority meeting.

BROWNFIELD issue link:   
https://www.oakgov.com/advantageoakland/residents/Pages/CPHAWasteBrownfield.aspx

REDICO did meet with the Oakland County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority on 9/15/16 to discuss their Brownfield plan for their Village at Bloomfield project (formerly known as Bloomfield Park).

Bradley Hansen,  Business Development Rep. ( hansenb@oakgov.com ) indicated in a memo that "...the plan only includes the City of Pontiac parcels and that the Bloomfield Township parcel was kept out of the Brownfield plan."

Twp. Treasurer Dan Devine attended this OC meeting and during public comment advised the Brownfield committee that there is a contractual agreement for shared tax revenues (Act 425) between the City of Pontiac and Bloomfield Township.  Both the Brownfield Authority and Redico acknowledged the agreement, but basically said... not their problem in this forum/ for this plan.  Really? 

A Miller Canfield representative did attend the meeting, presumably representing the township, but did not speak/ just took notes.

This Brownfield plan now goes before the full  Oakland County Board of Commissioners which will meet in October.  How will they vote on this REDICO  Brownfield Plan?  Perhaps we all should contact our representative, Shelley  Goodman Taub (and others).

Meanwhile:

The Joint Development Council (3 members: Mayor Waterman of Pontiac, Supervisor Savoie of Bl. Twp. and Dennis Cowen, chairman/neutral member) meet again on Sept. 21, 2016 and they have also said repeatedly, that they do not have authority over the Brownfield issue.  WHY?  Who does?

Treasurer Dan Devine has (since the start of this Act 425 agreement of 2002) defended the Twp. right to the collection of the tax revenues due to the Township from the City of Pontiac.   However, Supervisor Savoie replaced Devine as the  JDC representative for the township citizens and  Savoie is now our vote at the JDC table.  Changes to the 425 agreement can only happen by unanimous approval by the Joint Development Committee...... 3 people.   See my previous blog: Supervisor Savoie-Developer's Friend?

That said, it appears the City of Pontiac may be meeting on Sept. 22, a day after the next  JDC meeting to presumably approve the Brownfield Plan for the City of Pontiac.   So I wonder,  if Mayor Waterman is willing to give up 32 years of tax revenue for the Brownfield plan for the REDICO project (money that the City of Pontiac certainly could use)  how will the Bloomfield Township citizens be able to collect the shared percentage of taxes from the City of Pontiac due to them? 
Why is Pontiac willing to give up 32 years of tax revenue from this project? 

Supervisor Savoie,  the Miller Canfield firm and/or Township attorney Hampton must take some action soon to make this issue more transparent so the Bloomfield Township taxpayers can understand the issues and the consequences.  If not for Treasurer Dan Devine, much of this issue would still be behind closed doors...or perhaps even ignored.  Unfortunately, Devine lost the Treasurer position in the August 2 primary and beginning Nov. 21, Brian Kepes will assume the Treasurer's office for the next 4 years.  Will Kepes .... as the future collector of the taxes...fight for our contractual three mills tax revenue due from Pontiac on the property now owned by Redico and their proposed development Village at Bloomfield? How would a Brownfield plan change the dollar figures due to the township?

Question:   How will the Oakland County Board of Commissioners vote on the Brownfield Plan for this site at their October meeting?   Will the decision affect the Act 425 Agreement  as to tax revenue to Bloomfield Township?

Marcia    

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Supervisor Savoie-Developers' Friend?

Hi All,
I spent months trying to convince the Bloomfield Township voters to elect David Thomas as our new Supervisor .... and remove current Supervisor Leo Savoie.   Savoie won by 452 votes. Only 30% of the citizens made the effort to vote for their local leadership.

Therefore, current Supervisor Savoie is back to his usual NON transparent .. keep you in the dark... way of governing.  What you don't know... is better for him because he knows how he wants the projects done.  My opinion. 

What is Savoie not telling you this time?  Well, the Monday Planning Commission meeting is Wed. because of Labor Day. But our E-News didn't inform us about the change.

At the WEDNESDAY,  SEPT. 7 Planning Commission meeting @ 7 pm,  planning director, Patti Voelker,  is presenting a "cursury" review of the Village at Bloomfield Park master site plan.  Her "packet" of information prepared for the Planning Commission board members is all of 7 pages.  Those board members don't know it... but they are being asked to recommend to Savoie and the Board of Trustees...  how HE should vote/proceed on this Master Plan  at the next Joint Development Council meeting on September 21, 2016.   Why cursury?  This is important.  Savoie's vote possibly will make amendments to agreements and grant variances and interpret the legal language affecting the Village at Bloomfield new development.

How can the planning commission members make a recommendation if they are missing key information?  Do they even know WHAT the issues to be decided are all about?  No.  Not from those 7 pages.  Nothing in those 7 pages tell of the changes the Developer wants to make to the long standing agreements and ordinances.  Except perhaps signs.  But that is not even clear. Savoie and Voelker know what those changes are. Why are they just giving a "cursury" review?
 
The planning commission members won't know they are missing information.  They'll only be told what Savoie/Voelker want them to know.  Savoie already knows how he is going to vote... he just needs the Planning Commission and the Board of Trustees to agree with his point of view... without really understanding the entire issue.  Planning Director Patti Voelker knows that.  Thus, the 7 pages of board packet.  

What is not given to the planning commission members ... or the public to prepare for this meeting is:
  • A copy of the 425 Agreement concerning the conditional transfer of property between Pontiac and Bloomfield Township and the tax agreement
  • A copy of the Joint Development Agreement  dated 11/27/02 between City of Pontiac, Bloomfield Township and the former developer
  • A copy of the City of Pontiac Town Center District Zoning Ordinances
  • A copy of the Bloomfield Township Agreement dated 4/17/08
  • A copy of the Bloomfield Township Zoning Ordinances
And even more important, they were not given these items in a "packet" to review for the meeting:
  • A copy of the June 11, 2016 memo that the developer outlines his REQUIREMENTS that there must be clarifications, variances and amendments to the agreements and ordinances listed above for this Master Site Plan to work.
  • A copy of the June 29, 2016 memo to the JDC at the August 17, 2016 meeting from Patti Voelker (Bl. Twp) and C. James Sabo (Pontiac)  responding to 6/11/16 memo
  • A copy of any of the minutes from previous JDC meetings 
  • The DRAFT copy of the minutes from the last JDC meeting of 8/17/16 where the memo /response was on the agenda.
There are 87 acres of land north of Square Lake Rd/  on Telegraph that will soon be developed after more than a decade of a failed former project and the "skeleton" buildings left behind.   REDICO acquired the bankruptcy rights and is/has prepared a proposed master site plan.  However, that land has restrictions placed upon what/how it can be developed.


Three members of the Joint Development Council that will work with the developer are Mayor Waterman from Pontiac,  Supervisor Savoie from Bloomfield Township, and a "neutral" member, Dennis Cowen.  However, when the "neutral" member shows up at a township meeting invited by the Supervisor to...."share" his opinion to the voting trustees..not so neutral.    I think there should be disclosure about relationships among the people/developers/vendors/etc/ involved.

Another problem with this MASTER PLAN being presented by REDICO... is that it only identifies potential buildings that will remain (others to be demolished)  and the master plan only suggests the likely uses for each building.  On 5/18/16 the developer stated that they will have a master plan of all the details in the near future.  Yet, no tenants have been announced to my knowledge for these buildings and thus no firm uses identified either.  A movie theater or a grocery store?  etc.   However, the requirements being requested by the developer for clarifications, variances and amendments  to be decided NOW ....those "changes" seem to make the project as a whole... less desirable to have in our community. My opinion.
  • Developer is requiring a change in the development agreement (DA) from 1100 sq. ft / minimum per residential unit  to 650 sq. ft. minimum  in the section of multi-family living
  • Developer does not need to change the minimum sq. ft. for Assisted Living facility as it is on property outside of this DA agreement but he uses this facility in his argument to get smaller sq. ft.
  • Developer plans to keep the existing parking structure with the development, but wants to have the use for that structure and part of a building be an automobile retail store, which is currently not a permitted use according to the DA. 
  • Developer wants to have more than one hotel approved for this site.  Currently only one hotel is permitted and it must have specific amenities.. ie: food service, etc.  Developer wants another hotel without amenities.  Or,  just one hotel...but what then would it be?  with or without amenities? Amending the language now is not right. Are 2 hotels needed there?
  • Developer wants clarification as to town homes as accepted use ... Pontiac variance
  • Developer wants amendments and variances as to architectural design.   Increase allowable % of dry-vit or using painted pre-cast insulated concrete panels... on certain elevations or to allow spandrel glass windows on certain facades.
  • Developer wants to amend the agreement to allow LESS that a 30" minimum height for buildings
  • Developer wants to amend DA to allow MORE than a 20" light pole height
  • Developer wants to amend DA to allow MORE signage than allowed.   Detailed signage is proposed... but no tenants have been identified and even which buildings remain for what purpose are not definite.
  • Developer wants the size of signs / how high on the building for the signs/ how many signs per building...etc.  all changed and increased.  Even way up on the parking structure... big sign/ big lights...
  • Developer is REQUIRED to provide a shared parking analysis for consideration by the JDC.  Supervisor Savoie offered up at the last JDC meeting that the township simply gives the township (no bid) traffic person, Mike Labadie, the job to do a "joint" utilization study... with Pontiac, Twp, and developer.  Again.. no bid.. just hand the job to the guy... don't ask price. 
  • Developer also wants to eliminate the requirement of an easement for vehicular access...from one owner... for the opportunity to get it from another.  Why?  Need to know more of that story.
How can the planning commission members make a decision  TONIGHT (9/7/16)?  These are issues that need discussion... thinking..  and understanding of all the different agreements, variances and ordinances.  My thought is this agenda item should be discussed... then tabled until the next meeting for further discussion and recommendations. The township should give the members and the public all the documents needed.   I know these documents exist, because I have gone to the JDC meetings.

My hope is that the Supervisor and the Planning Dept. Director  share the real issues with the Planning Commission members so they can make informed and well thought out recommendations.   Savoie will VOTE  at the JDC meeting on these and similar issues.  His vote will have a huge impact on the direction and quality of the future project at the Village at Bloomfield.  The citizens should know what is being proposed and how our Supervisor is protecting our interests.... or not.

As always,  my opinion.
Marcia


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Beware of the Dot-Com/ Complaint filed with AG

Hi All,
The local papers don't print the real issues.  Did you know your Supervisor, Leo Savoie,  got your private email from township records and sent you political propaganda supporting him and his slate ?

Susie Kern,  candidate for CLERK of Bloomfield Township,  sent me this email that I have permission to share on this blog.   

UPDATE Note:  I thought I had posted this blog before the Aug. 2, 2016 election.  Apparently not.  However, 
On 8/2/16,  Susie Kern lost to Jan Roncelli for the Clerk position.   This FOIA issue and what happened at the Township by Supervisor Savoie and the Clerk's office  is still very relevant today and is a serious problem.  A complaint was filed with the Attorney General.   Nothing to report on that... yet.  Stay tuned.
Perhaps we'll see Ms. Kern run for this position again?  Will we see Mr. David Thomas, who lost to Mr. Savoie on 8/2/16 run for the Supervisor position again?  Will the entire election be validated?  If so, why?  How many votes did the Savoie/Roncelli slate (that included 5 other positions) receive at the Primary election on 8/2/16 because of the estimated 3000-5000 email addresses  Mr. Savoie received through the "illegal" FOIA and then used those email addresses of township residents to send them a message (possibly more?) to vote for their slate?  No one knows for sure.

Marcia 

Beware of the Dot-Com     (by Susie Kern)

Fact: June 27, 2016 Bloomfield Township Supervisor, Leo Savoie, submitted a FOIA Request for Public Record to the Charter Township of Bloomfield Clerk’s Office “All email addresses used in distribution of the Bloomfield Township E-News.” (1)

Fact: June 30, 2016 Residents enrolled in Bloomfield Township E-News through personal email addresses were sent a misleading email from info@bloomfieldtownshipelections.com (‘dot-com’), as it is not to be confused with the actual Township email of info@bloomfieldtwpelections.org (‘dot-org’) that directs residents to the Bloomfield Township Clerk’s Office. The content of the email is the June 16th Eccentric newspaper article of endorsement for candidates as a request to vote for Leo Savoie, Jan Roncelli, Brian Kepes, and 4 other candidates. The email is a political promotion. (2)

Fact: At the July 11, 2016 Bloomfield Township Board of Trustee Meeting, Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie stated that he had called Bloomfield Township Board Attorney Bill Hampton approximately 30 days prior and asked him…

“If the (Bloomfield Township E-News) email addresses were FOIA-able and open to the public, and he believed in his opinion that they were… I went to the Clerk’s Office and prepared a FOIA, paid the necessary fees, and I was given the email list. I used that email list to send out an endorsement that was prepared by the Eccentric… Is this a public list or private list? He (Bill Hampton) is in the process of making that determination… The company that I engaged to do that, they purchased that domain site, and it is very similar but it ends in DOT.COM and not dot-org.”
The FOIA request was then submitted through the Bloomfield Township Clerk's office of Jan Roncelli. (3)

Fact: Bloomfield Township E-mail List for E-Newsletter Sign-up states…
         
            Bloomfield Township Email Sign-up Page:
By submitting this form, you are granting: Bloomfield Township, 4200 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, MI, 48303-0489 United States, http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/ permission to email you. You can revoke permission to mail to your email address at any time using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. We take your privacy seriously (to see for yourself, please read our Email Privacy Policy). Emails are serviced by Constant Contact. (4)

Bloomfield Township Email Privacy Policy:
In connection with your use of our products or services, we will obtain contact lists (including email addresses and other information for your subscribers) and content (including the content of your campaigns and storefront information) that you provide to us in connection with such use. We acknowledge your ownership rights in such contact lists and content. We will never sell or rent your contact lists to anyone without your permission and will never use your contact lists or content for any purpose other than as described here. (5)

Fact: Bloomfield Township website provides a Privacy Statement from Constant Contact to the Township Residents for their Newsletter Email List. (6)   Supervisor Leo Savoie set up a website address through GoDaddy.com (7)  and ended his email with a “Paid for by…” disclaimer “in collaboration with Constant Contact.” (8)

Fact: Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie, Bloomfield Township Clerk Jan Roncelli and Bloomfield Township Attorney Bill Hampton each and all failed to read and follow the Bloomfield Township E-News email policy.
Bill Hampton, as acting Bloomfield Township Attorney representing our Township residents, offered political campaign advice to a single Trustee.
Supervisor Leo Savoie purchased and used the Bloomfield Township E-News email list for his political campaign.
Bloomfield Township Clerk Jan Roncelli is responsible for the FOIA providing the residents’ email addresses to Supervisor Leo Savoie for their political campaigns. (9)

Questions: Oh, so many questions with no acceptable answers… So will just stick with the observations…
It is disappointing to say the least that our Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie and Clerk Jan Roncelli have abused the FOIA procedure to violate Township Policy, the Residents’ Privacy Rights and the Public Trust, all for personal gain. An email sent from what appeared to be our Township Clerk’s Office (www.BloomfieldTownshipElections) with the apparent protection of the Township Privacy Provider (Constant Contact) as official business communication requesting residents to endorse candidates of choice, was deceitful and lacks respect for our residents. Moreover, whether or not it violates a Federal Law, the lack of confidentiality and use of residents’ personal information by both Supervisor Leo Savoie and Clerk Jan Roncelli is concerning. The correspondence from Bloomfield Township Elections Dot-Com versus Dot-Org to distort the authenticity of the email sender is their disclaimer to the disingenuous misdeed. Disappointing and sad.

Recommendations:
Bloomfield Township manages our tax dollars. Bloomfield Township Trustees and employees are there to serve you. Education and answers to any and all of your questions should be readily available to you… 50 times, 51 times, however many explanations you require! Whatever it takes! You should know where every tax dollar/fee penny comes and goes without requesting a special meeting or FOIA.

New leadership with honesty and integrity is required. “The trust of the residents comes first.” 10
 New Trustees to respect the Township residents’ privacy, tax dollars, concerns and interests... with financial accountability and transparency, ‘to serve’ ‘full-time’ 5 days/week.

Oh, and when you hear from Bloomfield Township by email, BEWARE OF THE DOT-COM.


(1) FOIA document dated 6/27/2016 via Deana Mondock, CMMC/CMC, Deputy Clerk, Charter Township of Bloomfield, 4200 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302 Phone: (248) 433-7780 dmondock@bloomfieldtwp.org

AND Bloomfield Township Board of Trustee Meeting 7.11.16 ~ https://vimeo.com/174355731~ Agenda Item 8, 1:21:33.

(2) Bloomfield Township Elections <info@bloomfieldtownshipelections.com>. "Eccentric Endorses Candidates." Message to: Bloomfield Township E-News Residents. 30 June 2016. Email.

(3) Bloomfield Township Board of Trustee Meeting 7.11.16 ~ https://vimeo.com/174355731~ Agenda Item 8, 1:21:33.

(4) Bloomfield Township website ~ Bloomfield Township E-mail List ~ Sign up for our Email Newsletter ~ http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/EmailList/MailingList.asp

(5) Bloomfield Township website ~ Bloomfield Township E-mail List ~ Sign up for our Email Newsletter & Email Privacy Policy ~ http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/EmailList/MailingList.asp

(6) Ibid.

(7) GoDaddy.com ~ http://bloomfieldtownshipelections.com/?reqp=1&reqr=

(8) Op. Cit. ~ Footnote 1

(9) Op. Cit. ~ Footnotes: 1, 2, and 3.

(10)  Candidate for Bloomfield Township Trustee, Kirk Brannock. Bloomfield Township Board Meeting. 12 July 2016.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Censure? Savoie and Roncelli for FOIA email scandal...Yes.

Hi All,
The Bloomfield Township June 30, 2016 email scandal was effectively suppressed by Supervisor Savoie, Clerk Roncelli and others before the August 2 primary election.  They even cancelled the last Board of Trustees meeting before the election.  Didn't want any public comment concerning FOIA or the election?    At that cancelled meeting, I wanted to read the below "Resolution for Censure"   so the voting public would know of the unfair and fraudulent use of township email addresses.   The Aug. 2 election for the 7 township positions was very close.  I feel the  3000 or so email addresses that received the bogus email from Supervisor Savoie around the same time as the absentee ballots arrived in the mail of thousands of voters may have made a difference in the results.  I FOIA the same list of email addresses on June 30, 2016  and was denied the FOIA on July 22,  23 days after Savoie USED those email addresses to promote himself, the clerk and others on his slate.  An unfair advantage in a very close and contested election.

Since Trustee Neal Barnett wrote a Censure against Dan Devine on July 13, 2015..... I felt there should be a Censure against the Clerk and the Supervisor for their real illegal actions.   I did read this "Resolution" during public comment at the August 8, 2016 meeting,  too late to make a difference in the 8/2/16  primary.

While I was reading the Resolution in my 3 min allotted time on 8/8/16, Trustee Brian Kepes,  left the Board seat and room while I was speaking at public comment.... something he often does when I speak.....with his usual disrespect toward me and anyone else he disagrees with.   The voters made a huge mistake in the Treasurer's race and is sending the wrong  person to the November ballot.

FYI:   Resident, Alice Wachol, filed a complaint with the Attorney General of Michigan on this FOIA email issue.  It is past time for action to be taken by the AG.   The citizens of Bloomfield Township have pushed hard this election cycle to end the "family, friends and favors" culture that has gone on for decades.  This  FOIA issue was wrong and the media should have reported it and the facts in early July...before the election.

RESOLUTION FOR CENSURE OF BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP SUPERVISOR AND CLERK
  ( I read this at the 8/8/16 Board of Trustees meeting during my 3 minutes of Public Comment... but the Resolution was not brought by anyone on the Board of Trustees... and therefore, not officially accepted or voted on by the Board of Trustees.  But it should have been...)

WHEREAS, In conjunction with sending out the Absentee Ballots to Bloomfield Township voters, the Township Clerk abused her power as the FOIA Officer for Township records by releasing approximately 3,000 private email addresses to the Township Supervisor to be used for their mutual political benefits, and

WHEREAS, those addresses were held by the Township for the sole purpose of communicating legitimate Township news to those residents who signed up for such purpose with the promise that their privacy would be protected by a "Privacy Policy" conspicuously made apparent in the sign-up process on the Township Website, and

WHEREAS, the Township Supervisor then created a bogus email domain entitled "BloomfieldElections.com" to confuse the recipients to believe that the transmission from that site was actually from the Township Clerk's official elections domain entitled "BloomfieldElections.org", and

WHEREAS, The Township Supervisor emailed from the bogus email domain to the inappropriately obtained private email addresses of unwitting residents a communication including endorsements of the Clerk and the Supervisor by 2 local newspapers to fraudulently indicate that the Township's Election Department was officially urging recipient residents to vote for them, and

WHEREAS, the same private email list of Township residents was denied upon the FOIA request made by a Township Resident because it would "Violate the FOIA laws if such release were made", and

WHEREAS, The Clerk and Supervisor violated the same law and the privacy rights of their citizens in the scheme discussed above in a successful effort to fraudulently secure their re-elections.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Bloomfield Township Clerk Roncelli and Supervisor Savoie shall be held in contempt by the residents of Bloomfield Township and hereby officially censured by the Township Board of Trustees   (should be, but not censured by Board)  for their collusion and the fraud perpetrated on the voters, and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that said Clerk and said Supervisor should be held accountable to any and all prevailing laws under the various State and Federal Penal Codes and pay the appropriate costs and imprisonment associated with their shameful behaviors.  

My opinion.
Marcia Robovitsky

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Bl. Twp. PRIMARY Election Results 8/2/16

Hi All,
The  Bloomfield Township August Primary election results are:  
http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/Services/Clerk/Elections.asp
 
Leo Savoie    Supervisor
Brian Kepes   Treasurer
Jan Roncelli   Clerk

Trustees are:

David Buckley
Michael Schostak
Neal Barnett
Dani Walsh


These names will be on the November 2016 ballot,  running unopposed as there are no Democratic candidates.

While the 7 well educated and extremely qualified citizens that took the time and effort to campaign for a spot on the Bloomfield Township government  (that I was supporting)  were only able to put 2 Trustees on the November ballot,  I am very proud of all seven and will always call them my friends.   It was an historic election,  the citizens had CHOICES for the first time in decades. 

I hope all  of my readers and their neighbors... will become more involved in Bloomfield Township issues and attend the many meetings.  Be informed!   After this November election,   the township local elections for the 7 positions will be in 4 years..2020.   Will you be one of the candidates then?

For the record and my opinion:

I will always believe that the media played an extremely biased role in this election and I will always believe that Supervisor Savoie and what I called his "gang" of Trustees also had an "orchestrated and quite evil campaign"  against Treasurer Dan Devine.   Many of the archived Board of Trustees audio/video meetings are proof of that.  Someday, more of you may come to realize that point.   Reading some of my archived blogs will also tell the story.

The next step for me is to keep being the WATCHDOG.    I hope you will continue to accept my emails and to read my www.bloomfieldtwphappenings.blogspot.com  messages.

Thank you for voting.  The township has 34,884 registered voters.  The number of ballots "officially"  cast was 11,117 or about 1/3 of the eligible voters.   Unfortunately, the actual number of  people taking the time to submit the ballot was 11,734.   But, because there were  502 people that actually filled out the absentee ballot  and 65 people that went to the polls that did not have their ballots counted.... not for any of the candidates and not for any of the  millage proposals ...the "official" numbers of ballots cast is reported as  11,117.    Those 567 ballots that did not count could have changed the results.  Apparently those 567 ballots had entries for Republican and Democratic people.. and at the PRIMARY.... you many only vote for ONE party.     Wish more people read my blog about making sure your absentee ballot counts before voting:  http://bloomfieldtwphappenings.blogspot.com/2016/07/make-sure-your-absentee-ballot-is.html

Stayed tuned for more.... my goal is and always has been... to have honest, transparent government for the taxpayers of our community, Bloomfield Township.

Marcia

Monday, August 1, 2016

Historic Vote-Bl. Twp. Be Informed!

Hi All, 
I posted Trustee David Buckley's comments in a blog a few days ago.... because I thought the taxpayers needed to see the township officials in action to really understand all that is going on.

Here is something that another person sent out to friends and neighbors after viewing my blog with that video clip:

 From a reader/ ....

 "......the following blog post of Marcia Robovitsky, ..........may be helpful to those of you who aren't familiar with the current board dynamics.  Marcia, a longtime Township resident, sees herself as a bit of a "watchdog" for Township residents.  She regularly attends Township meetings, is familiar with all the issues and, in my opinion, has a good grasp on the overall situation.  If you are looking for something to view to give you a feel for the atmosphere and dynamic of the current board, Marcia has attached a link to a pivotal Township meeting from last year.  I initially viewed only the nine minutes she suggested, but I found it so intriguing that I watched nearly 90 minutes more (before and after Dave's very eloquent comments.)  I was astounded to see how this particular meeting began the sequence of events that has brought us to this point, with a distinctly divided board and challengers to all the positions.  If you can find the time to view even some of it (particularly agenda item #5,) I believe you'll find it to be enlightening and informative.  It will introduce you to each of the current board members through the lens of how they actually function as a governing body, which is far more illuminating than watching them present themselves as candidates in prepared sound bites in a candidate forum or on paper in a direct mail piece.  

http://bloomfieldtwphappenings.blogspot.com/2016/07/re-elect-trustee-david-buckley-video.html?m=1

I realize that local politics is not of interest to many, but I've spent a good deal of time working with Township officials the past two years.  It is important that the association maintain a good working relationship with Township leadership, as we call on them frequently for assistance with neighborhood issues, and there have been moments recently when that has been challenging.  For the first time in many years, we have choices and we can help effect change that will benefit the Township as a whole.  I hope you will make a point to vote on Tuesday because, as always in a local election, every vote counts.  The victory or defeat of any candidate is sometimes literally just a handful of votes."


Thank you to that reader above.    
From that Blog:
At a VERY IMPORTANT  4/13 /2015 Board of Trustees meeting.... over one year ago.... David Buckley left his seat as a trustee and went to the podium to speak as a resident... to the Board and to the residents.  

 The agenda item then:

PLEASE listen to Trustee David Buckley speak/   time marker of video  2:16:00 to 2:25:37
 
 go to:     “Board of Trustee Meeting 4.13.15”
The video is available for your viewing pleasure at https://vimeo.com/124934765
Note:  please be patient while video loads.. takes time :)

So important:   ALSO, please, make some time to view the entire video section of AGENDA # 5 from start to finish.  Remember,  this was an agenda item in April of last year... 2015.   Listen to others speak at public comment on this agenda item. 

Please take a look tonight or tomorrow BEFORE voting at the Primary Election/  BE INFORMED!  VOTE:   Aug. 2, 2016.  

Thank you.
Marcia Robovitsky


I am supporting:
David Thomas for Supervisor
Susie Kern for Clerk
Dan Devine for Treasurer   re-elect

VOTE for these FOUR TRUSTEES
Jeff Axt
Kirk Brannock
David Buckley    re-elect
Dani Walsh

Thank you.
Marcia Robovitsky

Friday, July 29, 2016

Water and Sewer Still a Twp. Issue

Hi All,
Since Leo Savoie became Supervisor, your water and sewer bill has gone up.  One reason may be because he has added 5.75 more employees to this department since taking office.  Your W&S bills pay the wages/benefits/pension of the 20.75 current employees and all the W&S retirees.   Hire more, or move existing employees into the W & S department.....pay more.

Maybe the water and sewer bills have gone up because the township changes the pay rate on April 1 of each year to us, the customer, but the water authorities that sell the water don't change the rate until July 1 of each year.  So, why are our fees increased in April but the township doesn't pay more for the water until July 1?

Maybe the water and sewer bills have gone up because the Township WANTED to join SOCWA to buy water cheaper, but SOCWA has not admitted the township into the group.  Therefore, SOCWA charges the township MORE for water than they charge their "members".  We now pay a middleman, when we used to buy directly.

Maybe the water and sewer bills have gone up because of the RTS fees.  Ready to Serve.  Those fees have nothing to do with your water usage.   Just that you MIGHT need water....and sewer at some point... so here is a fee to pay... just in case.   If there were no  RTS fee,  then the High Water and Sewer users  would pay much more.... and they should.  Basically, the RTS fees are subsidizing the high water and sewer users.

Maybe the water and sewer bills have gone up because the township says in the budget that it costs the township  $1 million for each  the water and sewer "depreciation" .   What?  So our bills need to cover those $1 million dollar line items?  Apparently, yes.   But why? 

Does anyone know what vehicles and  how much equipment are paid for out of the water and sewer department?  I wonder what the total cost might be?

Maybe the water and sewer bills have gone up because Supervisor Savoie and his "gang" of trustees have NOT CHARGED some subdivisions or individual  for new infrastructure.  No S. A. D.  was set up for the benefiting properties to pay for the improvements in some cases.   So that means... your water and sewer bills... built the infrastructure for some houses at no cost to them...and since they didn't ever have water and sewer... they never put any money into that water and sewer account that paid the new infrastructure  bill.
 
At the same time,  there are subdivisions and individuals that DID pay for the improvements and are still paying via S.A. D.   What is the township policy?  Why different decisions for some?   Can you say "family and friends"?   Did you know that at one subdivision,  the water and sewer installation created a situation where the ROAD needed replacing.  Gee, they got water, sewer, and a new road.  No S.A.D.   Our water and sewer bills paid for that one project.  

Maybe the water and sewer bills have gone up because Supervisor Savoie decided that a water and sewer account needed to transfer $2.76 million dollars into an irrevocable retiree health care trust fund. That account balance doubled in size with that single 2.76 million dollar transfer.   All the previous dollars into that account came from the general fund money.  Now Savoie and his "gang" have set up this trust fund differently since it's inception in 2005.  Too complicated to explain... but your water and sewer bills are being tapped to basically fund this for all employees.

I don't trust what is happening in the Township... and I don't trust how this Retiree Health FUND has changed over the past 8 months.  I agree with the petitioners asking for a forensic audit of the Water and Sewer Fund.... or at least of the $2.76 million dollars recently deposited. Additional money has  been deposited since then from the water and sewer department.  (Currently there is a pending lawsuit filed against the township concerning the water and sewer department.)
  

Supervisor Savoie and Finance Director Jason Theis and some on the Board of Trustees managed to:
  •  transfer $2.76 million dollars from a water and sewer account into this irrevocable trust fund
  • change the language of the trust fund that has been in place since 2005
  • change the number of trustees for the fund.  
Study session meetings at 7:30 AM is not a public friendly time.    Here are the meeting minutes from 3/23/16 and from two more since then.   Changing the language and the number of trustees was part of the orchestrated assault on Treasurer Dan Devine and his character by Supervisor Leo Savoie and his "gang' of trustees.  My opinion.


More of my comments and opinions and facts:

  • Pay attention to this Retired Employees' Health Care Benefits Trust (2005 OPEB FUND -other post employee benefits) that has been basically ignored for 10 years by the Township leadership and trustees until now.   
  • Treasurer Dan Devine has been the sole trustee to invest the money that the Supervisor(s) (Payne and Savoie) budgeted or not budgeted but eventually deposited.  
  • Approximately $2.76 million had been deposited from the General Fund since 2005 (most deposited recently).  That money was reported in the Milliman report to cover employees listed in four categories:  Police, Fire, Library and Town.  
  • As of July 1, 2015 (retroactively) the total accrued liability is $157,390,635.00 as reported in the Milliman Actuarial Valuation report that was very late in submitting that report just to accommodate Supervisor Savoie's $2.76 million transfer in late Nov. 2015.  Milliman also changed the July 1, 2015 report done the same way for years by now adding a fifth employee category: water and sewer.   The $2.76 million was added to the fund near the end of 2015... but Milliman included the money as deposited as of July 1, 2015 with an asterisk *   All of the new deposit of $2.76 million is JUST for water and sewer retirees.  The previously deposited $2.76 million deposited with General Fund money was deposited for ALL police, fire, library and town retirees.  I would assume water and sewer employees USED to be classified in the "town" category. 
  • The SCARY part of all this.... that this fund is now reporting over $5 million dollars ... but in reality... half of this money is only DEDICATED for the 20 + water and sewer employees.  The hundreds of other township employees only have $2.76 million for their benefit... so in reality, this trust fund is still grossly underfunded.  Supervisor Savoie has NOT made any attempt to budget money out of all the other employee budgets to fund this trust for them.   Why?

Current payroll is for 370 + employees:  256 full time, 108 library, 6 Village Police/Fire, plus 10-25 part-time and seasonal.    2015 estimated number of active/ retired/ spouses of retirees/beneficiaries and deferred members total 571.   Library is NOT part of our government...they are a separate taxing authority,  but somehow the library employees  are in the township pension fund.

A recent change in the law is requiring municipalities to now report all funds and accounts.  This 2005 Fund now must be reported.
  • Is this why Supervisor Savoie and apparently Finance Director Jason Theis had quietly inserted into the recent yearly budgets a line item in the water and sewer fund to pay into this retiree health benefits FUND? 
  • Why wasn't the money reportedly collected ever deposited into the FUND each year?
  • Why are no other employee categories/ Police, Fire, Library, Town  listed with this line item in the past and current budgets to pay into the OPEB fund annually?
  • Why didn't Savoie/or Theis add this line item in the 2016-2017 budgets for those other categories?
  • Why is just water and sewer paying into the OPEB  FUND? Is it because Savoie, et al, figures they can get money from the water and sewer bills and not use property tax money to pay these retiree obligations that were not funded when they should have been? 

Supervisor Savoie tried to quietly and administratively transfer from the water and sewer accounts $2.76 million to this retiree health care trust as an agenda item.  Treasurer Devine said wait a minute and thus began another assault on Treasurer Dan Devine and his character.   Eventually, on November 30, 2015,  another $2.76 million was transferred into this FUND with Savoie and Theis claiming that all this money being deposited was budgeted and collected in the Water & Sewer fund which is from your water/sewer bill payments since 2009.

Actually, line item # 874.01 wasn't a line item until the  2013  "ESTIMATED" budget report.
  • Wow..  that occurred AFTER the 2013 budget was adopted by the Board of Trustees.   
  • Finance Director Jason Theis  said at a meeting that he "created" the line item.  
  • Did anyone direct him to do so?
  • At what point were the Trustees made aware of this change to the adopted budget?  Or, were they?  Was it legal to add a line item to the adopted budget/ midway through the year?
  • How much more money was collected because of this new line item?
  • How is that figure determined? Is it fair?
   
Savoie became Supervisor in Aug. 2011... former Supervisor David Payne's last budget was the 2011-2012  with the "actual" figures showing end of fiscal 2011-2012 year as March 31, 2012.

Line items from the budgets for water and sewer retiree benefits: Money needed to pay retiree benefits and pay into the OPEB FUND.   Notice when line item #874.01 was first shown in budget.
 
                                                      2009-2010 Adopted          2010 Estimated        2010 Actual
# 874        Retiree Benefits                      ???                                ???                         $437,642.25



# 874        Retiree Benefits           2010-2011 Adopted           2011 Estimated       2011 Actual
                                                                  $160,000                    $450,000                 $478,243.25




# 874         Retiree Benefits          2011-2012 Adopted           2012 Estimated      2012 Actual
                                                                  $550,000                    $550,000                 $481,544.76




# 874         Retiree Benefits          2012-2013 Adopted          2013 Estimated       2013 Actual
                                                                 $550,000                     $245,000                  $243,660
# 874.01    Retiree Benefits OPEB           non existing item       $250,000                  $472,898




# 874         Retiree Benefits          2013-2014 Adopted          2014 Estimated       2014 Actual
                                                                  $257,000                  $355,000                  $353,293.26
# 874.01    Retiree Benefits OPEB           $250,000                  $500,000                  $577,310.00




# 874         Retiree Benefits         2014-2015 Adopted           2015 Estimated       2015 Actual
                                                                  $380,620                  $350,000                  $353,061.86
# 874.01    Retiree Benefits OPEB           $525,000                  $600,000                  $693,534.00




# 874         Retiree Benefits         2015-2016 Adopted           2016 Estimated        2016 Actual
                                                                  $369,000                  $371,000                not until 3/31/16
# 874.01    Retiree Benefits  OPEB          $625,000                  $220,000                not until 3/31/16




# 874         Retiree Benefits         2016-2017 Adopted          2017 Estimated         2017 Actual
                                                                  $393,000
# 874.01    Retiree Benefits OPEB           $220,000



From the New AUDITOR this year/UHY/ letter not signed... information incorrect/ FUND was established in 2005 not 2009.  Former Supervisor Payne didn't see fit to fund the FUND perhaps until 2009?  Where, when, by whom and how the "chart" was created is not clear.

I understand 2015 and 2014 figures... however.... the ADOPTED budget for 2013  did NOT have line item # 874.01   and I question the legality of just splitting up the line item # 874  and then increasing the original figure for # 874  of $550,000 by $166,558  to equal $716,558.