Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Still waiting...

[Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2010 edition of Ferndale Friends]
Among other provisions The First Amendment guarantees is the right to, “… petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  July was a busy month for redressing Ferndale’s city council as two petitions were being circulated; one to repeal an ordinance and another to amend one.

The latest word on the petition to amend Ferndale’s sound ordinance initiated by Troy Street residents is that it has been suspended (or slowed) while petition organizers arrange to meet with councilwoman Melanie Piana and Mayor Craig Covey.  Troy resident Sherry Wells has appeared multiple times before council complaining about the sound level of music from Rosie O’Grady’s and other downtown hot-spots interrupting her and her daughter’s sleep.  The copy of the petition I read didn’t include any recommendations on dealing with the parking, discarded prophylactics, drug paraphernalia, and other Animal House debris that accompanies the DDA’s master plan. 

Wells’ most recent visit to city hall brought an interesting comment from Mayor Craig Covey.  After congratulating Rosie’s late-night patrons for practicing safe sex, the mayor suggested Ms. Wells use an electric fan to drown-out the noise--just like he does.

Apparently, the mayor uses a really BIG fan that drowns-out a LOT of noise.  So much noise, in fact, someone broke-in to his house, stole items from his bedroom, and made their getaway in His Honor’s own hybrid SUV.  Even criminals, it seems, are as interested in free-parking downtown as they are free plasma televisions and jewelry.

The other petition repealed ordinance 1094, passed by council at their June 12th meeting, over the objections of a very animated councilman Mike Lennon.  That suspended ordinance read in-part, “The Division of Law and Records [Clerk] and Division of Safety [Police and Fire] … shall be under the supervision, direction and control of the City Manager.”

Councilwomen Melanie Piana and Kate Baker both said it was a good idea because “modern” cities like Madison Heights, Hazel Park, and Oak Park do it, so Ferndale should, too.  Modeling Ferndale after any city other than San Francisco caught a lot of residents off-guard.  In just 22 days, petition circulators gathered 400 signatures from shocked voters which were turned-in four-days early by petition organizer Tiffani Gagné (Hi, honey!  If your name is misspelled it’s Steffie’s fault).  Only 266 signatures were required, but Mrs. Gagné believes anything worth doing is worth over-doing (Who loves ‘ya, babe?).

By the time you read this city council will have likely insisted to wear their “pants on the ground” and be like other cities—when it suits them—and the question about 1094’s adoption will become a matter for voters to decide in November.  Perhaps by then, city council persons will have come up with better reasons for the ordinance than, “all the other kids are doing it” and “the other kids are making fun of me.”  If responsible moms won’t accept that argument for getting a tattoo or body-piercing I don’t see why voters should accept it for revising the charter.

A (not-so) quick story

I’ve barely used-up half of my 900-word column and so have extra room for the “quick story” section.

On coming home one evening I spotted a well-known Democratic candidate going door-to-door on our street.  I noticed them leave one neighbor’s porch, skip our house, and head to another neighbor’s porch.  As I pulled-in to my driveway I yelled out the window to the candidate and encouraged them to stop by the house as soon as they finished the house whose porch they were stepping-on to.  After exchanging a few welcoming words that were responded to with a quizzical look I was confident they understood the invitation.

Excited they would be coming over I ran inside the house.  Having done the door-to-door thing in hot weather I knew they’d be thirsty.  I filled a big bowl with ice, water bottles, and Diet Pepsi™ (a favorite of mine), threw a cloth napkin over a small table on our front-porch, pulled up two chairs, and waited.

And waited.

After several minutes passed I saw them cross the street to visit Nancy Goedert’s house (former Mayor Goedert’s mom).  I thought to myself, “Well, of course they’d visit Nancy!  Why would a Democrat come this far up West Woodland and not check to see if Nancy’s home?”

They entered Nancy’s house and I waited.

And waited.

I ended-up drinking both Pepsis™.  Eventually I gave-up my vigil on the porch and moved inside hoping for the door-bell.

That was weeks ago.  I’ve sent two emails since.  No response.  But I'm not waiting.

I share this story to remind people that voters are responsible for partisan gridlock.  They’re responsible for electing politicians that define themselves as partisans first and will deliberately turn aside an invitation to reach out and share their views or listen to ideas dissimilar to their own.  This is the last frontier of diversity Ferndale needs to conquer.  Americans can’t change the partisan divide in one election, but they can start by electing better council persons and county commissioners.  Local politicians become county, state, and even federal representatives.

In this city, you know who you’re voting for.  If they’re not the kind of politician you’d respect if they were on the other side, then you shouldn’t elect them to represent yours.

Depending on the outcome of the August Democratic primary, I may reveal that candidate’s name.

If you want to take a guess at who that candidate is or have a short story you think would make a great tag-ending to this column, write me at