Rumors and updates … week of August 11th

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.

Rumors and updates….week of August 4th

I’m going to try a new occasional feature: a quick gathering up of news, rumors and photos from events surrounding Sterling Heights politics.  N.B. I am not a professional news reporter; if  factual errors come to light I will correct them.  I’m not looking to create scandals or publish completely unsubstantiated rumors, but it would be great if my readers would send me things they would like to see published, attributed or not.  Send me your tips, cell phone photos or videos, and I will consider them for possible inclusion in future posts.

  • Unconfirmed Rumor: Paul Smith filed the paperwork to become a candidate for Mayor of Sterling Heights on the day Mayor Notte announced he is taking a leave of absence to undergo treatment for cancer
  • council audience notte hats

    Audience members at City Council meeting wearing hats in support of Mayor Notte at 06-AUG-2014 council meeting

    council dais notte hats

    Members of council and city administration wearing hats in support of Mayor Notte at 06-AUG-2014 council meeting.

  • National Night Out on Tuesday, 5-AUG-2014 was a success.  Sterling Heights CERT received the names of several new recruits; Sterling Heights COPS members were there in force as well.
  • The group petitioning to place the new LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance on the November ballot submitted 6,050 signatures to the City Clerk’s office on Wednesday.  The Clerk’s office has 10 days to count and verify those signatures, during which the group can continue to collect more signatures.  If signatures are found to be invalid, the group has 15 days to make up any shortfall.
  • Meanwhile, police were called multiple times to resolve arguments in front of the public library between the petition signature-gatherers and protesters…

Tips and/or corrections to….

On the circulation of petitions to change the LGBT anti-discrimination ordinance

There has been a concerted effort on the part of the opposition to the new ordinance protecting LGBTs in Sterling Heights to circulate a petition asking that the matter be placed on the ballot for a vote.

As I understand it, petitioners are telling the public that they don’t want to repeal the law, instead they simply want to put the matter to a vote of the public so it can be decided democratically.  They are also stating that Mayor Pro Tem Michael Taylor somehow “forced” the legislation through in only one meeting.

None of the above is true.

What’s Really Going On

First and foremost, the petitioners want to repeal the law.  There is no reason to put the matter to a public vote unless you’re hoping the vote goes the way you want it to, and the people who are petitioning spoke out publicly against the law.  Signing the petition is the same thing as saying “I don’t like this law, and I want it repealed.”

Whether the petitioners oppose the law for religious reasons or for some other reason, I cannot say, but there is no reason for a petition or a vote of the public unless you don’t want the law.

Second, Mr. Taylor made NO attempt to force anything through the process or to somehow shorten the amount of time the public had to react to the issue.  If you’ve been paying attention to city politics for more than 15 minutes, you will know that the process of ordinance introduction involves two City Council Meetings: one to introduce the ordinance, which is put to a majority vote, and the second to actually enact the ordinance into law, which also requires a majority vote.  Occasionally, there is some discussion prior to the first meeting at which the ordinance is introduced; towards the end of a regular City Council meeting there is an opportunity for members of council to discuss new business.  In this case, Mr. Taylor discussed his intention to bring a new ordinance to the attention of council during the meeting before the meeting where the ordinance was introduced.

What I Think You Should Do: Inform Yourself

The people circulating the petitions have a constitutional right to do so, and you have a constitutional right to sign the petition if you think it is a good idea and are a registered voter in Sterling Heights.

But do not be fooled: signing this petition means that you are signing on to repeal an anti-discrimination ordinance.

If you intend to sign the petition, that’s fine by me, it is your right to do so.  But I would ask you to please make sure you understand the issue, and the way to do that is to read the ordinance as passed.  Follow the link, read the language in the law, and let your conscience be your guide: do you want to repeal a law that simply protects a class of people from discrimination?

Mayor Notte

In a letter released to the public dated August 4, 2014, Mayor Richard Notte announced that he is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer, and will not be discharging his duties as mayor in the immediate future.

Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Taylor will take over for Mayor Notte until such time that he can resume his duties.

First and foremost, I would like to extend my sympathy and best wishes to Mayor Notte for a complete and speedy recovery.  As many readers here know, the Mayor and I have not seen eye to eye on a number of subjects in the past, but as time has gone on I have grown in my respect for the man and can appreciate where he is coming from on the issues we disagree upon.  Pancreatic cancer is a scourge that even the worst political opponents hopefully would never wish upon each other.  I hope that his doctors are inspired, his treatment is precise, and he, his friends and relatives remain strong throughout this ordeal.  Godspeed, Mr. Mayor.

Since the mayor will not be returning for the foreseeable future there will be a considerably different dynamic on City Council.  With only six votes, a deadlock becomes possible on any contentious issue, and a spirit of cooperation will be the only thing keeping that from happening.  Although the council has been considerably less acrimonious since the last election, I hope that all of the counselors continue to work harmoniously to keep the city operating efficiently.  Now more than ever it is important they do so.

Of special note is the fact that the non-command officers on the police force are still operating without a contract.  I will be discussing this in more detail in the upcoming weeks, but suffice it to say that it is high time this gets resolved.  With six members on council instead of the usual seven, I worry about this becoming a divisive issue that creates a problem.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t.


Finally, a note of explanation regarding this blog and my less-frequent appearances at City Council meetings: for the first several years of this blog I was fortunate to have employment where I worked from home full time.  That situation changed this past May, and the nature of my employment itself changed in December, 2012.  With a commute to work and a more demanding job, I have not had as much time to devote to city politics, although it has not been for the lack of wanting to do so.  Although my participation in the city’s political process will continue to be more sporadic than I would like, my interest remains strong and I will continue on with these writings as much as possible.  Thanks to my readers for their patience and understanding.



August 2014 Primary Election

Sample Sterling Heights ballot: here

Once again it is time for the oft-ignored August primary election.  This year there are a couple of ballot proposals worth your consideration: one is a proposal to eliminate the business “personal” property tax and replace the revenue from different taxes via Lansing, and the other is a millage increase for Macomb County to support the SMART transportation system.

I have looked into both matters.  Although the removal of the business personal property tax has been a cause for concern for the city in the past, a deal has been struck that the city administration seems to think it can live with.   I will be voting “yes” on this issue.

As far as the tax increase to support the SMART system is concerned: I must confess that I am anti-public transportation, I don’t use it, and I think the system is poorly run.  I will be voting “no” on this issue.

Your voice is important, and your vote counts.  Please make sure you make it to the polls tomorrow.



R.I.P. Tom Ziarko

Tom Ziarko, husband of Sterling Heights councilperson Barbara Ziarko, passed away June 12 after battling lung cancer.

I met Mr. Ziarko in the parking lot of Hatherly Elementary school this past November on Election Day.  He was there in support of his wife’s re-election bid; I was there in support of Mayor Pro-Tem Michael Taylor’s effort.  As the day wore on, we engaged in a lengthy conversation, and probably spent the better part of five or six hours talking over the course of the day.

As acquaintances go, Mr. Ziarko’s and mine was a short one, but even in a few short hours I knew he was someone I enjoyed being with.  A longtime Chrysler employee, Mr. Ziarko shared in my passion for all things Mopar, and a good chunk of our time together was spent discussing that company’s recent history of being acquired and merged twice over the past couple of decades.  We talked about the products, our ownership experiences, and people we both knew who were associated with the company.  It was good conversation.

As people who read my writings here might recall, prior to the 2011 election I opined that Mrs. Ziarko might be replaced by better candidates, a recommendation I have later come to regret.   As Mr. Ziarko was a reader of this blog, this came up in our conversation.  It was a remarkable point in our talk for the grace and equanimity with which he treated the subject.  Had I been in his position meeting someone who had written something like that concerning my own wife, I could scarcely hope to later handle it with such poise or kindness.  I looked at Tom in that moment and told him he was a better man than I, and I sincerely meant it.  It is rare for me to meet a person who so impresses me.  It was perhaps the most gentle lesson in humility and respect I have ever had and one I will not soon forget.

I did not know Tom for years and I cannot claim we were friends, but I am saddened by his premature death; he is someone I surely would like to have had the opportunity to know better.  I believe he was a good man, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to the entire Ziarko family on their loss.


Protecting LGBTs in Sterling Heights

Point blank: if you’re truly for freedom, liberty and equality, you’re for freedom, liberty and equality for anyone and everyone, no questions asked.  Anything else is authoritarianism disguised as morality.

As regular readers of this blog probably know, it has been months since I have published a post.  I’ve had some big changes in my everyday work that have made big demands on my time.*

I remain plugged in to events in and around the city, however, and when the issue of this ordinance came up, I made the effort to attend the meeting and have my say.  I feel it’s incumbent upon me to comment here as well.  The issue is too important to ignore.

As I said last Tuesday, homosexuals have been part of humanity since antiquity.  Their reception by the heterosexual majority depends on the culture they find themselves in and the vagaries of history, but nonetheless they have always been with us.  We happen to be at a turning point in our history as a nation here where it has become permissible for homosexuals to identify themselves as such and agitate for fair treatment by the rest of us.  Personally, I think this is a good thing.

My reasoning is simply that oppression is abhorrent.  We wouldn’t tolerate discrimination against racial groups, religious groups, or  national groups in matters of employment, housing, or public access, much less open discrimination.  Such discrimination is clearly immoral, it creates the conditions for hostility and violence, and it is patently un-American in my view.

Why then would it still be okay in 2014 to discriminate against homosexuals?  And why then were there so many folks claiming to be Christian turning out at last week’s meeting to protest and say that was exactly what they wanted the “freedom” to do?  Are these people not aware that their God, Jesus Christ, embraced the lepers, the prostitutes, the poor and the disaffected?  Do they not know that the Golden Rule applies to the least among us as well as the mighty?  The hypocrisy and tone deafness astounds me.

Several others attempted to make the argument “there’s no discrimination of this sort going on in Sterling Heights!”  Since when have the omniscient among us felt the need to come to City Council meetings?  I should think that the all-knowing who can be so certain that no discrimination against LGBTs is taking place here would be spending their time stopping traffic accidents before they happened, winning big in Las Vegas, or perhaps making a killing in the stock market.   I am saddened and amazed by the “logic” that these folks employ.

Discrimination is subtle.  Discrimination is pervasive.  Discrimination is part of the human condition, and if an especially pernicious form of it arises, good people everywhere need to stand together to stamp it out.

I stated at the meeting and will repeat here that I am acquainted with several folks in the gay community.  I have a few observations: first, not a single one of them would have chosen to be gay, lesbian or transgendered considering the reaction society has toward them.  Of course there are some who have come to terms with their homosexuality and have moved beyond acceptance of their plight to advocacy for their rights, but this is not the norm.  These folks want to be left alone to lead their lives as they see fit, just like any of us do.

LGBTs would not be asking for or publicly supporting ordinances and laws such as this if it wasn’t necessary.  I reject the idea that this is some sort of attempt to throw their increasing political weight around.  If you looked at the people at the meeting the other night and saw what I did, you would understand this was not something these folks were doing for fun.  In a very real sense, it was obvious these people were fighting a grave injustice against perceived long odds: you could hear it in the quavering of their voices and see it in the fear in their eyes.  For most of us, taking on City Hall is a trial, not a hobby, and these folks are no exception.

I can’t claim to understand the motivations of the people who spoke against this ordinance the other night.  I have my doubts that anything they dared to say in public represents their real feelings, but that’s idle speculation on my part.  What I do know is this: the freedom that I enjoy in being able to buy a house, get a job, rent a car, eat at a restaurant, or hail a cab is not mine because I’m white, conservative, heterosexual and somehow special.  It is mine because I am an American, and freedom is my birthright.  I would be just as American if I was black, wore a dress, or had a sex change, and my claim to our collective birthright to freedom would be just as valid.  The people who don’t understand that freedom’s availability to all is the bargain we’ve struck in our society as a firewall against the evils of oppression deserve to live without it.

* I’m an experienced software developer who works in Perl, SQL, .NET and several other popular technologies.   I am still comfortably employed, but  I’m looking for a new job, preferably in Sterling Heights or very close by.  If you have a need for a skilled programmer, see my resume here.

On Raising Mark Vanderpool’s Salary

In a copywritten news article from the Thursday, December 5th edition of The Macomb Daily, I learned today that Mark Vanderpool has recently withdrawn his name from consideration for the city manager position in his previous hometown of Skokie, IL, deciding instead to remain in Sterling Heights.

Mayor Notte is quoted as saying “We will begin (contract) negotiations with Mr. Vanderpool to keep him here.  He pulled us through some real tough times especially when the morale of employees was beat up.”

In the same article,  unattributed sources were cited as follows: “Those close to Vanderpool said he previously stated he would consider the Skokie job if he could get the same wages, $240,000, as the retiring village manager in the Illinois city has been paid.”

According to the article, Mr. Vanderpool’s current base salary is $137,217.

Who wouldn’t?

Mr. Vanderpool has told me personally a year or so ago that he is planning on staying in Sterling Heights, so the story that he might change jobs came as somewhat of a surprise to me.  On the other hand, if I was presented with the possibility of making $100,000+ more per year than I am in my current job, I’d very likely pursue the opportunity and at least see if an offer would be made.  Who wouldn’t?  $100,000 is a lot of money, and it would make a very significant change in my personal financial situation.  I am certain Mr. Vanderpool is no different in this respect.

However, this does raise an important question: is Mark Vanderpool underpaid by a hundred grand?  Does Sterling Heights really need to step up the base salary by that much in order to retain him and pay him fairly?

In searching for the answer to this question, I encountered the 2012 edition of the ICMA’s Municipal Year Book 2012, Chapter 6, entitled CAO Salary and Compensation: The Big Picture.  The International City/County Management Association (ICMA) conducts annual salary surveys of city managers and publishes those results for communities to use as a guideline in determining how to pay unelected public officials.

There are several ways to view the data presented in this publication, and it goes on at some length explaining why it is presented the way it is, so I won’t repeat that discussion here.  Essentially, the response to the salary survey by state  is somewhat limited, but there is enough data on a national basis to make reasonable comparisons.   State-by-state or regional comparisons, according to the article, are probably meaningless, but a useful comparison can be made by looking across the nation and grouping by municipality size.

The relevant information in the article can be found in  Table 6-3, Salaries by Population Size, which I’ve reproduced below:

Population No. reporting Mean ($) Minimum ($) Median ($) Maximum ($) Maximum minus minimum ($)
250,000–over 1,000,000 64 194,899 105,685 187,680 274,498 168,813
100,000–249,999 102 168,692 75,000 164,586 285,132 210,132
50,000–99,999 159 150,522 48,000 148,730 291,571 243,571
25,000–49,999 275 140,687 38,500 137,000 292,500 254,000
10,000–24,999 567 117,795 24,000 115,000 242,000 218,000
Under 10,000 1,298 83,855 20,000 81,130 195,727 175,727

The City of Sterling Heights, with a population of 130,000 residents is considered comparable with other cities with populations ranging from 100,000 to 249,999 residents.

Out of 102 data points nationwide concerning cities with populations of roughly the same size as Sterling Heights, the median salary for the City Manager or his local equivalent is $164,586 per year.  Recall that the median point in a set of data is not affected as the mean is by high or low values at the extremes: it simply means that 50% of the population is larger than that figure, and 50% is lower than that figure.

According to this data, Mr. Vanderpool’s salary is smaller than  50+% of the salaries of his fellow city managers who run cities of roughly comparable populations.

How Compensation Should Be Set

The article goes on to  outline the ICMA’s guidelines on setting salaries, which I will quote here:

Conclusions regarding Base Salaries

Because base pay is a factor of multiple variables, the ICMA survey can never be definitive in determining what a professional manager should make in a specific local government. Nonetheless, the survey collected data on several variables in addition to population size, including form of government and scope of services provided, and the results provide a range that can serve as a starting point. Given the number of variables involved, ICMA’s guidelines recommend that the governing body engage experts as necessary, whether contracted or in-house, “to provide the information required to establish fair and reasonable compensation levels.”

Such information should be obtained by applying the following steps:

1. Determine the requirements of the job and the experience needed to successfully perform the job duties.
2. Examine market conditions to learn what comparable public sector executives earn. A best practice would be to gather information using predetermined comparable benchmark local governments or public sector agencies.
3. Understand the services provided by the local government along with the nature of the current issues in the organization and in the community, and then compare these with the individual’s expertise and proven ability to resolve those issues.
4. Identify the local government’s current financial position, its ability to pay, and the existing policies toward compensation relative to market conditions.

My Conclusions

I won’t pretend to be one of the experts on the salaries of public officials that the ICMA recommends that Sterling Heights engages, but I do have some thoughts regarding this.

First, Mr. Vanderpool was motivated to explore an out-of-state opportunity that might have rewarded him with a very significant salary increase.  I find it difficult to find fault with him for that, as I have done the same thing myself many, many times.  However, this should be used as an indication of his level of satisfaction with his current salary, which I will assume he doesn’t find completely sufficient.

I recall that Mr. Vanderpool has voluntarily taken cuts in his own pay and benefits during the recent downturn.  I also recall that he does get paid more than his base salary would suggest, or at least has in the past.

When I look at the range of the salaries of public officials in comparable cities nationally, I find the fact that our city manager’s pay is significantly below the median — by $27,000 — is interesting and significant.  If I were in his shoes, I would find this at least mildly distressing, especially considering the fact that he is currently navigating our city through some very troubling times, and by most accounts is working day and night to do so.

However, I also bear in mind that the ICMA recommends that we examine the city’s ability to pay and existing policy towards compensation relative to market conditions.  I recall that Sterling Height’s longstanding policy is to pay more than the average city does, in the hopes of attracting and retaining the best available talent.

We have to balance the fact that Mr. Vanderpool is significantly below median pay for his position with the fact that the city is not out of the woods yet with regard to its financial health.  We have just enacted a tax increase to alleviate the pressure on the city’s finances, and it was done with the promise that the police and firefighters would not see large increases as a result.  However, the police and firefighters were already considerably above median pay levels before that promise was made, and that is something to bear in mind as well.

I will not earn any “thank you” cards from area Republicans by suggesting that we increase Mr. Vanderpool’s pay, but at the same time I’m not sure the Democrats would be terribly happy about it either, given that anecdotally they see him as “top management” and therefore not worth half his pay just by definition.

As a conservative — defined in this case as being someone who takes careful measure of the circumstances and attempts to match outcomes with principles and goals without incurring large amounts of risk — I have to say that retaining Mark Vanderpool at this point in our city’s history is probably the wise thing to do.   I do not believe that he should be compensated in the top 10% of respondents to the salary survey, but I sure don’t believe he should be in the bottom 50% either.

If it was up to me — which it clearly is not — I would suggest that the city adjust his benefits and compensation to a more competitive level, such as $175,000 per year.   This would put him firmly in the top 50% without giving away the farm, hopefully provide him with a significant enough salary increase to retain him, and at the same time reward him for the successes he has had over the past several years in navigating the city through some very difficult times.

About the election

I spent the day yesterday working in the parking lot at a polling place, handing out literature in support of Mike Taylor and talking with voters as well as cops, firefighters, a union attorney, a union leader, a politician’s husband, and many other folks.  I am always happy yet pleasantly surprised to be reminded that people with sometimes different political views still have the same goals in mind, just different approaches and ideas on how to get there.   I think this is something that we as conservative-minded folk are afraid to do: learn that the “left” is just like “us” in many important regards.

I believe firmly that if you are an ideologue, a polemicist, or a self-styled “freedom fighter” you’re going to miss important things about the debate you so desperately want to frame on your own terms.   You will acquire nothing by preaching to the choir.  You will learn nothing by talking to people who “know” all the same things you do.  You will achieve nothing towards changing peoples’ hearts and minds by being an angry, vitriolic, hateful person unwilling to respectfully engage people who think differently than you do.  I have personally made all of these mistakes in the past.  I have been that angry, divisive conservative, the guy who knew it all and was convinced that everyone on the other side was wrong.  I didn’t feel like the people on the other side deserved my respect or merited my time to listen to their point of view.  I learned this was wrong.  Fortunately, I did not have to learn this the hard way.

As far as my own personal principles, there are many I will never compromise on.  I maintain that the U.S. Constitution is, and should forever be, the law of this land, and that the freedoms expressed in the Bill of Rights are paramount.  I believe in a small, open government that operates as efficiently as possible for the minimum amount of tax revenue it can survive on.  I feel strongly that government should yield to private enterprise whenever and wherever possible, and that the most efficient use of capital can only be achieved through a judicious application of the profit motive.   I think that laws, ordinances and regulations ought to be minimal, and that they are best applied at the local level instead of the state or federal levels.  I remain frankly unconvinced that labor unions still serve the purpose in our society that they were originally intended to serve, and I feel the common man would be far better off in his employment without collective bargaining.    I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Despite that, I continue to learn and gain in my appreciation for the fact that human beings are not adequately described by labels such as “liberal” or “conservative”.   “Ideological purity” is for ideologues and charlatans.  I am always impressed by people with the courage to tell me “I’m a Democrat, and I definitely don’t agree with you on everything, but I read your blog and I have a hard time disagreeing with most of what you have to say.”   The ability to recognize that people who are different from you are capable of intelligent thought and a reasoned perspective is something I will no doubt have to work to achieve for the rest of my life.  It takes courage.  It takes confidence in one’s own convictions.  And it takes having the ability to see outside of oneself.  I am humbled by the people who do this better than I.

As far as Election 2013 goes, I could hardly be more pleased with the results, even though it comes at a certain, personal expense in the form of higher taxes.  Let me be clear: I hate taxes.  I hate paying more for the same service I’ve always gotten.  I believe that every additional dollar handed over to government goes with the risk of being abused, mis-spent or wasted, and I lament the loss of each one I’ve surrendered that I know has been wasted.  I am still going to go ballistic over $86,000 playscapes.  I’m going to continue to be skeptical of labor contracts with generous terms.  But I am also going to give credit where credit is due: the city has tightened its belt tremendously.  The men and women working for the city have gone through a terribly lean time in their employment, and have been forced to do their very important jobs with a decided lack of adequate resources.   As an employee myself, they have every last scintilla of my sympathy.  It was definitely time to turn things around.   The millage needed to pass, and I for one am glad it did.

As for the candidates for City Council, well I am very pleased to see Mr. Taylor retain his position as Mayor Pro-Tem, even if it is largely symbolic.  I am even more pleased to see Mr. Smith return to retirement as a private citizen.  I will be very interested in seeing Mr. Skrzyniarz’s development as a new member of council.  And as long as the other incumbents remain dedicated to moving the city forward and in a positive direction, I say ‘welcome back.’

In regards to Mayor Notte: you have to accord a certain amount of respect to a man who has so thoroughly dominated past races as to be able to run unopposed in an election with a millage issue.  Although I have not agreed with him on a number of things in the past and have found some of the things he has done while presiding over the meetings to be questionable, I have also learned that at heart he is very devoted to this city, is willing to extend a hand across the proverbial aisle, and has proven to be a very astute politician.  I wish him well in this term.  I will be very interested in learning of his plans for the future — both the city’s and his own — and will try to chronicle them here as best I can.

I am rather disappointed by the low turn-out in this election.   I think this is something that we as a city need to work together to change.   Personally, I think a move to even-numbered-year elections is in order, and although it may be politically difficult to do so, the challenge can and must be overcome.   As a blogger, pundit and observer — not a politician — an idea such as this would be difficult at best for me to pursue without the backing of the administration and the politicians, so I may be relegated to just advocating for it, but advocate for it I will.  It is worthy of our consideration.

Finally, thank you for your readership.  My blog’s page count numbers on election day nearly doubled the previous record set in 2011.  I am gratified to know that my efforts are being seen, that my thoughts and research are proving relevant, and my little niche in local politics is that much more firmly established.  As you know, I don’t financially benefit from this blog.  I don’t know how I could, otherwise I would probably try to do so, being a confirmed capitalist and devotee of private enterprise.  So my reward is counted in page views and referrals by readers to their friends, neighbors and associates, and I appreciate every single one.  If you find the blog at least useful enough to not print it out and use it as a liner for your bird cage, please pass the website along.  Thanks.

Election Results 2013

Because people are coming to my blog seeking the results of the election, I will republish here the numbers which can be found on the city’s website.

City of Sterling Heights General Election

November 5, 2013

Unofficial Results

32 out of 32 precincts reporting – plus all AVs reporting.

MAYOR (One 2-yr term)

 Richard J. Notte 16,130

CITY COUNCIL (Six 2-yr terms)

 Deanna Koski 12,284
 Joseph V. Romano 11,646
 Maria G. Schmidt 12,226
 Nate Shannon 10,351
 Doug Skrzyniarz 12,968
 Paul M. Smith   8,468
 Michael C. Taylor 13,172
 Barbara A. Ziarko 12,211

Editor’s Note: these results restated in vote number order are as follows:

Michael C. Taylor: 13,172 (retains Mayor Pro-Tem title)

Doug Skrzyniarz: 12,968

Deanna Koski: 12,284

Maria G. Schmidt: 12,226

Barbara A. Ziarko: 12,211

Joseph V. Romano: 11,646

The following candidates did not make the cut:

Nate Shannon: 10,351

Paul M. Smith: 8.468

Congratulations to all of the candidates who were elected yesterday!


Shall the Sterling Heights Charter be amended to authorize the levy of an additional ad valorem millage of not more than 2.5 mills for 6 years, from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2020, for the purpose of providing revenue for police and fire protection, and local street improvements? This 2.5 additional millage authorization shall be specifically dedicated as follows:

  • 1.7 mills for police and fire protection
  • 0.8 mills for local street improvements

This increased millage authorization will raise an estimated $10,400,000 in the first year if fully levied.

 YES 12,121
 NO   8,998

Congratulations to all of the Police and Firefighters who will not lose their jobs next summer!

Due to the demands on my time after having taken a vacation day yesterday to campaign for Mr. Taylor, I will reserve further comment for later in the weeks to come.  Suffice it for now to say that I am pleased with the election results, and I am very happy that the residents of Sterling Heights made the decisions they did.


I met a great number of people working at the polling place yesterday and enjoyed nearly every encounter, but I must give a tip of my hat to a few people who educated and informed me and generally made a long day outside more tolerable.  In no particular order, I’d like to thank Tom Ziarko, Rob Kovalcik and Jennifer Miller for interesting and stimulating conversation on Sterling Heights politics.   I must also say thank you to Mayor Richard Notte and Bob Haase for their generosity in giving someone from the conservative side of the house coffee, donuts and chips.  Most of all, I need to extend a huge, public THANK YOU to my wife Angela and my kids for not only putting up with my political obsession but being willing to let me spend a precious vacation day in a parking lot doing political stuff instead of doing stuff with them.  Angela, you’re the best!  Josh, you’re a heck of a sandwich maker, son!  Savannah, you went well out of your comfort zone for your dad, and I love you and appreciate it greatly!


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