Brian’s Column: Local Government inAction

You wouldn’t think fixing a ramp at the recycle center would be a big deal

NoviOkay this is a column about an incident that writes itself. Describes my recent interaction with the local government facilities, city of Novi, Michigan. I’m not the most active citizen, but have attended a couple city council meetings and try to do my civic duty. As a Libertarian, I do not want activist government but I certainly would like to see responsive government. Which means if there’s a dog running loose or a child being brainwashed against his will at the high school: “Could you please quickly send someone over to fix that?”

I’ve already written a piece on predatory local government, from the next county over, that is Wayne County and the Northville, Michigan, police. Who because of an ambiguity of driving a car registered and insured (all paid up, by the way) in my then recently deceased mother’s name, I was rousted by a girl cop and her magic license plate twanger. This wonderful little bureaucop even emphasized she could take me to jail—twice!—for such an egregious offense. I’ll let you read all about it in the column I wrote here, which had a semi-happy ending thanks to my own passionate oration in court against such outrageous behavior being well-received by an actual human judge.

Recyle_Novi_RampThis recent course of events isn’t a case of predatory government, rather (what has all the appearances of being) ‘lying and slacker’ government. On a small matter to be sure. And this is ‘my‘ government, Novi, Michigan. Watch the movie Pleasantville, substitute a couple of the city elders with women, drop in a state-of-the-art municipal building complex, and deploy your police force to stake out every ‘no-turn-on-red’ intersection to meet their revenue bounties. That’s my town, no shy town, a spit-in-your-eye town. Novi looks good on paper and on the Web, has all the bells and whistles of modern Glitter Flicker Bang Bang corporate Kabuki government.

The Problem

We have a recycling center. Not much of one, but I appreciate the economy. I’ve called or sent emails on now on three occasions to report a bad ramp, second instance shown above right. Here are the contents of my letter and the response from Dept. of Public Works (DPW) and a city councilman I copied.

Email to Joe Blow of DPW and Councilman Justin Fischer (8-20-2014)

Went thru the Novi directory and it seems you may be the one to handle this matter.
Attached photo shows a little bit, but as you’re facing the ramp the left front leg is slightly off the ground, and the ramp is rickety to walk up and down. I’m 65 but still pretty coordinated and usually use these two bins to recycle. But what happens is the ramp shakes around as you walk on it, then when you’re descending the steps, the left front leg all of a sudden slams down and if you’re not careful, someone is going to fall on his butt and hurt himself. Especially in wet or icy conditions.
I think you should replace that ramp as soon as possible… or positively secure it.
Copying Justin on CC, per my friend Alex Fera who attends CC meetings and says Justin is one of the more responsive, common sense members. Justin, just copying you so in case Joe isn’t the right guy to bring this up to, you can route to the appropriate area.
Brian Wright

Response to my Email from Joe Blow of DPW, Councilman Justin Fischer (8-20-2014)

Yes, the Department of Public Services manages the Recycling Center on behalf of the recycling consortium of which we are members (Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southwest Oakland County, or RRRASOC). Because the surface is unpaved, Novi_Compositewhat you have reported is a recurring issue.
We will get these portable stairs addressed. Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention.
Joe, DPW
Brian, thanks for bringing this to our attention.
Joe, thanks for handling so quickly as always.
Justin Fischer
Novi City Council

What Actually Happened: Nothing. Twice.

The photo upper right was taken on my trip to the recycle center 10 days later. You’ll see that the ramp has not changed, nor has the foot of the ramp been fixed so that it doesn’t rise off the ground. After taking this second photo, I called and spoke with Joe Blow or someone in DPW—to be completely candid with you, I can’t remember if I called or if there was another cycle of email—who told me that he had one of his men weld that ramp leg so that it no longer would rise off the ground. As you can see from photo and inset, the ramp is the same ramp as before and nothing has been fixed at all.

Fact is, Joe either lied to me or he just got bad information. He knew the location of the stair ramp because I had sent him the photo which showed it sitting right between the two large bins. Also none of the other stair ramps on the recycling grounds had changed. They looked to not have the defect. It was August 2014. In October of 2014 I took another picture just to verify the stair ramp was there to stay… like a pebble in your shoe. Here’s that view. IMG_20141018_125648

But this time I just let it go. What good would it do to carry on? The City of Novi wasn’t going to fix that stair ramp, and that was that. Tough bippy! What bothered me was that they acted as if they HAD fixed it, when they had to know that nothing had changed. I felt they were, like, laughing at me: “Hey, guys, check out this loser, Brian Wright, who I slow rolled about the stair ramp out there in the recycling area. He actually thought we were going to fix that decrepit old piece of scrap metal. Ha. What a class-A chump! Whose turn for donuts and bagels, today?”

I get up at noon,
arrive at work at one,
take an hour for lunch,
and then at two we’re done.
Jolly good fun! — Work Song from the Land of Oz

In the Grand Scheme of the Cosmos, no harm done. But some old codger can still walk up that ramp on a rainy day, then when that short ramp leg gives him a jolt coming down he can slip and fall on his bejesus. I just didn’t want the old guy to face that risk, and also I didn’t want the city’s insurance rates to go up from a lawsuit… because taxes are plenty high already here in Republican-Establishment, Michigan. Novi: Hillbilly Heaven with Grosse Pointe airs.

How is your city working for you?

We can curse the darkness or light a candle. Some thinking I’ve done recently in connection with my upcoming book, Satyagraha Liberty,


We’ll just do what we can.

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