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Business Owners, Residents Weigh in on Arts, Beats & Eats Parking

From a new parking station ordinance to the decision to eliminate volunteers, Arts, Beats & Eats is taking heat for changes in festival parking plans.

Business owners and residents are singing the blues over parking issues related to Arts, Beats & Eats (ABE).

With just over a week to go before the start of the Labor Day weekend festival, a new city ordinance, which requires businesses to obtain a parking station license, is frustrating local business owners. And, the decision to award a parking contract to a Detroit-based parking service has local volunteers feeling shut out.

Parking station ordinance riles business owners

A new parking station ordinance passed in June triggered lively public comment at Monday’s City Commission meeting with vocal businessmen telling Royal Oak officials just what they think of the new regulations.

Chuck Buttons, of , and Gayle Chinn, of were among those feeling confused and frustrated by the application process required to obtain a license to park cars during ABE.

Both men received a letter of denial to use their property to park cars during the festival.

“I’ve had a business in Royal Oak for over 43 years and I think I have been a good citizen,” Chinn said. "I don't mind jumping through a few hoops."

But after reading the ordinance and the "13-page application," Chinn confessed he was aggravated with city officials.

The city was quick to cash his check for the $185 application fee, he said, but took their time reviewing his application, and in the end turned him down.

“If I had one business do this to another business, I would call it fraud,” Chinn said. “I am very disappointed. I am not sure now what your rules are. I don’t think you know what your rules are.”

Attorney and former Royal Oak City Commissioner David Richards spoke on behalf of a client that applied for parking station licenses for 16 properties and got denied on all of them.

Of the 45 applications the city received all were rejected but one, according to Tim Thwing, director of planning.

Most applications submitted had deficient drawings or other correctable problems with their applications, said City Manager Don Johnson. If the problems are fixed they will eventually be approved, he said.

“We asked for specific things and we got everything from crayon drawings to aerial photos that don’t tell us anything,” Thwing said. Reviewing the applications are not a high priority for his department, he said.

City opts for a parking service over volunteers

In April, city officials decided to eliminate the volunteer parking program for ABE. Department of Public Services Director Greg Rassel, told commissioners the city can make more revenue by not working with volunteers, estimating volunteer costs are an additional $40,000 to the city. And, with the festival occurring on a holiday weekend, Rassel said there were always problems manning lots on Labor Day.

The city awarded the ABE parking contract to Park Rite, a Detroit-based company that operates nearly 60 locations in Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor.

"School related groups, like so many non-profit civic and service organizations, enjoyed working Arts, Beats & Eats parking and benefited greatly from the fundraising opportunity that was provided," said Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin. "We were disappointed and distressed when we got the news that this opportunity would not be available."

Athletic teams, band boosters, dance boosters, and the choir program were just some of the school groups that earned money at ABE in 2011. The girls volleyball team alone raised $1,820 parking cars.

"I am disappointed. It was an easy way to make money for the Upton PTA," said Jeff Eisenberg, who estimates Upton earned about $500 parking cars. "The $40,000 the city is saving was going to charity. It's sort of a cop out."

Judy Harnois and her husband John also parked cars last year to raise money for South Oakland Citizens for the Homeless.

"We thought it was great. The time went by fast," Harnois said. "I like a fundraiser where you don't feel like you are begging for money. And, it brought the community together - churches, PTAs, clubs - we were all together. I was looking forward to seeing people again."

Because some of the parking at ABE will occur in school district parking lots, the city worked to make volunteer opportunities available to school-related groups.  

"The earning potential this year is significantly less than it was last year, but when we went to them, the city did work with us to create an opportunity," said Lewis-Lakin.

Jon W August 27, 2012 at 04:18 AM
Sigh, please tell my WHY you have a "right" to know who's behind 400 Main LLC. Hell, my 5 year old pays taxes too. And you're a business owner, yeah, I mean really, so what?
Ronald Wolf August 27, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Any communications between commissioners, between petioners, applicants and commissioners regarding an agenda item before a meeting is a clear violation of MOMA (Michigan Open Meetings Act). Hard to prove but serious, this is why I would agree with you on the supoena of electronic texts etc with AB andE from CC Rasor. As for the rest I am confused as to where else you are going with this, especially involving the mayor whom I believe is trying his best to distance himself from the political poison that I believe will do more than just damage one political career.
E. Reyff August 27, 2012 at 04:56 AM
These guys are playing Russian roulette with the city's future. The millage request will be a hard sell without all this extra curricular baloney. The millage request doesn't stand a chance if the residents don't trust city hall. City hall has about ten weeks to restore trust and confidence, AND sell the millage. That's a tall order.
Ronald Wolf August 27, 2012 at 01:22 PM
John W: You miss my points entirely. In fact in that department your batting a thousand. I pity your five year old if you talk to him like you type on the internet. Get some therapy quick for your kids sake-will no longer respond to your bitter and inane remarks, and ask others not to encourage you.
Ronald Wolf August 27, 2012 at 01:42 PM
E Reyff, I fully understand your anger that I share at these situations which are prime examples of arrogance and misplaced loyalty. I am not thrilled with this administration but there are hard working deserving city employees who serve this community well every day whom you never hear from. They are the same people that maintain the ship of state despite the direction its being steered in by politicians. Its their jobs that will be placed in jeapordy and its residents like you and I and our families who will suffer when necessary milages caused by a national recession are voted against in pure frustration. "Illegitimi non carborundum"
Rick Karlowski August 27, 2012 at 02:57 PM
Why do citizens have a right to know who is behind the 400 Main LLC - 1.) Because the plan of operation for the hotel and liquor license is only as good as the owner. 2.) Because they are asking for public funds (via the DDA) for the development. 3.) Because the site is classified as special redevelopment, which requires the Planning Committee and City Commission - read public interest - to approve.
Tim Robinson August 27, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Ron, You compared Royal Oak to Nazi Germany. Seriously?
Ronald Wolf August 27, 2012 at 06:25 PM
Tim. You and I were not born, or old enough to realize the shameful history of Father; Coughlin, Henry Ford, and yes even our national hero Charles Lindberg, along with the "Black Legion" who tacitly agreed with Hitler and preyed on pre existing old as dirt church encouraged anti-semitism that existed along side Jim Crow and weekly lynchings in the south.However this not my point. Germany, a victimized by the economically punitive Versaille Treaty forgot its brilliant past history of music, philosophy and art and its many Jewish soldiers who fought for the Kaiser, who contributed to the culture and art of Berlin in the twenties etc. Yes, this was not sixteenth century Afghanistan, one in five Americans could trace their heritage to Germany. How could what happened happen. And yes, the Germans were thourough, the policy of "judenrein" was backed by German Law. It was all legal! Now today we have those who claim one of our commissioners did nothing illegal despite an ethics ORDINANCE which is a law that clearly spell out that there can be no conflict of interest when it comes to using your position in government for self enrichment.
Tom H. August 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Ron, please stay on point. Please don't hijack this discussion to Nazi Germany, the holocost, or anything else other than a fatcat city commissioner not doing right for the community. I agree with a lot of your points, but outrageous comparisons only distract and divert the discussion at hand. Start a new string if you want to go there, but not on this one, please. Let's stay focused that Rasor could have, and should have secured this parking lot for the city, but didn't. He secured it for himself, which goes against Provision 3 of the city's ethics ordinance We don't need to hash global history. thank you.
Tom H. August 27, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Ron, you give him more credit than I ever have. As far as I'm concerned, he has always been self serving, and narcisistic. A leopard's spots don't change.
Ronald Wolf August 27, 2012 at 07:19 PM
You are right, maybe I know a little too much history and wince a little too much when I see a similarity no matter how small of what happened then compared with a present situation. Shakespeare already covered the foibles of the human pyche pretty well. I agree with you about the need to stay on target. That this is a tragedy we need to purge and learn from is without question but it is not the end of the world.
Paula August 27, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Cheryl and Shrine Family, thank you so much for posting a portion of Royal Oak's ethics ordinance, and a link to the full ordinance. It deserves reposting: Section 3. FINDINGS. The City Commission finds that public office is held as a public trust. An elected or appointed City official is to use his or her powers to protect, advance, and promote the public interest, and not his or her personal interest. Any attempt to realize personal gain at the expense of the public interest is a violation of that trust. Accordingly, any elected or appointed City official shall avoid any action that might result in or create the appearance of using public office for private gain, or otherwise has an adverse effect on the public’s confidence in the integrity of the City, whether or not that action is specifically prohibited by this ordinance. Any of the few Rasor supporters that have showed their heads on this topic want to take a crack at reconciling the straight forward language of section 3 of the ethic's ordinance with Mr. Rasor's actions? Get ready for the cricket sound effects.
Mr. Creasoat August 27, 2012 at 09:28 PM
What kind of morons would turn over the keys of the city to a glorified carnival huckster allowing him to turn downtown into a drunken three ring circus and then run a protection racket to make sure he and a few of the chosen and well connected can line their pockets without any competition form long time local businessmen?
Tim Robinson August 27, 2012 at 09:30 PM
Yeah, that explains everything.
Tim Robinson August 27, 2012 at 09:40 PM
"Cricket sound effects?" Yeah, Paula, I'll take a crack. The section you've quoted shows the "findings" of the CC, and is not enforceable. You may want to look at sections 66-5 and -6.
Cheryl Loukinen August 27, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Dear Tim Robinson, you stoked my curiousity. I went back to the Ordinance 2009-11 document and for some reason it shows only up to section 15. To what document are you refering to when you wrote sections 66-5 and -6.
Cheryl Loukinen August 27, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Forget it found it. Reading it now. Good reading too I must say.
Mark Itall August 27, 2012 at 10:38 PM
What kind of "morons"? Your friends and neighbors, maybe even you.
john wieder August 27, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Hey - want to save the cash strapped city some time, money and grief? Call for Rasor's resignation.
Cheryl Loukinen August 27, 2012 at 11:16 PM
I looked at Chapter 66. Ethics (adopted by the CCof the City of RO 9-14-2009 by Ord#2009-11), and have some questions. (http:ecode360.com/13912258#13912312) Under subsection 6-3 Findings is the same. subsection 66-5 Conflicts of Interest ( i need some clarifications if someone can help) A(1) does 15% meet the financial benefit shared for public and the 85% personal. G Personal interest- need clarification I(1). Public Iinformation - need clarification subsection 66-6 was a suspected violation reported. Please clarify
Debbie Campbell August 28, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Thank you symes
Ronald Wolf August 28, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Hey you lawyers out there, how about a little anynomous help for Cheryl. I have come to the conclusion that this commission will not push for a conviction, no less report the situation to anyone outside this city. I myself have no idea where a diligent investigation will lead. First we need to organize, then we need to go to 12OO Oakland, find a way to "pierce the corporate veil" of 400 Main LLC, this can be accomplished but how? Any professional advice out there as in my lay opinion should be done to facilitate a request for a full investigation by an outside agency such as the State Police, the Bar Association, the State of Michigan just for starters. Any local television news investigators out there willing to help?
Lawson Park August 28, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Why limit to just "private" businesses? Some "private" individuals have far more money than some "private" businesses. How 'bout every elected official agree to allow random people to search their "private" homes and have them publish all their phone calls, including their voice mail and text messages. Of course email should be publicly and instantly available in real time ...
Gayle Chinn August 28, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Ronald Wolf, I agree with you 100%. Someone must have an axe to grind with Razor. Why is the ownership of 400 Main LLC shrouded in secrecy. I know some people know but I want absolute truth, not a made up story. COME ON PATCH, YOU CAN DO IT.
Lawson Park August 28, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Wow, this is s e r i o u s . Have you tried contacting the International Criminal Court in The Hague? Once you explain again how Nazi Germany is just like Royal Oak, I'm sure troops in blue helmets will swoop down and catch the bad guys.
Lawson Park August 28, 2012 at 02:13 AM
You want the absolute truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH! HAHAHAHA! Chinn, think: Where did you file your corporate papers? Hmmm? I wonder.
Ronald Wolf August 28, 2012 at 03:53 AM
Bad news to the little research I did regarding "piercing the corporate veil" it requires a judges order and get this: so far this has never been done in Michigan as the guidelines are stringent, in other words fraud, or other wrongdoing must be proven first which to me sounds like putting the cart before the horse. Also an LLC literally gives you a license to hide any proof that you have the assets necessary to develop what you propose providing you do not state anything regarding your ability to complete development to your investors, or in this case the city, or town you are applying to build in I guess. RO needs the advice of a qualified municipal attorney preferably from outside the city. If RO's Don Johnson accepted the 200 dollars to avoid the proof of transfer afidavit the city could be already screwed, I mean now obligated to do business with 400 Main LLC aka "pig in a poke" I would like to think the city if it WANTED to could refuse to give a permit to an LLC if it so chose, but I would think it would also have to refuse to accept the fine to overide the "PTA" with divulsion of principal owners. Any ideas from a real attorney in RO Please!
Gayle Chinn August 28, 2012 at 09:04 PM
To answer your question Mr. L Park. I filed my corporate papers with the State of Michigan in Lansing. This has nothing to do with the issue. Now the issue will be if, in fact, there were 42 applications turned with a paved, striped parking lot, who has been given a permit for the stogage lot on Lincoln and we know who was given a permit for Woodward / 696, neither of which have pavement or stripes. But the main issue is who owns 400 Main LLC, why is it a secret. Who selects the members for the DDA. What kind of benefits will 400 Main LLC receive, liquor license, restaurant, banquet facility, hotel. If there are partners involved, who are they? In an earlier posting someone mntioned (true or not) that the CRBE signs suddenly disappeared in Royal Oak. As a sidenote, the Chinn Jewelry Inc application was SUDDENLY approved today and we were notified to come and pick it up, which we did.
Cheryl Loukinen August 28, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Correction Gayle, CBRE signs are still on the buildings but the contact info on them disappeared this past sunday from the Downtown Royal Oak property lease/sale listing. I was talking to someone on saturday and we had the site up, went back on sunday and noticed the only info given was a 586#. Sunday i took a walk downtown and the CB Richare Ellis signs were still in window. Location was 108 & 110 E Fifth St. Family was looking to maybe start a retail business in area.
Cheryl Loukinen August 29, 2012 at 02:28 AM
Thank you Ron Wolf, well done, you crazy wolf. A true predetor. I am giving you a wink. Bravo to everyone who commented on this forum. I am going to start enjoying the ABE friday, I hope you all will too.

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