Thursday, July 2, 2015

Secrets or Lack of Transparency at Bl. Twp.?

Hi All,
This morning I received the Bloomfield Township E-News ... sent minutes after midnight... informing me in a side column blurb, that the Township offices are CLOSED TODAY.... THURSDAY, July 2 for the 4th of July holiday.  There was and is no notice on the home page of the Township website giving any forewarning.    http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/

WHAT??   Friday, July 3,  is the Federal Holiday day off,  but since the Township doesn't work 5 days a week,  they decide they are ENTITLED to a Thursday vacation day??

It is PAST TIME for the taxpayers to INSIST that the township government operates on a 5 DAY WORK WEEK.

Here is what Greg Kowalski, wrote:

Bloomfield Township offices will be closed Thursday, July 2, in honor of the Fourth of July holiday. The Senior Center will be closed Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4.
In addition, the Bloomfield Township Public Library will be closed Saturday, July 4. The library will reopen at noon on Sunday, July 5.


Greg Kowalski's Bloomfield Township E-News never really tells us about the Township government news. Once again, he wrote about the Woodward Cruise happening in August.  He wrote about the Bloomfield Hills school construction and about a Charity organization.  He is not at The Eccentric newspaper anymore.

Why is closing government offices on a Thursday....a secret?  Or is it just plain lack of transparency? Please read my OTHER "secrets or lack of transparency" issues below.

MY:   "Hi All, MARCIA's News" about our Twp. government....maybe not news...but rumors and opinions  :)

1.  Nepotism:  is the "family and friends" hiring system at the township, as I call it.  Leo Savoie says it is not a problem.  The problem is that jobs are not posted for the public in many ways.  Despite calls for job postings to be more transparent,  often family and friends are getting the jobs.   Rumor has it that the Fire Chief now has his son as an employee.  Did Supervisor Savoie approve that hiring?  If so, why didn't he say anything at the special study session  (Thurs., May 28, 2015 @ 8 am) when the nepotism question was raised?  Is it to keep the public from knowing what is really going on at the Township?

How open and truthful was the township when speaking to Lisa Brody when she was gathering ,information for her article on nepotism?  See:  http://www.downtownpublications.com/Articles-features-c-2015-06-25-220857.112113-Government-nepotism.html

Children/spouses/ relatives/friends of employees may get the summer positions or full time/part time positions somewhere in the township. Even how Greg Kowalski got his job should be called in question as to where, when and how the job he was hired to do was posted. 

The nepotism policy of the township should be changed and more importantly, the JOB POSTING and hiring policy should be reformed.

2.  Who is Lewis G. Bender, PhD and why is he interviewing trustees and others?
See his webpage:  http://lewbender.com
Seems one of his specialties is Workplace Conflict. 

Did Supervisor Savoie contact him and hire him to do something at the Township?  Did Savoie do this with the APPROVAL of the Board?  If so, at what PUBLIC meeting was this discussed?  Is this just another step in Savoie's attempt to change the job description and pay for the job of Treasurer or Clerk before the coming 2016 election cycle?
On April 13, 2015 this was a very controversial agenda item:


What is the mission for Dr. Bender?  Rumor has it that Dr. Bender  also met with Department Heads?  Why?  Who is left out of some meetings and why?   

What about the PUBLIC?  We should know what is going on behind closed doors.  Having small meetings with a hired person, asking questions presumably about how the township government is working and how the elected and hired personnel work together.... is a problem...especially when we, and perhaps some of them being interviewed, don't know the PURPOSE of the hiring of this man.

3.  Contract RAISES... were given to ALL employees 4x since 2011, without any apparent negotiation committee in place or used.  The special six year contract that was signed in 2011 prior to former Supervisor David Payne's "retirement" (aka as quit in the middle of his elected term) had wage openers in 2013 and 2015.  In both cases, ALL employees, not just the ones with the contract, were given 2% raises for 2013 and another 2% for 2014  and then again 2% raise for 2015 and 2% more for 2016.  That included raises for the elected officials... Supervisor, Treasurer, Clerk.  Is that how TOWNSHIP government works?  They suggest their own raise and vote on it?

When I asked Supervisor Savoie about where that money in the budget is coming from for the 2% raises times 4, he indicated that property values are increasing and that the employees had wage freezes in prior years.  WELL, yes, there was a reported wage freeze, but step and longevity increases and promotional raises, etc. continued per the contract.

Also, please do NOT FORGET, that in February 2010, the township asked the taxpayers for a 1.3 ten year millage to KEEP THE STATUS QUO.  The economy was hurting for everyone.  But this ten year millage was intended to be TEMPORARY.  The township collects $4 million plus from this "temporary millage" every year.. for ten years. This was to make up for lost revenue.  Now, the money is being used to increase wages and other benefits and more hiring of employees.

4.  New Contract Language   Have any talks or ideas or suggestions been tossed about at the township?  Maybe.   Rumor has it that the number of years worked at the township may be LOWERED  to be able to collect pensions and health benefits.  Is that a negotiable item/ or will it just be an "update" in an employee handbook?    Rumor has it that the retiree health benefits are/were  "adjusted" so living in upstate Michigan or other places, participants would be able to remain  "in network"   so extra fees and costs would not be paid by the retiree.  Guess who pays?  

The EXISTING employee contracts should be part of public record that does NOT need to be FOIA.  WE, the taxpayers, should know not only WHO is hired, but under what conditions and at what price.  We should also know who in those contracts are "perked" with vehicles...car maintenance...car insurance..gasoline..etc. 

Did you know that the township pays the retiree health benefits each year/ as billed?   That is rather misleading.  There are over 200 current retirees.  We can lay off employees to save money, but we can't lay off retirees.  That money has to keep being spent each and every year...until every retiree and/or their beneficiaries are dead.  Is this a negotiable item in the next contract?  When will the township explain the potential REAL liability of retiree health insurance over the future decades? 

5.  Much more to tell... to think about...  to reveal...  wish more people in the township would pay attention to what is going on.   Read my archived blogs going back to 2011.  Many of the issues remain today.

6.  PLEASE CONSIDER placing YOUR NAME on the 2016 ballot.  Please be qualified to perform the job you are considering.   Be prepared to have that decision made PRIOR to May 1, 2016  in order to get your name on the August primary ballot.

Marcia







Friday, June 19, 2015

Legal info on FOIA, CABLE, BONDS, TIF and more YOU should know

Hi All,
Board of Trustees meeting MONDAY, JUNE 22 @ 7 PM

Here is the AGENDA...  however, you need to go to the BOARD PACKET for DETAILS:  http://bloomfieldtwpmi.minutesondemand.com/
for those that need help:
Go to the website above then:

Double Click on the words:   Board of Trustees
Then: Double Click on the words in the drop down menu:   Board Packet 
Then: Double Click on the new drop down menu to the right and Double CLICK on the 2015
Then:  another drop down menu comes up:  and then Double CLICK on June 22, 2015
THEN YOU HAVE TO WAIT.... the packet is almost 300 pages.....and it takes time to load



TAKE NOTE:  294 pages to read in the BOARD PACKET: posted on 6/18/15 to the website
(scroll down in this post to read my comments on this agenda)




#3 and #8
Annual Reports for the Fire Department and the Public Works Dept...... Lots of info in the annual reports.... didn't include cost for all wages in figures/charts....  Learn where the fire stations are located and what equipment/manpower is there...   Learn about the Road, Water and Sewer, Fleet Division, Facilities Division, Grounds Division and staffing/ equipment...
FYI:  I wonder when the Senior Center will do an Annual Report... it's been 10 years now..about time.

#7
NEW FOIA information starting July 1, 2015.... because of Act 563 of 2014.  Apparently you will be paying for wages and pensions as part of the FEES  to get Freedom of Information Act requests.  Read the many pages on new rules.  So much for promoting open and transparent government.  Take your wallet out... it's going to cost big time to see PUBLIC INFORMATION.

#9
What did the Township negotiate with COMCAST CABLE company?  Read the many contract pages.
FYI:  When the cable budget had a surplus in the past... the township put the money in the general fund or other places... Wonder what $$$ will be there after this fiscal year and wonder where it will go...?

#6
Another Issuance of BONDS:   for all the 4 current subdivision road projects... to be paid by THEM (each household affected).... but guaranteed by US (all Twp. taxpayers). 

#5
Say NO to $5000 donation to 501c BBCC....check out how much goes to payroll...etc.. and how little for kids/  BL.Township uses a totally BS reason to justify a donation in the past... read it all in the packet.  Time to STOP this donation.  At one time.. the donation was as high as $17,000.  

#10
Birmingham Fireworks... asking Twp. for money.  Does Twp. provide any traffic/crowd control already?  Is there a former Twp. fireman/now Birmingham fireman/ on ASKING committee for money??  Is he collecting a pension from TWP??? I don't know for sure... but HE can donate as well as anyone else to the fireworks... but not OUR tax dollars.  Watch the township give our money away?

#5 and # 10
What ever happened to PRIVATE donations???  TAX DOLLARS are not for donating.  My opinion.

#11
Take time to check out payroll and vouchers.  Do the trustees REALLY know about all these expenses?  3 Million... out... just this pay period.   ie:  Signature Ford:  $117,289 ???? and other line items... 

Below are  NOT agenda items and will NOT BE DISCUSSED at the meeting, (but should) ... however, you can find the details in the Board Packet after the agenda items:

http://bloomfieldtwpmi.minutesondemand.com/

1.   TIF- Tax Increment Financing Policy.... read the many pages.... would this have something to do with redeveloping the property/mess  on Telegraph north of Square Lake Rd.?

2.   How is Lahser Road repaving being paid for... read those pages.

3.   Oakland Co. Road Commission news tells of $2 million from TROY to do A LOT of concrete repairs in the city on County roads.  Is that $2 million to pay for the concrete or the employees... my guess is for the concrete...  vs  the township road dept. $4.4 million plus budget (http://www.bloomfieldtwp.org/Government/Budget.asp )with only several hundred thousand targeted for cement road repair...in the subdivisions... not County roads.

4. other reports and resolutions