Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Bulletin February 18-24, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Southfield February 25, 2013 City Council Meeting

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on February 25, 2013

Topics Include
  • The Southfield Police Safe Streets Pledge 
  • The conversion of Denny's on Telegraph Road to a Panera Bread 
  • The retirement of Frank Coutts as the city's emergency management director (Public Safety not Financial) 
  • Permission to expand a group child care facility
An agenda and related documents can be found here

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Editorial: Et Tu

I had a bad week, so as seen in my last couple of posts I'm going to vent a little. I'm not naive. The only reason why anybody runs for office is because they think they can do the job better than the next guy over (well on second thought there is also the power and prestige) and to do the job requires getting elected and staying in office.

It's the game.

And that's what Walmart was. With everybody taking sides it's easily a campaignable issue. And I can live with the idea that nobody wanted to be on the wrong side of it come November, well August. I know how the wind blew, but Monday night I listened to subtle digs and insinuations that if the planning commission had their way it would have been Council that would have taken the political hit.

It may be true, but either be blatant and transparent about it or leave the bear alone. Don't be coy about it!

Then there was Tuesday night where I had to listen to a 5 minute speech for the Board of Education President dismissing the MEAP scores for the district,  which by the way are atrocious.

I like these people, and I want to believe that they are not in the same category as the guys who sign pledges to never raise taxes, and the guys who refuse to pass a federal budget in an election year.

Don't pander to the public. And don't try to weasel from the truth. The people of Southfield have too many problems that will never get solved if our leaders are too busy dodging bullets. Property values declined, test scores are pretty bad, the unemployment rate while improving is still high, there is a shrinking city budget, traffic is backed up, and as I keep saying we have plenty of vacant buildings.

I believe and continue to believe that government can make peoples lives better and be used as a tool to solve problems. Furthermore that is no more true than in local government where people have access to their leaders and can actually tell them about their problems, but, none of that can happen if everyone is too busy trying to dodge blame, pass the buck and convince the public that these problems don't exist.

It's simply an abdication of responsibility for them to, "play politician" the way they have been lately.

While listening to that stuff this is how I felt.

P.S. And for the love of God do not say the words, "We don't complain" while you are complaining.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Second Lost

I look around me me and see rot. I look and wonder how the streets became so empty, and people became so mean, and know that it is not the present that I lament. It is for the past and the lost future of my generation. All the resources spent rebuilding should have been spent simply building. And I feel a unquenchable rage at the previous generation, for the waste and squalor. It was not us who had the keys. It wasn't us who voted the bums in. We were not standing at the top of the towers, nor sitting inside the domes nor was it us who had the command of the wire.

I feel this way because the fall came just as I was coming of age. The hope of my formative years has long since been spent. All we could do is watch and wonder what it all meant. And now I wonder if what it all means even matters.

We're a generation of store clerks and bus boys. Constantly being told we are failures for not succeeding in a broken system, a system which our parents destroyed if it ever existed. The promises they told us of our future, broken.

And all the while whenever one of us points any of this out we are called whiners and beggars. I'm tired of perpetuating the delusion that the world is as it was described to me as a child. For I am a man now and must cast away childish things.

Can we even fix it? Is this the new normal? Probably, and while my rage is no solution I choose to cling to it. My elders refuse to give us vindication or absolution why should we give any in return.  We are doomed to lives of lowered wages and mediocrity because their wrath, pride and greed.

I am tired, and I am angry. I am tired and I am angry.

Southfield Police Citizen Observer Crime Bulletin February 4-10, 2013

Southfield 2012 Fall MEAP Result Links


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Editorial: They Don't Get It

First off let me say I was in favor of Walmart. I decided to shut up about it, because that's just one guy's opinion, but what I am about to say is colored through that lens. Because of the mild annoyance I felt at covering it for three months and then at the decision itself I was hoping it would just die. They took care of it. It's over. Let's move on.

But no! Here comes the return of Walmart, the son of Walmart, Walmart's revenge. During the Walmart discussions everybody complained that city needs more development, so now we're trying to fix that problem, but we aren't. City Planner Terry Croad stated one of the largest reasons why the city doesn't get large scale national development, the process. It's costly, time consuming, and most of all it entails far too much risk. I know that between flying their people out, lawyers, engineers, real estate deposits and all that jazz, developers are looking at tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment and untold man-hours just to take a swing. But that's the game, unless you're in Southfield, the city that doesn't build, in which case you know you aren't going to make your money back. So why try?

This city has an unemployment rate of 10.5 percent, and an office vacancy rate of 30%, . We desperately need business! We desperately need development, but nobody wants to look at the devil and take up the sword! We'd rather not make a fuss. Oh no we don't want a new store, or a new restaurant. We want Southfield to remain provincial. Well I'm sorry we're an inner ring suburb. We are not provincial. This is supposedly a suburb, hell a border suburb of what is or at least was America's industrial capitol. We build. We forge. We craft. It's what we do and who we are, damn it! Iron and steel. Brick and glass. You need it, we make it!

But not now! We can't build now.

I once said that if I ever stopped believing in democracy I'd have an emotional breakdown. Hello mein fuhrer. Part of the discussion included comments about how the planning commission isn't accountable to the public. Well you know what. The public in this city, hell this state is nuts. The part of me who wants to retain his love of democracy is screaming no it's just a loud minority that keeps us from getting free bridges, free infrastructure and park improvements. But I just don't know anymore. It's surreal.

The true thing that utterly disgusts me, is the tendency in the debate to completely ignore numbers and studies. The planning department had statistics on how the development would affect other businesses in Southfield, traffic, and what they would pay in taxes and I would always hear the same thing. "I don't trust the numbers." You know what the entire purpose of our number system is? Quantitative and empirical analysis! The ability to take two or more things and compare them objectively. I trust the numbers more than your gut. Studies, engineers, men and women who paid thousands of dollars to go school to learn to measure quantities and create statistical models. Them, I trust. Your gut? Not so much.

Furthermore several expressed a lack of faith in the free market. I do believe that certain industries need to be regulated and to be fair garment manufacturing safety, international trade and retail wages are included, but under most circumstances I feel the government does not have a right to tell a business it can't exist, that it doesn't deserve a turn at bat. In this regard the collective will of the people which would normally be expressed through the state is expressed through the dollar. Competition is good for the consumer. As a consumer you can choose to support small business, or more labor friendly businesses rather than Walmart.

Something similar could be said for the real estate market. Land owners should be allowed to sell their property to prospective buyers. While city council has approval over land use, the free market should be allowed to prosper. Because of the decision the Archdiocese has been left in the lurch, unable to sell their land for the price they negotiated.  The City Council has veto power but they do not have the power to locate business that is done through the market, and pretending otherwise is a fool's errand. We have to look at things realistically the market has been unkind to this city, we have to work with it not against it.

Altogether it is not so much that I wanted a Walmart, but that the debate revealed attitudes that I feel to be a detriment to the desperate progress the city needs, and as long as the debate remains the same, development in the city is doomed to failure. Indeed this happened before with Golden Corral. We can't lure new business unless we actually want new business, and I desperately, intensely, want new business.

Okay, glad I got that out of my system. Back to stoicism.

Southfield Board of Education Meeting February 12, 2013

 Southfield Board of Education Meeting held on February 12, 2013

Topics Include
  • School security and safety 
  • A budget amendment

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Southfield City Council Meeting February 11, 2013

City Council Meeting held in Southfield, Michigan on February 11, 2013

Topics Include
  • The purchasing security cameras for the Parks and Recreation Department
  • An update from the Southfield Non-Profit Housing Corporation, in particular what improvements it intends to make to using it's reserve fund.
  • The solitiation of bids to demolish the former Ramada Inn on 9-Mile
  • An extension of the waste management contract
  • Creation of an ad hoc economic development committee
  • A tax exemption for TelNet Worldwide
An agenda and related documents can be found here

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