Versagi Voice

There are no uninteresting topics, only uninterested people.

22 April 2014

Frank Versagi
Inform, Educate, Entertain

On this Page
Historical Society Museum to feature early Royal Oak schools . . . CITCOM Report . . .  Royal Oak asks Schostak, Farran Realty to combine proposals for downtown land . . .
Robert Ficano will seek another four-year term as Wayne County executive . . . A successful and attractive woman politician . . . Not many people listen to John McCain anymore . . . Another example of Obama's lack-of-grasp of how to deal with world problems . . . 'Hate Crime' concept is ridiculous . . . Nuclear Power Also Needed to Combat Climate Change

 Why this website

Historical Society Museum to feature early Royal Oak schools
The Royal Oak Historical Society's "Your Schools" Exhibit will include everything from period classroom supplies to displays of photographs, documents, and artifacts showing schools, teachers, classrooms -- even an elementary school desk with small blackboard and chalk -- beginning in the 1800s, "when we had District Schools, then through the beginning of Village Schools up to the 1960s." according to Assistant Curator Susan Wolfrum.

An added attraction of the exhibit is that many Royal Oakers have loaned or given the museum their own graduation pictures or those of their parents and grandparents, Wolfrum added. The museum's permanent collection includes yearbooks and composite graduation photographs beginning in 1917.

"Your Schools" will have its grand opening on May 3rd, from 1 to 6 p.m. The exhibit will run till mid-September.

The museum is located in the decommissioned fire station at 1411 W Webster, near Crooks Road.
Regular museum hours are 1 to 4 p.m. each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

Admission is free, but a nominal contribution is appreciated.
The Royal Oak Historical Society is a volunteer-operated and -funded nonprofit organization.

For information:  248-439-1501 . . .

Deadly dull CITCOM meeting
Except for an interesting report by Police Chief Corrigan O'Donahue, this was the most boring city commission meeting in years, in decades. Commissioner Kyle DuBuc did most of the little talking that there was, finding something to say even when there was nothing to say.

Not complaining, mind you. It's great that no one postured just to get excessive face-time on camera. And even curmudgeon City Manager Don Johnson drew a chuckle or two from his colleagues and the audience.

Of interest from O'Donahue's comments:

  • Every patrol car will have a defibrillator.
  • Police will provide an unlock service to residents who lock their keys in their car.
  • Crime stats show an 11% drop in serious crime
  • A  picture of a bird landing on a patrol car hood and staying around for a while.

Mayor Jim Ellison took the occasion to praise the city's new PR person, Judy Davids, for formatting the Chief's report with readable layout and photographs, even a video.

Royal Oak asks Schostak, Farran Realty to combine proposals for downtown land
The Royal Oak Downtown Development Authority board on Wednesday night asked a pair of developers to consider a joint venture to develop 4.15 acres of land north of I-696 between Main Street and Woodward Avenue.

Livonia-based Schostak Bros. & Co. and Missoula, Mont.-based Farran Realty Partners have proposed two separate developments for the site — Schostak’s $35 million, 100,000-square-foot Class A office building for Novi-based Tata Technologies Inc. and Farran’s mixed-use development. The $52.25 million Farran development would have a 30,000-square-foot retail and office building, a 40,000-square-foot retail and office building, and 150-180 apartments.

Schostak, Farran and Singh Development LLC had each submitted plans for the site, responding to a requests for proposal to develop the property, which is owned by the DDA. Singh proposed a $35 million residential development with 192 townhomes and studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. It would have 324 parking spaces.

Bill Harrison, a member of the DDA board, said Tim Thwing, the city planning director and executive director of the DDA, “is trying to put Farran and Schostak together to do apartments and the office complex.” In an April 10 memo to the DDA board, Thwing said he did not include representatives from West Bloomfield Township-based Singh because its proposed development is entirely residential.

Schostak and Farran are expected to report to the DDA board May 7 about whether they would be willing to work as a joint venture, and what type of development they would propose. Harrison said he asked a Singh representative to maintain its development offer for the next 30-45 days.

“I told him I want to keep you in the loop here and make sure that their offer will be good so that if this other thing falls apart, we are still looking at three bidders,” Harrison said.

Schostak is offering $4 million for the land, Farran is offering $3.25 million and Singh is offering $2 million, , according to the companies’ RFP responses. Tata Technologies is in a 39,000-square-foot building on 11 Mile Road east of Meadowbrook Road, according to Washington, D.C.-based real estate information service CoStar Group Inc.

Several developments over the years have been proposed for the Royal Oak site.

In 2012, the Detroit Medical Center was eyeing the site for a $50 million outpatient medical center. But last year DMC scrapped that site as the proposed location because it was ultimately too small for the estimated 100,000-square-foot medical center that would primarily treat pediatric patients. DMC has since proposed the facility for Big Beaver Road in Troy.

In 2007, Schostak ended its plans for a mixed-use hotel and retail development. It instead constructed the L.A. Fitness health club nearby, at the corner of Woodward and Washington avenues.
Kirk Pinho: (313) 446-0412, Twitter: @kirkpinhoCDB


I don't object, in fact I like it, but why are you publishing what seems like increased news and comment in Versagi Voice's "Nation/World" section.

Keep in mind that I characterize this website as an extended table conversation. Readers of Versagi Voice often bring up foreign affairs when they encounter me in public places like the Historical Society Museum. But in all the regional newspapers combined -- dailies or weeklies -- world news is sparse, very rare. My intention, whether or not I simultaneously opine, is to provide starting points for discussion or debate.

Laura Harrison
Frank: Bill and I had supper tonight (Sunday) early evening at Lockharts.  After we drove over to S. Washington and found a parking space just south of Fifth Street.  Free parking Sunday!  Most of the stores closed at 6, but we found time to visit the new gift shop in the Dobie building, where I purchased an antique Vernors bottle with the metal cap and check out the new lighting in Lost & Found Vintage.  Then we window shopped for a few more minutes.  Early Sunday is a great time to wander S. Washington.

Dave Richards
Frank, attached is an article from the New York Times about streetcar lines under construction in Washington DC which focuses on the economic development impact occurring even prior to the opening.

In particular, it points out the fact that the permanence of streetcar tracks is a factor attracting business investment, something which is lost in most of the current planning for mass transit in metro Detroit, which looks to rapid transit buses.  It will be interesting to see how the tiny street car line to be built in downtown Detroit affects economic development in that area, despite it being minimalist in concept.

Public Safety latest weekly report
Police: 37 Arrests
Fires: 0 Fires -- 32 for the year . . . 77 EMS Runs -- 1063 for the year


Robert Ficano will seek another four-year term as Wayne County executive
Ficano, whose administration has been plagued by several scandals in recent years, will make a formal announcement at 5 p.m. Monday at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 Hall at 1358 Abbott St. in Detroit, according to a news release.

Ficano, 61, was elected as Wayne County executive in 2002 after being elected Wayne County sheriff in 1984. He is being challenged by Westland Mayor William Wild, Wayne County Commissioner Kevin McNamara of Belleville and State Rep. Phil Cavanagh, D-Redford Township.

Former Detroit Mayor Dave Bing is also considering seeking the county executive position. The filing deadline is Tuesday. The primary election is Aug. 5.

Sheila Cockrel, a former Detroit City Council member and founder of Crossroads Consulting Group, a Detroit government relations firm and advocacy company, said Ficano faces an uphill battle. “I think he is going to have a very hard time,” she said. “The last couple years, I think, are of particular concern. The financial condition of the county is going to be an issue. Will the specter of an emergency manager become a factor in the campaign?”


But she's a Republican!?
A successful and attractive woman politician

As she likes to tell anybody who'll listen, Susana Martinez, the governor of New Mexico, didn't start out a Republican. She and her husband, Chuck, like most everyone else in Las Cruces, had always been Democrats. But she'd long dreamed of running for office, and when word got out that she had her eyes on the district attorney's seat, two local Republican activists asked her to lunch. At the meeting, the story goes, her suitors didn't talk about party affiliation or ideology. They zeroed in on issues—taxes, welfare, gun rights, the death penalty. Afterward, Martinez got into the car, turned to her husband, and said, "I'll be damned, we're Republicans."

It's a tidy little anecdote, and Martinez has put it to good use. During her prime-time speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, the biggest stage of her 18-year political career, the I'll be damned punch line brought the crowd to its feet, getting more cheers than anything said by the party's presidential nominee, Mitt Romney.

Previously unreleased audio recordings, text messages, and emails reveal a side of Martinez the public has rarely, if ever, seen.

It's not hard to see why the story is appealing: It suggests that Republican ideas can win over voters, perhaps especially voters who look like Martinez. If only those voters saw through pesky Democratic talking points like the "War on Women" and recognized what the Republican Party actually stands for, the logic goes, they would embrace the party. Just like Susana Martinez and her husband did. -- Source misplaced

Thank the Lord
Not many people listen to John McCain anymore

How sad to see a real hero and statesman fade away intellectually and become one of those about whom one must ruefully say, "Only another war will make him happy."

How sad to see John McCain diminish to the same level as John Bolton. former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who has reached that point in life when he feels that only with bellicosity can he effectively deliver his thoughts or feelings.

Despite all that, it may be time to threaten Vladimir with military resistance, instead of with more presidential reminders that "This is not the 19th Century."

So it is good to read that a NATO spokesman says, "We will have more planes in the air, mores hips on the water and more readiness on the land." Poland reports that U.S. troops will be stationed in that counrty.

From Foreign Affairs
Another example of Obama's lack-of-grasp of how to deal with world problems
"Barack Obama's response has been tepid. Ukrainian authorities requested light arms, antitank weapons and intelligence assistance. Obama agreed to provide Meals Ready to Eat and to have them delivered by commercial trucks rather than military transport planes."

The man is incompetent or cowardly or both. That's made worse by his narcissism. He's Jimmy Carter II. Or is it stupidity which accounts for his continuing belief that every real problem is solved by his giving another speech? Establish another red line, you know.

Note to Attorney General Eric Holder: Given your sensitivity to real or imagined racial tone in any criticism of you or of President Obama, please keep in mind that Jimmy Carter is White.

It's hard to keep straight which are the good guys
In recent weeks, Jordan's border guards have clashed with and arrested several people allegedly attempting to cross into the country from Syria, where civil war has been raging for more than three years. Jordan, home to more than 500,000 Syrian refugees, says arms smuggling across the border with Syria has risen by 300 percent in the past year.

It is widely reported that Syria's various rebel factions regularly transport weapons and other supplies across the border with Jordan. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly accused Jordan of assisting Syrian rebels both militarily and logistically.


'Hate Crime' concept is ridiculous
This masked guy is robbing me at night as I'm getting into my parked car. He  knows enough about me to mumble something about getting back at "dumb dagos."  He's got what looks like a revolver, but he's so wishy-washy that I'm tempted to take the weapon from him and tell him to go home. As luck would have it, a police car pulls up, and the cops collar the guy.

I can understand that attempted robbery is a crime, its seriousness depending on, among other things, whether the piece was fully loaded and the safety was off. What I can't understand is what is gained by labeling it a hate crime because of the ethnic slur. Besides, I'm more offended being called "dumb" than "dago."

I suspect that labeling a criminal action a hate crime is one of those feel-good concepts that neither deters the alleged criminal nor eases the victim's suffering but fits the need of those who focus more on group identity than on the individual -- victim or perpetrator.

At a less important level than crime, the U.S. Attorney General's whining about criticism of himself and of the President was considered by most observers to allude to race, although his reaction to that was the legalistic, "At no time did I refer to race," or some such.

It would be impossible for a Black not to infer at least passive racism in much of the steady stream of criticism directed at Obama especially, forgetting that the President was re-elected -- a phenomenon which remains an unsolved puzzle after such an ineffective first term.

The recent Black mob attack in Detroit on a White motorist who got out of his truck to look at a young Black boy who was struck when he ran in front of the truck led the attorney defending one of the teenagers who apparently led the attack to maintain that the action was a "spur of the moment" decision, not a hate crime. Makes sense to me.


Nuclear Power Also Needed to Combat Climate Change

The rise of renewables helps, but in order to eliminate fossil-fuel pollution nuclear power is also required, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Over the past decade and a half, countries around the world have taken unprecedented steps to shift their energy dependence from fossil fuels to alternative resources. Tariffs and subsidies have spurred the growth of wind and solar, regional emissions mark

nuclear plant construction
ets have imposed costs on carbon, and government funds have poured in to support the development of new, low-carbon technologies.

And yet carbon emissions from the energy sector continue to rise. From 1991 to 2010, they grew at a rate of 1.7 percent a year; over the following decade, that rate nearly doubled, to 3.1 percent a year, according to data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Notwithstanding a minor drop in emissions during the economic recession of 2009, the upward trajectory continues today.

The energy supply sector—which spans the extraction, transportation and conversion of fuel into energy—is the largest single contributor to human-caused global warming, at around 35 percent of the total carbon budget. If the world hopes to head off potentially dangerous temperature rises of above 2 degrees Celsius, emissions from the sector will have to be sharply curtailed by midcentury, scientists say.

"A mix of low-carbon energy from renewables, nuclear, or fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage [CCS] are going to need to grow to 80 percent of the electricity supply by 2050," said Ryan Wiser, a research scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a lead author of the energy supply chapter of the IPCC's recent Working Group III report.

"Simply executing or expanding existing incentive policies isn't going to cut it. Business as usual absolutely isn't going to cut it. What's required is a true transformation of our energy systems," he said.

By 2070, the world will need to phase fossil fuels out of its energy supply mix entirely, he added. -- Scientific American







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
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Micromanagement in Government
Royal Oak Politics

2009 CITCOM Campaign
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Historical Society
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