GPW Truth: Woods' council on history-making video!

Headlee Override opposition at GPWoods city council meeting videotaped for You Tube. Check it out.

For years Grosse Pointe Woods Mayor Robert Novitke and his side-kick, council member and Mayor Pro-Tem Vickie Granger, have vehemently resisted televising the city's bi-monthly council meetings on cable TV.

They repeatedly have regurgitated all sorts of excuses like, "It's too expensive" and "It would just create a stage for council members and residents to put on a show." I know that because, as a former council member, I sat in on some of those stupid conversations.

Well, guess what happened Monday night (April 16) at the Woods' council's public session? A brave citizen turned up with a video camera and couple of tripods to exercise her right under the Freedom of Information Act, made history of sorts by video recording the proceedings for the first time, and posted it on You Tube.

And whahooo! Did it make a difference! I can attest to that, too, because I was there as a speaker, which also is quite uncommon since Mayor Novike normally declares enough "recesses" (read, cigarette breaks) to discourge any but the most determined citizens from sticking around until late evening to participate in the "New Business"  section of the published agenda.

"New Business?" Yes, that's what residents' comments come under when they want to exercise their right to get up and express their views.

Let's get this straight. Under the restrictive rules set up by Mayor-for-Life Novitke, there is room for "Public Comment" on the Woods' council agenda. Citizens are not informed that "New Business" is a synonym for "public comment." The reason? Intimidation. Keep citizens guessing and maybe they'll go away.

But back to the video-taped Monday meeting.

The Woods council wants the taxpayers to give them a $1.2 million annual blank check windfall called a Headlee Override. They cry that they need the money to "fix roads" etc. Three former Woods council members, each of whom refused to run again for a Novitke-dominated council, came to speak our minds and ask him to tool up a ballot proposal for a dedicated roads millage instead of a Headlee bailout.

If you get a chance, watch the video on You Tube. It's very interesting.

Normally, when anyone wants to speak to the council, Mayor Novitke polls the council and asks if any of our elected members "objects" to listening to the speaker. Isn't that incredible? "Objects?" And if any one of the seven - Novitke's just one council vote, you know - says they object, the speaker essentially gets told to shut up and stop making waves.

If approved to speak, the citizen sternly is informed that he/she must address all comments only to the Chair (Novitke) and that no council member will respond to any questions put directly to them. Hey, a piece of cake. Come and complain, we'll listen, and then we'll tell you to take two asperins and someone will call you next week. Maybe.

Well, I cut Mayor Novitke off when I rose to speak. I told him I understood all that pre-comment nonsense (after four years on the council listening to him scold taxpayers with those admonitions) and what a change! He dispensed with the admonitions!

The camera was grinding, or whatever video cameras do these days, and  Novitke and Mayor Pro Tem Granger and the rest of the council just sat there, furiously scribbling notes and actually trying to look intelligent - for the carmera, of course.

Former council members Lisa Pinkos Howle and Joe Sucher and former Planning Commission member Nancy Hames all rose to speak against the Headlee Override proposal ,too. And they got the same disinterested attention from a seething mayor and mayor pro tem.

But the video was made. And there will be more. They better get used to it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gloria April 17, 2012 at 07:36 PM
Attached are the links to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I219PzLuQk&feature=youtu.be Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u-tHxdRUpo&feature=youtu.be Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKc8p54EbdI&feature=youtu.be
Lisa Pinkos Howle April 17, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Finally! The Grosse Pointe Woods City Council meetings will be available for all to view. This is fantastic and long overdue. Thanks to our videographer. You rock.
Patti Kukula Chylinski April 17, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Wow great job. Brillant move especially at this critical time in the budget.
David Hensley April 18, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Thanks to the person that taped the meeting and put it on Youtube! It is appreciated and keep it up! Also, thanks to Mr. Waldmeir, other ex-council members, and others who are speaking up in opposition to the override! I believe that you are speaking for a majority of the GPW residents.
Gloria April 18, 2012 at 05:18 PM
Thanks to all that commented on the video. I am not a professional videographer but a very concerned citizen. I feel compelled to help in anyway I can in getting the word out to stop further tax increases with "Headlee Override". I applaud every ones efforts that oppose this tax. I am not a public speaker. However, what I can offer is help to get the word out using the tools at hand with YouTube videos and social media. Please forward the links to your friends and neighbors so their opposition can be heard. It was so sad to see how few members of the council actually gave their full attention to the speakers who are passionate about their cause. "We the people"... they should remember those words! PLEASE EMAIL: noblankcheck@gmail.com if you oppose this tax increase!
Lisa Pinkos Howle April 20, 2012 at 01:58 AM
Gloria: You are to be commended for stepping up and being the brave person behind the camera. I can't tell you how many emails I've received from folks curious about who was smart and confident enough to videotape. You are a hero. You may have changed the way the City operates (for the better).
Joseph Sucher April 24, 2012 at 08:00 PM
I believe in the value of taping and airing Council meetings. Quite simply, it opens up another line of communication. A convenient way of seeing the council making decisions is opened to residents. Obviously televising council meetings improves transparency. It has in other municipalities. It never has reduced transparency. Citizens can see government in action. Armed with better information, citizens can make make better decisions. The news media quotes over and over poll results showing the poor level of trust in government. Video coverage of council activity may show these poll results may not apply here. Check out the videos and decide for yourself.
Gloria April 30, 2012 at 06:43 PM
At the recent Committee of the Whole meeting in Grosse Pointe Woods on Monday April 23rd, the Council agreed to float a 4.9 million dollar bond to be paid for by water rate increases. The next increase is slated to be around 2%. Residents may have noticed a sharp increase recently. That was purposely done to make this new increase less painful according to the Council. The money will be used for sewer infrastructure repair. The discussion was rather brief but we taped all the comments. Also, in an unexpected turn of events, the Council met in council chambers where members of the public feel more comfortable instead of in a very small conference room across the hall. We were disappointed that the sound system was not turned on and the audio is very poor. As a member of the audience, it was very difficult to hear. On the other hand, we think our videotaping has encouraged this Council to move to the more public-friendly venue and to even include “public comment” in its agenda. This was never before the case. We are pleased with our rapid progress so far and hope you enjoy watching the meetings from the comfort of your own home. For better sound quality please wear your head phones!
Gloria April 30, 2012 at 06:43 PM
The links are: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPGAVIqfyTU Public Comment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uq00DCFa9lc Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27Xzr5zMDpc Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mUh496vg88A Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NEVDlLqWHEw Part 4
Lisa Pinkos Howle April 30, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Thanks again Gloria! I especially like the "public comments" section and appreciate that you split that out.
paul June 14, 2012 at 07:15 PM
Could this be the end?Might people actually be shown some respect?No more screaming"That's a lie!"A new proactive leadership?More police rather than parties?A safer city?You bet!
V. Scheurich September 14, 2012 at 09:01 PM
This November....vote NO on all the proposals. Hands off changing our Constitution! There is absolutely no need to change our Michigan Constitution .....unless there is a sinister agenda at a later date! Click on the link below and find out what they are: http://handsoffourconstitution.com/


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