Friday, April 30, 2010

Tell us what you think

The Oakland Press is interested in what you think.

We have posted a request for comments on your views on Oakland County -- Twitter style, which means they have to be 140 characters or less.

You send them in and we will Tweet them and publish them in the print edition.

Go to for details.

Also, editors make decisions every day about what to put in the paper and also where to put it in the paper. But what do you think about it?

Here is your chance to tell us. What is a better photo for the center of the front page? An Alpaca or a family with a baby? They both go in the paper, but which one should go out front and which one should go inside?

You decide.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pontiac finds lost stock

Pontiac Emergency Financial Manager Fred Leeb on Wednesday announced that workers had discovered 43,000 shares of long-forgotten stock.

The city quickly sold it and Pontiac is suddenly $1.26 million richer than it was at the beginning of the week. The city is still in the red, but every lost million counts.

This is one of those amazing stories that gets people talking, and you can bet they are in the comments section at the bottom of the story.

You can join that conversation at

Here are some samples:

"Thank you Mr. Leeb and staff! This is just proof that all the house cleaning they are doing is totally worthwhile. Pontiac has suffered from incompetence for so long, this is a breath of fresh air! This is why you don't give jobs to people just because you know them, people need to be trained and qualified for government positions in order to protect our cities welfare."

"Do you think they will use any money to tear down any of the crack houses?"

"This is a wonderful thing. It was the right thing to have a Financial Manager come in and I have agreed with many decisions he has made. But I live here. I go to meetings. I volunteer in the community. What is most frustrating right now is that we have newly elected officials. The mayor is new. The city council is new. They are eager to work with the EFM but they have been kept in the dark. Communication should be flowing, even if it is one-sided, to transition control from the EFM to the officials when it is time. Otherwise, time will be wasted when he leaves and the new local government has to start where he left off. All they are asking for is for him to work with them and that is not unheard of when it comes to EFM's. It has been done by others,it is just not happening now."

"Something that really bothers me is how people comment on Pontiac and think they know everything that is going on just because of what they read in the paper. You don't know until you live here,and get involved."

"So do we have enough to buy the SilverDome back?"

Monday, April 26, 2010

The flap over a Pontiac deputy mayor

The story about the Pontiac mayor and council appointing a deputy mayor drew a firestorm of thoughtful comments.

Are Pontiac's leaders listening to what the citizens say?

Here are some of the best:

"These two are really starting to get on my last nerves. Such childish and immature behavior.
My message to both of you is to consider the cities needs first and take that foolishness somewhere else. Personally, I'll be glad when the city is rid of both of you.
Either do the job that you have been assigned or get on gone. We don't have time as a city to follow all the unnecessary bickering between the two of you. You both sound like children. Grow the heck up." -- City Resident

"Pontiac really sucks.Can we please get people running the city who do not act like children.It sounds like the council and new mayor are trying to be sneaky but you dummies still have no power.Mr.Leeb can decide not to let this man have the position.This just shows Pontiac will never get it self together.Its the same old BULL****." -- This City Sucks

" The Governor made a decision to send an Emergency Financial manager into Pontiac because it's over $100 million dollars in debt. people who keep saying that elected officials in Pontiac deserve to run the city, are forgetting that Pontiac has a $100 million deficit. This Means that The Governor who is the highest ranking elected official in the state, decided that Pontiac can not get out of debt without an Emergency Manager. This isn't a case of Granholm not liking Pontiac. It's a case of Financial instability. Without Fred Leeb, Pontiac would be bouncing checks. Pontiac would began to lose city services like Police, Fire, Trash, and Public Works. Fred Leeb is here to protect the Finances of Pontiac and to insure that city services are maintained, and checks get cashed. Anyone who wants him out, has no understanding of how government functions. Granholm is our elected leader, and she is protecting Pontiac from a major financial crises. Jukowski and the City Council are elected, but they don't have the authority that Fred Leeb has. The mayor can't do anything without 4 council members supporting him, the Council needs a majority vote, and neither has the power to take the city through a bankruptcy if it's needed. They are also very limited in their power to bargain with union and retirees. Leeb is here to do what they can't, and that's why his power goes beyond the Mayor and City Council." -- Why Leeb's Here

"What I don't understand is why do we even have city council meetings. Its nothing but a zoo anyway. With a Emergency Financial Manager in place, City Government is suspended until our city gets its financial house in order. Mr. Glass ought to be ashamed of himself for allowing jukowski to put him in this no-win position. The governor needs to step in and shut the whole thing down. Saving our city comes first. I see now why we don't have a smooth running government. I don't see how any Mayor could operate with such a egotistical bunch of fools on the city council. jukowski is a lawyer and he should no better but somehow he thinks that he could do better than EFM leeb. If the city council does not respect a Governor appointed officiaL sent to straighten out the finances of the city then what does Jukowski think would happen to him if Leeb was not in town. Many of us remember what happen to the last mayor and it sounds like they are trying to do the same thing to LEEB. Only difference this time is that this stupidity is sponsored by Auburn Hills-Tim Melton and Leon Jukowski. If i were Leeb, I would just shut City Hall down until Pontiac is out of its situation. With all this craziness going on, our city really doesn't have a chance. It's obvious that those we elected don't give a dam. Mr. Glass you have been had. The council and the Mayor don't have any authority to create a position while we are in financial crisis. Shame, Shame on the city council and so-called mayor." -- Stop the Madness

"The Mayor and Council do have the authority to make municipal appointments while under an EFM. There are a lot of bloggers who have a vested interest and are actually hoping our city fails, but this will not happen.
Those of you who are criticizing the efforts of our Mayor and Council should have run for the position! Obviously you could step into their shoes and do a better job. No one is criticizing the financial job that Leeb's, his 6 lawyers and his paid auditing staff is doing. He is doing the job of an EFM (without experience also).
We are questioning why he must act like a dictator. Given this Council is new, I applaud their commitment to work tireless hours a week, donating their resources and being slandered by bloggers who probably are more of the cause than the cure.
Leeb, my only comment to you is that it appears that the woman I voted for is using you to destroy our city. Stop painting Pontiac as destitute, get rid of your agenda, your bloggers and your high salary. If you really have our best interest at heart, do like Glass and work for free!
Prove me WRONG Leeb, I challenge you to work WITH the Mayor and Council and stop auctioning off Pontiac! Do this, or go back to Jennifer.
God forbids if Obama puts this woman or anyone working with her in any position that affects the lives of American citizens.
Remember this Pontiac this November. Your vote does count!" -- The Facts Are...

Feel free to joint the debate.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The new cost of lead paint

Starting Thursday 4/22, the cost of remodeling through a contractor will get a lot more expensive

The new EPA rule requires professional contractors to use "lead safe" practices when working on homes, day-care centers and schools built before 1978 -- the year lead paint was banned in the US.

The restrictions are similar to those imposed on workers cleaning up asbestos -- masks, suits and vacuums.

However, when you consider the number of buildings involved in the new rule, it is obvious this one will be much more expensive and much more restrictive.

Contractors have correctly pointed out that while lead can be a poison for children, this new rule amounts to a hidden tax that will be paid by their business and, eventually, homeowners and taxpayers.

It will add thousands of dollars to a remodeling project.

This will add to the recession because it will affect people's ability to purchase homes built before 1978.

It will certainly make buyers think twice, unless they plan to do the work themselves, or hire an unlicensed contractor to do the project.

What do you think? Add your comments to the story on The Oakland Press web site.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rochester Hills Facebook page

If you go to and scroll down to the bottom, there are plenty of opinions being offered on both sides of a controversy over whether an online news site, The Rochester Citizen should be allowed to post news tags on the Rochester Hills DDA Facebook page.

Many of the comments seem to fall into the political divide that exists in most communities. But the debate is worth following:

One reader:

" If The Rochester Citizen was being promoted on the DDA site as a business by right-wingers, this discussion wouldn't even be taking place. It sounds to me like some conservatives feel threatened by what the The Rochester Citizen might say about them. Why else would they be trying to suppress free speech? "

Another said:

" A Facebook Fan page, supported by taxpayer dollars (DDA budget) is simply not the place to promote political ideaology either-way. If someone wants to promote their views, set up your own site. Its a free country. For those defending having this e-paper (with editorials) access, what would you say if some gross organization (neo-nazi's) set up a business. The DDA is not a privately funded organization and therefore has to be accountable to all residents. "

There are many more observations being posted. Join the debate.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Brooks hears the voice of the people

If you have any doubt about the speed of news today, then today's events should convince you that things have changed.

County Executive L.Brooks Patterson announced in the morning that he would challenge the state's new unfunded ban on smoking, the response on community web sites around the county was immediate and overwhelmingly negative, and Patterson announced that he would drop the plan. It all happened in about six hours

The Oakland Press received hundreds of comments and by 6 p.m. this was the top story with over 1400 hits.

Social media make the difference. The word spreads very quickly and people talk. But more importantly, those conversations are recorded and available for all to see.

Politicians can see what you are saying. And, if they have any sense, they will quickly respond.

Smoking ban, funding and enforcement

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson has jumped squarely into the middle of the smoking ban issue, and Oakland Press readers have a lot to say about it --

The are those who note the impact of the recently signed law that will ban smoking in bars and restaurangts:

" It won't be enforced because it will hurt commerce. Instead of stopping at the pub for a drink and a smoke, we'll all just go home and crack a cold one while sitting on our own backyard deck. "

Others point out that they have been looking forward to the ban:

" I don't see this ban causing a decrease in any business in the long term. I have gone to Olive Garden, BWW and when you say non smoking its a long wait but if I want smoking they can seat me right away. I understand the bars are a little different, but people will get sick of sitting at home and end up going to the bars again and just going outside to smoke, other states have succefully done it. Maybe I will actually go to a bar now, the non smokers can make up for the stubburn smokers did you ever think of that? "

However, Brooks is objecting to the law because it is unfunded by the state, which is against the law. Some readers support this stand, even if they agree with the ban:

"I do agree, however, with Mr. Patterson. The state puts this ban into law and then says the counties will police everyone. Our county health dept closes at 5:00 every day. Who is going to go into bars at 9 or 10 at night to see if people are smoking. Let the state lawmakers fund this law. This is just like the federal govt 'No Child Left Behind' that put tremendous expenses on each school district with no funding. Another great idea! "

"The county has 4,600 bars and restaurants in it and simply doesn't have the money or resources to effectively (and equally) police them all. Besides, the Headlee Amendment says that the state HAS to fund any mandates it imposes on localities, the local govt's can't be stuck with the cost. "

What do you think? Join the debate at

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Road rage

The suspected incident of road rage and shooting reported Monday in The OP,, is a good example of how far the problem can go.

While few of us advocate carrying weapons, and God forbid — using them, many who drive on the roads in SE Michigan can relate to feeling intimidated by road rage drivers.

There are just too many drivers who insist that their speed and manner of driving is the only correct one, and who do not hesitate to show their displeasure at those who do not keep up the pace.

Rarely a week goes by that someone is driving around me and wielding their vehicle like a weapon. This includes -- tailgating, weaving around slower traffic, cutting other drivers off, among other dangerous driving techniques.

My wife tells me I drive too slow, and I point out that I am the one following the speed limit.

Why should I be forced to break the law so that others may speed without obstructions? Why should I risk my neck when the weather is bad so that others can freely disregard their own and others' safety?

Monday, April 12, 2010

FBI raids on Militia

The FBI today released some of the evidence the agents collected in their raids March 27 in Michigan. Ohio and Indiana. The haul includes suspected illegal drugs, weapons, gas masks, ingredients and instructions that could be used in making explosives, and a book of Hitler's speeches.

The militia members arrested are accused of plotting to kill police and start an insurrection.

The story is interesting on its own, because if all this is true, we have revolutionaries among us. And, although they may not be very bright, they could very well be dangerous.

But it is doubly interesting because there are people who support the cause of militias, even if they do not support the call to violence.

There are others who suggest that plotting to kill police and actually doing so are somewhat far apart. Did the FBI move in too quickly? Of course, waiting too long in a case like this could have disastrous consequences.

This story also plays into the Constitutional debate that is raging around the county. Is this something the federal government should be doing, because it crosses state lines? Or is it a local police matter? After all, the threat was allegedly against local police.

And finally, there is the question of resources. When the drug war just across the southern US border is spilling across onto American locations and American lives are being lost, why aren't more agents focusing on that problem? One big argument for such a focus is that the drug lords are very well financed and they have gone way beyond plotting to kill police, they are doing so.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Granholm for Supreme Court?

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is already one of the names being bandied about for the US Supreme Court seat of Justice John Paul Stevens. It does fit in well with her schedule -- she is term-limited out of the governor seat. And she is a loyal, liberal Democrat and a lawyer and former state prosecutor. Beyond that though, what is she bringing to the table? She comes from a state that is at the bottom economically. It was also at the bottom when she started her two terms as governor and it is even further down at the end. Is that a qualification to be a top judge for the nation? Let's hope this is another case of always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

Stupak won't run

Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak's announcement today that he will not seek re-election is ironic. He is not running, but he is running away. For the first time he was catapulted into the national spotlight with his key vote on health care reform. What he did was gutsy. But he got a lot of flak for it -- from both Republicans and Democrats. Tea Party folks are planning events this weekend in Michigan to vet about his vote. He says the Tea Party is not forcing him out, but the timing makes it look like that is what is happening. Come on Bart. What did you go to Washington for? Wasn't it to stand up for what you believe?