Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Alert Reader’ Category

Alert Reader: Some Notes on Possible Actions the People of Elberta May Take According to the Village General Law and MML, and a Word on Village Tax Rates

In Alert Reader, Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Politics, Uncategorized, Village Money Situation on December 22, 2013 at 1:11 pm
The Alert received the following by email from Elberta resident Teri McGregor December 20, 2013. Letters to the editor may be edited for length and minor typos/spelling issues. We welcome anyone’s input. Send letters to elberta.alert@gmail.com, subject line “Alert Reader.” Thanks for reading!
By Teri McGregor
The Elberta Village meeting was stimulating but not in a good way. There were many topics discussed but not much action, other than appointing committee members. Very disappointing. I thought we would get answers to some questions, but no luck. I am posting this lengthy document that outlines the points of interest discussed at the meeting. I have added reference to disincorporation of the Village and removal of an elected official for future discussions.
Powers of the council (handbook for General Law Village)

The GLV Act establishes the council as the legislative authority for the village. It is important to remember that this authority is granted to the council as a whole rather than to individual trustees. Most of the powers granted to the council are permissive in nature rather than obligatory. The act allows the council to:

• reduce the number of trustees to four. The proposed ordinance requires a public hearing, followed by a ten-day waiting period before adoption by a two-thirds Read the rest of this entry »

Alert Reader: “Asleep at the Switch”

In Alert Reader, Gov't Watch, Village Money Situation on December 14, 2013 at 11:02 am

The Alert received the following by email yesterday, December 13, 2013. Letters to the editor may be edited for length and minor typos/spelling issues. We welcome anyone’s input. Send letters to elberta.alert@gmail.com, subject line “Alert Reader.” Thanks for reading!

Can I post this on the ALert FB? Park and wreckers loved it!Asleep at the Switch, or Blustering Dullardry Sinks the Good Ship Elberta
Elberta’s Village Council President is either blinded by personal interest or just trying to keep up with our national government’s renowned incompetence and lack of vision.
A recent report [Treasury Report on Village Internal Controls] from the Michigan State Treasury lists countless missteps made by Elberta’s village treasurer and clerk which have helped propel the village into deficit.  This report makes clear that for the past two years, budget deficit reduction plans submitted by the village (never submitted to the Village Council for approval) were rejected by the state.  Now, the state treasury has placed a deadline on a new deficit reduction plan and the Village missed that deadline.  Rather than schedule an emergency meeting with an eye toward adhering to the state’s deadline, another externsion was requested of the state. Instead of an emergency meeting to solve the deficit problem, the Village President scheduled an emergency meeting to return the village clerk to a position she quit less than a month ago.  Why?Additionally, the state report makes clear that the village has failed repeatedly to submit required financial statements on a quarterly basis and that budget amendments arrive at the state’s door only at the end of every fiscal year rather than when they have been initiated.  President Manville maintains that the village office staff is competent.  They work more than twice as many hours as the clerks and treasurers of Benzonia or Beulah.  They also receive full-time benefit packages, as well as vacation and sick days that would make a Teamster blush.  Meanwhile, they fail to submit required forms to the State Treasury per state law, fail to process requests for paperwork by local citizens (which has led to at least one costly lawsuit) and fail to maintain transparent financial books.

President Manville has gone on record in the past few months with a sky-is-falling prediction that the state is about to send an emergency manager to swoop in and take over Elberta and sell its property.  This seems a clever subterfuge designed to distract Elberta citizens from the real problem.  The state treasury representative assigned to assist Elberta in solving its financial conundrum went on record about an emergency manager at the November 21 village meeting.  The representative stated that an emergency manager would be a last resort.  He went on to state the Village Council has the power to choose options besides an emergency manager, should it ever come to that point.
During the same meeting, President Manville called on Council members to present their solutions to the budget deficit and then proceeded to interrupt those with whom he disagreed, using rude comments and criticisms.  For example, Councilperson Linda Manville suggested the village office could save money by not having a cleaning service and the President blustered “And who’s gonna vacuum, the men or the women?”  This was clearly not meant as a joke. And no one at the meeting was laughing.

Nepotism and an obvious conflict of interest exist between Village Treasury and the President.  I suggest that the power of the treasurer and clerk be limited so they are not able to submit budget proposals and budget amendments to the state without oversight by the Council.  Unfortunately, combining blatant nepotism and majority Council voting power, President Manville and his cronies will continue to be able to run the village into financial ruin, while blaming the very council he “controls.” Voters need to take the power back before the sky actually does fall on the Village of Elberta.  But since the Village President seems to have a stranglehold on the scheduling of emergency meetings, I imagine these troubles wont be deemed any more of an emergency to him than the budget deficit.

Jonathan Kells
Frankfort

Benzie General Election Results

In Alert Reader, Breaking, Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Politics on November 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

November 6, 2013

Hey, everyone. Well, last night was fun. With the help of social media, roving volunteer poll reporters, friendly poll workers, and our tech-savvy friend Aubrey Ann Parker, we were able to bring you election results for several districts in real time over Facebook. Next time we hope to have immediate reporting from all townships (if you’d like to volunteer to report numbers from your district in the future, contact elberta.alert@gmail.com).

Aubrey then created this handy-dandy chart with a breakdown of the results by township, including voter turnout for each district. Pretty cool, eh? We’re in the process of collecting more data and creating some other ways to show demographic and political correlations over time. Stay tuned!

Benzie General Election Results November 5 2013

Little Free Library Comes to Elberta

In Alert Reader, Breaking, Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, Education, GOOD NEWS, Kid Stuff on November 3, 2013 at 4:27 pm

A new “Little Free Library” has opened for business in Elberta. It’s located on the front porch of the Conundrum Café at 603 Frankfort Avenue. Books are available 24-7. If your inner book worm is turning and you feel the need (the need to read) “check out” one of the books. When you’re finished, return the book to the box, or pass it directly on to a fellow reader. Just finished something fantastic? Drop it off inside the box. (Note: Not all 60 volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary will fit.)

This thumbelinesque bibliothèque means Elberta is no longer without a library. “As a librarian, it pained me every day to think that people in and around the village did not have easy, free access to books,” says Michele Cannaert, proprietress of the Conundrum Café. She says she’ll add new books if the inventory wanes.

When the official Little Free Library charter sign arrives, our library will be posted in the LFL website. For more information go to: http://littlefreelibrary.org/. Thanks for this great addition to the Village, Michele!

Little Free Library on the Conundrum porch, November 2013.

Little Free Library on the Conundrum porch, November 2013.

A Soaring Letter regarding the Financial Crisis

In Alert Reader, Community Alert, Culture Bluffs, E Beach, Historic Elberta, Soaring on October 16, 2013 at 2:00 pm

The Alert received this letter and photo from Mr. Embertson on October 12. Note that Elberta does not in fact own all of the beach area in question, and so far the Village Council has not proposed to voluntarily sell any beach access to satisfy the Treasury Department.

Dear Alert and Elberta Village Council:

I am a hang glider pilot of 38 years, former president of the Green Point Flyers Association, landowner at Green Point, and have been flying with my hang glider and paraglider friends and group/club members on the Elberta ridge since 1979.  As pilots we see the Elberta area from a very special perspective, and all of us have enjoyed recreation in a myriad of other ways in the Elberta area for as many years.  We are exceptionally grateful that the village of Elberta has allowed us wonderful and easy access to the resources of the village, the land on the ridge, the woods, the beaches, the piers, and the water – all owned by the village and the public for so many years.  Thank you so much for the extraordinary beauty and natural resources that are available to all of us!  We have landed our gliders at Elberta beach for 35 years and love the place!  Some of us remember the days of our partnership with the village of Elberta and City of Frankfort during the Annual Soaring Festivals of the late 70’s.

When we land there, or recreate there, we have so many great conversations with tourists, beach goers, and visitors from out of town and out of state.  We share our love of the area with people we meet, and I want to believe that we (and those conversations) are part of the reason that people return to visit Elberta and all that it offers.

More personally, my family – my wife and four children (ages 19, 19, 17, and 14) have been blessed to have the Elberta area and Lake Michigan environment to enjoy as a family.  We have been enjoying swimming, kayaking, kite boarding, rock hounding, playing, and lounging on the spectacular beach and dune areas that Elberta has managed.  We are so grateful to your village for allowing us to enjoy these things for so many years!  We have hundreds of family memories, family videos, family pictures that have captured the days, moments, sunsets, and family togetherness that has made our family closer and stronger. My children have grown up at those places in Elberta I mentioned above. Elberta and all that is beautiful about Elberta is a part of my children’s lives. For 19 years, they have returned to Elberta with us parents every spring, summer, fall, and even in winters. We were together at Elberta and Green Point this Labor Day 2013 weekend!

THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!  THANK YOU!

Now we hear that your village is facing challenges, and considering selling properties and land, possibly and dramatically changing access to the places we love to come?

PLEASE do not do that!  Problem solve this!  Creatively find alternatives! Plan for long term impact not short term gain. Please do not take away from so many thousands, the natural beauty and places we all love dearly.

Sincerely,

Dave (and Linda) Embertson, Isaac, Elizabeth, Joshua, and Timothy

Lake City, MI 

 

The Embertson Family

The Embertson Family

 

 

Rainbow, May 21, 2013, about 7:30 pm

In Alert Reader, Breaking, Community Alert, GOOD NEWS, Open Season, Weather on May 21, 2013 at 10:46 pm

By Marilyn Maslo

We may not have a literal pot of gold, but on nights like these, soft rain under sunshine making a full-on 180-degree rainbow, we sure do feel lucky. Thanks, Marilyn Maslo, for capturing the moment.

We may not have a literal pot of gold, but on nights like these, soft rain under sunshine making a full-on 180-degree rainbow, we sure do feel lucky. Thanks, Marilyn Maslo, for capturing the moment.

Alert Readers: A Message from Don Tanner

In Alert Reader, Gov't Watch, Politics on December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

THE ALERT WELCOMES LETTERS FROM OUR READERS! Call or text 231-399-0098, send mail to Elberta Alert Letters, PO Box 357, Elberta, MI 49628, or write to elberta.alert@gmail.com. Letters may be edited for length. Profanity will be indicated but not replicated.

THANK YOU, voters of Blaine, Gilmore, Joyfield and Weldon Townships and
the Villages of Elberta and Thompsonville for allowing me to continue to serve as your county commissioner.

I welcome constiuents’ calls at 231-383-3623. Visit my website, dontanner.org, for updates on my work and Benzie County government issues.

Best to all in the New Year,
Don Tanner
District 7 Benzie County Commissioner

Note of Clarification on the Management of This Publication!

In Alert Reader, Breaking, GOOD NEWS on November 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm

By Emily Votruba

My friend Andrea Claire Maio was interviewed for an IPR segment that aired today, about her TV show project, Back to Your Senses, for which she is seeking funding through a new crowdsource fund-raising site called Mobcaster. My personal view is that Andrea’s project is really exciting, and I’m happy for her that she got this great radio exposure today. (Read more about Back to Your Senses here, if you like!) I’m also grateful to her for mentioning our newspaper on the segment. She cares about this paper and the cause of local journalism a lot.

Unfortunately, the IPR reporter who interviewed her inserted a rather huge factual error into his report. He said that I, Emily Votruba, earn an income from being the managing editor of the Alert. This information did not come from Andrea, who knows that is not true.

So I thought I’d go ahead and take this opportunity to clarify how the Alert works. Back in December 2010, a group of people met in the Elberta Library to discuss what we wanted in a local newspaper. Clearly many people in our Village felt a need for a newspaper—the turnout was fantastic. About fifty people of all ages showed up to discuss the possibilities and begin framing the structure of the Elberta Alert, the name we decided on as a group. It’s true I called that meeting and facilitated it, but from start to finish, the Alert has been a truly collaborative project (as most great things are). Because I wanted to help the newspaper to succeed, grow, and be a “real” newspaper someday, and I also wanted to protect myself and the other volunteers from lawsuits, I went ahead and did the responsible thing and set up an LLC (I paid the fee) and made myself managing director. (This information has always been out in the open, by the way, and is printed on the masthead of the paper.) But I do not now, nor have I ever, drawn a cent of income from the Elberta Alert, and no one else does either. I, for one, hope that someday we actually can generate some revenue for the editorial team, contributors, and for Village community projects. But for now we’re just barely covering our print costs each month.

Our team has just put out our ninth issue. The fact that this publication has been able to pay for itself, through ads, donations, T-shirt sales, and subscriptions, is a testament, I think, to several things. One, the desire of the residents and businesses in our community (and donors and subscribers from afar!) for deeply local media, in which we tell our own stories as engagingly and as accurately as possible. Two, the tremendous effort of all the Alert volunteers and contributors, including myself, who work on this project for absolutely no pay.  The Alert is truly a labor of love. The Alert, in a way, is succeeding because it never has tried to make money.

There are several unfortunate ironies to the error on IPR today. One is that Andrea Maio’s project is all about “leaving the safety of what you know, for the sake of what you love.” Andrea herself has done that. She’s trying to make a go of life in Northern Michigan, here in the place she loves, though it’s awfully hard sometimes. The stories that Andrea hopes to tell, about people pursuing the deep pleasure of work they love and care about, in spite of uncertainty and even hardship, is the story of the Alert. We don’t know if this story has a happy ending. We only know that it has an extremely joyful and exciting middle.

Thanks for reading.

Here’s the Drill on Fire Department Figures

In Alert Reader, On and off the Apron, Politics on January 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Frankfort City Superintendent Josh Mills responds to “We Didn’t Start the Fire…”

Doug Holmes has always been supportive of the Fire Department, attended every meeting, and voted on the establishment of pay for personnel and approval toward equipment expenditures. I’d like to make a few clarifications regarding fire department funding and salaries.

Mr. Holmes is correct in saying the Fire Department has good equipment. It is a mandate to have sound, working equipment, and we have been successful in accommodating this through procurement of grants and budget control. [Mr. Mills is responsible for writing Fire Department grants.—Ed.] Well over $200,000.00 in grant funds have been procured to purchase well-deserved equipment for this department, which responds to a 56-square-mile area encompassing the City of Frankfort, Village of Elberta, Gilmore Township, Crystal Lake Township and Lake Township. Currently, Crystal Lake and Lake townships have fire millages to pay their share. Frankfort, Elberta and Gilmore pay out of their respective General Funds. Read the rest of this entry »