After a long and storied career serving as the Mayor of Sterling Heights, Richard Notte passed away this morning after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 76.
Although the mayor and I did not always agree, he was ever the perfect gentleman to me, even one time offering me a hot cup of coffee as I stood in a cold parking lot in support of his opponent on election day. Though we differed on matters of politics and style, he was a worthy political opponent, a gentleman, congenial, a tireless booster of Sterling Heights, a man who worked hard at doing the job the way he thought it should be done, and a proud American.
Whomever follows in his footsteps will find it difficult to approach the level of respectability, dedication and high esteem he brought to the office, and without question he will be sorely missed.
I can only offer my deepest, most sincere condolences to the entire Notte family in their time of mourning, and hope they soon are spending their time not in grief, but in reflection on the great credit that Richard brought to the Notte family name.
Rest in peace, Mr. Mayor.
Hewlett Packard recently announced that it will split into two companies and lay off 5,000 people in addition to the 50,000 previously announced. Unfortunately, I have been impacted by these layoffs, and my final day as an HP employee will be Friday, October 24.
I am a software developer with over 20 years of experience in I.T. My most recent job with HP was in maintaining and upgrading a security system which provisions privileged access to HP-IT-managed servers. Previous jobs have included things such as software automation of administrative tasks, enterprise messaging automation and reporting, trouble ticket statistic reporting and alerting, and various other tasks. I have also built software for personal projects such as a database and Windows front end for CERT members, website scraping, and other automation.
I am also a capable systems administrator with a great deal of experience working in Windows environments. I also have quite a bit of background with Unix variants such as HP-UX and Linux.
As you might have noticed, I am capable of producing the written word and presenting information to large groups of people. I work well even with short lead times and difficult subjects.
I would love to work within Sterling Heights or someplace nearby, but I will consider any circumstance.
My resume can be found here.
Last evening I spoke before council regarding the now-repealed Anti-LGBT Discrimination Ordinance. As it happened, I was the first in line to speak on the issue. Citizen participation took a couple of hours.
My Proposed New Ordinance
My major point in this, which may have eventually gotten lost in the shuffle of hours of testimony, is that I believe the city has a responsibility and a duty to protect its employees, board members, and volunteers from LGBT discrimination. I believe strongly that we can and should at least do that. It should take the form of a new ordinance. I hope that my friends on Council and in the City Administration take me up on this, it is the right thing to do.
Somehow, only an hour or so later, people were coming up to the podium and misquoting what I had said. One person stated that I wanted to only protect “Cops and Firemen” with my proposal for another ordinance. In order to set the record straight, here is a video segment of my talk.
Why We Need This
Last night’s meeting was painfully long and depressing for all of the hatred plainly on display. I don’t think I can stress enough that this means we need to continue to fight for freedom and justice for everyone.
It is plainly evident that discrimination pervades our city despite the protestations to the contrary by the religiously or politically motivated. The fact that a member of the city’s Ethnic community committee was openly discriminated against by the chairman, who I might add sat two seats over from me during this meeting applauding every anti-ordinance speaker, is simply incredible. I renew my request that this man, Dr. Steve Naumovski, be removed from his post.
I respectfully submit that one doesn’t need to be LGBT themselves to feel the scorn of those who are against these protections; you only need to be pro-freedom in order to be the subject of ire. That just amplifies the need for legal protection as soon as possible.
The culture war is very much alive in Sterling Heights. Apparently some perceive the America of the 1940s to be the good old days. Blacks were subservient. Women stayed home, raised children, and cooked dinner. Gays and lesbians were deeply in the closet. Schools, buses and lunch counters were segregated. I believe that a lot of the resistance we’ve seen to this ordinance has been the product of people who for some reason yearn to return to days like those.
Unfortunately for them, the last 70 years did, in fact, happen. During these past 70 years we have moved more toward the freedom the Framers envisioned than we ever had as a nation up until that point. It is a painful process, and there are setbacks along the way. But I will remind you that the Revolutionary War was fought with only 30% approval by the public, and it was still the right thing to do. We have a republic because the costs of a pure democracy are too high, and the tyranny of the majority should not and will not be allowed to destroy the lives of the minority.
On display for all of the world to see last night were people representing the worst side of Sterling Heights politics. The Christian culture warriors were determined that no matter what, they would not allow the LGBTs to be recognized as equal members of our society. The sophists were there claiming their only reason for organizing the petition drive was “to let the people decide” whether 2% of the population should be protected from discrimination by the other 98%. Washed up former politicians sought to avenge years-old disputes by making false accusations against current city officials. And future politicians with poor critical thinking and English speaking skills made their best attempt to seem potentially electable, or at least somewhat relevant.
Such is the plight of a free society attempting to find the path to freedom through the darkness of ignorance. Do not despair. The LGBT community will become a protected class in Sterling Heights.
A few points of order of my own from last night:
- If you want to avoid being compared to ISIS, stop behaving like ISIS. You don’t get a pass for touting your religion’s form of bigotry just because people of your religious persuasion wear crucifixes and go to church on Christmas. If you want to oppress people, find a place like Syria and do it there. Here in America, the operative term is “liberty and justice FOR ALL.” You may not be beheading anyone, but that’s really the only difference. Your goals and intentions are the same as those of the Muslim Caliphate: to oppress any form of thought or expression that does not align with your own. Yes, I am equating you with terrorists. Deal with it.
- If you are capable of standing up and speaking on an issue, it is generally considered to be good form to actually know what’s being discussed. The City Council does nothing in a vacuum. Every bit of information the council members use to prepare themselves before the meeting is publicly viewable on the city’s website in the form of something called an ‘e-packet’. The e-packets are available on the Friday morning proceeding a regularly scheduled meeting here. So if you found yourself feeling a little foolish asking basic questions about what was being discussed, perhaps you could save us all the trouble by reading up ahead of time. Get somebody to read it to you and explain it if you’re one of the aforementioned washed-up politicians.
- There are literally thousands of words accepted as law in Sterling Heights which have been adopted over its 46-year history. Very few of them had to meet with your approval beforehand, and equally few of them will have to in the future. Not everything the council does will be spoon fed to you with coffee and cookies at a symposium. If you want to know what’s going on in town, pay attention. Claims that the anti-LGBT ordinance was somehow sprung on an unsuspecting public only go to show the public’s relative ignorance of the political process, not the sneakiness of the government body.
- The Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem and Members of Council are all people who a.) have a formal title which you should use to address them in a public meeting, b.) have been placed into office by the votes of thousands of people, many of whom do not show up for council meetings, and c.) all are individuals with their own thoughts, aspirations, life experiences, and Constitutional guarantees. They are there because they were put there via a Democratic process, but they are not obliged to apportion their support on the various issues according to polling data, or your perceptions of what the polling data would be if it in fact existed. They are not obliged to agree with you no matter how many you number. They’re not puppets. And their right to speak, to protest and to act in good conscience is not abridged by the fact that they’re your elected representative. If you don’t want them carrying signs and calling you a bigot, don’t act like one. Oh, and by the way, protesting bigotry is not “harassment” to the bigoted. Put your big girl pants on and accept the fact that what you were doing in front of the library there was going to be controversial.
- Finally, I am pleased that you read my blog. I am even more pleased if you opposed this ordinance and something I said about that upset you. If you would like to cite something I’ve said in a public forum, please be my guest, but please take the time to learn to pronounce my name correctly. My first name is “Geoff”, but it’s pronounced “Jeff”. The last name is “Gariepy”, which rhymes with “therapy”. Thanks.
Despite taking a courageous stand against LGBT discrimination by publicly supporting the anti-LGBT discrimination ordinance (hence, “the ordinance”) in Sterling Heights and accepting a position on the city’s Ethnic Community, Julie Bondy apparently felt her efforts were in vain and announced her resignation from her appointed post today.
Citing being “called a dyke, sinner, unnatural, sick, immoral, freak, and many more derogatory statements by the Referendum Petition group”, Ms. Bondy tendered her resignation in an email sent out earlier this afternoon to a wide group of recipients.
Ms. Bondy also stated that a current candidate for Mayor, Paul Smith, singled her out for some particularly abusive treatment: “One of the individuals of this group (Paul Smith) even yelled at my 75 year old mother and told her that I am sick, she has nothing to be proud of, and I am worth $50K worth of bad advertising.”
When Bigotry Goes Unchecked
During the debate over the ordinance, City Council was subjected to what, in my mind, were the depraved ravings of people who cited their religion as an excuse for bigotry. They weren’t called on it by anyone from the religious community in Sterling Heights who could speak with authority on the teachings of Christianity. Rather, an attempt was made to mollify these folks by including exceptions in the ordinance designed to give religious institutions latitude to discriminate as they saw fit. A couple of ministers spoke during the debate; none of them preached the message of love and acceptance that my 16 years of religious education imparted to me as a youth.
What we have here is a travesty. Sterling Heights, in its attempt to ensure the rights and freedom for all, has instead quashed the freedoms of the very group it attempted to protect because the unethical lies and behavior of those who were against it went largely unchallenged. These lies were used to dupe an unsuspecting public into forcing a parliamentary procedure that had the net effect of usurping the right of the representative government to enact laws.
In other words, our elected government, the government of the people, by the people, and for the people, was effectively rendered ineffective because of the desires of less than one tenth of the electorate.
I don’t call that a victory for Sterling Heights. I call that a loss.
I was afraid this would happen
When all of this blew up yesterday, I sent a note of encouragement to Ms. Bondy. Why? Because I knew the pressures on her were real, and the challenge of fighting for what you believe in when it is not perceived as “popular” can seem insurmountable. Paul Smith and his ragtag group of cronies set out to destroy this woman because they didn’t like her. They see her as a threat to what they imagine is the “proper order” in our society, and so they found it acceptable to cite their religious beliefs while making every effort to smear her, insult her, and verbally abuse her.
Like all rational people, Ms. Bondy did a cost benefit analysis: would the community support her and make her efforts worthwhile, or wouldn’t they? If they supported her, would what she was fighting for be worthwhile?
Apparently she concluded the potential benefit, an LGBT protection ordinance that made exceptions for religious groups, was not worth the enormous psychological and physical costs of facing a fringe group of religious extremists that was willing to use tactics approaching violence to achieve their goals. I cannot blame her. These folks are the ISIS of Sterling Heights. They are beneath disdain for me. Who needs it?
What you should do
If you think that Sterling Heights residents of all types should be protected by law, it’s time to say so. Once again, the issue is going to come up on October 7, and if you feel this is important, you should be at City Council.
If you cannot attend the meeting (I may not be able to myself) the following folks need to hear your opinions on the issue:
Mayor Pro Tem Michael C. Taylor
Councilwoman Deanna Koski
Councilman Joseph V. Romano
Councilwoman Maria G. Schmidt
Councilman Doug Skrzyniarz
Councilwoman Barbara A. Ziarko
Ms. Bondy’s Letter
Reproduced below with names of the recipients redacted is a copy of Ms. Bondy’s email sent out this afternoon.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Julie Bondy
Date: Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 1:15 PM
Subject: Ethnic Community Committee
Hello Sterling Heights Ethnic Community Committee, Sterling Heights Mayor Pro Team, Sterling Heights City Council, One Sterling Heights, Members of the Media:
On August 6th of 2014, “Mayor Pro-Team Taylor recommended the appointment of Julie Bondy to the Ethnic Community Committee. Moved by Councilman Skrzniarz and seconded by Taylor.” I know that the entire Sterling Heights City Council was also behind me and supported this appointment. I agreed to take this role seriously because I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to make a difference and help the children of Sterling Heights.
According to the City of Sterling Heights Boards & Commission Handbook, The Ethnic Community Committee function is, “The committee develops programs and activities that promote cultural diversity and understanding.”
Ethnic group is defined “a socially-defined category or people who identify with each member based on common ancestral, social, cultural or national experience. Membership of an ethnic group tends to be defined by shared cultural heritage, ancestry, myth of origins, history, homeland, language, or even ideology, and manifests itself through symbolic systems.” According to this definition, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) group is considered an Ethnic Group, therefore, should be included in the Ethnic Community Committee.
Cultural diversity is defined “the existence of a variety of cultural or ethnic groups within a society”. Again, according to this definition, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender) group is considered an Ethnic Group, therefore, should be included in the Ethnic Community Committee.
If you have been on this committee for any length of time, you should understand the definition and there should be no confusion whatsoever regarding the scope and mission of the group. Apparently, there was confusion with a few individuals.
My idea was to bring PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays www.pflag.org ) to our city to offer education and support groups for parents of LGBT in Sterling Heights. Their Mission: “PFLAG promotes the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons their families and friends through; support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy, to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.” If the parents are given an outlet, a support group, education, etc., they will be better equipped to understand their children and provide the necessary support to foster their emotional development appropriately. In addition, PFLAG of Macomb County wants to ensure there are specific bully programs, safe place plans, and other appropriate programs in the schools. I have copied them in this email as well for your future reference.
I also wanted to provide FAQs about the LGBT community, truths and untruths, and possible do’s and don’ts. We could have had an open meeting to the public to answer any non-sexual questions. All I wanted to do on this committee was to provide education, resources, support groups, and open communication.
During this whole process of trying to pass the Non Discrimination Ordinance in Sterling Heights, I have been personally attacked. I have handed out flyers, talked to business owners, spoke at city council meetings, spoke at county meeting, picketed at the library, been quoted by the press via paper and internet, and spoke at many more venues. I have been called a dyke, sinner, unnatural, sick, immoral, freak, and many more derogatory statements by the Referendum Petition group. One of the individuals of this group (Paul Smith) even yelled at my 75 year old mother and told her that I am sick, she has nothing to be proud of, and I am worth $50K worth of bad advertising. I have been physically pushed and blocked from talking to people while picketing. I have put myself through so much underserved anguish to be the voice of the voiceless.
I am hoping that through this process I have ignited a fire in many more who want to lead. I don’t have to prove anything to the Ethnic Community Committee, Paul Smith, the Referendum Petition group or anyone else. I am a true leader to whom it matters; myself and my son. My son, Mitchell Hintze, spoke off the cuff at a city council meeting during this ordinance “We are a race; the human race. And what did Bob Marley teach us? He told us this is One Love, and also, you have one life to live, and live on this earth, and to make it right, and to make it matter, no matter what. Because in the end, we are going to be judged by our actions, not if we are gay or straight or bi, but by whether we did right or whether we did wrong”. After this particular meeting, he walked up to a marine that spoke as well, who served 5 tours in Iraq, who happens to be transgender, and all Mitchell saw was a hero. THAT moment represented One Love. THAT is what the future is supposed to be. THAT represents what Sterling Heights needs to be.
So whether you believe you won or you lost, it does not matter to me. I do not wish to participate in any group that does not believe in progressing as a society; who does not believe in educating our children; or who does not believe in providing a safe and accepting environment for our children to grow, play, learn, work, and live. I don’t want to be hushed, patronized, or forced upon any committee. My fight for LGBT equal rights in Sterling Heights has taken its course, it is time for others to help lead, and time for me put my focus where it is desperately needed; homeless children.
If you still wish to carry out my original ideas, please contact PFLAG of Macomb County at PFLAG.CT@gmail.com
I am representing myself in this email, not Chrysler. I will follow this email up with the appropriate resignation letter.
Julie A. Bondy
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing” – Helen Keller
Many times during the debate over the LGBT protection ordinance in Sterling Heights we heard “there is no discrimination against gays in Sterling Heights.”
I have been recently been made aware that not only is discrimination against gays happening in Sterling Heights, it’s happening on one of the citizen boards sponsored by the city.
Mayor Pro Tem Michael C. Taylor writes:
From: Michael C. Taylor <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 9:58 AM
Subject: FW: How do I make a difference?
To: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com>
See below. I spoke with Dr. Steve today and he confirmed everything Julie said.
Michael C. Taylor
Sterling Heights Mayor Pro Tem
From: Julie Bondy
Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2:19 PM
To: Doug Skrzyniarz; Michael C. Taylor
Subject: How do I make a difference?
Dr. Steve Naumovski from the Ethnic Community Committee called me today to welcome me and ask how I am part of the committee. I told him that I have Italian citizenship but I represent the LGBT Community here in SH. He told me because of all the religious people represented in the committee that we won’t speak about any LGBT issues because it is too controversial and the don’t ask don’t tell works well with the Army. (emphasis added)
I am not here to wave a rainbow flag, but what is my exact role in this committee? How can I contribute if I can’t talk about inclusion or any issues? Am I going to stir the pot when I get there? How do you see me making a difference?
I know what I would like to see come of this, and know how to do it diplimatically, but I would like to know what you two want from me?
Julie A. Bondy
<personal information redacted>
I have briefly met Ms. Bondy in person. She is a well spoken, educated, professional woman who is active in the Sterling Heights community. She also happens to be gay.
It should come as no surprise that there is a gay viewpoint on public matters in Sterling Heights. If even 1/2 of 1% of our population is gay, that means we have 650 people living in this city who have that perspective.
If we were to tell 650 Italian people that their voice would not be heard, it would be an outrage and the next City Council meeting would be crowded out onto Utica Road.
If we were to tell 650 Chaldean people that their voice would not be heard, there would be marches on Ryan Road similar to the ISIS protest.
If we were to tell 650 African-American people that their voice would not be heard, the Revs Sharpton and Jackson would catch the first flight to DTW and organize a protest likely involving tens of thousands of people.
Somehow, though, it is perfectly acceptable for Dr. Steve Naumovski to tell an appointed member of the Ethnic Community Committee that she cannot speak on LGBT issues.
This is wrong. It is immoral. And, without the LGBT ordinance, it is completely legal.
Dr. Steve Naumovski should either reverse his decision or resign, immediately. If he fails to do either one, City Council should have him removed at the next meeting.
What we should do
If you support the LGBT ordinance, you should make an appearance at the next City Council meeting and say so. That meeting will take place in less than one week on October 7 at 7:30PM, City Council Chambers, 40555 Utica Road, Sterling Heights, MI.
The ordinance is technically suspended. It can either be repealed, or it can be put to a vote by the public. It needs to go to a vote by the public.
I would also strongly encourage you to sound off publicly on this issue. Call your City Counselors today and implore them to support moving the LGBT ordinance to a vote by the public at the earliest possible date:
Mayor Pro Tem Michael C. Taylor
Councilwoman Deanna Koski
Councilman Joseph V. Romano
Councilwoman Maria G. Schmidt
Councilman Doug Skrzyniarz
Councilwoman Barbara A. Ziarko
Only a few people might know that I am a diehard fan of Chrysler LLC’s products. In fact, in 24 years of vehicle ownership, I have never owned another marque besides Plymouth, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep or Ram Trucks.
Chrysler has just announced a virtual tour of Sterling Heights Assembly Plant using technology similar to Google Maps Street View. It is a fascinating look at the inside of the factory on Van Dyke Avenue that gives the viewer a guided tour of the facility as it builds the well regarded 2015 Chrysler 200 product.
You will recall this factory nearly closed a few years ago, and some of the credit for saving it goes to the folks on Mark Vanderpool’s team in the Sterling Heights City Administration building.
Since Chrysler LLC purchased the factory from the bankrupt remains of the former Chrysler Corporation, over $800 million was invested in bringing the plant up to date to build the current generation of products. I saw the plant before its transformation in person, and now can see all of the improvements that have been made since. If you’re a car guy like I am, you can’t miss this.
In an edition of Fox 2 TV’s Let It Rip, Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Taylor successfully managed to demonstrate the utterly obtuse nature of former Councilman Paul Smith’s opposition to the LGBT protection ordinance. It is several minutes of very revealing television which will show you who is and who is not for human rights in Sterling Heights.
I will let the segment speak for itself, adding only that Mr. Smith recently requested nominating petitions to collect signatures to have himself placed on the November 2015 ballot as a candidate for mayor.
It would be a sad day for all of us should the likes of Mr. Smith actually manage to win an election, and I personally will devote as much time and effort as possible to make this apparent to all who will listen. Fortunately, the position of dogcatcher is not an elected post in Sterling Heights; if it were, Mr. Smith would not be qualified.
As it stands, the folks who opposed the LGBT ordinance claim to have enough people willing to run to replace the entire city council in slightly more than a year from now. It is high time that candidates who are pro-human rights begin to make themselves known.
Last night City Council voted to repeal the LGBT protection ordinance that was signed into law this past June after finding itself in receipt of a legally valid petition to place the matter on the ballot. There were certainly some odd things happening in those chambers last night, and I thought I would comment on them here.
- Contradictions: one of the main themes that emerged was the complaint that the council members are there to “represent us”. Several people enjoined council to “start doing their job”; one lady opined that counsellors needed to “start representing us right.” Yet in the next breath, the same folks were stating they just “want to bring this issue to a vote of the people”. This is curious to me: either you want a representative government, or you want a pure democracy. After some reflection, I’m not sure that many in attendance last night actually know the difference.
- Lack of critical thinking skills: “we don’t need this law in Sterling Heights because nobody here discriminates against gays.” Somehow, opponents of this civil rights law are preternaturally gifted with omniscience and can speak with great authority on what does and does not happen outside their direct view in a city of 130,000 people. Yet at the same time, these folks object to the law because in their view it is “too vague” and “has too many loopholes,” which I would have taken for an argument to make the law even more rigorous if I didn’t know better. Still others were upset because they felt the law did not give a proper exception for people to discriminate in deference to their religious beliefs. This is the “any port in a storm” approach to political discourse: apparently “any argument that I can come up with” will suffice when confused by the facts and logic of a situation and the only thing you’re certain of is that you’re opposed.
- Flagrant disrespect for the political process: We actually had someone get tossed out of the meeting last night for an uncontrolled outburst, and it was necessary to threaten the same to several others whose behavior was becoming unacceptable. Despite the fact that council listened patiently to over two hours of barely coherent rhetoric against the ordinance, a group of people decided they wouldn’t sit still for Mr. Skrzyniarz’s explanation for why he was about to give them what they wanted by voting to repeal the ordinance, and disrupted the meeting by walking out en masse. All of these “great Americans” who were prepared to cite the Constitution chapter and verse weren’t familiar enough with the political process to avoid acting like the very rabble the framers were trying to prevent from ruling the day back in the 1700s.
To only say I’m disappointed that the ordinance appears to be on its way off the books really doesn’t cover the range of things I found distasteful about last evening’s proceedings. I’m far more disappointed that the political process has been hijacked by folks who apparently have no qualms against prevarication in service of achieving their political ends. I find it reprehensible that the ringleaders of this movement against the LGBT community will place themselves on a pedestal of fighting for religious freedom while at the same time ignoring all of the basic tenets of the religion they’re claiming to defend. And I’m disgusted by the sheer lack of decency and decorum that was on display last evening.
Whatever your political view, the goal of the political process remains the same: to achieve peaceful, and maybe even thoughtful, resolutions to the issues of the day. I would like to think that, for most of us, a fair hearing of the facts is the preferable method of arriving at a decision for or against an issue. Distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies by the petitioners were the only way that these folks were able to bring down a decent if not perfect city ordinance. Unfortunately, last night the nut jobs won, and we’re all worse off for it. I hope sanity returns to those chambers soon.
This has been a helter-skelter, everything coming on at once sort of week in Sterling Heights as many of you well know. Most of the stuff I have for this week is only tangentially related to Sterling Heights politics, but here we go…
- Sterling Heights was at the center of a demonstration by the Chaldean community on Sunday, August 10th. The demonstration was designed to attract more attention to the atrocities being committed against Christian civilians in Iraq by ISIS, the jihadist group that has taken over a large swath of Iraq. Some reports pegged the number of participants around 1,500 individuals, some more, but at any rate there was a large turn-out. Some video of this demonstration shot by a contributor can be seen below.
- On Monday, August 11th, Sterling Heights was whalloped by nearly 5 inches of rainfall in the course of just a few hours. The impact on the Detroit area in total was devastating and will probably reach into the billions of dollars; here in Sterling Heights the basements of many homes were flooded, dozens of vehicles were stranded and abandoned on major thoroughfares, and roads were temporarily closed by the Police Department because of flood waters. As a result, the Sterling Heights CERT team, of which I am a member, was activated and deployed to relieve police officers in watching over flooded roads. In all, eleven CERT members were able to relieve several officers, freeing them up to respond to calls. At one point, the 911 dispatch was so busy that callers were receiving a busy signal.