All I can say is try to watch the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting of November 28 to witness what I have been sitting through for the last 2 years. You will then realize why the audio/video taping of the public meetings is ESSENTIAL for open and transparent government and should be extended to all public meetings. I'm sure the printed minutes will not reflect all that occurred.
This blog is different from others. Be prepared. I am in my "hi all" rant mode. Long time email friends will know what I mean. Following is my "unofficial" minutes, personal opinions and comments.
From the agenda of November 28, 2011
My version and opinions of the Board of Trustees meeting
Item # 4: Consider Award of Bid for Refurbishment of Emergency Vehicle- Presented by Fire Chief Piche'
The Board unanimously approved the expenditure of $146,373.17 for the fire department to customize an old delivery truck (purchased in April? for just under $30,000 from Penske Corp) with 100,000 miles on the engine into a specialized vehicle. Total project cost: approx. $176,373.17 assuming no problems or changes with the "refurbishment" contract.
Fire Chief Piche' had a power point presentation prepared for this project presentation. This old truck will be refurbished: with lights, sirens, graphics, paintings, a flip up sign to help with traffic direction around the emergency, etc. For some reason, Pimp My Ride television show came to my mind during the presentation. Mean comment, yes, but what is the Township thinking? 29 firefighters forming a committee lasting 6 months to come up with how they can make this old truck into a sleek Township vehicle? Is this supposed to be showing that the Township is "saving money" by a do-it-yourself project?
The purpose of the vehicle: to store all kinds of emergency equipment in one place rather than have it stored in several existing trailers pulled by pickup trucks. Reason: get the equipment deployed quicker to the accident scene. Everything goes in the first trip. Oops, what if there is more than one emergency at the same time? Where does that one truck go first? Would it be better to have the water rescue equipment on one trailer and the HazMat equipment on another? Would it be better to spend the $170,000 on more rescue equipment and more non-motorized trailers and have each fire station equipped than one "refurbished" truck at central fire station holding everything?
What have 29 of the 54 Township firefighters been doing since April 28 of 2011? Field trips! Spending "countless hours of research and development" including visiting other fire departments in many communities in the state viewing what fire equipment storage vehicles they have. Oh, and visiting or considering 7 different "fabricators" specializing in "custom" truck work. Five of those firms actually bid on the specifications for that truck as determined by the committee of 29. The transformation of the old delivery truck into a new fire department storage truck....oh, sorry.....Special Operations and Rescue (S.O.A.R.) vehicle will soon be on the streets for future emergencies, hopefully, only one at a time.
Thankfully, the selling of the existing trailers and vehicles currently being used to transport specialized equipment needed in a variety of emergency situations was NOT part of the motion, although mentioned in the report as the fire department's intention. However, I won't be surprised if some day those vehicles that cost a pretty penny when new, will be sold for pennies on the dollar. The fire department believes this old refurbished truck will provide 15 years of service to the Township. I don't believe it. Remember the "million dollar lemon" fire truck the Township had for 10 years?
That vehicle was brand new. Broken the first day of use and out of service for a year.
I wonder how many dollars were spent on travel and lodging for those hours of "research and development" by 29 firefighters? Was there overtime hours, too? Don't worry, it's just YOUR tax dollars.
Item # 5 Introduction of 2012-2013 Preliminary Budget--Presented by Supervisor Savoie
There wasn't much of an "introduction" other than to indicate that the figures represented a balanced budget. The Board went right to public comment. I was the only one there that spoke. I made comments and asked questions as quickly as I could in three minutes. I only reviewed the first 8 pages of the 36 budget pages at home. I had my 3 minutes worth of questions just from those pages so I quit reading the other 28 pages.
The most interest FACT after I sat down from my 3 minutes about the budget: Mr. Savoie chose not to respond to my concerns or to try to answer any of my questions. Mr. Devine did make a stab at answering 2 questions. The others followed their leader. Silence.
The Budget and the PUBLIC Review/Concerns
The way I understood the budget issue from this meeting: THE PUBLIC HAS 90 DAYS to visit Mr. Savoie and bring him your concerns before the final vote on the budget in March. Mr. Savoie will answer your concerns in his office. OK. That sounds like Township controlling the issues, keep the issues contained and out of the news. I will not do that! Public issues are discussed in public!
Sorry Mr. Savoie, the honeymoon ended. Your 100 days have passed. There was hope at one point that you would be different. However, your style of leading the Township is just more of the same...and that's a shame. Is that what "appointments" to an elected position are supposed to achieve? Replace your position with a like-minded person and eliminate the voting public from the process?
What is currently on Cable 15 TV is Township produced "spin" stories starring Township employees and leaders with predetermined messages and outcomes. The public is not being told all that is going on in the Township. Has the Township sought out opposing views? No. Doing that might be considered as open and transparent government. Why would the Township want to do that?
Agenda item: Public Comment
For the third Board of Trustees meeting in a row I have asked the Township to announce on their website the FACT that there are terms EXPIRING for various Boards in the Township effective Jan. 1, 2012. These positions are "appointed" by either the Supervisor or the entire Board of Trustees. No comment was given by any Trustee and no indication was given that they were interested in communicating to Township citizens that may be interested in serving on those committees. Silence.
THEREFORE: I will tell you.
There are 3 positions expiring for the ZONING Board of Appeals.
There are 2 positions expiring for the PLANNING Commission
There are 5 positions expiring for the BOARD of REVIEW (see Dec. 14, 2009)
SUBMIT a letter of INTEREST and a resume to the CLERK or SUPERVISOR if you wish to be considered for any of those positions. Don't plan on being automatically called in for an interview, however. This Township has a history of predetermined outcomes.....and Board appointments are no exception. Be proactive, turn in your resume in person and ask if they have time for a conversation with you about your interests.
The "appointments" will be made BEFORE those terms expire Jan. 1, 2012. Traditionally, those appointments are made in December. The only scheduled Board of Trustees meeting is December 12 @ 7pm. Time is of the essence if you wish to be considered. Good luck.