Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The new Grinch

City of Pontiac's Emergency Financial Manager

This past Saturday (Christmas Eve 2011), the Pontiac Fire Department received pink slips along with an application for the Waterford Twp Fire Department via mail.  The Emergency Financial Manager, Louis Schimmel, must have felt like that would be the most appropriate way to get his message across to the firefighters.  Meanwhile I am sure the firefighters felt like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation when he didn't get the bonus, but rather enrolled in the Jelly of the Month Club.

The Pontiac Fire Department's history started over 179 years ago as a bucket brigade.  They eventually purchased a fire truck that did not operate well and had to once again rely on the hard working members of the bucket brigade to try and stop the spread of the fire.  The fire department has come along way since then and is a symbol of this community.

The Emergency Financial Manager, Pontiac City Council, and Waterford Twp has drawn up a contract so that what essentially happens is the Waterford Twp FD will take over the fire services for the City of Pontiac and have Star EMS handle all medical calls.  The Pontiac Firefighters have said that what they would like to do is talk to their counterparts in Waterford and see if a deal cant be struck for a merger rather than a takeover, but they are not getting any contact back.

There are lots of questions that are left unanswered so far to this point and I know that not only the firefighters don't know the answers, but neither do the residents of both communities.  For instance:
- How long is this contract good for?
- Who covers operating costs of stations and maintenance and repair costs of vehicles?
- What if Pontiac defaults on their payment or files for bankruptcy?
- What strains will this hostile take over place on current mutual aid agreements?
- Why wont Waterford FD's Paramedics handle calls in Pontiac?
These are just a few questions that have been passed around and I know there are many more.  Did you know that if this takeover is approved Waterford FD will be promoting members of their own ranks, meanwhile guys in Pontiac that apply and get hired at Waterford will lose theirs even if they have more experience? 

I just don't know how a city can stoop this low and do this to the men and women that have put in years of hard work and dedication.I have friends that work for both departments and appreciate the hard work and dedication that they all put in on the job, but I have to stand behind and support the Pontiac Firefighters in this case.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Really? You are going to cut public safety first?

I would like to take a few moments to discuss a few things that are really bugging me.  A lot of communities are starting to cut public safety personnel, or at least threatening to do so, in order to balance the budget.  Why do they always want to make public safety one of the first places to cut?  I do a lot of driving around, have worked for a few different municipalities, and I know a lot of people that are currently working for municipalities and can tell you where cuts can be made, before hindering public safety.

I am not going to name any communities, but do you know what you are really paying for and is it really worth it.  For example, take a small community of around 5,000 people does that really warrant having a full-time parks and recreation director?  Below I will list some of the issues I have and let me know your thoughts... and yes these are all really happening here in Oakland County.

- Do city managers/mayors really need to have a take home city owned vehicle?  The city is covering the insurance, fuel, maintenance costs, and other related costs just so they can have a nice car to drive back and forth to work.  Wouldn't a better option be to have a pool car that stays at city hall that any city employee can drive to do city related business?

- Is it worth it to pay an employee from the public works department to use a back pack leaf blower almost every day of the year to clean off all the dirt and debris around the city buildings?  Yes this really does happen and even if there is a dusting of snow they are out there. I think this could be on an as needed basis and use this person to do something else.

- Do city governments really need all of their staff?  They should look at how much work some of their people really do and consolidate down their staff.  For instance, in some smaller communities I have seen they have 5+ people working desks at city hall, are they all vital personnel?  Do they all have to be full-time employees?  Has the city looked at costs and considered making some of these positions part-time?

- Do cities really need to have a city manager, mayor, council president, etc...?  Why not just a city manager and council or a mayor and council?

- What benefits and perks does everyone get?  For instance, if a holiday falls on a weekend why should they get to close on a Friday or a Monday?  If you want it off, take a vacation day, but the holiday on a weekend does not affect other businesses, so they should be there as well.

- How about working lunches?  Police, Firefighters, EMT's, and Dispatchers all have to be ready to work, even during a meal (and most work while eating),  why cant other city employees?

- Why do cities that are under leadership of an emergency financial manager have to pay them a salary?  The state govenor appoints them and tells them where to go, shouldn't the state pay for them instead?

As you see I can go on and on, but I will stop here.  I am curious to hear your comments and opinions, and whether you agree or disagree, do you know what your tax dollars are paying for? If cuts keep happening to the public safety field these maybe the only guys left to protect the city.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My favorite Christmas diplays

We're a week away from Christmas.  Kind of hard to believe with the lack of snow on the ground and warmer temperatures we've been experiencing lately.  I love this time of the year, and one of the things I love to do is check out the Christmas displays.  I know there are tons of great locations to visit, but here are my favorites within Oakland County.

1. 3111 Paramount Lane, Auburn Hills - also known as Our Dancing Lights, is a private residence located in the back of a quiet subdivision, but well worth checking out.  My wife first told me about this place a few years ago and ever since then, we make sure we tell our families and friends to go check it out.  This year they have over 43,000 lights all set to different music.  They have a donation box out in front and all proceeds go to The Rainbow Connection.
                                          Video is courtesy of Youtube and Our Dancing Lights

2. Downtown Rochester - also known as The Big, Bright Light Show is an impressive display of hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights hung from the fronts of the buildings in downtown.  This causes quite the traffic back-up, so I suggest getting there before dark, eating at a local restaurant, and then enjoying the show afterwards.

3. Adam's Castle, Bloomfield Hills - is a private residence located on a dead end street (Adam's Castle Drive) that runs west off of Adams between Wattles and Big Beaver (16 & 17 Mile Roads).  The street is very narrow and the property is fenced in, but it is definitely worth checking it out.  Even in the daylight, the castle itself is a sight to see.

4. 12 Mile Rd & Washington Ave, Royal Oak - is a private residence on at least a double lot that uses an estimated 80,000 Christmas lights and various displays.  The house is located right at the corner and you can't miss it.  There is plenty of free parking in the neighborhood and you can walk to check it out with everyone else there.

These are my favorites.  Do you know of any others in Oakland County which you would like to share with my readers and myself?  If so please leave them in the comment box below.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Families that need assistance

I know this time of year is tough on everyone, but I would like to tell you about a couple of local fundraisers happening soon.

The first fundraiser is to help an awesome 2 year old named Max. Max has had to fight lots of battles in his short time here including premature birth, Down’s Syndrome, cataracts, and has recently been diagnosed with Leukemia. The Oakland Press rescently did an article with a story on Max's life and the troubles he has been through.  I worked with Max’s dad (Jason) at Star EMS and I know during my time working with Jason, he always went above and beyond the call of duty to help others, including going down south to help out during Hurricane Katrina. Now his son needs help, so let’s all return the favor and stop by to enjoy a nice meal. The fundraiser takes place Saturday, December 17th from 6pm to 2am at Kennedy’s Irish Pub located at 1055 W. Huron (M-59) in Waterford. Kennedy’s will kindly donate 20% of your entire bill to the family and all you need to do is tell your server you are there to “Fight like Max.”

The second fundraiser is to help a family who lost everything in a fire on December 12th. The Auburn Hills family left for the day and got a call a short time later that their house was on fire. Unfortunately, they did not have renter’s insurance and lost everything they own, including the family pet. The Red Cross is providing temporary help, but this family will need so much more. If you have a chance on Monday, December 19th, stop by the Fern Hill Country Club located at 17600 Clinton River in Clinton Twp between 5pm and 9pm for a Spaghetti Dinner.

Please help spread the word of these fundraisers and stop by if you get a chance. If you know of any other fundraisers going on to help local families feel free to post the info in the comments section for others to see.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Welcome to my blog...

First off I want to say thanks for visiting my blog space.  I am really happy that The Oakland Press was looking for bloggers and asked me to participate.  This is my first known venture into blogging and I hope you all enjoy visiting here.  If there is anything that you would like to see addressed or think I can do something differently please let me know through the comment box or e-mail

In the future I intend on sharing with all of you random news, events, and happenings in Oakland County.  I also would like to share with you my family's experiences at local small businesses.  I have a strong passion for news and events going on in my community and cannot wait to get this started.

Please feel free to share my blogs with others and comment when you feel it is appropriate, after all these are your communities...