Glass parking lot lawyers should not cast stones.

Royal Oak requests your presence at city hall Mon. Jan. 28th 7:30. Re:.The strengthening of ethics by oath or affirmation.

I am sure that anyone willing to work on our Royal Oak Commission for a pitance must be altruistic, have a bloated ego, or have an ulterior motive such as business. I believe it is former commissioner Terry Drinkwine who stated the major motive has to be ego. Another example was Romney who certainly did not need the job, with an income and ego that stretched from the Cayman Islands to Switzerland.

Thanks to Jim Rasor, commissioner, lawyer, advisor, activist and businessman we poor residents, recent and late, of all ages and incomes are still arguing with his attempt to take advantage of his position and acumen in handling business requests that come before the commission and boards he sits on. May I add with all the fiduciary responsibility of an elected official. Though his business card states that among his legal specialties handled by" Rasor Law and Associates" are government relations, which if put together with his elected position makes him an obvious go to attorney for advice on how to handle any conflict, or request from the city.

One would think that attorney Rasor would be well aware that as an elected official that any business activity he chooses to go into that competes with a city contracted, or owned business such as parking would be held to scrutinization, and judged as a conflict of interest .Hypothetically, if Mr.Razor instead decided to open a Mexican Restaurant while that would not compete our city it would still be looked askance at for taking advantage of his position by already established El Diablo, or Sangria, especially if it included a liquor license. 

In the past parking lots have not been seen as more than marginally profitable but that was not until  lucretive Arts, Beats, and Eats with parking at fifteen dollars a spot arrived and was added to the Dream Cruise, St.Patricks Day, and the weekend party bus blitz. Mr. Rasor may consider his charging for the limited parking on his property being permitted as not being any different from the Fresard property which he found available not entirely on his own, but co-incidentally when involved with a proposed hotel going before his position as  commissioner that he knew would compete with city owned and privately owned lots. I have heard of a similar complicated alleged conflict occurence by a lawyer/councilman now mayor in Pontiac.  A city with a long history of payoffs and corruption that Royal Oak has fortunately not emulated as yet.

As Patricia Capello, supported by Goodwin and Poulton aptly pointed out, the so called investigation of Fresard amounted to nothing more than an opinion based on superficial information taken by phone and was incomplete to say the least.

I commend the courage of Patricia Cappello, and have nothing but contempt for not only the lack of action by Mayor Ellison, but his ridicule and demeaning treatment of Capello and Goodwin.  Under the circumstances of a hostile majority on the rules committee (Rasor, Ellison, vs  Capello sympathetic Poulton)  Mr. Rasor is apparently encouraged to fight on for his right to open a parking business in Royal Oak despite his conflicting positions and in my lay opinion is abusing his legal profession to threaten not only Geoffrey Vasquez with a defamation suit, but also to pursue the legality of enforcing Patricia Cappello's proposed ethics oath, or affirmation which our mayor and Rasor's political ally is also oppossed against. He may in my opinion soon announce his intention to pursue a costly suit against the city he is sworn to serve if he does not get HIS way.

I am not an attorney, but to my knowledge no city, or person has ever been accused of the crime of taking an oath, or affirmation that he or she is without conflict with an issue appearing before a commission or board of which they are a member.  A violation of an oath or affirmation may not be punishable per se according to our charter but it does serve to put on notice any commissioner, or board member who may have a conflict to think twice before deciding to vote on an issue. If there is any doubt the elected, or appointed official has on a possibiity of conflict he/she should recuse from voting. 

In other words oath, or no oath a violation is a violation that can be prosecuted as an ordinance violation if the majority of the commission sees fit.

I can see each commissioner taking turn each meeting to read the oath/affirmation of non conflict, and the rest of the commission raising their right hand volunterally until the charter is amended to make it mandatory. Anyone who refuses in my opinion and wishes to contest the ordinance should under a revised charter be suspended without pay from the board until a legal decision (not opinion) is made in a court of law.  This includes all elected and appointed. ALL!

Presently Governor Snyder has announced more or less that with all the problems so many jurisdictions, and government levels have with ethical behaviors from Wayne County, to Detroit, to Lansing that he intends to see that ethics in local government becomes a state wide issue. To encourage whistle blowers the whistle blower laws must be strengthened regarding public officials threatening eonomically damaging defamation suits.

I would hope that if Mr.Rasor takes this issue to court on his own that the city will hold him or any other culpable official responsible for any legal costs incurred by the city if the case is dismissed or lost. This needs to be added to any charter revision as well. This would protect against frivilous lawsuit threats to obtain submission to a plaintiff's will. 



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Linda O January 31, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Ted... you provcative charmer you!
Debbie Campbell January 31, 2013 at 02:07 AM
http://www.ci.royal-oak.mi.us/portal/webfm_send/454 CHARTER CHAPTER THREE Form of Government Section 16. The Manager shall be the chief administrative officer of the City. He shall bechosen by the Commission solely on the basis of his executive and administrative qualifications, and shall, during his term of office, reside in the City of Royal Oak; provided, however, he shall be a citizen of the United States of America and shall have attained the age of 25 years. Now I have 2 questions for you: *Why do you suppose RO's founders believed the City Manager's residency to be important? *Do you believe that not 1 of the City’s 57,000 residents would be qualified to fill the Manager position?
THEODORE GIBSON January 31, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Debbie - that is a good find. I am too lazy to look so thank you. I don't think it should necessarily be a rule, but if it's on the books, it should be either enforced or repealed. I think DJ's a smart city manager and does a good job. My responses: There are great reasons for this - I grant you that. That said, the elections of individuals who could fire the city manager should serve as a deterrent from him getting to liberal with our money. Whether he lived here or not, it would be in his best interest to spend the city's money if that was his only source of income. Yes, he might conceivably tax himself a little less if he lived here though, but he'd always want to make a higher gross salary, even if it means a little more in taxes. 2. I don't know about this - I assume with the right training, hundreds of RO residents could fulfill this job eventually. Probably not though if one had to be hired tomorrow. There are a lot of responsibilities here, and this knowledge doesn't come without experience. That said, I'm sure plenty of city managers from other places would move here for this job and they would happily live here and contribute to our taxbase. Any idea why none of the Commissioners are doing something about this?
Bob January 31, 2013 at 01:36 PM
When Mr. Johnson took the job. The housing market was in the toilet. He would have took a huge loss just to take the position. I can understand why the Commission has cut him slack on this.
Bob January 31, 2013 at 01:49 PM
So eager to raise taxes on working people and their families. Will I receive a corresponding cut to my property tax? I hope you aren't exempting yourself from this income tax. The non-resident income tax rate can not be in excess of one-half the resident income tax rate. You need to change state law to make them equivalent. The list of Michigan cities that impose an income tax is riddled with failures. All you will do is drive families out of town. Welcome to Pottersville. If you are going through the trouble of changing state law, how about changing the law that would allow us to implement a per drink tax? You just have to beat the liquor lobby is all. There is no way the income tax rule will change. Why should a non-resident pay the same as a resident? They don't live in the community. Business can relocate just like a resident. The hospital can stop expanding and adding specialty health services. They have plenty of room to grow on the border of Troy and Sterling Heights.
Ray Smith January 31, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Like Bob said, I believe that as a result of the housing crash, the Commission has given Johnson some leeway on this. Also, I do see Johnson around town from time to time for various events--not a lot, but some.
John W. January 31, 2013 at 05:21 PM
I've live here for nearly 50 years and this is the first city manager that hasn't resided in Royal Oak. He is paid a tremendous amount of money to do the job, and I want someone who lives. works, and sleeps here doing the job. He can't possibly know what is going on in the neighborhoods by sitting in his office at city hall. He is never in the community when things get rowdy in the downtown after midnight, and that happens all the time. Enough excuses. Move here, Mr. Johnson, or let's find someone willing to invest in our community to be city manager. Is Royal Oak not good enough for the Johnson's?
John W. January 31, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Ted, why isn't the city following the charter on the city manager residency requirement? Why isn't the city commission following the city charter amendment calling for minimum staffing in the fire department. The people passed a vote supporting it, and amending the charter for mimimum staffing?
Bill Shaw January 31, 2013 at 05:54 PM
Debbie Campbell Per your comments: Present status of City Manager Donald Johnson’s employment agreement dated 15th day of February 2010,mainly Section 11. Moving and Relocation Expense’s. “Johnson has offered to establish residence within the corporate boundaries of the City of Royal Oak within a reasonable period after the date of this agreement, and thereafter to maintain residence within the corporate boundaries of the City. The city has agreed to accept that offer. In consideration for Johnson’s offer, the City shall pay Johnson’s actual and necessary moving expenses, including packing, moving storage, costs (if any), unpacking, and insurance charges. Johnson shall obtain three (3) estimates from reputable moving companies, and the City shall pay an amount equal to the lowest of the three estimates directly to the moving company selected by Johnson.”
Bill Shaw January 31, 2013 at 06:09 PM
On a FOIA returned this week the H.R. Director indicated that Mr. Johnson's residency status has not changed.
John W. January 31, 2013 at 06:49 PM
Why isn't the mayor and city commissioners demanding that this contract provision be met?
Bill Shaw January 31, 2013 at 06:58 PM
Great question John...ask it at the next CITCOM meeting. See you there!
Larry D January 31, 2013 at 10:28 PM
It used to be that you could require a municipal employee to live in the city. The Detroit police and firefighters lobbied the state legislature and now residency cannot be made a condition of employment by a city.
THEODORE GIBSON January 31, 2013 at 11:01 PM
I have an idea!!!! The City Manager, along with all City Commissioners and the City Attorney, should be required to recite a pledge that they live in Royal Oak prior to every official city function. Now we just need to find a City Commissioner who is willing to take the law into his/her own hands and write an arbitrary pledge. Any ideas who might be willing to write this Residency Pledge?
John W. February 01, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Why does the city commission need to be prodded to ask about this simple contractual stipulation?
Kelch RO February 01, 2013 at 03:59 PM
It shouldn't take the prodding of a citizen for a sitting city commissioner to follow up on the city manager residency issue. Do your job mayor and commissioners!
Kelch RO February 01, 2013 at 06:17 PM
Ted, the residency requirement for the city manager is in our charter. If you don't like the requirement, gather enough signatures to put the question on the next ballot. Don Johnson agreed to move to Royal Oak prior to being offered the job. He could have rejected the position if he didn't want ot move to our community. Asking and expecting a city manager to live in the community where he collects his paycheck is extremely common across America. It is the norm, not the exception. Johnson has arrogantly reneged on his promise to move to Royal Oak as was agreed upon on his job offer, and the elected officials are choosing to ignore the issue. Any comments to those facts?
Kelch RO February 01, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Larry, the state law you refer to applies to police and fire personal only. It does not apply to the city manager position. A municipality CAN require their city manager to live within the bounderies of the city.
Bill Shaw February 01, 2013 at 07:14 PM
If I don't trust your ethics, why would I trust you to dictate my moral values?
THEODORE GIBSON February 01, 2013 at 11:23 PM
Kelch RO - the city residency requirement doesn't affect me so I honestly don't care whether it is enforced or not. Since you appear to care perhaps you are willing to bring this to light at the next city commission meeting? I really think a weekly pledge that the City leadership hasn't moved in the past week and isn't planning to move in the coming week could settle all of this and provide you, Debbie, Bill, and everyone else the comfort to sleep well at night knowing that our City Manager doesn't live in another city. That's just my advice though...
THEODORE GIBSON February 01, 2013 at 11:25 PM
Ronnie - Don't just ask the Mayor and Rasor. Until any city commissioner raises this issue and tries to enforce it, I am left to assume that they all want to conveniently ignore the Charter. Capello would be included in this group as well unless she cites this blatant disregard for what our city's founding fathers intended.
Carol February 02, 2013 at 12:31 AM
How 'bout the bigger picture, Teddy. Do you care whether the city commission upholds the city charter, or only selectively? Seems problematic when the city only upholds the charter when convienant.
THEODORE GIBSON February 02, 2013 at 03:31 AM
Bill: Who is dictating your moral values? What are they dictating? Which one of your moral values is the city trying to restrict?
TheFuture February 02, 2013 at 04:54 AM
Debs. The state outlawed almost all local residency requirements years ago. So go back to sleep.
TheFuture February 02, 2013 at 04:58 AM
Kelch. Not right. Read the act...
TheFuture February 02, 2013 at 05:01 AM
What a bunch of hosers. Clamp it !
Bob February 02, 2013 at 06:06 PM
Hmmm, I can use all caps also. There is only a parking problem for the LAZY ARSES. I can always find a spot. Sometimes you just have to walk a little. No different than parking in the back of a shopping mall parking lot and then through said mall. If you think that adding a new tax is going to reduce taxes, then you are very intimate with the NO BRAINER condition. Either that or you are well ensconced within the province of the CRAZY. Add to that the fact that NON residents only pay half the rate per STATE LAW. No, they will not pay MORE.
Joan February 02, 2013 at 07:01 PM
Don Johnson signed an employment contract that him agreeing to move to Royal Oak, period! He also negotiated a timeline for moving and for moving expenses. He made a verbal commitment to move to Royal Oak during the public interview process. He has not kept his contractural commitment. Do you dispute any of this?
THEODORE GIBSON February 02, 2013 at 07:33 PM
Carol: You say you care, I say I don't care. Unless you are going to actually put the City Commission on the spot, then your internet postings will have about the same impact as mine: No Impact. It's easy to say you care about enforcing the Charter. Its also easy for me to say I don't really care that much about this provision. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. I don't plan to take action; will you or anyone else posting on this forum? That is the only way you can affect change.
Mark Itall February 23, 2013 at 09:08 AM
It is in the nature of the world and especially the Internet, that most topics fade away over time. It is also natural that the "most popular blogs" have the most reponses. Otherwise they aren't the "most popular", are they? I understand your frustration with not being able to start a topic over unless the Patch runs an article that lends itself to it. C'est la vie.


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