Monday, November 19, 2012


A vendegek bemennek a „Beke”enttermbe. Itt mar varja oket a tobbi ango; turista. kewzet fognak , es leulnek . Ehesek, es hivjak a pincert/

Etlapot Kerunk !

Tessek ! Mit Parancsolnak !---- Keredezi a pincer
En Huslevest kerek. Te mit eszel ?

A vendegek bemennek a „Beke”enttermbe. Itt mar varja oket a tobbi ango; turista. kewzet fognak , es leulnek . Ehesek, es hivjak a pincert/

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tree ordinance to go which ever way the wind blows next Tuesday

Next Tuesday May 8th the City of Bloomfield Hills elects two commissioners from a field of five candidates. On May 12th The City’s Master Plan will be three years old. On May 15th the newly elected commissioners elect a new Mayor. Then they will listen to a public hearing  on the City’s Proposed Tree and Woodlands Protection Ordinance.
The  ordinance  trimmed from 16 pages down to 11  also available on the City website. The Planning Commission passed the ordinance at their last meeting.Whether City Commission will vote on the matter on May 15th  is yet to be determined. It is believed that the incumbent commission candidates if retained   in the May 8th election would support the proposal giving its passage a 4 to 1 vote. If voters chose to elect any of two of the three challengers the proposal could be opposed by  a 3-2 majority .
As a result words are heating up and two of the words most heard and least understood is“Master Plan.” For the City of Bloomfield Hills and like communities the State of Michigan mandates a Master Plan. The current Master Plan which can be found on the City Web site under the pull down tab of Economic Development is an eminently readable lavishly illustrated document. It is the work of a task force of four individuals who probably have not agreed on anything before or after but came together with healthy dose of community involvement to produce a masterpiece. Public participation included town hall meetings, focus groups, and survey of residents.
The  Woodland Preservation Ordinance is  discussed in the Master Plan. "which states, " Another concern with the trend to larger houses is the need to remove mature trees to accommodate expansions and the addition of accessory structures, such as garages, pools and sport courts. The cumulative impact of such activities can visibly impact neighborhoods and have a detrimental effect on the environment. As noted later in this chapter, some form of tree removal, woodland protection orreplanting ordinance may be appropriate to alleviate these concerns. (page 3-7)....The City does not currently regulate impacts to woodlands. One option could be a Woodland Preservation Ordinance that would help to protect “landmark” trees or tress in a front yard. Typically, such ordinances require a special approval to remove such trees and applicants are then required to plant replacement trees to help offset the impacts. The City could also establish a replanting program to replace dead/diseased trees, especially for elm and ash trees. Insensitive development practicesthat are not currently regulated, such as clear-cutting, could also be prohibited.(page 3-19)."   
   The  key words  is “some form of…. ordinance” The Mater Plan also includes an Action Plan for implementingdesired ordinances. One of the suggested Actions was to conduct an Annual Town Hall meeting to keep residents informed and to seek continued public opinion. Since the Master Plan’s inception in the spring of 2009, here have been no Town Hall meetings with residents.
The current 2011-2012 Woodlands Ordinance proposal was the formulated by the  Ordinance Task force Sub Committee a group of four like minded  individuals who allowed no public comment or input from the first meeting in August until a 16 page draft was ready for submission to the planning commission in January. Then a Public Hearing was held. The first of three as it so happened. 
 In this writer’s opinion most of those three hearings were devoted to the concerns  of large property owners like the golf courses. Resident Michael Dul who is now a candidate for City Commission was  not allowed to make an addition comment  at the last Public Hearing  because in the words of the meeting Chairman , the time for public comment  had ended.
Proponents of the proposed ordinance say they are following the mandate of the Master Plan, but the Master Plan mandates no such thing. It is a guideline and a road map. Not a dictator. Proponents of the proposed ordinance often site the resident survey which favors the city’s natural features and  environment. This is offered as justification for an ordinance which allows for involuntary city inspections of private property and penalties for failure to provide replacement trees or money which could result in a lien being placed on one’s home (page 10 of ordinance).
My name is Mark Kapel and I am running for City Commission. I believe  the ordinance is too much Government by too few people. I support the Master Plan as written which is well reasoned, non-threatening document. 
 The Ordinance Task Force by insisting on regulation minutia and enforcement rules has failed to prohibit Insensitive development practices that are not currently regulated, such as clear-cutting.  Since the Master Plan’s inception there has been no ordinance that prevents clear cutting. Every current commissioner or commission candidate  has said they would support such an ordinance. So why don’t we have one ?
The May 8th City Commissioners election will be a referendum on commissioners who support the ordinance as written or those who want more public input from homeowners who are the majority of the city’s residents. On May 15ththere will be a Public Hearing with the new commission. The Commissioners you elect next Tuesday will comprise 40% of the decision making  body that will conduct a state mandated Five Year Review of the City’s Master Plan in early 2014. Choose carefully.

Friday, April 27, 2012

There has been talk that someday the City of Bloomfield Hills would lose the services of its “A-team”, a group of three former Mayors, who have been serving on City Commission for a combined total of almost 40 years. Age, fatigue,  burn out, and that old bugaboo of “getting on with one’s life, “were   the anticipated culprits.  Therefore it was a shock when the first to announce an if “elected State Representative” departure was the youngster Michael  McCready.  How young is Michalel  McCread y ? Assuming he didn’t skip any grades, the 1978 graduate of Seaholm High School is either 51 or 52 depending on birthday. Of the current crop of commissioners and commission candidates only Sarah McClure is close in age and she is 56 which mean that back in the day she was a senior when he was freshman. All the others are over 60 with an estimated 30% over 69.

Old age is only part of the story. All the candidates running for City Commission this spring are longtime residents of the City, with residencies that range from a low of 15 years to a high of 38. All were relatively youthful when they came to town arriving with ages of 27, 39 (2), 43, and 55 years.  All have been involved in City of Bloomfield government for an average of less than three years.  The pattern seems to be residents get involved in civic affairs later in life when career and family are firmly established.

That is not however an absolute. McCready was involved in City Government in his early 40’s. So was Mayor Zambricki. According to Southeast Michigan Government figures there are 101 City residents between the ages of 30 and 39. 436 are in their forties, and 700 in their fifties. That is close to 33% of our population. One out of three.  How many potential Mayor McCready and Mayor Zambricki’s are out there? How can we identify them? We are not talking about Nobel Prize winners or United States Presidents. We are talking about exceptional people who have an interest and some time to devote to City hall for  the good of the community.

The City of Birmingham has 32 boards and commissions to serve a community of 20,000. Assuming the average board has seven members or alternates that means that more than one on ten is involved in City Government.

We don’t need that.  We don’t need more government. What we need is more public interest, involvement, and participation from those who may wish to contribute.  We need a system that will allow any and all to participate on level that suits their lifestyle.

We need to say to our residents. “Many opportunities are in place for you to share your skills and input for the betterment of the city. Please consider attending one or more of the City’s Community Participation Meetings. You are not obligated to attend each one. Come to as many or as few as you like…just come.”

The Bloomfield Hills School System has exactly this system in place, and the “Many opportunities..” quote is from their literature.  The School Board’s Partnership Committees  are not government but advisory bodies. The program in its second year is currently being evaluated.  Attendance seems good. Some moneys savings features implemented by the district have been attributed to the partnership committees. The three finalists to fill a vacancy on the School Board came from the committees.

The program is not a School District original. They hired Project Innovations, a consultancy firm in Farmington .

Project Innovations according to its web site “solves complex problems through facilitation and collaboration. Our proprietary methods provide leaders with the necessary tools to resolve conflict, collaborate with customers, develop and coach leaders, facilitate large meetings, integrate the public for successful projects, and to plan strategically for the future.

Interesting. Our City has just spent $9500 on a citizen survey, and hired a special consultancy firm for the tree ordinance. To the best of my knowledge the City has never spent money to enhance public involvement or leadership identification. It is certainly something to look into. I have volunteered for one of the partnerships. As a School district resident all that is required in the words of my committee chairman is “Just show up.”

My name is Mark Kapel and I am a candidate for City of Bloomfield Hills City  Commission.  I look at my fellow candidates and add up their years of service and wonder how better our community would be if we benefited from their skills and expertise five or ten years earlier. How about future candidates who state their qualifications as “19 year city resident. 10 years in community participation committees. 3 years Zoning Board.  3 years Planning Commission.” Wouldn’t our City be a better place for it?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You can help decide who our next Mayor will be !

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This year for the first time in decades (the exact number of which is still a matter of dispute) voters in the City of Bloomfield Hills will have some say in who their Mayor will be,

That’s because last year the commissioners pulled the rug on Commissioner Pat Hardy and a tradition some say went back thirty years. The City Charter,essentially the City’s constitution, states that the seven days after the election of City Commissioners, the Commission will meet to elect from one of their own a new mayor.

Somewhere in the distant past the commissioners decided to replace the election with a rotation. The next mayor of the city would s be the city commissioner with the most seniority who had either had not been mayor or who had been mayor in the most distant past. Per the rotation Commissioner Hardy was to be Mayor in 2011-12. Instead the commissioners decided to elect Commissioner Michael Zambricki Mayor.How were they able to by pass the tradition of rotating the position of Mayor?

The State of Michigan who’s laws trump everything else in Michigan, regards a City’s Charter as an important legal document. The Charter is signed by the Governor. Changes in the Charter must be approved by the people on a ballot. Those changes must also then be approved by the Governor and the Attorney General. The tradition of rotating the mayor, a defacto change in the Charter without the approval of the people had no legal basis stand on.

There are some who believe tradition is more sacred than law. There are some who believe rotation and election mean the same thing. There are some who argue in this election that the last two mayors stacked the city government with like-minded appointments while also arguing that the position of Mayor is a ceremonial one with no real power. Since the office was “simply ceremonial” slighting Pat was in their minds unforgivable.

 Actually it was politics where sooner or later everyone is slighted and he or she who laughs last laughs best. This year and every year if she musters enough votes from her fellow commissioners Pat Hardy can be elected Mayor. Under the old system the opportunity existed on at four or five year intervals.

Now voters have some input in regards to who the new mayor will be. They may ask the Commission candidates about their vote for mayor and hold them accountable. They may also tell the candidates who they think should be mayor and hope the candidate is listening.It is not much input but it is in this writer’s opinion it is better than nothing.

You haven’t heard the commission candidates talking about who they will vote for mayor which is odd. if elected that vote will be their first official piece of business. If they are running in tandem with another candidate however there may be a pre-arranged group consensus which precludes further input.

My name is Mark Kapel and I am running for City Commissioner. I am not running in tandem and therefore open to any and all opinions on the matter. If I am elected on the May 8th I will spend the week prior to the May 15th Mayor Election getting that opinions and taking it to the City Commission meeting for consideration before the vote.

That is not a campaign promise. I am interested in public opinions, our city government and writing for publications like the Patch so I will probably be doing it anyway. It is just that if elected the wife would cut me some slack on the chore list, if she could discern a meaningful purpose to what I am doing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mark Kapel on Fiscal Responsibility

My name is Mark Kapel and I am running for City Commission
in the City of Bloomfield Hills.  I Believe City Commission can go a long way towards enhancing fiscal responsibility in the City. The two incumbent City Commissioners say they reduced the city’s expenditures by a million dollars but they don’t say how exactly. One Commissioner cites a $20,000 savings by hiring two part time public safety dispatchers instead of one full time.  That is the
only hard number mentioned and one wonders how much of that was put back into other expenditures. For example:

  • A  City of Bloomfield Hills Resident Satisfaction Survey with a cost of $9500. The BaldwinLibrary does its own in house surveys distributed to an audience five times the size for a fraction of the cost. Some City officials say the survey the City contracted for is so economical at $9500 that the city possibly could make it annual event. By the same token with fiscal responsibility we could have quarterly  surveys for half the cost of what we contracted for. We would need to do it in house and we would need a resource the City is totally lacking in (because it has never asked) which is

  • When the City started work on a Woodland Protection Ordinance it hired yet another consulting firm even though one of the ones they currently use now use provides the same services. A fellow candidates running for city commission is a Landscape Architect and he says say the Landscape consultants the city hired expressly for the Tree Ordinance is of
    the garden variety.

  • The City is spending $7,000 for an upgrade the web site. In the long run it will be cheaper than the one they are now using but it still costs money. In terms of electronic communications and the social media the current city commission thinking starts are stops with a web site. With a median age in the mid-sixties commissioners have no concept of blogs, Facebook,
    Twitter, or You Tube. They have no idea how those platforms could be used communicates  with the residents at no out of pocket expense. One Commissioner takes pride in the fact that City Commission Meetings are now available on cable and the city’s web site. That started in 2010. Now it’s 2012. Instead posting an hour and half or two and half hour meeting (with no fast forward  and no rapid reverse) we can chop up the topics discussed in  five or ten minute clips for posting on the City’s own channel on You Tube(when it gets one) which will cost us nothing.

  • The City Commission serves bottled water. You know those little plastic bottles that go in landfills?  They costs money and their use isn’t helping the environment. Maybe it is only $12 or $20 a month but it is not zero. Why not? What’s wrong with tap water?

What is necessary to look at everything and consider other less expensive possibilities?  A good place to start is the City’s monthly expenditures published monthly in the Agenda Packet for City Commission which is appears on the City’s web site before each meeting. Last year one
commissioner discovered a $17 charge for a late payment on a City credit card bill. Good for Him. We need more Eagle Eyes. Maybe we could make a game of it with Commissioners vying with each other to find cost savings for say Tiger Tickets or something.