Yes on the millage

The proposed millage will benefit the Entire City of Royal Oak


This is the text from my public comments at last night's city commission meeting.


 In recent weeks there has been much discussion and comment in the various print and on line media regarding our city, the downtown, liquor licenses and public safety.
Much of the discussion has been heated and there are many half -truths, rumors,
innuendo and flat out false statements tossed around. But the one thing I think
that almost every citizen agrees on is this - we need more police and fire
staffing in our city.

And let’s be clear. This is about the entire city of Royal Oak, not just one particular area. This is not about bars or restaurants that serve alcohol; it is about
staffing to meet the needs of our city – the downtown business district and the
neighborhoods.  Woodward Avenue and Campbell Road.

The recent I C M A study suggested we need around 10 more employees in the police department to bring us up to minimum standard.  And that will not even get us close to where we were 10 years ago.  Our population has decreased but not that much.

The current tax dollars and cents don’t add up for the required staffing levels. I think the citizens that are properly informed will realize that our budget crisis is real and public safety costs continue to rise and a large part of this is legacy
costs. Those will not go away. Doing nothing would be bad, voting against the
millage will be worse. It is the only way we can provide the level of public
safety that we all want for Royal Oak.

Due to declining values it is no secret that property owners in Royal Oak are paying less taxes than we were five – 10  years ago. In some cases a lot less. 10 - 20 % since 2007. Now if we want to improve our public safety staffing we have to pay for it. You cannot expect to get more and pay less. This is not Wall Mart.  To their credit the police and fire unions have stepped up to the plate and given concessions in recent months – now it is our turn as citizens.  We are all in this together.

 City Manager Johnson and his team have done thorough job of presenting this proposal. A 5 year levy seems to be appropriate at this time. As we see property
values stabilize and even increase and perhaps there will be some relief for future
budget requirements. Being a real estate agent I can assure you that this is
happening. Home prices are moving higher and demand is great for Royal Oak….because of our neighborhoods, our schools, our parks and ..yes our downtown.


In reading and hearing all the comments about our downtown I cannot help but feel sad that there are those who say they will never vote for a public safety millage because the bars and restaurants are taking away from the neighborhood police patrols. Even if this was true -  and it is not – I have to ask why you would vote against something that is for the benefit of our Entire City. Stop with the 
US  vs. THEM attitude. We are all citizens and business owners in this town. Let’s work together.  

There are those out there who would like to make this a referendum on a liquor
licenses.  Well folks I got news for you, we already had that election and the citizens voted 2 to 1 against a moratorium.  Please move on already.  I don’t care if we had one liquor license or fifty in our city, we still would need the additional police staffing – for our Entire city.  The additional staffing should be
deployed in order to meet the needs throughout Royal Oak. 

I love this city. I have lived here for 36 years and owned 4 different homes. There are reasons why we stayed in Royal Oak as I mentioned before. My wife and I have also owned a business in downtown Royal Oak at a time when we could only dream about what it looks like today. Vibrant, exciting, alive and a great place to bring family and friends. I do not deny that there are problems and challenges with the growth we have experienced but I think the city commission has done a fine job of considering each and every request put before them on an individual basis and looked at all the facts when making a decision. 
I applaud you for the hard work and thoughtful, civil discussions.  Yes there are some valid arguments about the number of Liquor Licenses and the concentration of establishments. This discussion should be on-going and I implore the commission to consider carefully any future requests. But to hold that as the reason to vote against this millage is to ignore the real need we have today.  It would be shortsighted, selfish and irresponsible.

The city workers have done their part. The City manager and his staff have done the homework and laid out a plan. Now it is time for us to chip in.

I enthusiastically support a proposed public safety millage. 

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.

Ronald Wolf July 19, 2012 at 08:21 AM
I agree with you almost totally Mike and I would like to make it clear that the maintaining of the status quo is not my wish. Contrary to what many including yourself think of me I am all for progress with planning. I also appreciate the hard research Mayor Ellison did on the Kroger issue that I believe could have been resolved from the get go if there were not so many assumptions on both sides of the fence. You see what screws things up is when a leader trys to be all things to all people, or is ethically questoned for taking campaign contributions for which return favors are expected is the belief that he or she is infallible. It is unfortuanately a fact that the laissez faire commission and mayor, and even our silent city manager who has the qualifications to do his job has refused to go against special interest influence and address the exploding bar crowds that will someday reach critical mass and backfire as our downtown is transformed into a party bus alcohol fueled tenderloin where retail closes early. (to be continued)-
Ronald Wolf July 19, 2012 at 09:06 AM
From the mega bars to the now every night bike night the drain on public safety has become intolerable and the resulting crowds have also affected affected adjacent neighborhoods that even the rats now find attractive (dirty but not entirely stupid creatures). RO is no longer the lonely whistlestop it once was not so long ago. The question is whether it has already reached its zenith, or will it take another path determined by non resident bar owners, and developers whose contributions are eagerly accepted by our decision makers. While we are paying less in property taxes rents have skyrocketed to a point where young professionals are retreating to Birmingham as diminished personal income negates the savings Mike purports. In other words RO is experiencing a bubble and the next train coming down the track is our seriously in the red education budget plagued by the same costs of pensions and healthcare that weigh down public safety. Does anyone listen to Bill Shaw one of our most qualified citizens who does his homework, has a plan and has been waving a red lantern for over two years now? As for our parks thank RO's dedicated employees and volunteers. Our Stardream Fountain, Royal Oaks ONLY downtown water attraction. its park and market are both neglected, outdated and need a facelift that will in turn help make our downtown more attractive for families. RO citizens do not pay taxes only to accomodate motorcycles and drunks. Where is our leaderhip? That is the big question?
Ronald Wolf July 19, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Because we cannot cut off our nose to spite our face I support the public safety milage and we simply cannot ignore the upcoming school milage increase request for the sake of our children However, I must in retrospect point out where I STRONGLY disagree with Mike Rapinski. #1. This ALL about the bars and abuse of the right to serve alcohol by more than a few. 2. We are NOT ALL participating. The only time the mostly non resident bar owners participate is during a political campaign when they can be assured their voice will be heard. Remember the old adage about the power of money? 3. The DDA I was told cannot pay for more than two officers, and do they pay for their full yearly salary and benefits would be my first question. More pertinent is that these are two less officers available for our neighborhoods at a time they are most needed. During any incident two officers downtown are just a drop in our expense bucket. EMS ambulance and engine, having up to seven cars respond. Having the need for for outside police during such incidents, not including St.Patrick's Day, Dream Cruise, or AB&E where we paid four Oakland county Sheriffs eighty dollars an hour, or on any warm summer's night when you would think we have the largest population of any Michigan city by the line up of RO private tinted window party busses with so many motorcycles one would think every household has at least two. All party buses pay NOTHING for parking resulting in a of revenue. Wake up!
The Duke of Royal Oak July 20, 2012 at 01:27 PM
Mr Wolf very well said!
The Duke of Royal Oak July 20, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Perhaps a couple of town hall meetings are needed with the City Commission, Mayor,Police Chief and Fire Chief would help to clarify the facts. There seems to be a lot of confusion on what is needed by the police and fire departments, and exactly what, if any, the effect of alcohol establishments are having on the city as a whole. I do know that the police chief has recommended against more alcohol establishments, yet the city commission has not taken his recommendation.
Mike Ripinski July 20, 2012 at 03:26 PM
@ DT - the city commission acts after a recommendation from the LLC committee. There are 37 review items that the LLC committee looks at including business plan and past performance of license applicant. Only 2 of the 37 items are related to police requirements / staffing. To better understand the process I suggest reading the city license requiremenrs on the City of Royal Oak web site.
H. Flanagan July 20, 2012 at 06:00 PM
In referring to the liquor ordinance, Mike, why don't you ever address whether the city commission is following the statement of purpose of the liquor ordinance? The statement of purpose clearly calls for limiting additional liquor licenses. How do you suggest the city commission become compliant with the statement of purpose of the liquor ordinance. Should they be following it, or at least, amend it to encourage more bars. I get frustrated when government doesn't follow its own rules, and ordinances.
Dan F. July 20, 2012 at 11:09 PM
"To better understand the process I suggest reading the city license requiremenrs on the City of Royal Oak web site." Since you are so familiar with the liquor ordinance, I would suggest you read the Statement of Purpose of the liquor ordinance. That's kind of like the mission statement of the ordinance. You have no credibility when you skip over this most important part of the document. It actually lays out the plan , or strategy of the city, and how to properly utilize the 37 review items that you refer to. The discussion needs to start there, not conveinantly skipping over this important part of the document.
D. Webb July 23, 2012 at 04:26 PM
I'm just catching up on this series and issue. Was out of state for a work assignment for the three months. I've noticed that every time Mr. Ripinski has been asked to comment on the Statement of Purpose of the liquor license, he doesn't respond, nor did Mr. Esbri, or Mr. Warheit. I'm assumming it's because they don't have a good answer as to why the city commission isn't following the ordinance. I also noted that no one has refuted that the city's police force is down 40+%, the population is down 10%, the city attorney's office has been reduced by over 50%, since the 1990's, yet the number of bars continue to increase. No one has taken on why the past and current police chief's recommendations for denial for additional bars is constantly ignored by a majority of the city commission. Heck, Chief Quisenberry was recommending denials in 2002 when the city had less bars and over 100 police officers.


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