Thursday, January 26, 2012

"Watchdog" vs Police Chief and Supervisor

Hi All,
Why is Bloomfield Township so hesitant about making changes and with providing open and transparent government in all departments? Why should some details of the operations of the government be a mystery that only some are privileged to know?  Why is FOIA sometimes necessary to gain the truth about how the taxpayer's money is used? Why should one need to hire an attorney to protect their basic rights? What might happen if the details of the operation of the township are let out of the box?  Hopefully, not much.  However, keeping the lid on the details of government spending and communications stirs the thoughts of doubt and concern.

Has a "watchdog" in the community barked loud enough to arouse the public's  interests?  Has the watchdog annoyed the government's past practices enough to have them attempt to muzzle or yank the leash of the watchdog? The watchdog's "behavior in the past" is pointing out and asking for changes at the Township.  Some see it as demanding.  Whichever way one wants to see it, this township government has continued to fail to communicate on many important issues concerning this community down to even the basic courtesy of putting their meeting notices on their own website where the public could easily find it.  The times have changed and posting notices or sending media notices of current events only in print newspapers will not satisfy the real needs of the community's right to know all the happenings of their township government.  Tossing a few treats of changes only satisfies the watchdog for a while. Putting the treats in different locations is a game that is getting old.   Being treated right and fair will gain the old saying of man's best friend.  This township government has a watchdog.....and... is still barking.

Now to the story:
Did you know that two classes are offered by the police department? 
No?  Not surprising as they are not listed on the township website.  
Citizens' Police Academy and Pistol Safety/Concealed Weapons Permit

The watchdog read a newspaper article in Nov./Dec of 2011 that gave a telephone number and an email address to sign up or get more information.  The contact information was the Township Police Community Liaison Officer.  Apparently, only that officer took sign ups and gave out information.

The watchdog attempted to sign up and get more information.  Neither was successful.  No starting date or time was known by the police department until a sufficient number of people signed up.

However, people can't sign up if they don't know the class exists or when it will be held.  Attempts by the watchdog to get the information on the township website failed.  

A pistol safety/concealed weapons permit class had been given in the past at the township, and the watchdog wanted to sign up for the next offering. However, nothing was on the website about either class.

Instead of getting detailed information about the classes or even one phone call from the community liaison officer or the police chief,  the watchdog received the response (to the request to sign up for 2 classes) in an official letter in the mail from the Chief of Police with the following as the only words in the message: 
"Based upon your behavior in the past, I do not believe it is in the township's best interest to allow you to attend either class."

I am... that watchdog that received the letter from Kirt Bowden, Bloomfield Township Police Chief.
What "past behavior"?  They will not "allow' me to attend?  The township personnel see me regularly at various meetings and functions.  My behavior is writing blogs and attending meetings.  Shall I assume that they may not have liked some of my comments or writings?

However,  I have a right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press without interference from my government.  As a citizen and a member of this community, I also have the right to attend those classes as they were published in a local paper as open to the public.

Shocked by the content of that letter, I contacted the township supervisor, Leo Savoie. I  shared the short details of the letter from the police chief.   The supervisor already knew about it.  He supported the police chief and the letter.  I stated that I felt that was discrimination and that I wanted to attend both classes.

The supervisor left me a telephone voice message stating that if I wished to be reconsidered as an attendee of those classes, I must attend a meeting with him, the police chief and several other police officers.  WHY?  I thought about the voice message and saved it. I thought, wait until after the holidays and maybe they will change their mind...after all, isn't this discrimination?   

After I replied weeks later and the answer was still NO, I said IF I would attend their meeting, I would want to bring someone, maybe an attorney.  Then the requirements to the meeting changed to: I had to give a written request for a formal meeting, stating who would be in attendance...otherwise, I could come to an informal meeting alone.

After a lengthy conversation with the supervisor,  I decided I would not meet with them. 
  • I didn't want to participate in this whole game/charade that the supervisor and police chief  were producing. The classes were not worth the drama.  The individual rights issue is another thing.
  • Is this a variety of harassment and intimidation and a violation of individual rights ? I think, yes.
  • Everyone has a right to freedoms guaranteed by the first amendment:  speech, press, assembly, petition and religion.......without interference from government. 
  • I will continue to blog and comment at township meetings and happenings.  Stay tuned.
Bottom Line:
Bloomfield Township tax dollars are directly or indirectly used to provide officers, buildings, equipment, etc. to conduct these classes for free (except $200 for pistol class range fees).   Citizens in the surrounding communities that pay no taxes to the township were permitted to sign up.

Anyone signing up wants to learn more about the duties of the police, how to handle a weapon safely and to earn the right to a carry/concealed weapons permit.

IF anyone decides to blog during or after an experience or class, that is their right......without government interference.

Personally, I was expecting to have a good experience from the classes....not this.  We'll never know.

Quite frankly, I'm surprised at the decisions both decent men have adhered to over the last month or so to demand a meeting with me before possibly admitting me to 2 township classes.  No conditions were placed on other people.  Their actions violated my rights.

Main questions: 
  • Do the rest of the trustees know the actions taken by the police chief and the supervisor?   
  • They have said nothing.  
  • Does township attorney Bill Hampton know about this issue?  
  • He has said nothing. 
  • Would they/ or do they support the position of the police chief and supervisor in this case, to deny access to township offered classes for "behavior in the past" ....fully knowing that there is no criminal behavior ever? The supervisor's telephone conversations with me all centered on my meeting comments and blogs and the reactions to them by the township personnel.
  • Has anyone else been denied access to a public township class/function/meeting?
  • Does this kind of "service" from township employees happen to others, but go unreported? Silence should not be an option.  Speak up.
The Citizens' Police Academy Class starts tonight, Jan. 26.  NO information about the Citizens' Police Academy is on the township website ( except it was reported to me that it is on Facebook...which I don't do).

Nothing is mentioned on the township website about a gun safety/concealed weapon class, but there is a class being offered.  Is that on Facebook?   How many township people visit the Township Police Facebook page and what age groups?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Township DELETES Financial Payment Data From 1/23/12 Board Packet for the Public

Hi All,
Township Deletes Part of Board Packet from Public View After Initially Posting Information
I discovered the "bills paid" on the board packet for the Monday, January 23 Board of Trustees meeting.  I sent out an email to some to take a look at the packet and that I would write a blog later.  However, now that I am ready to comment....the financial payments list is deleted from public view.  Who deleted it and why? Those payments need to be approved at this meeting.  The public has a right to see those payments.  They are now off the website. That financial information should be included on the web every meeting.

Fortunately, I still have a copy of that pdf file on my computer.  The document is many pages long. Why did the Township remove the list from the public view?  Is it because it shows the amount of payment and to whom, without details and without identifying which account/fund was debited?  There are payments such as a total of $27,000 to Michigan Motion Pictures; $10,000 to Bl. Hills School District and no mention as to the purpose of the expense. Are the taxpayers in the movie business? Why this particular payment to BHSD?  Do the trustees know the answers?  If not, will they ask for clarification at the public meeting before authorizing payment?

The grand total for the 13 day billing period in January that needs to be approved is:   $10,688,706.84 which does include about $8.5 million dollars to the 4 school districts and the library.   I will assume those payments/transfers are for taxes collected in summer and winter  2011 by the Township on their behalf.

Twp. Has Permanent Cameras Installed
Mon., Jan 23 will be televised LIVE on Comcast TV 15
The cameras are installed in township hall and this will be the first "live streamed" meeting of the Board of Trustees done by the Twp. Cable department.  Tune in at 7 pm.  It was mentioned at an earlier meeting that the Board would be discussing the preliminary 2012-2013 budget at this meeting.  Unfortunately, that is not on this agenda.  Unfortunately, neither is an agenda item to approve televising other public meetings.

Consider Approval of Liquor License Policy presented by Attorney Bill Hampton
The Board Packet includes 2 copies of a liquor license policy.  One appears to be an existing policy that shows proposed additions and deletions.  The problem is there is no date on the "existing" policy to indicate WHEN that policy was originally adopted.  Therefore, I am assuming one is an existing policy and the other is the proposed policy.  
Why is the liquor policy being revisited and considered for changes?  Is it because there are liquor license applications in "the works" that are having problems with the existing policy?  I read in Bloomfield Patch about the Maple Art Theater planning on reopening under new ownership/lease with a liquor license.  Does this new policy help that effort?  A new business at Woodward and Big Beaver has come before the Nov. 28, 2011 Board  and has been denied twice.  Does this new policy help that effort?  I do not have those answers.  I don't know if those locations are zoned properly to have a liquor license. Can a theater sell liquor without also having a restaurant?  I certainly hope the proposed policy changes protect the interests of the residents of this community.  The presentation and the details of this proposed liquor policy change should be discussed by the trustees at the meeting before the public and that the "why's"  to changes now to this liquor policy  are considered carefully.

In Feb. 2010 the Township requested from the citizens 1.3 mills to "maintain the current level" of services.  The millage narrowly passed and the Township collects approx. $4.4 million more every year for a 10 year period.
  • Therefore, why does the 1/23/12  agenda have a new hire in the fire department?  
  • Is he related to a current firefighter?     
  • Was this position posted and who were the other applicants, if any?  
  • Did someone retire or leave the township for a new hire position to be possible?
  • Just asking.... why more firefighters have been hired since Feb. 2010 when the Feb. 2010 millage "promotion to the public" was to "maintain the current level of service"  ?
  • Why are more firefighter applications still being accepted today?
  • Agenda item #3

Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees meeting
Monday, January 23, 2012 @ 7 PM

Friday, January 20, 2012

Public Safety 2.5 Mills Renewal Vote To Be August 7, 2012

Hi All,
At the United Homeowners (UHOA) Annual meeting Jan. 18, 2012, Township Supervisor Savoie told the attendees that the township will put a Public Safety millage renewal on the August 7, 2012 ballot.

Savoie indicated that the amount will be 2.5 mills which represents between 8-9 million dollars. He indicated that should the proposal fail, the township would need to reduce the public safety department by about 80 people.

Questions about the above surprise announcement:
  1. I have not seen or read about any public meeting of the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees that discussed publicly the above decision.  Question:  Has Mr. Savoie made this decision on his own, or have there been official township meetings to discuss this public safety millage that excluded the public?
  2. How did Savoie and/or others determine the number of employees that would need to be eliminated?
  3. Are there other items in the budget that could be cut to save employee jobs in the event the public says NO?
  4. How does the 2012 expiring public safety millage affect the preliminary 2012-2013 budget at this time, especially during the time frame:  Jan. 2013- March 31, 2013?
  5. What action has any employee of the township taken to date concerning the public safety millage expiration/renewal?
  6. As a taxpayer, do you know how many DEDICATED millages  there are currently for public safety?  Answer,  4 , representing more than  7.5 mills.  Plus..see #7 and #8...
  7. Do you know that 90% or so of the 1.3 mills GENERAL millage from Feb. 2010 ($4.4 million) is also going directly to public safety?
  8. That TOTAL money to public safety is almost 9 mills...  A whopping $24,000,000 give or take for public safety expenditures for 16,466 households/ 41,070 residents ( 2010 Census).
  9. What other millages do you pay? This 2008 financial data chart does NOT include the Feb. 2010 1.3 mills and NOT the recent costs for bonds issued for water/sewer.  Current figures should be provided. Other existing bond rates have already increased because of the declining property values.
  10. For those Township residents living in the Bloomfield Hills School District, will there be another school bond added to your personal tax burden this year? 
  11. The below list is only for our township, there are other taxes owed for schools, SMART, community colleges, etc.  More information on millage rate click here.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Five Things to Know @ Bl.Twp. Library Jan. 14-19, 2012

Hi All,
Saturday, Jan. 14  - Super Second Saturday Book Sale 
These sales are offered each month from 9:30am - 3:30pm.  The first hour is open to Friends members only. Memberships are very affordable and available at the door on the day of the sale.

Monday, Jan. 16 the library will be closed
Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. day and will be a staff unpaid furlough day.   The Library will reopen on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 9:30am.  Our virtual door is always open at!

Tuesday, Jan. 17 @ 7pm  -   Library Board of Trustees meeting
Library Board meetings are held every third Tuesday of the month, at 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday's agenda includes the unfinished business concerning a reciprocal agreement with the City of TroyI wrote an earlier blog concerning this issue and MY opinion is that this item should be denied.  I did send the library board my opinion to their website.  I encourage you to send YOUR opinion before the Tuesday meeting.

Wednesday, Jan. 18 @ 3:30 to 6:00 pm  
Teens - Homework Coaching General Subjects
For students in grades 5 and up. Get homework help from our volunteer high school students. No registration is taken. Just stop by the Teen Center Study Room to meet with a coach. Contact Adult Services to see when a coach in your subject area is scheduled to be in.

Thursday, Jan. 19 @ 7 pm  -   Township Assessing Seminar
See my blog on this event.  Reservations required. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Twp. Bids and Proposals: Mandatory meeting 1/18/12 Bids Due 2/1/12

Hi All,
Bids and Proposals copied from the Township website.
I'm giving you just a snapshot from the website. Of course there is MUCH more information on the  links.  If you choose to pass this information on to your favorite landscaper contractor, please let them know that there is a MANDATORY meeting on January 18, which is this coming Wednesday. One would need to call for the time of the pre-bid meeting. 

Bids and Proposals

This document is available to view in PDF format. BTFD - Fertilization Weed Grub Control
Due February 1, 2012

This document is available to view in PDF format. Austrian Pine Tree Spraying
Due February 1, 2012

This document is available to view in PDF format. State Highway Landscape Maintenance
Due February 1, 2012

from the website:

Contracts are for 3 to possibly 5 years.  Good deal in this economy.