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Best Wishes to Mayor Slater

Reflections on Monday’s city council meeting, where Dane Slater was appointed Troy’s new mayor.

Congratulations to Dane Slater, Troy’s new mayor. We’ll watch and see how he does in his year as mayor, whether he will give all residents even-handed treatment when they come to the podium to address the council. I’m willing to take Barbara Yagley’s advice and give him the benefit of the doubt as a good hearted guy despite his first obvious gaffe as mayor:

“It’s unfortunate that things like that have to happen” in a kind, gentle tone in response to a resident’s complaint about the hit piece smearing Martin Howrylak and his immigrant wife. As a former policeman, he’s probably calloused from hearing people lie.

Maybe he meant to say, “Yes, partisan politics can get pretty ugly. It’s not right, but that’s the way the game is played by some unscrupulous people.” This could have been said with a steely glare at the injustice or at least a dry resignation, rather than the pacifying “let’s all calm down and play nice since the battle is over” condescension that was given. This year-long battle is indeed over but the Long War will continue for some time.

The Liberal Double Standard

Perhaps Mayor Slater could get the diversity thought police people to lecture those outsiders from the Michigan Citizens for a Brighter Tomorrow in Lansing about real racist comments (not an abbreviation critical of China’s communist government) once they are identified. Maybe there’s some connection to Troy and maybe not. Either way, they are racist comments that deserve more than the mild “reprimand” they got from Mayor Slater.

Why doesn’t some righteous liberal journalist hunt them down and reprimand them for their racist comments? Because it’s OK when it’s applied to the wife of a conservative candidate. Instead, all we get is “they’re from out of town.” They have nothing to do with our little town of Troy.

But when a young conservative from Alpena tries to help Mayor Daniels, it’s meddling by someone who is barely old enough to vote. And of course a Troy leader can’t have an interest in national politics or oppose wasteful federal spending offered to our city. Because this is Troy! The double standard is absolutely sickening. The ends often justify the means if you’re a liberal.

All injustices are not created equal; some are only perceived

In typical liberal fashion, this injustice is sometimes laid alongside some other emotion-based offense, like Dane Slater taking offense at Wade Fleming’s statement of opinion about simple math facts, calling the two-vote method for picking the mayor a set-up.

I can understand Slater wanting to apply the same method for choosing the new mayor as the city manager, but the statistics simply don’t work the same given the tie they were trying to break. Two liberals and one conservative were running for the mayor’s job. Forcing three liberals and three conservatives to each vote for two candidates guarantees a liberal mayor.

Since both are supposedly real offenses, the egregious actual injustice can be excused or minimized because feelings were hurt.

Not Sour Grapes, Rather Exposure of a Raw Wound

I’m sorry if I sounded a little sharp in my criticism of our new mayor at the meeting Monday night. It didn’t come from sour grapes about losing the election, though; it came from someone ripping the Patch off a raw wound: an anonymous character smear of an honest man and his wife who won despite the racist smear.

I thought at least families of candidates were off limits, but apparently not for some liberals in Michigan (not necessarily Mary Kerwin or her campaign, but someone in the Michigan Democratic Party who supports her or rather opposes Martin Howrylak).

Suggesting that this hit piece may have helped Howrylak is laughable. It cast aspersions on many aspects of his character, creating doubt in the undecided voter’s mind, while reinforcing hatred in the minds of those who already opposed him. And yes, it made some of his friends a little mad at the injustice.

Negative State Representative Campaign

Mary Kerwin could have signed the clean campaign pledge if she had wanted to, even though she never saw the certified letter Howrylak sent or not. Martin Howrylak wrote an open letter in the Oakland Press about it, which was also ignored.

Everything I have received from the Howrylak campaign has been truthful and comparing votes or positions on issues, not attacking a person’s character or personal life, much less a family member.

In contrast, two of the four negative items in Kerwin’s campaign mailing were guilt by association: “Howrylak’s Republican Party”; the others were questionable and dealt with in my blog article endorsing Howrylak.

Some individuals in “Kerwin’s Democratic Party” were certainly responsible for the hit piece on Martin Howrylak and his wife. Why does Mary Kerwin get a pass for this hit piece while Martin Howrylak is linked with people in his political party that he disagrees with in her official campaign mailing?

But I digress. Back to the "non-partisan" council meeting, where council members cut their political teeth for partisan political office.

Both Sides were Represented in Council Comments

The liberal viewpoint can best be summed up as “It’s a new day in Troy; everyone is smiling and happy, since Mayor Daniels has been removed from office.”

The conservatives came to the podium and said “Hey, what about the 48% of us that voted to keep her, despite the year-long 100% negative campaign against her. What about our interests? We’re not going to roll over and see the council majority flipped from 4-3 conservative to 4-3 liberal.”

Good Advice

Probably the best advice at the council meeting came from Barbara Yagley, who suggested that after a bruising recall of Janice Daniels, we ought to be ready to give a favorable interpretation to something someone said, especially if it can be taken more than one way. Ask questions for clarification; if there was intended malice, then correct it.

I don't think Dane Slater intended malice, so I gave him the favorable editing above as a suggestion for next time. Because there will be polite and sometimes angry citizens with a different point of view than his coming to the podium. Everyone should be respected and given a fair hearing. Those agreeing with him should not be given favoritism. It's a new role for him, and I'll give him time to grow into it.

Conclusion

Troy’s “non-partisan” politics is non-partisan only in the minds of those on the left who want only their view heard. They hear everything through the filters on their ears and see things through their tinted glasses (as do I; I’ll spare you the ink in the comments section.)

Even the most positive of those with a liberal point of view, Ellen Hodorek, has to be reminded of the contributions of the conservative members of the council (seem my comment to her article).

Ellen and I disagree on most things relating to politics, but we agree that there needs to be a civil discussion of issues, not personal attacks. We should disagree without being disagreeable, even as we disagree about what is a genuine offense and what is merely hurt feelings.

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.

Lynne November 17, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Why does Mr. Murrish feel the need to respond to every comment here? Didn't he have the opportunity to write an entire piece for himself to "vent"? Which was quite long by the way and in no way goes with the title "Best Wishes to Mayor Slater". It could have been better titled, "Best Wishes to Mayor Slater, Not."
Dale Murrish November 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Chris, please read the comments responding to questions on my blog post and ask again if I haven't answered your question. I defer to Lynne and will let you all have your forum here. "Attack politics" depend on whose ox is being gored. Real or imagined offenses, and different levels of offense. Laying a minor offense or rude comment alongside an egregious attack on a family member of a public figure and saying they are equal is not playing fair. In my opinion, Martin Howrylak has played fair his entire political career, unlike most other politicians. That's why I backed him. Others obviously have different opinions and are free to vote and campaign otherwise. Contrary to Lynne's opinion, I do wish Mayor Slater, President Obama and all other politicians with whom I have differences well. I disagree mildly with Mayor Slater, strongly with Obama, but believe they are both true to their convictions.
Conservative Dem November 17, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Poking holes in Mr. Murrish's ridiculous posts is so tiring. Like shooting fish in a barrel. Not talking about Mayor Slater at all, but using his soapbox to launch critisms at so many different people/organizations, it's hard to keep up.......starting with accusing other political candidates of things that are outside their control, instead of researching the offending organizations and flying your issues up THEIR flagpoles. Where's YOUR apology, Dale? Regarding the attack piece on Martin Howrlak, I did see it. It was inflammatory. However, based on the other campaign materials I saw that came from Mary Kerwin, it was blatantly obvious these weren't of the same origin. Why not research to expose the offending party, and demand an apology from THEM? While you're at it, why not demand an apology from Martin Howrylak who attacked Mary directly, called her a liar for not receiving his mis-mailed Campaign Pledge (and interestingly proved his own assertion false when he provided proof of the undelivered envelope), and intentionally mischaracterized her campaign platorm commitment to repeal the pension tax? It's time for the fun and games in Troy leadership to stop, Dale. You are only continuing to stir up trouble and try to upset people by cutting and pasting erroneous information and "recycling" previous flawed postings. Calling past leaders "crabapples" from the council podium is just as inflammatory and juvenile. Knock it off, Dale. And grow up.
Helen Rieland November 17, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Dale, I have been reading your posts and all the comments that they engender and I'm so tired of it. I know I could quit reading them but I am one of the many interested in healing the divide in the city and I'm looking for clues as to how to go about it. Above you made the following comment "if we all understood each other better, knowing that we want the same good things for our community, it would be a huge step towards healing the wounds we have in Troy." I agree with this statement for the most part. I also think we understand each other pretty well and we just don't agree on many things. But the good news is that many of the things we don't all agree on really have nothing to do with Troy. So why don't we get on with this then? Why don't we start talking about the good things that we all want for Troy? What do you want? Why don't we see if we can come up with a list of things that we all want. Here's an idea. We could quit talking politics. We could quit using political party jargon. Then let's see if there is anything else we really want to talk about. Maybe we can get back to being good neighbors to each other.
Ann Erickson Gault November 18, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Wow Dale, bitter much? I completely agree with you that politics is rough game. Get a helmet.
Sharon November 18, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Dale, why were L. Brooks Patterson and Gov Snyder in support of the transit center? Are they kooky liberals too?
Sharon November 18, 2012 at 09:38 PM
It does amaze me that so many bother to read Dale's comments. As someone wrote, he labels his articles one thing and then does the opposite. Look, you win some you lose some. We succeeded in removing from office a woman who was not fit for the job. Dale succeeded in getting his favorite lawn mowing service technician (Martin Howylak) a seat in the State House. I suppose we should all be grateful for what we have and move on.
Dale Murrish November 19, 2012 at 01:37 AM
Helen, I agree with you and contrary to what many others think, I genuinely do want to heal the divide. One of the things that bothers me the most about Troy is this idea that the local "non-partisan" politics must be disconnected from the larger issues of our state and country. Local leaders grow up to run for state rep and so it matters what their political philosophy is. We can find common ground where we disagree; recognizing that budgets are one big pot is a huge start. Perhaps the city could consider letting some billboards be put up along I-75 to allow some additional revenue. There are three billboards between 14 Mile and 12 Mile on the west side of I-75. At Monday's council meeting Lamar was asking for 2 billboards along the several miles of I-75 that run through Troy. Sounds like an Option C to bridge the gap between "no new taxes" and the seven day operation of the library everyone wants after public safety.
Glenn November 19, 2012 at 02:08 AM
Dale, you have now implied a couple of times that revenue from these billboards could fund the 7th day of library operations. Could you please explain how the taxes generated on 2 or 3 billboards along I75 is going to generate enough revenue to pay for the library to be open for an extra day? Considering that the average rental rate for billboards in the Detroit Metro area is between $1500 to $2000 per month, I'm having a hard time seeing how this would translate into a $20,000 to $30,000 revenue increase to the City of Troy.
Dale Murrish November 19, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Glenn, it's the general principle of one big pot and considering all options, not just having a "closed forum" to shut down all free speech of billboards along I-75. Other towns get tax revenue from billboards, why not ours? It's being considered for the new transit center; why have the sounds of silence along busy I-75? How about corporate sponsorships for the Troy Historical Society and Nature Center instead of just lamenting the lack of tax money? Many other public-private entities seek business sponsorship from companies that want visibility.
Dale Murrish November 19, 2012 at 03:04 AM
You could try spelling his name right as you dis him, Sharon.
Cathy Fucinari November 19, 2012 at 12:50 PM
You may have gotten a degree, but I doubt you understand anything about construction. My husband IS a PE, and HAS patents. His professional opinion is vastly different than yours, and given that he understands the issue at hand makes me trust his opinion far more. Your approach is penny wise and pound foolish. I disagree that the transit center is an unnecessary project, and I believe that all of the people who studied the project, with a wide range of expertise, over the last ten years have a better understanding of it than you do. The project is a part of a much larger plan to improve transportation and contribute to more efficient use of energy resources. This doesn't happen overnight. It will be a cultural evolution. We are building a transit center, not a bus shelter! Experts support the project, Troy businesses support it, and the majority of Troy voters support it. The project is moving forward. Now it is time for you to get OVER IT! Wade Fleming salvaged 3/4 of the project, because he understood the wisdom of doing so. Unfortunately, in order to get the people who did not understand on board, the project was gutted of the environmental and efficiency design aspects that would have contributed to savings over the long term. By the way, insulting and juvenile do not change in character because you don't agree. Some fiscal conservative rantings cross over to short sighted and foolish.
Will Curtis November 19, 2012 at 12:53 PM
HowRylak has been part of the transport industry for decades too, as lawn mowers also have wheels.
cookiepro2 November 19, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I agree, Cathy, now that the transit center is going to be built, it would be best for all to put negativity about it behind us. Especially, we don't want to skip ANY of the steps that will ensure safe construction..no cheap steel or poor quality watered down concrete.. I am remembering the terrible Kansas City walkway tragedy disaster due to poor engineering design and oversite: http://skywalk.kansascity.com/articles/20-years-later-many-are-continuing-learn-skywalk-collapse/
cookiepro2 November 19, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Here's another view on billboards: http://www.scenic.org/billboards-a-sign-control/the-truth-about-billboards Is it worth $1500 to $2000 per month to cheapen the view of Troy? As yesterday's Detroit News mentioned we need to protect Troy's brand name.
John David November 19, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Dale, Glenn and cookiepro2. If you review what Lamar's rep said, and who knows what occurred in the closed session, Lamar was explaining that in closed session they would propose to drop a lawsuit if Troy would allow them to erect two billboards on city owned property along I-75. The rep said they've done this elsewhere in Michigan, and said in those instances some cities make tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from Lamar for use of the land. The rep suggested those funds could pay for employees or other things like the library. However, those are all generalities. No specifics about the revenues that would actually result. No facts. Interestingly, Lamar since 2011 has been suing to erect signs along I-75 on private property, after their variance requests were denied. Now they propose building on city property. Is that fair to commercial property owners, who would not see the money Lamar would pay but that it would instead go to a government? Obviously not enough information has been made available, and with the continuing litigation, the public probably won't know for some time. While income from a transaction with a private firm for use of city property may be attractive, it may be less attractive once the facts and hard information becomes known. It may be very premature to see this as a viable alternative for Troy.
Glenn November 19, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Thanks for that info John. It's nice to have somebody who knows what they're talking about contribute to these issues.
cookiepro2 November 19, 2012 at 06:58 PM
So Troy has a code that outlaws billboard advertisement, and Lamarr is suing the city for refusing their variance request? Personally, given the choice, I prefer the current status quo (6-day library, no billboards) to 7-day library and starting us on the slippery slope toward allowing billboards. Here's a video essay from Scenic America: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTEK9yr8zR4
John David November 19, 2012 at 07:04 PM
cookiepro2, no, Troy does not have an ordinance that prohibits billboards, but one of Lamar's contentions is that the wording of Troy's sign ordinance doesn't permit what they want to build. I think the ordinance restricts height to 25 feet (too low for I-75 viewing) and other restrictions. If I have read the results of the court decisions on the lawsuits and appeals correctly, Lamar has not been successful in having a court determine that the ordinance is improper or unconstitutional and that the city attorney has been successful in defending the ordinance. So far.
cookiepro2 November 19, 2012 at 07:22 PM
Thank you, John David for the facts. It is good that the Troy sign ordinance is specific on sign placement...a billboard is simply a stand-alone, very large sign placed high up. I get a negative feeling of "ugly" whenever I've driven through suburban business sprawl across America on surface roads plastered with billboards.
cookiepro2 November 19, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Dale, Off-topic, but I agree with you that private businesses CAN sometimes do as well or better than government supported entitites. In Troy, Lifetime Fitness is an example, that place is hopping busy, and I wonder if the community center would have devoted space and equipment to fitness if they had known LF and other private gyms would be springing up. A public commenter at the last meeting had requested a city dog park. Here are pictures from what looks like a wonderful privately owned dog park: http://meadowrunpark.com/pictures_of_the_park
Dale Murrish November 19, 2012 at 10:41 PM
Wonder what Scenic America thinks of windmills spoiling the view of the pastoral landscape in rural areas? I find billboards useful when traveling to plan exits for food and lodging. They make daily commuting more interesting if the messages are changed, but can be annoying if done to excess. The point is we all have different opinions about the best way to fund things. All views should be heard and considered by our elected officials; they hopefully make the best decisions that are good for the majority without stomping on minority rights.
Dale Murrish November 19, 2012 at 10:44 PM
For the record, once the unnecessary project was approved, I would have voted FOR the $64,000 testing and the construction manager to control cost overruns. My proposal to upgrade the Birmingham station was ignored by the council majority. In my opinion, the only thing lacking in the current location was a shortage of dedicated parking (only 20 spaces). An upgraded structure could have been built on the existing site for much less, probably around $200K. Other factors favored the current Birmingham location. http://troy.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-improve-current-transit-center-don-t-build-new The transit center was far from unanimous in its support, despite what supporters say. Yes, it was ten years in the planning, but people were planning to spend our federal tax money on a very expensive project that did NOT improve train service. Yes, it does improve the infrastructure (a 2000 SF waiting room with heat and a 20,000 SF empty footbridge with elevators because the waiting room is on the wrong side of the tracks), but at a very high marginal cost ($18.73 per passenger subsidy on the annual interest payments based on the current 66 passengers per day, never mind repaying the principal). http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/troy-transit-center-the-real-cost-of-the-footbridge Yes, there is also a bus depot, but the bus station also does NOT improve service and could have been built on less expensive land elsewhere as proposed by Dave Henderson.
Dale Murrish November 19, 2012 at 10:44 PM
People on both sides of the political spectrum voted to keep Mayor Daniels. Some who hadn’t voted for her agreed with my arguments about having regular elections and thought she should finish her term. Some who voted for her last November thought she had gone beyond her job description and voted to recall her. Over half the petition signers hadn’t bothered to vote last November; presumably most of them voted to recall her. I’ve never called anyone a kooky liberal, only said that all voices should be heard and considered. We need to combine everyone’s best ideas to move forward. That is what our city council has done and will keep doing. I have confidence in their collective abilities and will continue to support them even when I disagree. I will not stoop to the harsh name-calling and disrespecting of people’s professions used by many on the Left, however. Any honest work is worthy of respect.
Daffy Noodnicks November 19, 2012 at 11:13 PM
But you stoop to painting everyone who disagrees with you with wide brush of "the left" who do horrible things as you describe, which is ignorant and illogical. Dale, I'm done with you. You are unreasonable, uncivil (while pleading for civility), and impenetrably biased. After your recent letter to a local paper, I consider responding to anyone so either hopelessly deluded, or purposely dishonest (perhaps both) to be a waste of my time. The recall was a success, which is the only reason I got keyed up enough to respond to some of the awful attacks and misrepresentations here. I've never commented anywhere before. Since nothing productive is to be gained by further comment to Dale Murrish I will happily ignore him.
cookiepro2 November 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Dale, I use these helpful freeway signs when planning exits for food, lodging and gas: http://www.michigantods.interstatelogos.com/state/home.aspx They're uniform, tasteful and the state does get revenue from merchants who want to add their logos to the signs.
Will Curtis November 20, 2012 at 01:25 AM
Ever been to West Texas? They're as Republican as they come. Windmills galore... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Texas Because they're making money. On their own land.
Dale Murrish November 20, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Will, that’s exactly my point. Farmers in Indiana and ranchers in Texas have windmills on their own land. It generates revenue for them. They’re largely Republicans. It’s a personal preference thing, not a political party or an ideology. Private property rights and respect for others, without decreasing the value of another’s property. That’s why we have zoning laws in built-up areas. http://troy.patch.com/blog_posts/a-guide-to-ballot-proposals-proposal-3 Cookiepro, I like the blue signs at exits, too. Billboards are helpful for planning ahead, though. Where would we be without the Wall Drug signs all over the country? It’s quite a place, if you’ve never been there. No one would likely visit that small town in South Dakota otherwise. Michigan and Ohio have Bronners billboards that help Frankenmuth’s tourism, too. There’s a balance. Hopefully we find it between the farmer having a right to put up a billboard in his field and earn some extra money and not littering the landscape for everyone by having too much eye clutter. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Dale Murrish November 20, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Overly restrictive zoning laws can restrict revenue streams of governments, as in Troy’s defacto ban of all effective freeway billboards along I-75. Nanny government, like Troy’s distracted driving ordinance when it’s properly a state issue. At least we’re not as bad as California with its many ballot proposals and government restrictions on property owners, yet. If the majority of people want it, that’s fine. I didn’t even know about it though, and I’d wager that >95% of Troy citizens don’t know about this “closed forum.” I’ve lived here almost 25 years and never even noticed that there weren’t any billboards along I-75 in Troy. It’s really just a few activists setting the rules for the rest of us when no one is paying attention.
Dale Murrish November 22, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Not bitter, just trying to block a hostile takeover of my hometown and point out faulty logic.

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