Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ferndale Infrastructure and Flooding on May 5

On May 5 Ferndale voters will have three major tax proposals to decide and one of them is the renewal of a bond of 5.5 mills, first passed more than twenty years ago, which then was an infrastructure bond to fix streets, water mains, and sewers.  This time around, the city inexplicably left out any mention of sewers, water mains, and storm water infrastructure, and instead is asking the residents for the same amount of money, over a shorter period, for streets and parks.

My jaw dropped when I watched this proposal unfold at a City Council meeting this past winter, and I assumed I was hearing things wrong.  Why would the City need $45 million for local streets, when our roads are in much better condition than they were in 1994?  And why would this bond renewal not include funds to work on our aging sewers and water mains, and most of all, our desperate need for stormwater infrastructure?

I have not been able to see any specific studies on which roads they believe need replaced, although the mayor was quoted as saying all of our roads would be included.  That the city needs the exact same amount of money as in 1994, but without water and sewer work leads me to think they just decided to ask for all the money again, and will decide later how to spend.

That is not how previous Ferndale administrations asked for taxpayer money.  Under Mayor Goedert and Mayor Porter, proposals were developed first with specific needs and goals, and then priced out.  Citizen's blue ribbon committees were formed made up of community leaders, business owners, and other stakeholders to explain the proposal to the public. 

Ferndale homes have suffered repeated flooding in the past three years, including the giant rain event of last August 11th.  Our own City Hall has flooded twice since 2012.  The climate is changing and the Great Lakes Region is experiencing heavier, faster, and more frequent cloudbursts and historic rains.  Why would our city leaders not be paying attention to this looming threat?  If we spend the next fifteen years replacing roads but not installing green infrastructure, then the people of Ferndale can either give up using their basements or spend each summer cleaning up from combined sewage and stormwater overflows.

Ferndale voters always say yes to every tax proposal, and perhaps our elected officials are just taking for granted our progressive nature.  I have voted yes for every school levy and infrastructure bond.  I voted for the zoo tax and most others.  But Im voting no on this one.

It is not the end of the world if this bond issue fails.  A new revised request can be put on the ballot any November or May.   But we need to ask our city staff and Mayor and Council to get serious and stop with the sexy projects and superfluous pie in the sky developments and do what we need to fix and protect the city's infrastructure.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Why the Ferndale Blues Festival supports our Youth Assistance Programs

 It was a warm sunny morning as I drove over to the Kulick Community Center parking lot one Saturday to help send off a group of youth to summer camp.  These were disadvantaged kids from lower income households who would normally never get to go to camp because of financial constraints.  But as I pulled into the lot I was surprised at the crowds.    That summer in 2012 Ferndale Youth Assistance not only sent the most kids it had ever financed for camp before, but
we were sending the most of any school district in Oakland County !

The boys and girls seemed to be middle school age, though Im not an expert at guessing ages.  They all had family that had come to say goodbye and help them carry packs and other items for their trip.  They were boys and girls, of diverse races, but they all had excitement on their faces.  Two or three busses were warming up and it made me feel good.  I had always gone to scouting camps for many years as a tween and into my teen years, and they were important and fun and educational. 
The camp program run by FYA is just one of the ways that we support our local youth.  And it is one reason I have stayed on their board for fifteen years.
I don’t and won’t have any kids of my own but as a part of our “village” of Ferndale, it is to me a duty to give back to our youth, who will inherit this town when my generation moves on.



Thursday, December 04, 2014

Take Action to Protect our Great Lakes Environment

We treasure the spectacular beauty of our waterways and natural landscapes in Michigan and with one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, it is a truly unique area. But while our residents and visitors love the wonderful environment, it is something that must be guarded and protected.

We are under threat from climate change. We've seen toxic algae blooms, unprecedented flooding, and severe storms. Climate disruption is here and it’s affecting us now. It isn't a faraway concept affecting only our grandchildren. Regardless of political leanings, we must be smart and follow the science.  A great way to start is to move away from coal and toward more renewable energy sources. 

As our weather events become more intense, we will see more flash flooding.  Our own climatologists warn of harder, heavier rain storms.  This new type of torrential rain overwhelms our storm water and sewage systems, resulting in partially treated sewage overflowing into our rivers and streams, lowering the quality of our water. Toxic algae blooms become far worse.  Combined with fertilizer runoff from cities and farms, we then see crisis events such as the poisoning of drinking water in Toledo this past summer. The solution is to take action.

We need to dramatically reduce carbon pollution. The federal government already recognizes this priority. The Clean Power Plan, which sets statewide targets for reducing carbon emissions, will mandate that Michigan come up new ways to generate power. It is a good beginning but Michigan needs leadership and vision to make this happen..

We need to hold ourselves accountable and follow best practices.  Other states have taken the lead and are reducing emissions by creating higher requirements for renewable energy use. Michigan now lags behind a majority of states in this field. We also need to retire and retrofit dirty, aging coal plants.

Transitioning away from coal would easily help us fulfill our share of reducing emissions. We in Southeast Michigan live in a coal burning land. Nationwide, burning coal produces 37 % of electricity.   But our own DTE Energy still gets 75 percent of its electricity from coal. This is a tremendous burden on our climate.

Coal is so last century.  It is expensive, dirty, and holds our economy back. It must be dug up and transported, and then produces toxic smoke and ash. Coal is rust-belt technology.  Our electricity rates have also been trending upward because of our reliance on coal.

The City of Burlington, Vermont now uses 100% renewable energy.  Michigan should show leadership and move more quickly to cleaner energy.  Let’s retire our coal plants.  We can create new jobs, reduce carbon pollution, and all breathe easier.

 Co-written by Jim Nash and Craig Covey

Friday, September 19, 2014

Will Ferndale Truly Represent Diversity?

  This editorial appeared in the Oakland Press and Daily Tribune on September 18, 2014
  With the recent retirement incentive program announced by Ferndale for its police department that could result in several new younger police officers being hired, it is a good time to finally begin to bring diversity to that important part of the city.   Ferndale is a city that promotes, celebrates, and embraces diversity, and yet its police officers are still all white and mostly male.  The City Council and city administration ought to follow other progressive cities and hire officers who will reflect the diversity of the people who live, shop, and do business in Ferndale.

     In the eleven years I spent on Council, we regularly asked the police chiefs to hire more women and minorities but were always given reasons why that could not happen, be it civil service rules or testing procedures.   But in 2014, it is time to no longer accept such excuses.  Ferndale has always had a love affair with its police force.  We appreciate them for the important and exceptional work they do.   We have also had a long line of very conservative police chiefs, even as the city became more Democratic, more progressive, and more diverse.
     With a large gay population, and up to 20% of its population now made up of Blacks, Latinos, Arabic and Asian Americans, our police officers should finally begin to reflect that make up.  It will make our police force  even stronger and more effective.  All the cities around us have done this, and it time for Ferndale to walk the walk, as well as talk the talk.  I hope City Council, the City Manager, and the Police Chief will make this happen.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ten Actions to Reduce Storm Water Damage and Flooding Costs

While the recent flooding in Ferndale and throughout the region is still being measured and assessed, it appears to be the largest amount of rain in a twelve hour period in at least 89 years.  Some statisticians are reporting the storm may be categorized as a "two to three hundred" year storm.   Nevertheless, very heavy rains and storm events that used to be rare and unusual are becoming more frequent and climatologists in Michigan predict that this kind of weather  is what we should expect in our region with climate change.

Here are some steps that we can take to begin to deal with this new reality.

1)  Do not use water during heavy rains.  Do not do laundry, run dishwashers, take showers, or flush toilets if possible during heavy storms or prolong rains.  These activities just add to the volume of water and sewage to our combined wastewater and storm water systems.

2)   Turn off automatic sprinklers before, during, or after rains.  This may seem obvious, but cities, counties, golf courses, businesses, and even some  homeowners let this happen.  This adds to the problem, and wastes water, and money.

3)  Make sure your rain gutters on homes, businesses, or garages release rain runoff onto the ground or into the lawn or garden.  Do not allow them to be connected to sewers.

4)  Make sure culverts, drain grates, and catch basins are clear and unobstructed. If you cannot do this, make sure your city or township is doing that regularly.

5)  Never flush baby wipes, personal wipes, paper towels, or sanitary napkins down the toilet.  These products do not dissolve.  They clog sewer lines.  Throw them in the trash.

6)  Do not throw cigarette butts, or any kind of trash into the street.  These wash into drains and catch basins and clog the sewers or end up in our lakes and streams.

7)  Install a rain garden.  These structures catch and hold rain water, and release it back into the earth where we want it to go.

8)  Insist your city or township require green infrastructure in its building codes.  Any roof, parking lot, or sidewalk that is impervious to water adds to the problem of storm water overflow.  Permeable concrete, green roofs, retention ponds, and rain gardens reduce storm water and can lessen flooding.

9)  Be sure you add flood insurance or sewer back up riders to your homeowners' policies.  This protection is not automatic, and must be  requested and added.

10)  Reduce your carbon footprint.  Use less gasoline, heating fuel, natural gas, and other fossil fuels.  Eat less meat.  Reduce your power usage including electricity unless it is wind, solar or other renewables.  Your kids and grandkids will thank you.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Patricia J. Covey - January 29, 1929 to June 27, 2014

Patricia J. “Patty Jo” Covey, beloved mother, grandmother, sister and aunt, formerly of Canton, OH, passed away peacefully in her home after a brief illness on June 27, 2014.  She is survived by her sister, Gwen Neff of Jackson, OH; her three children, Roderic A. (Kathie) Covey of Canton; Craig  Covey of Ferndale, MI; and Lisa A. Covey of Winslow, ME; her three grandchildren, Ashley Covey and Brandon Covey of Canton, and Justin Burgher of Winslow, ME; former husband W. Roderic Covey of N. Canton; and nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Geraldine Wylie and Ashford Wylie; and brother Charlie.
She was born Jan. 29, 1929 in Athalia, OH and grew up on a farm, originally known as Wylie Orchards.  She picked apples and strawberries with her brother and sister. She always referred to Athalia as “down home”. She was an A student, cheerleader and valedictorian of her class.  She was active in 4H and won an Ohio State Fair blue ribbon for a dress she made. She was graduated with a B.A. in Fine Arts from Ohio State and worked at Stern & Mann’s as a graphic designer after college, prior to becoming a full-time homemaker. In later years she also applied her artistic skills at Jane Skinner Academy and Framer’s Workshop in Canton.
She lived most of her life in Canton, OH where she raised her three children. In recent years she lived with her son Rod (Kathie) in Ohio, spent time with Craig in Michigan and in Maine with Lisa and Justin.  In 2012, she made her home near Lisa and Justin in Winslow, ME where she enjoyed the pleasures of living independently.

She was a longtime member of the Methodist Church and attended Zion United Methodist Church in Canton prior to moving to Maine, where she became involved with Winslow Congregational Church.

She enjoyed playing bridge and was a member of several card clubs through the years. She had a green thumb, inside and out, excelled in arts and crafts, and was a skilled artist with water colors, pastels, oils and acrylics. She enjoyed reading, playing games on the computer, knitting, doing puzzles, participating in Facebook, and summertime gardening of flowers and tomatoes.
Friends and family appreciated her sweet spirit, sense of humor, acceptance of all people, and easy-going attitude. She marched with her son Craig in the Columbus Gay Pride parade in 1991 and she was in Ferndale when he was elected mayor of that city in 2007.  All her children and grandchildren benefited from her kindness, wisdom, full support and unconditional love. Her spirit lives on in our hearts, and will live on in the kind actions we take towards one another. She taught her kids acceptance, love of nature, and charity for others.

An outdoor memorial garden party takes place on July, 19, 2014, followed by a reception with food, live music, and sharing at her and Lisa’s homes on S. Garand St. in Winslow, Maine at 3:00; rain date Sunday, July 20, 2014. Six trees and bushes, representing her children and grandchildren, will be planted in her honor on the properties. In lieu of flowers, the family and Patty Jo have requested that donations be made in her memory to Hospice of Waterville, P.O. Box 200, Waterville, ME 04903 or the Homeless Shelter of Waterville, 19 Colby St., Waterville, ME 04901.

 Online condolences may be shared at


Sunday, March 02, 2014

Detroit Pastors to Pray against Marriage Equality outside Courtroom March 3, 2014

Friends: See below, a press release that went out Friday Feb. 28 from “Detroit Black Pastors” announcing a protest prayer vigil Monday in Detroit against marriage equality. Also immediately below, are some of my thoughts on this homophobic event.

“Of all the issues that these ministers could be working on, such as unemployment, hunger, disease, or crime, it is almost unbelievable that they choose to picket and pray against marriage equality in Michigan,” said Craig Covey, longtime community activist and former Ferndale Mayor. “They ought to ask themselves, What would Jesus do? Their same arguments were used in the 1950’s by racists in opposition to mixed racial marriages,” he added.
Covey was the first openly gay person to be elected mayor of a Michigan city in 2007.

Subject: Detroit Black Pastors to protest gay marriage

From: []
Sent: Friday, February 28, 2014 7:39 AM
Subject: RE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Black Detroit Pastors to Lead Protest At U.S. District Court

Black Detroit Pastors to Lead Protest for "Righteousness and Freedom" At U.S. District Court

DATE: February 28, 2014
Contact: Stacy Swimp


WHAT: Protest Against Federal Judge’s Threat To Voting Rights
WHO: Black Pastors and Christian leaders from Detroit and Outstate Michigan
WHEN: March 3, 2014, 9am, ET
WHERE: United States District Court for the Eastern District, Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse; 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226
WHY: On February 25, 2014, Judge Bernard Friedman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan began presiding over DeBoer vs. Snyder, a lawsuit that addresses both the 2004 voter approved amendment to the Michigan Constitution that defines marriage between one man and one woman as well as the state adoption law. Judge Friedman is expected to rule on this case next week.

Detroit, Michigan- A Coalition of over 100 Black Pastors from Detroit have announced that they intend to lead a peaceful march against what they express is a threat to their Voting Rights.

The Pastors say they are "Protesting with praise, worship and prayer".

"We have already given enough speeches. We intend to go out and sing praises. We shall worship. We shall pray. We shall behold the glory of the living God, Who we trust will show Himself strong on our behalf, ending the threat against our voting rights and stopping the violation of our Christian conscience.", said Rev. Dr. Roland A. Caldwell, Burnette Inspirational Ministries, Detroit, Michigan "We are calling on Christians, wherever you are, to come to Detroit and stand with us for righteousness and freedom."'

At a Press Conference led by hosted this week at First Baptist World Changers International Church, the Pastors and Christians leaders denounced what they said is a threat to their voting rights. Additionally, they denounced what they expressed as a potential threat to their God given right of religious freedom.

"Man’s rejection of God’s Word does not change the fact that God instituted marriage as a means of creating and sustaining family, as well as creating and sustaining a strong and moral society. It is indeed on the basis of strong families, as defined by God, that the future of our nation rests. Hence, there can be no doubt that to redefine marriage as between any two people, regardless of gender, would be an action against the will of God and the best interest of both nation and family." says, Minister Stacy Swimp, Founder of "REVIVE ALIVE", Flint, Michigan. "Our presence shall serve as a reminder to Judge Friedman that it is his God given responsibility to uphold God’s rights and protect the institution of marriage between one man and one woman, which God created and blessed.

The coalition's leaders have said that they also believe it is the responsibility of the Church to be the conscience of the community, state and nation. In doing so, they believe they can impact both the judicial and the political system to return to honoring America's Judeo-Christian Values and commitment to traditional marriage.

"We acknowledge that, for too long, the body of Christ, including many of the leaders of the churches, have been silent in the face of spiritual corruption in the church, community and public square.", states Rev. Stacey Foster, Life Changers International Ministries. "Therefore, we are calling on every Christian, in Michigan and around the nation, to join us in a call for the spiritual revival of the body of Christ. We need a restoration of consciousness in both the church and the society at large."