Versagi Voice

There are no uninteresting topics, only uninterested people.

13 April 2014

Frank Versagi
Inform, Educate, Entertain

On this Page
About downtown . . . Excerpt from the January 24, 1908, Royal Oak Tribune . . . Belle Isle to host national event . . . Oakland and Macomb counties are raising different legal objections . . . Wayne County asks for mediator . . . Ukraine is European Union's problem . . . Attacking Obamacare . . . Defending Obamacare . . . The role of Muslims in Russia . . . Composers persecuted for writing Catholic Mass . . . Solar Impulse global flight plane unveiled

 Why this website

About downtown
The glass is half empty: Nothing but boring bars and restaurants. Just an alcohol-focused entertainment venue, period.

The glass is half full: Entertainment galore. But those eaters and drinkers shop retail somewhere . . . where the stores are open till 10 p.m., say. They buy clothing and shoes and the miscellanea found in a a well-stocked drug store, everything  from alarm clocks to men's belts and from women's fragrances to basic office supplies.
Once in place, such focused retail shops will also draw residents who, having experienced convenient shopping during the day might well join the sober revelers who shop after dark.

A paid Downtown Manager can make this happen.
It doesn't matter to residents whether the City or the DDA hires or contracts for her/him.

From the January 24, 1908, Royal Oak Tribune
With this issue of the Royal Oak Tribune, the paper has passed into the hands of the Tribune Printing Co. of Royal Oak, who will hereafter publish it from Royal Oak instead of from Detroit, as it has heretofore been published. The paper will now be a home enterprise paper, the printing, the typesetting, the editorial work and the ownership all being accomplished at the home office, in the rear of Storz's Drug Store, corner Main and Fifth. Although the paper will be much smaller to start with than it has been, we expect to make it a winner from the start by printing nothing but items of interest to the citizens of Royal Oak and vicinity. The paper should have a healthy growth and be well patronized by the mercantile interests in the way of advertising contracts.

The columns of the paper will be open to all sane discussions of such subjects and public questions as may arise from time to time. We will also be thankful  to any one who will be kind enough to send us such news items as are printed in the weekly newspapers of the day, as it is impossible for the publishers to gather all the news, no matter how much of an effort they make to do so.

NOTE: The masthead boasts, "Circulation this issue is seventy paid in subscribers"
The issue from which the above excerpt is taken is a 2-sided 8.5x11 sheet in the archives of the Royal Oak Historical Society Museum.


Commissioner Peggy Goodwin
Hi Frank, actually I abstained and Poulton voted No.
          FJV Note: My report reversed the votes.

Rick Karlowski
Correction – It was Poulton who voted no and Goodwin who abstained on the resolution regarding the appeal of the gay marriage decision.

Missed story – Interesting the Mayor snubbed Poulton by leaving him off the Normandy Oaks study sub-committee, since the committee was Poulton’s idea.  

Vote on resolution regarding ending the appeal of gay marriage decision  -  A lot of grandstanding by Marley,  Dubuc and Ellison on this part of the Royal Oak HRO.  Of course, they don’t seem to have any issues using age as a criteria for appointments to various committees, in direct contradiction to the ordinance.

Public Safety latest weekly report
Police: 37 Arrests
Fires: 4 Fires -- 31 for the year . . . 72 EMS Runs -- 918 for the year


Belle Isle to host national event
For four days in September, Belle Isle runners, picnickers and anglers will be replaced by talking cars, driverless vehicles and high-tech traffic systems. The futuristic Belle Isle demonstrations are part of the Intelligent Transport Systems 21st World Congress, running concurrently at Cobo Center Sept. 7-11. The event occurs in North America every three years, this marking the first time it's been to Detroit. It’s expected to draw as many as 10,000 business executives, legislators and researchers to showcase the latest innovations in transportation.

Belle Isle will host live demonstrations of driverless cars, including passenger vehicles, commercial trucks and military vehicles, and robotics.

The island became a state park in February, when Michigan leased the city-owned park for 30 years relieving bankrupt Detroit from managing the area.

Scott Belcher, president of Washington, D.C.-based ITS America, said the state’s offer of using the park for the World Congress proved how serious the state takes its stake in automotive.

“Michigan is blazing the trail for investment in automotive technology… ,” he said. “Belle Isle is a beautiful location, and it’s ideal for us; it’s risky to demonstrate these technologies on public streets, and now we can do it in a controlled environment with amazing views of the Detroit skyline.”

Oakland and Macomb counties are raising different legal objections as creditors in Detroit’s massive Chapter 9 bankruptcy case, but both focus largely on the future of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.

For months, regional leaders in those communities and Wayne County have been negotiating with Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr over a proposal to form a regional water authority. The authority would boost city revenue by leasing the DWSD assets for at least $47 million a year for 40 years.

Those talks were suspended last month, Oakland County has said, after Detroit asked the regional counties to all make a pledge toward the formation of that authority — something the suburban leaders would not agree to do without completing a due diligence review of the system.

Now Oakland and Macomb have both said in court filings submitted before the objection deadline Monday that the city hasn’t provided creditors enough information about its restructuring plan. Oakland calls the plan “patently unconfirmable” before Judge Steven Rhodes of U.S. Bankruptcy Court and claims it treats creditors with similar claims differently.

“The plan’s distribution scheme could not be more discriminatory,” the county said in its filing in federal court in Detroit.

Wayne County asks for mediator
Wayne County filed a motion today asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes to appoint a mediator to bring recalcitrant neighbors Oakland and Macomb counties back to the negotiating table on forming a regional water authority to manage the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department.


Ukraine is European Union's problem
Saying it again: If Germany and France aren't concerned enough about Russia's behavior in and near Ukraine, there's no urgency about America unilaterally fighting what should be the European Union's battle. Oh, offering diplomatic help is okay, as is imposing economic sanctions. But no way should we think of taking military action while the European Union stands idly by.

Forget for the moment our hatred of Hitler and remember his early brilliance in using protection of German-speaking minorities in neighboring countries as his reason/excuse for grabbing territory then entire countries. Putin is obviously following Hitler's example. Indeed, there already are photoshopped pictures of Vladimir with a Hitler mustache floating around.

For the moment, there the Putin/Hitler parallel ends, but we need to keep our guard up. That's no reason not to continue downsizing our military. It's just a reason not to go overboard in that downsizing.

Attacking Obamacare
Ann Coulter says she's been "thrown off" her health insurance thanks to Obamacare, and since Democrats have made her old plan "illegal" and she's not able to get a tax waiver to pay for her coverage.

"As one of the few Americans not granted a waiver, I'm here to tell you: You have no idea what's coming, America," she wrote in her newest column,"Screw You, Mickey Kaus."

The title refers to the liberal columnist who has praised Obamacare in columns for The Daily Caller.

In her column, Coulter says she's discovered that online plans won't cover treatment at "any decent hospitals."

"I thought I had figured out the best plan for me a month ago after having doctors and hospital administrators look at the packets of material I was sent by my old insurance company – the same mailing that informed me my old plan was "illegal" under Obamacare," Coulter wrote.

"But when I checked online recently, I discovered the premier plan — the "platinum," low-deductible, astronomically expensive plan that might be accepted by an English-speaking doctor who didn't attend medical school in a Hawaiian shirt and board shorts — does not include treatment at any decent hospitals."

But like "any sane homo sapien," Coulter wants insurance that will cover healthcare costs in the event of illness or accident, "not to pay for Mickey Kaus' allergy appointments."

She said she called Blue Cross directly to see if its most expensive plan would cover her needs, but "as happens whenever you try to ascertain the most basic information about insurance under Obamacare – the Blue Cross representative began hammering me with a battery of questions about myself " before admitting the company's most expensive plan wouldn't cover treatment at hospitals she named.

Coulter said she then called one of the nation's leading hospitals, but it also couldn't tell her which plans she was eligible for, and that she had to visit the Obamacare website to find out "but you can't even peek at the available plans until you've given the government reams of personal information about yourself."

"Inasmuch as the cost of health insurance under Obamacare is so high that it will generally make more sense just to pay for your own catastrophic health emergencies, I was not interested in telling Kathleen Sebelius everything about me in order to have the privilege of glancing at the government's crappy plans," Coulter wrote.

Without any help from the Obamacare website, Coulter said she finally found an insurance plan that covered treatment at a reputable hospitals, but "the downside is, no doctors take it."

"You either pay for all your doctor visits and tests yourself, or you pay for your cancer treatment yourself," Coulter wrote. "That's not insurance. It's a huge transfer of wealth from people who work for a living to those who don't, accomplished by forcing the workers to buy insurance that's not insurance."


Other comments

A thankless task
Kathleen Sebelius, who is now resigning from that job, [Health & Human Services] was the one in position not to be thanked.

She had the task of implementing an incredibly complex law (flow chart, anyone?) where virtually each attempted step was bound to draw criticism from conservative opponents, even as members of her own party pushed in varying directions (to be firm in this rule here, to delay that unpopular feature there).

Making things worse, critics say, were the former Kansas governor’s own missteps and failures of oversight – notably regarding the Obamacare enrollment website

She resigns on a high note, with enrollment exceeding expectations that had been scaled back amid the website woes. But the question of success or failure for the law remains unsettled. Mr. Obama has named Sylvia Mathews Burwell, his budget director, to follow Ms. Sebelius and oversee the law's next stages.

Some Sebelius critics have empathy for the role she’s filled.

“I know you have one of the most difficult jobs in Washington,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah told Sebelius at a hearing Thursday, hours before news of her resignation emerged. “I appreciate you being here.” -- Christian Science Monitor


The role of Muslims in Russia
When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the annexation of Crimea on March 18, he highlighted the area’s sacred history, invoking the tenth-century conversion of Vladimir the Great to Christianity. But Putin’s references to religion were complicated by the absence at the ceremonies of Kirill I, the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

In the third row, hoPutin's Western Allieswever, behind pro-Kremlin representatives of the Russian Crimean community and other Russian lawmakers and officials, sat the Russian Federation’s two highest-ranking Muslim clerics. Although Putin never mentioned Islam in his speech, their presence at the ceremony, accentuated by their turbans and robes amid a sea of black suits and ties, sent an unmistakable message. The Crimean crisis is not just about Russia’s relationship with the West; it is also very much about Islam’s role in Russia.

Russia's Muslim elites have long played an important role in Russian state expansion. At key junctures in Russian and Soviet history, Muslim clerics from the Volga region cajoled Muslim populations along the southern and eastern frontiers of the empire to become subjects of the tsar. Formal expansion was typically followed by a wave of Tatar merchants, who thrived in newly incorporated territories and helped integrate Muslims into imperial trade networks. In the Soviet period, a number of Tatars led efforts to create a synthesis between socialism and Islam -- and a bridge between the U.S.S.R. and the Muslim world.

From the first days of the upheaval in Ukraine, prominent members of Russia’s Muslim community have mobilized to court their co-religionists on behalf of Moscow. Talgat Tadzhuddin, who is the head of one of the most powerful Muslim institutions in Russia and was one of the clerics in attendance at Putin's speech, has portrayed the annexation as an act of good will. As Tadzhuddin said in an interview with a Russian news agency, "When a neighbor has a fire, you have to help, considering that the flames might jump to your house." The other leading Muslim cleric who attended Putin's speech, Ravil Gainutdin, has been less effusive than his rival, Tadzhuddin, but has generally toed the Kremlin's line. On the eve of Crimea’s referendum on joining Russia, he reminded the region’s 300,000-strong Tatar population that they comprised only 12 percent of the territory’s population, implying that they should accede to the will of the pro-Moscow majority.

Russia's Muslim elites have long played an important role in Russian state expansion.


Composers persecuted for writing Catholic Mass
Those secularists who would prefer that religion not matter in world affairs should avoid reading histories of England, especially about the reign of Queen Elizabeth, described by one writer as "an extremely dangerous age of religious upheaval and persecution."

It was so bad that musicians could be jailed for composing a Catholic Mass, which composers like William Byrd and Thomas Tallis did surreptitiously during the period when Catholics were denied civil rights in that great kingdom.


Solar Impulse global flight plane unveiled
The team behind the Solar Impulse project - a mission to fly around the world in a plane powered only by the sun - has revealed the plane in which the pilots will make their attempt. Its predecessor, Solar Impulse 1, has already been flown across America, and stored sufficient power in its batteries to fly all night.

With a wingspan of 72m (236ft), Solar Impulse 2 is the width of a Boeing 747, but weighs about the same as a large car. Its wings are covered in 18,000 solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity to power its motor and to store in its batteries.

The Switzerland-based team will make the attempt next year.

Andre Borschberg, one of the pilots and co-founder of Solar Impulse, showed BBC News the brand new craft and explained how it has been designed to allow a pilot to spend up to five days alone in the cockpit.

Related: A solar-powered plane has flown from Europe to North Africa, completing the first intercontinental flight by an aircraft of its type. The Solar Impulse took off from Madrid in Spain, before crossing the Mediterranean and landing in Morocco, after a 20-hour trip. The experimental aircraft landed on Tuesday at the airport of Rabat-Salé.

Current Year's CITCOM meetings

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How to watch a commission meeting

Split Votes

Do televised CITCOM meetings last longer?

Tone of City Commission meetings

Limit Public Comment Speakers
to 3 Minutes

Public Comment speakers should be limited to 3 minutes, rather than 5, whatever the topic.

First, with rare exceptions the speaker's basic thought is understood within the first minute or two. All the rest is repetition of the basic thought -- sometimes rambling, sometimes in exactly the same words.

Second, watch the speakers watch the digital clock. They feel compelled to keep talking until they have used up their 5 minutes.

Ferndale permits only 3 minutes and when Ferndalians speak at our CITCOM meetings  they comment on the bonus we give t hem.

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