We didn't let a little snow get in the way of a lively session of the Forum. Eight elected officials and one appointed one were scattered around the room.
We revisited the issue of the (lack of) high speed internet in our rural areas. Students and businesses are at a significant disadvantage without this service. The problem is the cost of running the wires in lightly populated areas. Our representatives at the state, county and township level are all aware of the problem but none see a solution coming quickly.
School board president Michael Wendorf brought us good news regarding the cooperation between the schools and the city to improve pedestrian safety around the schools and around town in general. Meetings are being held and all parties seem to be on the same page.
As our municipalities are moving to 'opt out' of allowing marijuana business operations in their area they seem to be facing little backlash. Public hearings have been very lightly attended. It seems that folks have gotten the message that it is wise to wait until the state finalizes all of the regulations before setting things in stone.
We talked some more about the high cost of housing in our area and were heartened to hear that a project with Avalon Housing (a non-profit housing advocacy group) is moving along on city owned land on Dan Hoey Road. The City's new housing commission will be holding its first meeting soon and they will also be addressing this issue.
Meeting Notes. JAN 05 2019
Next Saturday is a 2nd Saturday so there will be no meeting of the Dexter Forum which means that you all can attend the grand opening of the new, improved Dexter United Methodist Church. There are events from 9 to 4 with the ceremonial ribbon cutting scheduled for 12:30. Pastor Matt Hook personally delivered the invitation.
Our first topic was a continuation of the discussion about the challenges our local units of government face as they deal with the regulation of marijuana businesses under the new law. A majority of the voters want the use of marijuana to be legal (that doesn't mean that a majority want to use it - they just don't want it to be a crime- but the same majority doesn't necessarily want to live next door to a dispensary. This is why we are grateful for the thoughtful people we have elected to struggle with these decisions.
Pedestrian safety was our next topic. Sometimes issues just pile up on top of one another. We are grateful for our newly improved roads and better traffic flow. We are encouraging our kids to walk to school when practical. The kids need to cross the roads where folks are going faster and faster. Crossing guards, lights and signage are needed. Bridges and tunnels were discussed. The responsibility is shared by the schools, the city and the road commission - all of whom were represented in the room today. We also had concerned parents and pediatricians. We don't necessarily try to solve problems at the Forum but we do attempt to develop a better understanding. We all did agree that the drivers of the cars hold primary responsibility and none of the proposed remedies will work if drivers ignore them. (Check out the recent articles in We Love Dexter.com and the Sun Times News for more information on this topic.)
There was some moaning and groaning about the impact of a lame duck legislature in it's dying hours. There was nothing like this two years ago because the state remained under one party rule but with the impending change brought on by our new governor there were (by one count) 340 bills considered in the lame duck session. Not all reached the governor and he did veto 55 of them but some things got through without much of a dose of sunshine. Yes, the other side would have if they could have but not all states have lame duck periods. In some states new folks just take over the day after the election.
============================================== Meeting Notes: 12-15-18. ~Last one of 2018~
Our secret Santa (Rex) helped get us in the holiday spirit with a table full of fruit, cookies and candy.
We started with a sitting ovation for Adrian Ariaola, owner of Chelas Mexican restaurant which is off to a great start. Welcome to Dexter. It was noted that there were seven ribbon cuttings for new businesses by the Chamber of Commerce in the last few days. We are now going to turn our attention to filling up the former Country Market space.
Anchor and Beacon emerged as the names of the two wings of our early elementary complex according to Julie Schumaker. All involved parties seemed pleased with the outcome of this sensitive issue.
The missing Bell Road bridge has been found. After 25 years of resting along the side of the Huron River it has been disassembled and placed in storage for future use, perhaps on some segment of the border to border trail. A replacement for the bridge is not anticipated during our lifetimes.
Cellist and electrical engineer Lori Sprague encouraged our attendance at the Dexter Community Orchestra holiday concert on Sunday, December 16th at 4:00 PM at the Dexter Center for the Performing Arts. The orchestra is sorting out applicants for their open director's position. With her other hat on Lori talked about the successes of the Dexter Dreadbot robotics team of which she is one of the coaches.
Note: Dexter may add a community choir to its' list of cultural attractions. More news about this after the holidays.
John Scharf, Webster Township Trustee, talked about the townships desire to collect citizen input on the regulation of marijuana businesses allowed by the new law. You can read more at...... http://webster.broadcastgenius.com/f/1
We tried to help Doug Marrin of We Love Dexter.com research information about pedestrian safety in Dexter particularly as it relates to the new roundabouts and kids crossing our busy main streets. Watch for his article which will be coming soon.
Since we won't be together again until January 5, 2019 - Karl and I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and we thank you for showing up and bringing substance and a little fun to the Dexter Forum.
And one more thing....++++++
Open house at Gordon Hall – The Christmas Village Collection 6pm to 8pm on December 15, 29, 30. Visitors will tour the Christmas Village Collection, a magical display of Milt Campbell’s huge collection of Department 56 villages. This collection was traditionally seen in the windows of Huron Camera in downtown Dexter throughout the holiday season, and was a favorite destination for families. Presented by the Dexter Area Historical Society. Suggested donation: $5/adult. Location: Gordon Hall, 8311 Island Lake Rd, Dexter, MI. For more information call 734-426-2519, or visit our website atwww.dexterhistory.org or Facebook page: www.facebook.com/dexterhistory ==================================================== Meeting Notes: 12-01-18
There were 46 persons in attendance today - the exact rated capacity of the room. Any other number is fake news.
We talked about a lot of serious issues today beginning with a discussion about affordable housing in the Dexter area. Affordable is a vague term - sort of average earners should be able to afford an average home in an average community - none of which seems to apply to Dexter. As usual we had experts in the room representing developers, realtors, charities and government officials. It was noted that such a combination of folks has had some preliminary discussions about a project in Dexter.
Jessica Singer, the Realtor in charge of marketing for the new Grandview Commons project, invited us to an open house on their site on Sunday, December 9 from 2:00 to 4:00 PM. The first families will be moving in early in January.
Proposal 1 allowing recreational use of marijuana is now law but there are lots of options for local governments to regulate the production and sale of the product. The electeds in the room were all aware of the challenges and are poised to take action as soon as state guidelines are finalized. Kevin Dombkowski noted that the proposal passed by a clear majority in all of the areas around us with the exception of Grass Lake. (Humor is a tolerated component of Forum discussions.)
Michael Champ was curious as to why one governmental unit would charge another governmental unit almost $200,000 to hook a new school up to sewer and water services. Our developer friend noted that it costs about $8,000 to hook up one new house to the system. We did not get into the details of the waste generating capacity of 4-500 little kids but suffice it to say that the schools and the city worked out a deal and the toilets will flush when the (yet to be named) new school opens in January.
Our next topic concerned fowl play as in lame duck. There are lots of rumors of proposals and lots of real proposals for what might happen in the next three weeks in the Michigan Legislature since we will be moving away from one party control in January. Stay tuned. Some of these proposals require super majorities which are hard to come by.
***. Karl and I have recorded an interview about the Forum for the local component of All Things Considered on WEMU 89.1 radio that will be broadcast on Monday, December 3 during both the 4:00 and 6:00 versions of the show. Many of the questions were about why you keep coming and why you don't yell and argue. You can also hear the segment by getting on the WEMU website and clicking on the podcast after Monday. ****
Co-moderator Hansen energized the crowd (and it was crowded) by pointing out that it is only 719 days until the next general election.
Three victors from the recent election were present for a round of applause. Donna Lasinski was re-elected to the State House of Representatives, Jason Maciejewski will begin his first term on the County Commission and Mara Greatorex will be the rookie on the Dexter Board of Education.
Our first topic concerned the method by which State Supreme Court justices are nominated, elected and replaced. It is a little strange. Candidates must be nominated by a political party but then cannot list their party on the ballot. When running for re-election they get to have Justice of the Supreme Court over their name on the ballot. Judge Fink pointed out that judges who are not considering running again are 'encouraged' to resign a little early so that the Governor can appoint a successor who can then run as a incumbent (providing, of course that the current governor is of the same party as the judge). As usual we found that some other states have very different rules.
Fresh from their victory on Proposal Two the Voters Not Politicians folks were looking for suggestions of what to do next with their new found bi-partisan grass roots army. First on the list was to ensure the delivery of the new fair and reasonable district lines. Other suggestions were offered about improving transparency and ranked voting.
We take no joy in Florida's ballot counting woes but we are pleased that Michigan does it well. Several folks in the room have worked as election inspectors and testified as to how well things were handled, even in the face of very high turnout.
And now for something completely different...... The school board will vote soon on the name of the new elementary school currently under construction. The choice has been narrowed down to a couple of alternatives. We normally just 'listen and learn' and do not give advice as a group but we veered off course a little and held a secret vote. Only the two school board members (plus Al who was on the board in 1960) were allowed to keep their eyes open while we raised our hands for option one or option two. Usually I say you had to be there to know what happened but in this case you don't even know what happened if you were there.
Meeting Notes- 11-03-2018 ========================= The election is in three days and we all really need it to be over - especially the candidates who have been working non-stop for months (years). Three candidates were present. Gretchen Driskell, Mara Greaterex, and Jason Maciejewski.
Our very special guest of the day was Adrian Iraola, owner of Chela's Mexican restaurant. And what a true gentleman he is. Establishing the restaurant has been an uphill battle but opening day is near and we have been invited to be his special guests. This is one of those 'you had to be present to win' situations so if you were there you know what to do.
There will be another election soon in the City of Dexter but only 6 people can vote. The resignation of councilman Ray Tell has created a vacancy on the council that will be filled by a vote of the remaining council members. Sixteen individuals have applied for the position. By charter and by rule the Mayor will propose and the council will deliberate. Four votes are needed to confirm the new member. The council has a 60 day operating window from the time of the resignation.
Our final stump speech of the season was given by Gretchen Driskell (D), candidate for the 7th Congressional district.
We learned that there are a couple of more condo projects being proposed for downtown Dexter and this prompted a question about the future of 'affordable' housing opportunities in Dexter. Apparently there has been some discussion with Avalon Housing (a major player in the affordable housing arena in the county) but there are no viable plans on the table at this time.
Ed Francis reminded us of the fear that is building in minority communities following the recent string of terrorist attacks on Jews, African-Americans and those perceived as the 'other'. We have limited power to affect the national scene but we see the Forum as our small step to provide a safe place for locals of all persuasions to come to Listen and Learn.
Dan Smith encouraged us to look ahead a few years and consider the implications of calling a constitutional convention. The current Michigan constitution calls for a vote every 16 (or so) years on whether or not to re-write the document. The last time we did this was in 1963. Dexter Forum Notes -October 06, 2018 ------------------------------------------------------- With the election just 30 days away it was no surprise that we had a very full house. We skipped the agenda building and went right to the stump speeches. An advantage of the Forum is that you get to hear candidates from both parties and folks on both sides of the ballot issues.
Bill Gordon started things off with his reasons to oppose the Voters not Politicians proposal.
Sue Shink (D) followed with the reasons to elect her to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners seat for district 2.
Teri Aiuto (R) promoted her candidacy for State Representative for District 52.
Chris encouraged a yes vote on the Voters not Politicians proposal.
(Stump speeches are very personal and are not paraphrased here. All of the speakers responded to questions from the audience.)
We have not been approached by anyone to speak to the other three ballot proposals so we entertained a few comments on each of them.
Legalizing recreational marijuana. Folks were quite conflicted. Prohibition clearly has little impact on marijuana use but we are worried about attracting young people to the drug through legalization.
The proposal to 'make it easier' to vote seemed like a solution to a problem that does not really exist. Do your own homework on this one.
The fourth proposal involves a renewal of the county parks operating issue.
The next meeting of the Dexter Forum will be on Saturday, October 20 at 8:30 AM at the Dexter Wellness Center. In addition to the highly publicized races there is also competition for seats on the Dexter Board of Education. We will have two board candidates on the stump along another candidate for judge.
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