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Grosse Pointe Woods Truth: No blank check!

Three former Grosse Pointe Woods city council members have reunited to oppose a Headlee Override tax increase proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot. Here's the first of a series of articles.

When is the last time you gave a group of politicians a blank check?

Come to think of it, when is the last time--if ever--that you gave your checkbook to strangers who promised that they'd spend your money wisely, but they couldn't guarantee that they'd spend it on the things you wanted done?

Welcome to the upcoming ' city council's .

In the months ahead--perhaps even in the weeks ahead--residents of Gross Pointe Woods will be bombarded with misinformation, asking them to vote for a massive 3.6 mill tax increase called a "Headlee Override" that will give our city council and administration a blank check to spend millions of our hard-earned bucks as they choose.

They will assure beleaguered taxpayers that they need all that money--the city treasurer estimates that the tax increase will produce an extra $1.2 million in the first year alone--right now, to fix our crumbling streets and ensure our public safety.

They will ask us--nay, they will beg us--to trust them to deliver what they promise. They will paint dreadful pictures of senior citizens not having ambulances "available in 90 seconds" (quoting council member Vickie Granger), of garbage littering our neighborhoods, of snow blocking our pavement and sidewalks. You name it, they'll use every scare tactic in the book to try to convince us to fill their multi-million dollar coffers with even more money to spend.

Most appeals like this are crafted so there is a shred of truth in the pitch. We all want good roads and many of ours are in serious disrepair. All of us want dependable police and fire that we can count on to respond in threatening situations. And most of all, residents want to believe that our public servants--the ones that we've elected, anyway--are basically honest folks with our best intentions at heart.

The problem lies not in whether these expenditures are required or needed. They are. The sad situation in Grosse Pointe Woods is that because of the incompetent manner in which they have mishandled, misspent or just lost so much of our money in the past, our leaders are suffering from a severe shortage of that priceless commodity called "trust."

What they don't want to tell you is that there is a much surer way to provide the funding specifically to fix trashy streets and ensure a high level of public safety. They want a millage? Ask us to fund streets and public safety--and only streets and public safety--in a dedicated millage proposal, not a blank check Headlee Override.

A Headlee Override is a bailout that is forever. No matter what they tell you, they cannot earmark 10 cents of the $1.2 million added windfall they seek for road repairs or any other specific project. The law will not allow it. And once they start getting it, no matter what they promise, they'll never roll it back.

Give them the 3.6 mills or 4.0 mills as they ask and you'll be giving them $360 to $400 more every year for every $100,000 of your property's assessed taxable value. Get out your tax bill and do the math. Even if your assessed taxable value has dropped recently,  a 4 mill Headlee Override will be added to your tax bill for years to come.

Mayor Bob Novitke and his council cronies, of course, will disagree with this assessment. They've already got their in-house flack, Council member and marketing pro Kevin Ketels, hustling to create a high-powered sales pitch. And count on them to raise and spend a fortune on ads and direct mail appeals to try to convince Grosse Pointe Woods taxpayers to favor the Override in November, or possibly even as early as August.

There are elections scheduled for both months and the irony is that the council doesn't need a single petition signature to get the Override on the either ballot. They have the absolute power to just put it there.

This blog may have my name in it, but . We all left office voluntarily after a combined total of 16 frustrating years of battling the windmill that is Woods City Hall politics.

We have nothing to gain. Each of us was fed up with the autocratic leadership of the Novitke administration and left in disgust. When this Headlee Override shell game was proposed, however, we all felt that we would be shirking the trust that voters had in us in years past if we did not reunite, come forward and try at least to keep the present council's tax-increase campaign honest.

If you want to help, need more info or just want to give us a heads up on how you or your neighbors feel about this tax increase, our email address is noblankcheck@gmail.com. Comments on Patch always are welcome.

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 May 02, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Wonderful information Joe... Glad the Ford Foundation funded a critical report! I will email you for a copy!
Gloria May 11, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Updated videos from May 7th Grosse Pointe Woods Council meetings: 2012-05-08_GPW-COW-Headlee.mp4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tBp6F4kC6I&feature=youtu.be GPW City Council - HO - road construction bonds 2012_05_07.mp4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9ZjD5pUAN4&feature=channel&list=UL
paul September 10, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Zero tolerance for all crime first.Police everywhere you turn.Send a message that this is not a good place to be if you plan on causing any crime.Make citizens safe feel safe or they will continue to move.Build Mack with diversity and not just anything.No we do not want high rises as has been said.We want a city with a plan.It's called being pro active.We would not be in this mess if people had this type of communication years ago.
paul September 17, 2012 at 06:33 PM
You are correct sir.Public safety is a first priority.Maybe because the mayor works elsewhere he must think all is well.Put police everywhere.Criminals rarely go where police are every place you turn.Put them at every city entrance.On the bikes too.Undercover police also.It is safety or an empty city.Open the books,there is plenty of money.Crime always goes up in a bad economy.So what did city hall do?They cut police protection.Real smart.
paul October 17, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Here's whats more insulting.The unwillingness to deal with crime and commit a good portion of this tax money to public safety.In one week we have had a car broken into with the intent to steal it,a stolen patio umbrella in full daylight,a guy peeing on the wall and today a guy who stole from C.V.S.running across the street into Verizon and stealing more then fleeing out the back.Lucky that the police caught him but it is just another clear sign of city halls unwillingness to step up and save this city.A sign of the times?How about poor leadership.They claim there's no money.Really?Let any successful business person check out the city books and I will bet there's plenty for public safety.It might mean no parties or fireworks for a while but too bad.A local jeweler now employs 2 armed officers to protect them.What's next?Just watch folks.Shame on our very own Strom Thurmon for not doing what is right in the name of ego.A great leader would find a way to send a clear message to stop this decay and return the Woods to a safe place to live.

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