Too young…for death

It is a fact of life that the unexpected can pounce upon anyone at anytime. It is also a fact that the unexpected happens and alters not only the life of the one affected but also related family members and friends.

At the Council meeting of December 9th, I sat between former Councilwoman, Nancy Dingeldey and Mr.Goodlein in the back of the council’s meeting room.We were listening attentively to a representative from the accounting firm of Plante Moran who made a presentation about the budget-audit that the firm had just completed.

As the Council moved on to other business, I watched as a young man walked to the podium to answer some questions related to the DPW. He walked with a swagger of confidence and responded to the questions with straight-forward, clear and concise answers.

He smiled ever so slightly when the Mayor ask him to give his name and address, as is the policy of all who address the council. He did so with a smile and a shaking of the head; he turned then and went back to his seat having satisfied the council’s request.

As I noted earlier, it is a fact of life that the unexpected can pounce upon anyone at anytime; however, it is more than astonishing when I opened the e-mail from the City of Wixom noting the Mike Howell, Director of the DPW had passed away just hours after leaving that council meeting.

I did not know Mike on a personal basis, but professionally; he was a professional. He too will certainly be missed.

My astonishment is that Mike has died so very young and my sympathies go out to his family and friends. It too makes me very aware of how tragedy can strike at anytime. It too makes me very aware to ensure that when I see or talk to someone, that I have to acknowledge that this meeting is a fleeting moment in time and to promise myself to really see the person and take advantage of that personal moment.

I will remember this moment at the Council meeting and the smile of Mike when he walked away from the podium. I too remember watching him as he walked down the hallway leaving the council meeting after adjournment.

I will remember this moment, but never would I have ever believed that this moment in time would be the last time that I would ever see Mike. It is too unimaginable, too surreal for believed.

The unexpected should not have happened to such a young man who had a full life ahead of him. In his absence there is a sorrow that facts and death are more than troublesome; now and then they are astonishingly absurd.

Now is one of those times. For me and others, I am certain that it is a time when Christmas almost seems to have little relevance.


The information for visitation and services for Mike Howell are as follows:


Monday 5:oo pm to 9:00 pm

Tuesday 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Service at the Funeral Home:

Wednesday: 11:00 am

L. J. Griffin Funeral Home – Westland

7707 Middlebelt Road
Westland, MI 48185

Telephone: (734) 522-9400


Ferguson City

If your brown your down in Ferguson City

Justice prevails when white power is the only right

Four-hours in the heat lies a body in the street

While brown is down, justice died in the city


If your brown your down in Ferguson City

It is might that makes right in the darkness of night

Bigots, guns, bullets and gas filled the crowded streets

Prejudice looks for a place to put a body down


While whites try to make right a justice system lays dying

People march and shout hands up, don’t shoot

White are our palms, do you not see the whiteness

In the darkness hands up or down makes no difference

At night, if your brown your down in Ferguson City


Justice cries out in the night, Mothers’ tears fall on the scales

weighed heavy with the deaths of colored youth

If justice is colorblind, why does she not see that white power

does not make killing right

If your brown your down in Ferguson City


Justice must prevail for Ferguson City to survive

Ethical men and justice understands that death

shows no preference to color

When color is targeted injustice is legally accepted

But injustice can kill equally men of any color


Black and white become equally hunted

Civility of men of all colors requires justice equally applied

And for Ferguson City to survive no more brown can be shot down

If justice is to prevail the killings must stop


Tis said all colors of men are made equally dead

Man’s inhumanity to man and white power makes no killing right

Many Ferguson Cities in the Nation do exist

Resistance to injustice and death must persist





City of Wixom: Positive Entrepreneurial Climate


CONTACT: Tony Nowicki, City Manager, 248.624.0894

Wixom, MI – November 13, 2014

UM-Dearborn’s iLabs’ eCities research recognizes the City of Wixom

for its Positive Entrepreneurial Climate

WIXOM, MI, November 13, 2014 – For the seventh time in eight years, the City of Wixom has been recognized for its work to foster entrepreneurial growth and economic development. In the annual eCities study conducted by researchers at iLabs, University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Center for Innovation Research, Wixom was selected and honored as a five star community along with 32 other communities across the state.

According to City Manager Tony Nowicki, “This recognition by the University of Michigan is validation of our efforts to support and improve the entrepreneurial client of Wixom. Successful businesses are the foundation of strong and stable communities, and our staff is committed to creating a community climate that enables businesses to develop, grow and prosper.”

Most recently, the City of Wixom established a series of improvements to services including:

The level of in-house plan reviews has been increased which reduces the cost of doing business in the City. All 3rd party plan reviews have been eliminated and all construction plan reviews are conducted in-house.

The use of “Job Boards” for commercial projects to post timely inspection results.

The ability to conduct in-house fire suppression/alarm plan review which ultimately leads to a decrease in permit turn-around time.

New construction permit applications that are user-friendly and easily converted for future website use.

Updated customer oriented hand-outs and guides which will be issued after the first of the year.

Dramatically reduced time frames in the permitting process from initial permit intake to final issuance of permit.

Reduced construction plan review times to less than 10 days for commercial projects and less than 5 days for residential.

A document storage and retention program to reduce paper consumption.

Restructured permit fee schedules to insure compliance with state requirements and provide more efficient and practical enforcement measures, without unnecessarily increasing fees.

Standard operating procedures for construction and development services.

Participation in Oakland County’s One-Stop Ready Program with implementation of their concepts.

The following are listings of five-star and four-star communities as determined by iLabs at the University of Michigan.

Five-Star Communities (*denotes best practice community)

Five-star communities spent a combined $2.6 million on economic development, had more than $140 million in additions to assets in the past year and had more than $19 billion in combined real and personal property values.

Ann Arbor Charter Township

City of Ann Arbor

City of Auburn Hills

City of Dearborn

Delta Charter Township*

City of Grand Blanc

City of Grandville

Kochville Township

Marquette Charter Township

City of Midland*

City of Northville

Plymouth Township

City of Plymouth

City of Rochester Hills

City of Sault Ste. Marie*

City of Wixom

Four-Star Communities (*denotes best practice community)

Four-star communities combined for over $11 billion in construction, issued more than 1,800 commercial construction permits and spent more than $3.5 million in economic development.

Cascade Charter Township

City of Coldwater

City of Livonia

City of Madison Heights*

City of Mason

City of Novi

City of Marquette

Charter Township of Meridian

Northville Charter Township

City of Rochester

City of Romulus

City of Saline*

Scio Township

City of Southfield

City of Sterling Heights

City of Tecumseh

City of Woodhaven

The eCities research surveyed 83 communities from 30 counties in Michigan that are home to 26 percent of Michigan residents and 33 percent of its college graduates. These communities count nearly one quarter of the state’s entrepreneurs with over $2.6 billion in self-employed income as residents. These communities also had more than $12.3 billion in 2013 commercial construction and account for more than 31 percent of Michigan’s commercial property.

We are seeing the nature of economic development evolving, and eCities is a tool to help local governments demonstrate their role in the changing economy. These governments are supporting unique and innovative efforts locally, while collaborating regionally to help Michigan business compete in an ever-changing business climate,” said Tim Davis, director, iLabs.

The communities will be honored today, Thursday, November 13, at UM-Dearborn. Support for eCities is provided in part by the DTE Energy Foundation, Miller Canfield, Oakland County Economic Development and Community Affairs and UM-Dearborn’s College of Business.

The annual eCities research project, which began in 2007, uses data supplied by the participants, as well as other public records to assemble a six-factor, 32-item index of entrepreneurial activity, looking at such factors as clustering, incentives, growth, policies, community and education. The study focuses on entrepreneurship because of its importance to expansion and diversification of Michigan’s regional economies and the impact small businesses have on job creation. To date, 197 communities across Michigan have participated in the study.

Pretty GOOD don’t you think!

Rant for the Day

To all my Republican Friends and to Congress: Quit all the Bitching and get to work and DO SOMETHING: your JOB!

That is why you were elected, and that is why your are getting paid. Earn your money and all those  paid medical benefits and free luncheons.

As the old saying goes, LEAD, Follow or Get the hell out of the WAY!!


City Charter Requires Police Chief

Let’s be clear, the previous City Manager created a Faux Pas “Department of Public Safety;” an Administrative public fraud action. The Manager then staffed the non-existent Department of Public Safety with a Director.

The previous City Manager slithered around the City Charter’s Police Department language by producing a legal opinion for a “hypothetical” Department of Public Safety. This action was then followed up by a Councilman’s motion with approval to hire an independent contractor or at-will employee.

The Administration’s political atmosphere and research for the Director’s position brought forth the formerly retired Chief of Police, Clarence Goodlein’s resume as the candidate of choice for the position.

The rational behind the political scene was to save the city money. The retired Chief gained his old job but with a new title. The Administration’s political view was a win-win solution for all! However, the internal structure of the Police Department made no sense and a large deficiency in the command structure prevailed.

The City of Wixom’s Charter states in Sec. 6.5. Chief of Police…”The Police Chief…shall be accountable and responsible to the City Manager.” The Charter requires a Police Department and Police Chief; therefore, a command structure for organization and administrative control of the department’s budget, personnel management, administrative efficiencies and effectiveness is a requirement.

Within the last 2014-2015 Budget adopted by the Council, the City Manager, Mr. Nowicki, gained approval for two-Lieutenant’s positions creating a Police Department command structure. It is essential that the residents recognize that it has taken approximately thirty-years to get the new command structure needed to adequately service the community.

Mr. Nowicki understands Police Department structure and organizational necessity. In discussing this Police Department staffing needs and the Charter requirements of (PD) with many residents, it is a consensus of opinions that a comment and recommendation be made to the City Manager and Council to complete a research effort for a Police Chief as the City Charter requires.

This research initiative should be undertaken by the City Manager and the Council. Council should initiate the legislative action and approval for authorizing Mr. Nowicki to proceed with the research for potential Police Chief candidates.

Supporting this initiative is the thirty-year old, well-written but dusty, Wage and Salary Committee’s previously defined job description of the responsibilities of the Police Chief.

It’s true, the past is prologue, but the time has come for the Council to do what is necessary for the community’s Police Department.   The recruiting of a Police Chief will stream line the efficiency of the Department, and a Police Chief satisfies the Charter’s requirement for accountability and responsibility of the position.

Mr. Nowicki has taken the leadership for moving the Police Department into a well-structured and efficient department with two-lieutenants and the added incentives for personnel to advance within the department. The next step is to research for a Police Chief and is a reasonable and responsible action.

This initiative requires the legislative leadership of the City Manager, the Mayor, and the Council to further this effort. Through their unity, the Administration will bring the Police Department into a fully functional, well-structured organization.

Council should recognize the circumstances of the present unknown challenges and insecurities that confront a worried public about police and security issues. Action and leadership by the City Manager, the Mayor and the City Council are essential in this important matter.

Finally, the Faux Pas ‘Department of Public Safety” would be eliminated.

There is no reason not to have a Police Chief as required by the City Charter.


City Manager, Nowicki and Staff Reduce Budget Deficits

There is good news for the taxpayers of Wixom! I have to write it again,”There is good news for the taxpayers of Wixom!

City Manager, Tony Nowicki and his staff have made significant and extensive strides in reducing the  disruptive potential that a busted economy can have on the city’s services.

Tony Nowicki has reorganized the Administration’s staffing of many departments, structured the Police Department’s command structure with two-Lieutenants, streamlined the Finance Department and the DPW. The Fire Department is doing well, and they just got a brand new piece of equipment which was  needed. Presently, all is at full-speed at City Hall and the Citizens should appreciate this fact.

With his own unique style of management and team building, Mr. Nowick should be acknowledged by our citizens and appreciated for his Administrative management and strategic budgeting efforts.

Some consideration also has to go to Council for they too have had some tough decisions to make. However, it is not the job of the Council to micro-manage the man they hired to do the tough job of reorganizing an administration that was deeply in denial of the obvious debt issues. Give Council credit for all those Budget Study Sessions and late hours of work leading to passing a balanced budget.

Mr. Nowicki’s team building has made progress in reducing costs and saving taxpayers dollars. He and his staff have achieved many of their goals and objectives for maintaining services while reducing costs that where previously pushing the taxpayers further into debt.

What has changed? Gone is a previously Administration that was hell-bent on raising taxes and maintaining an unaffordable staffing status-quo, aligning management with unattainable and unrealistic strategic planning, and presenting unattainable budget recommendations. Thankfully, this is in the past and the future is brighter.

A City Manager has to make many undesirable decisions when dire economic issues raise their ugly head out of a muddled revenue stream. Now the Administration has made obvious progress in addressing staffing, sharing fringe benefit costs on an equal partnership with employer to employee’s contributions made to fund retirement systems. I have always said that promises made to employees have to be kept. Promises made have been kept.

Certainly, the City Manager and his team have more challenges ahead. The Council has also supported Mr. Nowicki in consideration of those challenges. However, there is a number of changes made by this Council that are costing taxpayers dollars and were not a part of the City Manager’s program of getting costs reduced.

Micro-management injected into the Manager’s budget is bad business; review and comment, certainly; micro-management and staffing, definitely NOT! Hold the Manager accountable for what is successfully achieved as well as responsible for those developments that need correction.

But don’t bite the hand that feeds you!

Mr. Nowicki has added staffing and structure to the Police Department. It has only taken 30-years to get a Police Department command structure. Hopefully, we will be back under the City Charter when we can get Council to approve the Position of Police Chief that is certainly desirable.

Police Departments require a command structure for obvious reasons. Needless-to-say a potential for promotion up through the ranks of all employees is essential. No new officer wants to work in a department with no possibility for a promotion. Without internal depaartment structure, the new-hire works for three-years gaining experience and then moves on to a job with future potential! Turnover of Police employees is not a foundation to have knowledgeable city officers.

Certainly, there is much left to do in the coming Budget years, but Mr. Nowicki and his staff are on the right track…provided the Council can control their desire to micro-manage the city service needs and staffing.

Mr. Nowicki knows this city better than anyone; he knows his staffing needs. Furthermore, to date, his team of professionals have reduced costs and  maintained services without missing a heart-beat.

Let us support the City Manager and his staffing and their efforts to continue the progress made to date. The benefits of such support will be a real potential for unwarranted requests for future tax increases.

Any member of Council’s statement of, “I think we need” is not a valid request! “Thinking” is not a fact if there is no basis in fact supporting the need. Any member of Council must substantiate with fact/s any request made of the City Manager. Council should Legislate not micro-manage the Administration.

Mr. Nowicki and the Administration are succeeding in their difficult task to retain city services and keep a balanced budget with revenues available. With council’s help, what could not previously be done, is getting done. The city is getting out of debt and the budget is balanced…there may even be a surplus! Time will tell when all the figures are finally known.

The State of Michigan and Oakland County have a way of making budgets difficult.

In closing , Mr. Nowicki’s message to Council (April 8, 2014) in the Operating Budget year 2014-2015 is one of the finest and most succinct three-page Budget Messages that I have ever read.

It is worth noting and reading again. The Administration is on track with its goals and objectives of that report and the community’s taxpayers are the benefactors.

How about that!

P.S.  VOTE, VOTE, VOTE on November 4th…

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