Tom Stone’s succinct letter (Clarkston News, September 22, 2021) asks, “What’s happening in the Village?”
All ten of Tom’s “why” questions point to a lack of council leadership. Most of Tom’s “why” questions have been asked in the public comments portion of council meetings. Mayor Eric Haven will not answer directly and responds, “We are not required to answer….” When asked in the September 27, 2021 council meeting to clarify his “West Bloomfield” comment in the September 14, 2021 Historic District Commission meeting, he first denied making the comment, and when challenged, responded with “no comment.”
Mayor Haven has served as council member for several years and mayor in recent years. His service has included the five years under the cloud of the 18 FOIA documents withheld until the Michigan Supreme Court ruled against the city.
The mayor has proposed no solutions to the city’s financial challenges. One third of the city’s current property tax millage is for bond debt repayment from 2000 and 2007. As mayor, he sits on the city’s Finance Committee which develops the proposed yearly budget. He acknowledges he does not understand and has demonstrated no interest in learning causes and potential solutions to the city’s financial dilemma.
It is evident the city has struggled with insufficient revenue to repair streets and sidewalks. The roads assessment report and capital improvement plan outline future years’ anticipated capital expenses. No major street repair is included in the current budget. The city is approaching the third year without sidewalk repairs. The current capital expense budget is one-fifth of last years. The city manager and city treasurer explain the city has insufficient funds.
More than two years ago, in August 2019, the city manager outlined a constrained budget due to concerns over potential damages from the Bisio FOIA 18 withheld documents suit going before the Michigan Supreme Court. The city avoided receivership by utilizing city and city attorney professional liability insurances suggested by a citizen in September 2020. City employees are not being provided sufficient funds to do their jobs as expected by citizen taxpayers.
The mayor must view the condition of Clarkston Road approaching North Main as “authentic” and consider the unsafe sidewalks as contributing to the “brand” and “charm” of the Village. Otherwise, he would have acted to remedy these conditions.
The mayor is supporting the election of an incumbent council person he brought to council in June of 2020 and two write-in candidates who he has enlisted since the election filing deadline. I see no reason to trust the mayor’s judgment in his election recommendations.