Well, Who The Heck Are You?

Putting fingers in their ears and singing la, la, la over and over again. Of course they don’t have to do it exactly like that to let you know they’re not listening. Why should they listen to you? They are government and have authority, you only provide them their income, status and play money. A whole new take on “ask not what your government can do for you, but what you can do for your government?” Far removed and for an entirely different reason than the original premise for the similar statement, famously spoken by the late great President John F. Kennedy in his Inaugural Address. 

In a 2008 Lenconnect news article, “Council chooses village’s new logo” is more proof you are the small people with no voice/no say;

“In an online poll, a logo involving a bridge was a clear winner. However, the council went against the favorite and chose the second-place winner which gives a more “traditional” look, many of the council members said.

“The more I thought about it, the more I thought that we need to promote our traditionalism,” council president Pat Hinde said.” 



It sounds like what Pat Hinde and the council were actually saying, “We, (not you) have decided we want to refocus the image of this community to be more inline with the latest, greatest contest for state and federal money through Michigan Main Street and since they are partnered with The National Trust For Historic Preservation (here’s the traditionalism), that’s our choice.” Michigan Main Street is a free program designed to save your community from the recession. Or – it may be a good concept that they can sell really well, only eating up taxpayer money and funding the rest on credit. Maybe the real winners are those that set up the program and those that are employed by it.  Michigan Main Street  by the way, says they are an equal opportunity lender. All you have to do is ignore the actual funding source, donate some of your bank account money if you will, and volunteer, not that you would have any actual say about anything.

The design of Blissfield’s new logo came from Kaplan Studio. Who in the Village has the connection with the owner of Kaplan Studio, Meredith Kaplan in Cary, NC? Why do they have so many of our local clients? Kaplan Studio was incorporated in Ohio and established the same year the lenconnect article was written, 2008…interesting. I can easily imagine the connection is that of “self-service” you know…the art of setting up friends and family and/or the family of friends with lucrative government contracts and even more connections. You may know the art better as “making” or “breaking” a business, ooh, that’s a lot of power. Let’s also circulate Blissfield’s money in North Carolina while we say thanks, but no thanks for the free logo offer from the Blissfield Advance Newspaper (graphic artist on staff) or keeping money in the Blissfield community because we have an elected or appointed opportunity to sink money or selectively support any individual or company coffer anywhere.

How often does all that go on, you should ask? No really, you should ask!

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16 Responses to Well, Who The Heck Are You?

  1. Another Resident says:

    Well I guess this is one of the many things that led to Mr. Hinde’s disapproval rating. Does anyone know why Blissfield did pay a NC firm for a logo rather than allowing the Advance a shot at doing it free first? At its best, it sounds a little odd to me. Hopefully going forward the current folks in office will not make the same mistake of dismissing the thoughts of those they should be serving.

    • Robin says:

      If no one else comes forward to answer the question about the Advance’s graphic artist getting a chance to submit logo proofs or not, I will find out. At any rate there are other firms or individuals in the immediate area to choose from, there are certainly plenty in the whole county of Lenawee. Since communities have been scrambling to promote themselves, local officials should be taking the definitive lead.

      If we become more engaged as a community we can keep our local government accountable…they need our help and we need to be clear. The day has come where complacency is certainly counted as a vote or an endorsement. Dismissal is outrageous. Thanks for stopping by!

      • A Very Concerned Resident says:

        I was at a DDA meeting when they were voting to fill out the application for the select level for Main Street. The Chair person actually told the DDA board memebers if they weren’t on board with Main Street they need to reconsider their position on the DDA Board. So otherwise vote yes or resign.

        • Robin says:

          Ha! I’ve got an email that has real similar language, it supports your comment. I think that anyone in an appointed or elected position using a tactic like that should reconsider their position and step down immediately.

          It reminds me of this fairytale…Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away (I think it’s Chicago), there lived a King. This king thought he would control his kingdom by strategically placing good friends and family members in positions of great respect and power. The King knew that a great many people would align themselves with those of power through a natural instinct of survival. Some of the subjects would become aligned because of envy, not willing to forego fine festivities they might otherwise not receive invitation for. The rest of the people left that may not obey his rule would be forced, through a litany of underhanded and bullying measures.

          A Prince, ordained by the King was to hold court every week as one of his duties. The court was held to communicate to the little people how good their lives were in this kingdom so subjects wouldn’t leave for neighboring kingdoms. The Prince’s speaking skills were poor and this job grew very laborious for him. He wanted to give this job to his wife so she could earn some of the King’s gold and he could work less and spend more time practicing his royal walk and swordsmanship. Knowing the King would not find his wife capable of such royal duty, he set out to pretend he was on an earnest search for a viable replacement while enacting his plan.

          Every time a candidate or a promising prospect came to audition, he set them a task of which was planned to fail. These planned failings made the candidates look very incapable and unappealing indeed to the rest of the royal appointments. In short time the candidates became embarrassed and felt themselves poorly qualified and refused to return for further testing. All the while he would suddenly take ill when he was slated for a speaking engagement where he would beg his wife to take his place. Not long had passed when the only reasonable candidate left for the position was his wife. The Prince nominated his wife and begged the king to accept her because she has also proved her love for her kingdom, knowing she was not receiving any gold for her labor she still graciously stepped and performed her husband’s tasks.

          In the end the Prince got his wish and was even rewarded with a double lot of gold from the King.

      • Elijah Kafer says:

        The comment was actually about the board members accepting the responsibility to fulfill their roles as board members. It appeared that Lynn Southward was tired of other board members being members in name only, acting as the antithesis of development. His statement was meant to make it clear that the DDA was going to be an organization that acted as a positive change agent in the community, not just a waste of the village’s tax dollars.

        I think the choice to participate in the Main Street Program was wise, since none of the members have any significant planning or development experience, they need the expertise and resources that are available through the program. But even if they had voted ‘no’ to participating the sentiment would still apply. It was not a bully move to make people vote ‘yes.’ It was exactly what he as the chairman of a stagnant committee needed to say to get the board members to understand that they are trusted with facilitating the strategic progress of the community and with that role comes the responsibility above and beyond the one night a month of discussion.

        The essence of his comment is this: The DDA is an organization of action, and it’s time we acted like it.

        • Robin says:

          That seemed to be an awfully intricate explanation about the thoughts and motives from inside someone else’s head. If the comment was what you say it was then it would have sounded something like; “We have the responsibility to move forward on a plan to increase viability/promotion for business in Blissfield.” He could have even laid out parameters whereas all members could contribute parts or all of or their own plan ideas/proposals and then hammered out the plan. He could have even argued why he thought Michigan Main Street was a good avenue. Or – he could have said exactly what you said he meant. Instead, a threat was issued about their position on the board if they didn’t support his plan. It was actually worse than a bully move. Lynn decides that board members can’t grasp the concept of their roles and responsibilities so he has to force issues? We are not running a dictatorship, not in this country.

          If you check back in American history you would find many instances where inaction would have been more preferable to the wrong action. Have you or anyone that thinks like you thought about why we have boards of multiple opinions? I can safely bet that much of the information MMS is offering as support is already out there, but much of the basics have yet to be addressed. Besides there isn’t much difference between what MMS is supposed to achieve in comparison to what the DDA was supposed to have achieved during their 18 year stint.

          I’m happy to hear your side of the story, even though I’m in utter disagreement, I think he should step down.

      • Elijah Kafer says:

        I’ve taken some time to mull over your comments here and carefully consider a response, for the reason that I want you to understand I’m impartial on this. I also know this will be interpreted for good, bad and ugly, but under no circumstance will any of this be used as fuel to incite more personal feuding, if I hear that it has I know the source.

        I have no personal axe to grind with any of the members of the DDA or the community at large for that matter, I’m sure I’d consider them all great people if I had the time to get to know them better. But for some reason when they all get into that room in the library they turn into something else. There are so many things that worry and disappoint me in what I see there, I have a hard time trying to clearly state the emotion I feel in seeing the lack of leadership (civic and business alike) of my once hometown.

        To address whether or not Mr. Southward should resign, I’m not in a position to make that kind of judgment, if the Village Council saw his statements as out of line, then they are the ones to be acting on that, if they have taken no action, they must not have seen his remarks as an abuse of power and thought he was trying to emphasize the responsibility the DDA has.

        It’s easy to criticize decisions after they fail and focus on the negative instead of seeing it as a process of learning and growing. It’s true some better planning is needed to achieve a better return on investment the DDA makes but doing nothing is not an option. It’s the responsibility of the DDA to relentlessly pursue ways to improve the quality of life for the residents, be it through further studies or community planning that ultimately development efforts. Inaction, in my mind violates the mission of the DDA.

        And the times in history (our very recent history also) that we should have not done something was the result of ideological extremism charged by polarizing rhetoric on both sides which had grown too great (the crusades, the cold war, and portions of the current conflicts we are currently entangled in). The decisions made by the DDA are nowhere near the magnitude of those, it’s ridiculous to dramatize it that much.

        Ultimately, if I’m honest with myself I would have said the same thing, and if Mr. Southward should step down, the whole board should also. In fact, I can’t stand the bickering and back-stabbing between Blissfield’s leadership, it’s obvious engaging in productive discussions is beyond our grasp. This is extreme and hard to say, but for the sake of the village tabling the DDA for a while might be justified. I hope that our kids develop the maturity to revive it and allow it to be what it’s meant to be.

        If we are capable of this, I’m interested in that conversation, let’s start with your ideas to keep downtown Blissfield from becoming a ghost town.

        • Robin says:

          Thanks for your careful consideration, I respect that immensely. Your comment shows an earnest attempt of trying to understand the issues. As soon as we decide we are going to stand for what is right and make honest judgments based on that, we have a chance to build a better community.

          Instead of getting into federal politics, let me just clear this up; It is ridiculous to equate the cold war, etc. with decisions made by the DDA and doing nothing forevermore was not what I was intending to say. On this one issue in question, a no vote could have been the best answer at the time. I was not privy to the discussions regarding moving forward with Michigan Main Street but my point was; if the majority of the board could not decide whether it was a good plan or not, those indecisions could have been valid. If all members were not sold, why were they not sold? Moving forward on something is not always the best way to go just because it is there either. Sometimes it is better to do nothing. The way it was handled was not democratic, ethical or even in line with the whole purpose of having a board. The Chair is not charged with putting his foot down and deciding for the whole board. A free (not coerced) majority vote decides what they move forward. This is not leadership. Now we are looking at nepotism, the Chair’s wife just got appointed to the board by our council. Unethical behavior just encourages mistrust. How does any of this garner support for any cause? It seems to me that most of the business community has been alienated, disrespected and their opinions denigrated or has been the source of amusement, then they have the nerve to cite no other show of interest to get on the board as the reason they chose to appoint a family member.

          It has been my experience that our local business people are bright with good idea’s, what could possibly justify this current state of affairs. We need the residents of Blissfield to speak out against whatever the private agenda or stinking thinking is and stand for what’s right so we can have an opportunity to promote growth.

          The DDA is a government entity, taking taxes from taxpayers. The DDA along with every other appointed or elected position are supposed to be representing the people, they are public servants.

          The people are also charged to decide whether or not an abuse of power has occurred, so it is your place to say and determine. It’s within the best interest of our officials to be upstanding and on their most professional behavior.

          The best way to move forward is to recognize we need some changes; this takes an awfully hard objective look because the people preventing progress could be your friend, neighbor…alliance, etc. It will cost the village if ethical violations and conflicts of interest have to be investigated so self policing is the best scenario here. If you (not you Eli) are a person that holds prejudice or discrimination in your heart, you are not the best candidate to serve in public office, step down. If you do not hold or have not showed the village or community or business sector is in your best interest, step down. If you believe it’s your way or the highway, and if you’re not grateful for the opportunity to serve, step down.

          If you have the ability to adjust your attitudes and understand the real purpose of your position then you can follow some semblance of a twelve step program to repeal decisions and make amends. In fact, making amends for everyone that has harmed someone else and wants to be a part of the solution should seriously consider this, this is the best way to put water under the bridge. This is how we would start showing support for each other and start working together.

          Once we are civil we can engage in honest debate and discussions. It would be amazing how much we can accomplish when no one is concerned with who gets the credit.

  2. Guess Who says:

    I read in the Advance that they are having a celebration for Main Street in the mini park next week. I was just wondering if Main Street is so important why wasn’t all the businesses told about this? Why did the businesses have to read about it in the Advance. Isn’t Main Street about downtown? Total lack of communication. Also, why are they not having it after 5 so the store owners can attend. It seems to me Main Street is going to be a failure unless politics change in town. Main Street is only going to benefit a very select group of businesses the other businesses will never know what is going on. I think it is time for the residents of Blissfield to start speaking up and get new people in our government.

    • Robin says:

      You know…that’s an excellent question! It could be due to a lack of communication, lack of competence or something even more sinister given the double whammy of reading about it in the paper and having it before close on a business day. I agree the politics have to change, in order to do that we have to change up the players. There is one DDA Board position open, there are two Trustee positions open and one Village President position open. I encourage anyone who has a conscience, common sense and the ability to make decisions apply for or run for these positions. I was going write a post about that shortly, I hope you come back to get more info. Thanks for informing the community, I am hoping more members of the community attend the council and or DDA meetings as well.

  3. Another Resident says:

    Elijah, Please… I understand that you were awarded a contract by Lynne Southward’s agenda. You made a profit from the deal that you were given. Good for you! Freee market enterprise. However, does that in your opinion equate to the residents of Blissfield as getting the same bang for the buck that you got? NO! Stop defending those who payed your salaray and start defending the people who they took the money from. YOU, ME, and all other businesses from Blissfield! All money spent by our elected, appointed, and shall I say it, friends of those in power, spent, is never their own, but that of the taxpayer. TIF financing takes money away from our librarys, sewers and roads, and a plethera of other obligations. When those run out of money, they come to us to increase funding. Why, because Lynne wants another foolish spending spree. When do we call Lynne’s, and others like him, activities to an end? Please answer this post.

    • Elijah Kafer says:

      I had nothing to do with Mr. Southward’s ‘agenda’ I have no idea what he is putting out there for the DDA to do. And for the record, I lost money doing that study. That’s my fault I should have said no to the people who asked me to come make the proposal, which was not Mr. Southward, I was actually grilled by him at the start of the whole process. I took it because I was happy to be helping my hometown kick-start a process of positive change.

      Also if you missed the meetings, I was slammed by board. I refuse to get into any of my own personal feelings about that. My comment was strictly a now outsider’s observation. If you want to imply that I had gotten cozy with the DDA you are very wrong. I respect the board members as individuals, and knew a few of them growing up here in Blissfield, but had not had contact with any one of them in over a decade leading up to the study. I cannot say I’m close to any of them.

      And PLEASE read the study, I hope you will see that my goal was to give a voice to the wants, needs and desires of the community, you and everybody else that might not be able to weigh-in any other way.

      After you read the study, get mad about the host of other things you get could be upset about.

      And TIF’s don’t take tax money away; they take the future tax gains of an increased value of property assessed within a given boundary as “loan payment” for the bonds that get issued to create the development. It would be illegal for a city to take funds away from schools and services to pay for development. If you don’t believe me ask Mr. Wonacott about how the funding process works for each of the operations a city provides, he is the village administrator for a reason, because he knows the rules inside and out and is very good about sticking to them.

      • Robin says:

        I’m still hoping Another Resident will be responding to your reply, I just had to interject. Perhaps I wasn’t clear with my explanations of Tax Increment Financing… Here’s a source that may have some weight; “Tax increment finance (TIF) districts allow local units of government to capture (from other taxing governmental units) the
        increase in property tax levies above and beyond the year in which the authority was established. For example, a local unit that establishes a tax increment finance authority (DDA, LDFA, or BRA) in 2007 may, in 2008 and every year following for as long as the authority chooses, retain property tax revenues above those collected (the increment) in 2007 (base year) that are otherwise due to other units of government, such as counties and school districts. TIF districts may not capture millages for debt obligations and typically the State Education Tax (6 mills) may not be captured.”

        Please note the mention of the State Education Tax (6 mills) and observe the language of “may not and typically”. The excerpt is from a publication of the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, read page 80 for a more thorough explanation: http://www.crcmich.org/PUBLICAT/2000s/2007/rpt347-05.pdf

        Also consider the simple version; just prior to establishing the DDA all the property and business taxes collected from the entire commercial district went towards operation of government services that includes but not limited to sewer, water, library, schools etc. Every year since 1992 The DDA’s increasing revenue goes toward whatever projects the DDA decides and not for sewer, water, library, etc. If the DDA budget this year is $170,000.00, that amount has been diverted.

  4. Annie says:

    Could any of you even begin to imagine how the council, or DDA, or MMS would react IF a resident stood up prior to a vote, on some issue, to tell the board we as a whole community demand the vote go our way or there would be “consequences”? LOL
    Yet, within their own organizations they do this? What is it with control or power with these people in this community? Why aren’t we ALL equals? Some of us cannot take on the role of volunteering for any of these positions for honest reasons! But, the village has had volunteers for positions that they are unwilling to accept because of who they are, or what their political opinions are. These councils would probably get more volunteers if they weren ‘t so judgemental!

  5. Logan says:

    In regard to the new Blissfield logo. If they were not going to use the winning vote getter, why did they have a contest? At the time I thought it was very insulting to ask for public input and then ignore it.
    Perhaps for the issues of certain businesses getting extra grant money consideration, and select individuals being allowed to partner with our local government to purchase property, we could have some equal opportunity. We certainly have equal opportunity paying our property taxes.

    • Robin says:

      Insulting yes indeed. They were either throwing us a bone (creating the illusion we were involved while thinking they had the popular vote pegged), or they were apprised of the vision after…hmm, they would have had that discussion…nope, they were throwing us a bone.

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