Peter Auger, Auburn Hills City Manager
Thoughts on running a city, daily musings, and everything in between.
City Manager, Auburn Hills, MI
I happened to be in the Robert Grusnick Public Safety Building for a meeting this morning and was able to poke my head into the Fire Department side of operations just in time for the Fire Department Command meeting.
I wish I could have stayed for the entire meeting. Not that I know about firefighting, but they were breaking down a recent house fire. The level of detail and engagement that these command officers were boiling down was impressive. In this line of work there are many priority items. Safety and accountability are obviously high on our list.
It was enjoyable for me (I know I should get a life) to not participate in the meeting, but just observe professionals pour over details as such things of what was the mix of senior and less experienced personnel on each truck in so that the second wave of firefighter team would have enough “experienced team members” to lead the “green crew members”.
Taking a good fire department and making it better.
There were a lot of nervous people when we changed how we did some things in the fire department. Some firefighters were anxious, I heard from them. Some people in the public were nervous, heard from them also. I couldn’t be prouder of all involved in this evolution and next step. Everyone involved is growing and adding value to the community. From the ambulance crew, paid on call firefighters, full time firefighters, command staff, and office staff all the way up to Assistant Chief Macias, Deputy Director Manning and Director of Emergency Services Olko, everyone is moving in the same direction together and with enthusiasm and passion for what they do.
Keep up the great work; I look forward to what develops next.
History and many religions are full of parables, stories about false prophets who convince and/or inspire people to follow them. How do you know when you are going someplace you shouldn’t? When we were younger we relied on the guidance of our parents. What about when you grow up?
I recently came across an article in The Guardian on David Simon’s opinion that Karl Marx had it right that the social compact that is capitalism (I paraphrased) is broken. The article brought up some interesting items to consider, but in this person’s simple mind, cause and effect are not connected. This seems to happen often when people are attempting to persuade others. Connect some events or facts and then make a causal assumption that one thing caused another.
Mr. Simon seems to buy into the notion that capitalism causes people to not care for their fellow mankind and jumps even further to infer that those who follow Marxism (that would be Lenin, Stalin and Mao) have some superior moral ground.
I guess I should invite Mr. Simon to one of the Auburn Hills service groups. You have heard me talk about their great works here before, the Optimist Clubs or Rotary Club. What these folks do every day to make a difference is inspiring. Actually let me step out of Auburn Hills as yesterday I was in neighboring Rochester Hills visiting as a guest Rotarian Speaker to the Rochester Rotary Club. Here was another great group of people who are doing great things in their community and beyond, some have just returned from a foreign mission trip and treated hundreds of people in a week’s time. They also must have raised several hundred dollars through the meeting for local issues and causes.
Could there be a disconnect from some citizens in what they do every day and those who are helping other people of need? Sure. BUT, in the circles I run, I witness some of the greatest efforts of giving and charity by groups mentioned above than any Communist or Socialist economy and it means more too because these people do it voluntarily of their own free will.
People often confuse economic models with forms of governance and I think this is the major flaw in Mr. Simons thinking. On the home front I have a challenge for all ye blog readers… What are you doing to prove Mr. Simons wrong? I think people care about other people and I challenge you to find your local organization and visit for lunch or breakfast (whenever they meet). See if what they are doing make sense to you; if it does, hang on, you are in for some fun. If not, keep visiting until you find one where you can add your time or talents.
I double dog dare you.
You blog readers have heard me brag here before about our great employees and the services that they provide to the residents, businesses and visitors to our fine City. Just because I know how hard they work and the quality of services we provide does not mean we stop searching for ways to improve our services to maximize the public value we create.
You have witnessed us make changes before to squeeze out efficiencies and make us stronger across the board and our team has responded well. One of those was creating an administrative structure for Emergency Services. In the effort to continue to bring more value as an organization and support the efforts of several departments, we have shifted some staffing and did a tweak to our organization’s functionality by focusing in on “Quality of Life Services”.
This group will focus on our Municipal Properties, Seniors, Recreation and our Fieldstone Golf Club. These groups are all areas that add to the quality of life in our community. Most of these areas have grown utilizing minimum staffing and administrative help. With changes in federal laws and regulations we saw the extra challenges that would be added to most of these units and we did not want to lose any of the programs and services that each of these components bring to our residents and businesses.
What does that mean to the end user? My guess is you will not see any difference. Behind the scenes there might be some slight changes in how we use resources or maximize the expertise we already have on our teams. We have already seen some future efficiency based on projections of workloads as our Downtown continues to grow and we are changing our food source provider at Fieldstone Golf Club.
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
That’s right, this blog is for all of the children. We are expecting some very special visitors this evening in Downtown Auburn Hills, at the corner of Squirrel and Auburn Roads. They will be meeting Mayor McDaniel for the Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6:00 p.m. There will also be carriage rides, a magic show, s’mores, hot cocoa and much more. Tell your parents not to worry, this is a free event!
Our special guest, Santa and Mrs. Claus, will be there to help us welcome the holiday season and we hope you can join us!
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
I can’t think of anything you would need to buy that you can’t find at Great Lakes Crossing Outlets. As far as entertainment goes, they have it all in that category too. What quickly comes to mind as far as entertainment is concerned is the AMC Star Theatre; Jeepers, which is an indoor climate controlled amusement park for children; the music and mechanical bull at Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill; and for the little ones, just walking by Rain Forest Café is entertaining. Yes, I too walk slowly by amused as I watch the animals and listen to the thunder and rain, plus I admit it, I love the crocodile at the entrance of the restaurant and gift shop.
Speaking of Rain Forest Café, there will be some football entertainment taking place in the parking lot near the Café on Saturday, December 14th from 10:00am – 10:00pm and Sunday, December 15th from 10:00am – 9:00pm.
GMC is holding a Monday Night Football Tour. Football fans are invited to experience “Monday Night Football” that weekend to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens! Fans get the chance to:
On Saturday Joique Bell, Kris Durham and Louis Delmas will be available. On Sunday Stephen Tulloch, Darius Slay and Joseph Fauria will be there. You could receive an autograph from these great players.
Life has some funny twist to it. I often hear that the legislature is making too many laws, we can’t keep up with the thousand pages of legislation that gets tossed at us each year…let’s not forget the force multiplier of the regulations that follow the before mentioned laws. What do we really expect, we elected them to a full time position and send them and their staff to a city to make laws and they make laws.
The same could be said for our thinkers. You know, I was reading an article in the Huffington Post titled “What Money Can’t Buy” by Michael Sandel. Obviously he is a learned man, who someone pays to think, maybe too much. In the article I found a new word, or at least new to me, skyboxification. He relates to the “haves and the have not’s” of the world as where they sit to watch sporting events. So you have people who can afford sky boxes and those who can’t.
I believe that he argues markets and or market values now govern how we live in America and for the first time “almost everything can be bought and sold.” Then he had more time to think and conclude “We did not arrive at this condition through any deliberate choice. It is almost as if it came upon us.”
To me the article was confusing and contradictory, but I find that a lot about those learned individuals, I sometimes wonder if they do that to see if anyone is willing to point out the contradictions or flaws in their logic.
First, people have complained for years before I was born that everything or everyone has a price tag. Secondly, in this country we are suppose to govern our own well being, so to make a comment that we magically appeared at this point without deliberate choice would seem sophomoric at best. Of course things change, but decisions of people have consequences. A more logical conclusion could be that individuals and groups have made certain choices that led us to this place we are, not that we were beamed here by some sort of Star Trek Transportation device.
Finally, the author points out that rising inequity is not good for democracy…that is exactly what a democracy is. People voting for something they want, think is fair, or are told what is good for them. That is one of the reasons our Founding Fathers set a democratically elected Republic.
To give the author credit, he did say that part of the issue was we as a society removed the moral and spiritual conversation from the public square as part of this downward slide. One would think if “we” removed something that there was a choice involved somewhere.
Oh, aren’t you glad I am not paid to think?
We had an interesting City Council Workshop last night as we laid out some of the items this City Council wants to workshop. The last City Council decided to meet in workshop format, before the first City Council meeting of the month, normally from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.
Workshops are in an informal setting where the elected body gets to come up to speed on certain projects, learn background on certain issues from staff and brainstorm on how we can continue to grow as an organization.
Here are the topics that were covered last year:
There were some items we did not get to, but were on the list to be discussed were:
This year’s City Council added some areas they would like to discuss such as:
Plus what other important topics that comes up during the year. As you may see there are enough interesting topics to discuss. Now the City Council will rate the list in order of their priority to establish the order in which we will try to schedule them. With about two dozen items on the list you know it’s going to be a busy year.
This time of year we, in the United States, gather with family and friends for Thanksgiving. I hear many stories and traditions about Thanksgiving and have been doing a little reading from different sources attempting to piece together the origins of this American Tradition. It seems that the holiday stems from the feast held in the autumn of 1621 by the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians to celebrate the colony’s first successful harvest. After one or two winters where large amounts of Pilgrims’ died due to the attempted governance of a communal society and inept planning, it seemed like they turned the corner.
Then in October of 1789, America’s first President under the 1787 Constitution, George Washington, issued a historic Thanksgiving Proclamation. The Congress had instructed him to:
“recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God.”
There are many who consider this the nation’s first Thanksgiving Proclamation.
Along came another well known President, Abraham Lincoln, and in 1863, after the victory at Gettysburg, invited his “fellow citizens in every part of the United States… to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Finally, Franklin Roosevelt changed tradition in 1939 to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving on the third Thursday of the month of November, doing so because retailers felt it would benefit their Christmas shopping season. This was mocked as “Franksgiving.” When a later study showed no measurable impact on business, Roosevelt changed his mind. In 1941, he signed into law a bill designating the fourth Thursday in the month of November as Thanksgiving Day, when we celebrate it today. His was the first to formalize this day into law.
What does all this mean?
Green Bay 16, Detroit 21. Hey 1621!
By Karrie Marsh, Executive Assistant and Guest Blogger
There’s a thought! Imagine what a difference we could make if during our interactions with people, we either cared or shared.
The faster we rush to get things done, the less we have time for empathy and appreciation it seems. I am guilty of it too. I just want to get my to-do list done, avoid bothering people or being bothered. You may be saying to yourself, “Well, Bah Humbug Karrie!” I know! It is easy to get in work mode as I call it and forget that there are people, with feelings, around me.
Sometimes we need to slow down and prioritize things that matter the most. Avondale School District is doing just that. They celebrate an annual week-long effort called Caring and Sharing. This community themed event inspires high school students to realize their potential in the world and put it to action. The program runs December 4th – 11th. The schedule consists of assemblies, fundraisers and service projects which teach them that “it takes each of us to make a difference for all of us.” This quote is by Jackie Mutcheson, a teacher in Kirkland, Washington who provides inspiration for the program.
The students will be caring and sharing by adopting a family, holding the Avondale Gleaners Food Drive contest, packing backpacks for Blessings in a Backpack and holding a penny war competition to donate proceeds to Blessings in a Backpack to name a few activities.
Let us be inspired by the students! Make time to care and share. It doesn’t take much to ruin someone’s day, let’s reverse that and do something to make someone’s day. Avondale High School staff and students, thank you for setting the example for the rest of us.
I know I have blogged about the silent protest against ternary that was used in another part of the world. This is where shop owners place the math equation in the window 2+2=4. It stood for truth; it is what it is and no matter how you say it 2+2 always equals 4.
If we translate that to the English language I think it would be “words mean things.” We come across a changing of the words, if you will, while working in government. It is always a yellow flag for me when someone invents a new way to say something, almost like if someone said 2+2=5.
This came up this weekend where I read that there was a $41.3 billion profit for the 2013 fiscal year but is down $3.6 billion from the previous year. That was a pretty impressive business model if you ask me. If you think about it, it’s a higher profit level than all but two companies in the world: Exxon Mobil cleared $44.9 billion in 2012, and Apple cleared $41.7 billion.
Remember, not too long ago the federal government took over all student loans, I forget what year, but believe it was due to new Finance regulations the government was to be the only people that could be trusted. Then I read where the Feds were backing away from such a stellar business model, Education Secretary Arne Duncan stated, “It’s actually neither accurate nor fair to characterize the student loan program as making a profit.” I think Mr. Duncan later commented that he believes the government isn’t running the student loan system in order to make money, but rather to help students afford college.
The next thing I read said that there is actually very little or no profit when you use “fair value accounting.”
Okay, I admit I am not an accountant, but just reading this stuff makes me wonder what 2+2 is equal to today.