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Versagi Voice

There are no uninteresting topics, only uninterested people.

16 SEPTEMBER 2014

Frank Versagi
Inform, Educate, Entertain

On this Page
A long but solid CITCOM meeting . . . Short CITCOM meeting . . . Ban gay marriage? . . . School taxes should follow the student . . . Kroger to hire about 1,800 for Michigan stores . . . Diversity in the Presidency? . . .
Charlotte Versagi in Uganda . . . If Scotland secedes, will the UK matter less to everyone? . . . Strong solar flare on way to Earth

                                                                                                                                                                   Why this website

 

A long but solid CITCOM meeting
The 15 September 2014 meeting lasted to within 9 minutes of midnight, but the the first 47 minutes were used by 16 Public Comment speakers who touched on such matters as zoning laws, truck routes, location of a proposed brewery and tasting room, and "It's too noisy. I don't like my city anymore." One chronic bitcher showed a series of photographs apparently related to the hardship, or not, of power lines on or near private property.

During their 3-plus hours of decision-making  CITCOM, the commissioners:

  • Approved three of four alcohol license issues unanimously and one with a Goodwin No-vote.

  • Rejected a recommendation to change policies re hanging banners over Main Street, DuBuc dissenting.

  • Approved a banner for Global March for Elephants and Rhinoceroses, Douglas, Ellison, and Poulton voting No.

  • Named Ellison, Douglas, and Mahrle to participate in Downtown Development Authority discussions re Downtown Parking System.

  • Discussed waiving certain permit fees for residents suffering from flood damage and directed Staff to develop guidelines.

  • Approved asking for Federal Disaster Assistance to address problems caused by the flood.

Short CITCOM meeting
The 08 September City Commission agenda was so short that the meeting shouldn't have lasted the hour-and-fifteen minutes it took. But it was all friendly chatter, a lot of it about the serious rainstorm and its resulting damage still being felt by residents. Ellison, Poulton, Fournier, and DuBuc in several ways praised residents and City workers for their cooperative and exhaustive efforts, still underway, to overcome the problems caused by the flood.

There was a bit of inconclusive discussion about when and how it is fair to all residents if some permit fees are waived. Poulton and Mahrle convinced their colleagues to agree to bring the matter back for further discussion next meeting.

A contract was approved calling for a retail market analysis and development plan at the suggestion of Mahrle and Douglas.

Oddly, the most substantive topic of the evening seemed to be the naming of the city's many parks. Some have no name. Some are named after service clubs which make no effort to maintain the parks. Parks and Rec, I think, is being asked for some work on the issue, because it involves everything from not having too long a name for a sign which can be read, to should a park continue to be  named after an organization which does no work at the park.

Again, it is worthy of comment that these guys and gals don't waste a lot of time on trivia. Only 2-and-a-half of the 7 have occasional difficulty not posturing, of talking just to hear their own voice.

Ban gay marriage?
Thinking people know that a generation or two from now, most intelligent people will wonder why anyone ever had a problem with gay marriage.

Not that everyone will think gay marriage is a wonderful sin-free practice, but more people will have made the distinction between marriage as a contract and marriage as a sacrament -- and accept the right of any two persons (of the same sex or not) to form a mutually dutiful relationship which in their minds is a civil contract, not a sacrament.

Religious people feel married only after their church, temple, mosque has blessed the union. They apply for a license only because  civil law requires them to. 

School taxes should follow the student
When asked if respondents favor various educational reform proposals, the responses were equally as impressive. “Expanding Wisconsin’s statewide school choice program so that it would allow any working class Wisconsin parent to use taxpayer dollars to send their child to the public, private or religious school of their choice. The law currently only allows the poorest parents to be in the program.” (60 percent total favor, 33 percent strongly favor, only 32 percent opposed).

READERS SAY

Question
On one of the Royal Oak forums, someone asked if you were ill. The questioner had not refreshed his Versagi Voice page and thought you hadn't updated for a couple of months. Another reader responded that you were quite well and that he had seen you "at the museum" a few days earlier. What museum? Where?

Response
The Royal Oak Historical Society Museum, of which my wife, Muriel, is the volunteer curator -- aided by a loyal group of volunteers.

The Historical Society is a nonprofit 501(c)3 member- organization which leases the decommissioned Northwood Fire Station (at Crooks and Webster). The museum is open 1 to 4 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Group visits may be arranged by appointment. Contact curator@royaloakhistoricalsociety.org. or 248-439-1501.

COUNTY/STATE

Kroger to hire about 1,800 for Michigan stores
Kroger Co. is hiring to fill about 1,800 positions in its stores in Michigan as part of the Cincinnati-based grocery retailer's long-term growth strategy. -- Crain's

NATION/WORLD

Diversity in the Presidency?
We have our first Black president. A not-very-competent woman celebrity is being pushed to be the first Woman president. That will be followed, I'm sure, by a push to have our first Hispanic president. It seems only fair that we should then work to have our first Asian president. Kennedy gave us our first (sort of) Catholic  president. Working toward our first Jewish president is tougher, because the existence of a self-identified Jewish country raises the question of dual allegiance.

And the drive for diversity gets even more convoluted when we think of the pluses and minuses of a "two-for-one", say, a Black and Female  Condoleezza Rice or a Hispanic and Catholic Mario Rubio.

Are the cards still stacked against anyone other than a good old reliable WASP?

If Scotland secedes
Will the United Kingdom matter less -- to everyone?

Scotland is holding a vote on Sept. 18 on whether it wants to stay part of the United Kingdom, to which it has belonged for 307 years, or whether citizens will forge forward with a smaller but independent nation that secessionists argue will be more aligned with Scottish sensibilities. At the same time, amid a rise in anger at the European Union, Prime Minister David Cameron is moving forward with a referendum on whether Britain – or what remains of it if Scotland goes independent – wants to continue to be a member of the EU, the world’s largest market.

Many argue that a vote to leave, in either case, could mean Britain’s influence in the world is irrevocably diminished, including its “special relationship” with the United States. This had led to apocalyptic pronouncements. George Robertson, the former secretary-general of NATO, said that Scottish independence would be “cataclysmic” for the world. Yet there is also a growing feeling in Britain that fewer foreign entanglements, whether military or economic, after centuries of “punching above its weight,” might be the right role for a mid-size power in the 21st century. Either way, Britain finds itself at a hinge moment, searching for its place in a postimperial, postindustrial, globalized age.

“These are big, big relationships, and they have been fundamental in how the people of these isles have seen themselves,” says Robert Colls, professor of cultural history at De Montfort University in Leicester. “There have been so many shifts over the past couple of generations, probably more than in any commensurate period in our modern history, and I don’t think the British people have quite caught up with it.” -- Christian Science Monitor

LIFE

Charlotte Versagi in Uganda
Dad, here's one suitable for Versagi Voice.
 
When I worked with the Vatican Library in Rome, we performed a needs assessment to determine the needs of the Catholic priests and scholars. Questions were asked like, "Does your parish budget accommodate a prolonged research stay in Rome?"  "How long will your research on Michelangelo's original sketches (for example) take you?" One project we assessed included checking the existing natural light sources for this ancient library in order to ask IBM for a multi-million dollar grant to artificially light the library in such a way that would not destroy the beautiful illuminated manuscripts.
 
Now, in Uganda, I will be performing a very different needs assessment.  We are creating a medical clinic where one does not exist -- but we want to make sure it serves the needs of the indigenous people not just create a "perfect clinic model" that might not be culturally/locally useful. The needs assessment form we are creating includes questions quite different from the Vatican Library effort.  Examples include:  "How many miles do you presently have to walk to receive medical care?"  "Does your family own any toothbrushes?"  "Where is your water source, how far away is it, do you understand the importance of boiling your water?"  "Do you keep the cattle (or goats or chickens) from walking through the compound and into your home?" "How do you toilet? Has your family dug a latrine or hole or do you simply relieve yourself in the bushes?"  "How many members of your family suffer from malaria?"  "Do your family members regularly bathe or wash their hands?" "Do you use soap?"
 
It was a joy to deal with extraordinarily smart, gifted and sometimes wealthy people in Rome and stateside.  Yet now, walking among this deep absolute (as opposed to relative) poverty, I find it humbling and astonishing to think that these people's lives hang by a thread for so many reasons almost completely beyond their control. 
 
There is so much to learn on every possible level about this existence here.  Six months will fly by.
(Boldface mine: FJV)

SCIENCE, ENVIRONMENT/TECHNOLOGY

Strong solar flare on way to Earth
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A strong solar flare is blasting its way to Earth, but the worst of its power looks like it will barely skim above the planet and not cause many problems.

It has been several years since Earth has had a solar storm of this size coming from sunspots smack in the middle of the sun, said Tom Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. The flare on the sun barely hits the "extreme" on forecasters' scale, but with its worst effects missing Earth it is only looking "potentially strong" at most when it arrives at Earth as a solar storm, he said.

New calculations from satellite data show that the worst of the energetic particles streaming from the sun likely will go north or above Earth this time, Berger said late Wednesday.

So while the power grid may see fluctuations because the storm will cause changes in Earth's magnetic field, it won't knock power systems off line, Berger said. It may cause slight disturbances in satellites and radio transmissions but nothing major.

"We're not scared of this one," Berger said. -- Christian Science Monitor

The world is coming to an end -- again
     2012: The Mayan Calendar has been added to the list
The Last Word re Global Warming?
Global warming "hucksters"
Ancient climate change link to CO2?
The global-warming hockey stick is broken
No energy is "renewable"
Monsoons getting drier?
DTE getting serious about solar?
Pseudo climate change science

Current Year's CITCOM meetings

CITCOM Meetings since 2004

How to watch a commission meeting

Split Votes

Do televised CITCOM meetings last longer?

Tone of City Commission meetings

Limit Public Comment Speakers
to 3 Minutes

Public Comment speakers should be limited to 3 minutes, rather than 5, whatever the topic.

First, with rare exceptions the speaker's basic thought is understood within the first minute or two. All the rest is repetition of the basic thought -- sometimes rambling, sometimes in exactly the same words.

Second, watch the speakers watch the digital clock. They feel compelled to keep talking until they have used up their 5 minutes.

Ferndale permits only 3 minutes and when Ferndalians speak at our CITCOM meetings  they comment on the bonus we give t hem.

Civics 101
Essay on local government
Micromanagement in Government
Royal Oak Politics

2009 CITCOM Campaign
2009 Royal Oak Politics
What can we expect from CITCOM in 2009?

City Hall
City Website
Commissioners on Committees
The Debate over Ethics
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Legacy Costs
Legacy Costs: the spreadsheet
Liquor Control Committee
Liquor Licenses
     How much liquor is too much?
Local Streets classified by traffic count
Police Department
Royal Oak Officials Over The Years
Sitting In: Occasional reports from city/civic meetings
Who serves on Committees & Boards
Zoning Board of Appeals
Bordine/English Gardens/Jim Rasor
Commissioners on Committees

Ask City Hall
Late posting of meeting agendas
Driving south on Main to Lincoln
How real estate assessments are made
Re Municipal Bonds
How recalled city commissioners are replaced
Who creates the city commission's Consent Agenda?
Snow Removal & Angle Parking
Conditional Zoning and How It Works
Main Street widening seems successful
How does movie-making help the city?

Citizens for Property Rights (CPR)

Ongoing Discussions
Debate about some matters never ends. New thoughts are seldom introduced, but new people present them, sometimes using fresh language.

Micromanaging  vs. Oversight
Tax Credits for Movie-makers?
The Revolution Cometh
Health Care Debate
Legalize Drugs
Global Warming
It's the End of the World, again
Budget Talks never end
Internet Filtering
Education

The Sound of Downtown Music (noise ordinances)

Useful websites

City of Royal Oak
Royal Oak Library
Royal Oak Historical Society
Royal Oak Schools

Royal Oak Community Coalition
Ezra Parker Chapter DAR
Royal Oak Woman's Club
Downtown Royal Oak
Chamber of Commerce
League of Women Voters
Cindy La Ferle
UrbaneBlog

MEDIA

Daily Tribune
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South Oakland Eccentric

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Overview of issues, candidates, and results

2010 Tax Dialogue
Ongoing news and opinion

2011 Election

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Old, but still informative and interesting

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You know: Dollars & Sense

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Some Guidelines work in the public and non-profit sectors, too.

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News from announcements about Local civic, service, and political organizations

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List of conversations with noteworthy civic and political figures

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News Reports and comments about substance and tone -- since 2004

City Hall
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Downtown Development Authority
Probably the city's most controversial panel

Education
Concepts re curriculum and funding.
Royal Oak and Worldwide

Guest Columns
For those needing more than a couple of paragraphs to make their point in Readers Say

Historical Society
About Versagi Voice's favorite civic organization

Life
Pieces about everything from "Merry Christmas" to drug legalization

Media
News about the News Media

National Affairs
Elected and appointed officials come and go. Arguments about the role of government remain pretty much the same.

Readers Say
Mostly thoughtful, occasionally angry, sometimes humorous

Royal Oak General News
Not everything interesting or important comes from city hall

Science, Environment, Technology
From global warming to molecules

World Affairs
European history . . . Islam . . . Mideast: The world is One

CPR: Citizens for Property Rights
Monitoring the threat of mandated historic designation of private property

Versagi Vanity
Hey, it's my website!

Versagi Voice
25975 York
Royal Oak 48067
248-542-7449
fversagi@versagivoice.com