Dec 2014 / Jan 2015

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On November 4, voters in Michigan’s 27th House District elected Democrat Robert Wittenberg to replace outgoing Representative Ellen Cogen Lipton. Wittenberg has lived in the district all his life; he was born in Huntington Woods, attended high school in Berkley, and currently resides in Oak Park. Now, he gets the opportunity to represent us all in Lansing. I sat down with Representative-Elect Wittenberg recently to talk about the tasks he faces as he prepares to head off to the Michigan State Capitol in January.

Ferndale Friends: Being a politician has to be a real strain on self, friends, and family. Why did you run for office?

Robert Wittenberg: I ran because I grew up in this community, I love this community, and I really want to serve this community. I’m frustrated with the way things are in Lansing, and I want to make a change. There are issues of fairness and equality for the LGBT community we have to address. There are issues with education, which isn’t a priority in Lansing any more. Teachers in public schools are having their resources cut, their benefits cut, and their class sizes increased. We need to reverse this trend.

FF: How would you describe your position in the political spectrum? Progressive, moderate, conservative?

RW: Definitely progressive, which is good because this district is progressive. My values align with the people of this district, and I hope to bring some progressive ideas to Lansing.

FF: As a member of the minority party in a deeply divided political landscape, how do you plan on getting things done in Lansing?

RW: There are definitely members of the far right that believe that government

has no role in anyone’s life, but there are a lot of people, both Republican and Democrat, who are closer to the middle and really do want to get things done, and you have to be able to work with them. There are, however, issues where we (the Democrats) won’t compromise. I’ll never sell out my progressive values. But overall, if there’s something we can figure out that will benefit the state, then we have to have that discussion. Many times, it’s about the relationships you build. When I had my orientation for incoming House members, there were 40 new representatives (out of 110 total seats) from both parties. I talked to the new Republicans, sat next to them, in the interest of building those relationships that will let us get some things done.

FF: What are some of the unique problems of the 27th District that you hope to address?

RW: Our municipalities are starved for funds. I sat down with the city managers in just about every city in the district, and all of them said that they don’t have the money to pay for essential services, that they’ve had to cut back on almost everything. This is true all over the state, but it especially affects some of our communities here in the district. This also affects our schools. We have great schools in our district, but can they continue to be great without proper funding? Every time I’ve gone to a school board meeting, they talk about their funding being cut and cut and cut. They’re like magicians, figuring out how to do more with less. While it’s a good thing to be able to do that, I don’t think they should have to. I think they should be able to do more with more.

Another thing I’ve been fighting for is equality, and the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The Republicans aren’t allowing a fully-inclusive bill; they want to leave out transgender rights. They’re getting a lot of push-back from Democrats, and our caucus is united on the idea that unless a bill is fully-inclusive, we won’t support it. Because we have people from all walks of life in our district, this is something that will affect us directly.

FF: What’s highest on the agenda once you get to Lansing?

RW: As a caucus, there are things we want to pursue. Besides equal rights with the Elliott-Larsen Act, there’s the pension tax on the seniors. It’s against the constitution, and these were people who worked their whole lives, followed the rules, did everything right, and were promised something, and all of a sudden, it’s being taken away. Repealing “Right to Work,” too. Putting money back into public schools, more financial transparency with charter schools and with the EAA (Education Achievement Authority), which is something our current representative has been fighting for. I also want to do something to get more people involved in the democratic process. Unfortunately, the other side has been trying to restrict voting; I want to make it easier. There are a lot of ideas: Early voting, same-day registration, voting by mail, making election day a holiday, that we’d like to explore.

FF: Having lived here all your life, what’s the best thing about the 27th District?

RW: The people. It’s such a friendly community. When I was going door-to- door campaigning, I’d knock and it turned out it was someone I went to school with, or their kids went to school with me, or my brother or sister or my cousins, or someone I played youth football or baseball with. There’s a real small-town feel. The cities of this district are great, their elected officials are working hard to keep them moving forward and make them family- friendly and wonderful places to live. I love being from here, I love living here, and I’m looking forward to raising my family here. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!

FF: Has there been any sense of unreality at getting elected? A moment when you were at the orientation, and it was like, wow, am I really here?

RW: Yes, there was. It’s pretty crazy to think about it. People are calling me “Representative-Elect”… I’m like, just call me Robert. It’s funny to hear that… I’m no different than anyone else. I’m just a person who wants to help out. When I was going door-to-door during the campaign, I kept telling people that I’m available, that they can always call me, e-mail me, reach out to me, that their voices will be heard. I want to work for the people of this community, and I will never take that for granted.

“They told me I wasn’t going to be able to walk anymore. I had a heart attack, a diabetic attack, a slight stroke and a 28 percent chance of living,” William Vaughn told me while sitting in his home.

Vaughn was a mortgage broker and real estate agent for 30 years, with over 40 employees working for him, before becoming ill. After recovering, he planned to start up a company again, but the laws about real estate credentials had changed. He couldn’t be licensed without a high school diploma. So now, at the tender age of 93, William Vaughn is a Ferndale High School student, rubbing elbows with peers young enough to be his great-great- grandchildren.

“This generation is different than what I’m used to. I’ve been around a long time and have never seen a generation like the one we have now. I know I can’t skip days and not do the work, because if I do I know I won’t pass.” Vaughn finds that the curriculum has changed from how it was when he was last in school. “It’s tougher,” he admits, than it used to be, and there are things to learn now that people didn’t have to learn back in the day. He studies every day of the week just to keep the new information fresh in his brain.

Long ago, Vaughn dropped out of high school to go into the military, and planned to go back after he served his country. But he’d gotten married to his first wife and had a son. Getting a high school diploma took a back seat to taking care of his family.

“If you don’t use your brain, it will deteriorate. If you sit around and do nothing, your mind will settle down to that, and it will be hard for you to concentrate” stated William. It’s a quote from his oldest son that keeps him motivated. “I wasn’t expected to do anything again after my illness, and I was tired of doing nothing. I made a point in my mind that I didn’t want to be a couch potato. Once you run a business and be successful, you don’t want to be dead anymore.”

As of now, William Vaughn is the oldest person to attend Ferndale High in school history, and is living proof that no matter what age you are, you can still attain your dreams and reach your goals. The school curriculum may be challenging to him right now, but William is determined to keep going until he has completed his mission and be back working within the mortgage and real estate business. He plans to finish by his 94th birthday, in August 2015.

Better late than never!

When you live in a city of twenty thousand individuals, and that city is one like Ferndale, full of vigor and ideas and individual spirit, being singled out as “Citizen of the Year” is a pretty special accomplishment. But for those of you who know Jeannie Davis, such an award doesn’t go nearly far enough. After all, she’s one in a million. At least. And luckily, she’s all ours.

Jeannie, Ferndale’s own super citizen, was honored with the 2014 Citizen of the Year Award, presented by the Elks club on October 22, during their annual Law and Order night.

How popular is Jeannie? Well,traditionally, the Mayor presents the Citizen of the Year Award, but this time, there was a bit of a good-natured scuffle. In the end, the award was co-presented by Mayor Coulter, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Martin, and Councilman Greg Pawlica. We understand, guys. Everyone wants to be seen with Jeannie.

“I was honored to be selected.” Jeannie says. “I love Ferndale, it has been so good to me, providing me with a wonderful ex- tended family. The least I can do is pay (it) back.”

Goedert, who served three terms as Mayor from 1996 to 2001, was just elected to a six-year term as Judge of the 43rd District Court in Hazel Park this past November 4. It’s a position he was originally appointed to in 2010 by former Governor Jennifer Granholm, succeeding retiring Judge Robert Turner. He was re-elected in 2012. His new, full term will run through the end of 2020.

Goedert has many fond memories of his time as Ferndale mayor, and is proud of his accomplishments. From Honorable Mayor to simply “Your Honor”, I asked Goedert what he remembers, and what he hopes to do in his important new position.

“(When I served as Ferndale’s Mayor,) we worked very hard to revitalize the downtown and our residential neighborhoods, to make city hall more open and honest, and to stabilize the budget.” Goedert says. “As a judge, I’m working hard to handle large dockets, be fair and do justice, and to protect families and public safe- ty.”

Goedert also pointed out that, even though he is now serving Hazel Park, being in the 43rd District will keep him well-connected to his old city. “For civil cases, we’re a three-city district.” He explains. That means that issues like landlord-tenant disputes from Madison Heights, Ferndale, or Hazel Park may be heard by any judge in the district. Criminal matters, on the other hand, are specific to the city in question.

So, if you go to Hazel Park’s 43rd District Court, you might see a familiar face judging your case.

by: Jill Lorie Hurst

2003 Ferndale Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year, Board Member on the Chamber of Commerce, the Ferndale Community Foundation, the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, multiple awards for beautification… impressive accomplishments. But there’s more to Tom Pearlman, as I learned when I sat down with him recently. Active in the business and cultural community for years, Tom was kind enough to share his Ferndale stories. Afterward, I wanted nothing more than a guided walking tour!

Tom originally sublet his office space from filmmakers Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead). He doesn’t envy the roller coaster ride of film making. “I like stability” he admitted, smiling. His secretary Doris, 86, retired recently after 30 years with Tom. Kimmi, who’s with him now, has worked for Tom for 20 years. They are steps away from Soho, the popular club he owns with his partner of 30 years, John Kalina. Tom started buying commercial property at a time when there were sellers and no buyers. He could keep rents down because his costs were low. When I mentioned his longevity in a difficult business, he said “It helps that I have no debt. I’m fearful of debt.” I expressed my envy and admiration. “It takes a lot of discipline.”

Tom is a Detroit/Birmingham native. His mother, a recently retired schoolteacher, and his father, an artist, worked in the restaurant business. Tom started practicing law in 1981, but stopped when the real estate business took off.

He bought his first club 20-plus years ago – “3-D,” on North Main Street in Royal Oak. 3-D won the first “Best of…” from the Metro Times. It was a “do-it-yourself” project. He now has a great group of tradespeople who help him care for his properties. He spoke of being an attorney by day and club owner by night, a grueling schedule that changed when he and John adopted sons Noah and Adam. The family lives in Orchard Lake. He sometimes regrets they’re not being raised in a town where you get to know the neighbors and “have to be home before the streetlights come on.” Tom and John do make them part of the Ferndale community, including them in business and town events.

The histories of the buildings John has acquired are fascinating. There’s the Field Art Studio, left full of art materials when the owner walked away. The “Balloon Factory,” which houses Detroit Wallpaper and artist studios. The bar Wink was once a Winkelman’s department store. “I love when you buy an old building and discover incredible features once you start fixing it up.” Tom says. He visits the Ferndale Historical Museum when he is buying a property to learn its history. He enjoys working with young entrepreneurs who “bring their spirit to the place. They generally come with limited income, but a lot of creativity.” We discussed the gay community and artists who took a chance on Ferndale, a town people generally “skipped over” when they moved up and out of Detroit. He spoke of how hard local business owners work to survive. He likes working with people as their business grows. “We help them transition. Keep it in the family.”

On “progress” versus keeping a diverse, small town intact: “It’s important to deal with change in a delicate way.” Tom is concerned about efforts to limit the town’s creative freedom. “Why put a damper on creativity? Let them paint their storefront purple if that’s what suits their business. Let people express themselves. That’s what makes Ferndale fun.”

Questions by David Wesley

What does the 3-60 Project mean to you, and, given your experience, what do you think it will mean for Ferndale?

I was initially excited about the potential development of added parking and offices or apartments downtown when the City first broached the idea. But when they later announced that they weren’t seeking lots of ideas or bids from multiple companies, but instead were giving an exclusive agreement to one individual and his partners, I became much more guarded.

When we saw the plans and the scope and timing of the first proposal, my feelings sank. I live one block from downtown, and have watched our downtown blossom over the past 20 years, and was one of many players who had a hand in that success. But this 3-60 project, as presented, is just so massive, on a scale so far beyond what Ferndale is presently. It would be disruptive and character-changing, and that worries me a lot. Over the years, we have grown in thoughtful and measured steps, evolving into a cool but still livable and welcoming community.

While I would like to believe that any final decisions bring a better, smarter plan that fits with our size and character, the risk is also real that bad decisions are made that could affect all of us for many years to come.

What are your strongest reasons for opposing the 3-60 Project?

In spite of reactionary comments from some who back this current plan and methodology, none of us who are opposing the 3-60 project are against development. On the contrary, we support smart development and measured change.

Since the mid 1990s through 2010, under Mayors Goedert, Porter, and myself, most residents and business owners in Ferndale supported the kinds of smart, measured, sensible, and sustainable development we undertook. Narrowing 9 Mile Road, adding street parking, supporting the DDA, encouraging new businesses and stores, fixing the roads, water mains, and sewers, and creating the walkability and street life with festivals were all popular and part of a grand shared vision.

Fixing up the Courthouse was a great example of sensible and efficient redevelopment. But that almost was disastrous when some on City Council back around 2008 wanted to tear it down and move City Hall into the Credit Union One Building. I feel we are back again to those days of some in city government who have grandiose ideas of massive new buildings and wildly expensive projects, and who don’t seem to want to check with experts and experienced developers.

Ferndale is a four square mile town with 19,000 residents who have created a fun, interesting and inclusive community that is welcoming and affordable. We should not delude ourselves to think we should look like Birmingham or compete with Detroit. I strongly believe that there are not dozens of high tech companies demanding to move into a cramped building squeezed into the Withington Parking lot. There are hundreds of thousands of square feet of empty office space in Troy, Southfield, and Detroit.

Why would members of the city council be enticed by this project and what incentive would it have for them?

Since I assume that those in our current city government want what is best for the city, then I also assume that they are either mistaken or are being given bad advice. Maybe they are star struck by visions of a huge new edifice downtown, to be built by a 20-something whiz kid who struck it rich. They do not like criticism even though they say they want input and feedback. They asked for residents’ thoughts and ideas, but then seem to get uptight when folks share their concerns. One council member resorts to sarcasm and over–the-top slogans on Facebook, while another expresses frustration that people don’t like the current plans. We get mixed messages when we are told this is just an idea, but then see timelines that imply the shovels will go into the ground next summer.

I wonder sometimes if those running things now are too insular, and don’t seek advice from fellow city managers, mayors and council members in neighboring cities. Royal Oak just decided on a very beautiful new development in their downtown that includes new parking, apartments, and storefronts. It is reasonable, fits neatly into the space where the old car dealer was on Main Street, and is no more than five stories tall. This was done without drama or rancor. I’m not sure why we don’t seem to be able to follow that model.

What is your most important concern about the 3-60 Project that Ferndale residents need to know?

Everyone agrees that the planning and roll-out of the new “Luke” remote kiosk-style parking system installed in 2013 was very poorly executed and caused much distress and added expense. But most people are now resigned to it, and it is supposedly working well now. But this 3-60 project is one hundred times bigger and more serious than that decision. While many want to trust the current Mayor and City Council and staff, we can’t just cross our fingers and hope they get it right.

The good news is that the project as proposed will surely not happen without big changes. No real estate experts believe that any developer can sign on enough office tenants to fill the kind of building proposed, and it is doubtful they could find bank financing or backers on the scale they need. Also, 2015 is an election year, and the Mayor and two council members are up for election in November.

The bad news is that 80 per cent of residents don’t vote in local Ferndale elections, and many won’t even know or understand what the 3-60 is all about. If you care about your city and its future, then you must let your Council members and mayor know how you feel, and that you vote.

Tell them that to close the entire Withington parking lot for a year or two will be a death knell for our downtown shops and restaurants. Tell them you don’t want to look like Detroit or Birmingham or Troy, and that they should seek alternatives. Bob Wolfson, who built the Lofts on East Nine, offered to build apartments and a parking deck on half of the Withington Lot. Tell the City you want reasonable, doable, smart development that fits the character of the city we all love. Remind them that our roads, water mains, sewers, and other infrastructure need attention, too.

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by Jeff Lily | photos © 2014 Bernie Laframboise

The best and brightest local individuals and businesses were honored at the Ferndale and Oak Park Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Awards and Recognition Gala on November 14. The Gala was held at the Twist Night Club, and presented by Gage Products Company of Ferndale and Paramount Precision Products of Oak Park.

The event lived up to its “gala” billing, with entertainers, strolling waitresses with appetizers, a silent auction featuring products and services donated by over 90 area businesses and individuals, and the opportunity to rub elbows with the smart, driven, and just plain friendly folks of the Ferndale and Oak Park business community. A bar overflowed with chips, salsa, and hummus donated by Garden Fresh Gourmet while a string quartet played softly in the glow of decorative lights.

“The Artist in You” was the theme of this year’s event. The CoC announced the Art Mural Project, in which the work of two sophomore, two junior, and two senior students from Ferndale High School will be chosen for outdoor display at various locations in Ferndale. Chosen students also have the opportunity to pick up scholarship money. Photos of young Ferndale High School artists were shown on TVs, and a selection of their work was available for viewing at the Gala.

The highlight of the evening, of course, was the awards ceremony. The winners of each category were:

  • Business Person of the Year: Dean Bach (Dino’s Lounge and M Brew).
  • New Business of the Year: Michigan Youth Arts (Marianne Dorais).
  • Special Service Award: Jack Aronson (Garden Fresh Gourmet).
  • Best of Ferndale: Tie between Rust Belt Market (Chris and Tiffany Best) and Ferndale Friends
  • Best of Oak Park: Tai Fai Restaurant (Bonnie Deng).
  • Volunteer of the Year: Rita Van Keymuelen (Creative Office Designs).

As a member of the Ferndale Friends team, I am, of course very excited about winning the “Best of Ferndale” award. It’s especially humbling when you consider the fine businesses and organizations we were up against.


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Congradulations to the Nominees

Business person:

  • Jack Aronson, Garden Fresh Gourmet
  • Eric Borman, Progressive Metals
  • Jeff Denha, Brass Aluminum Forging
  • Dr. Bridget Devlin, Claddagh Chiropractic
  • Carrie Fanelli, ServPro of Oak Park/Ferndale
  • David Greylen, Waterwork Plumbing
  • Don Hagle, J & D Auto
  • Mike Hennes, Howe’s Bayou
  • Jay McMillan, Royal Services
  • Heatherleigh Navarre, Boston Tea Room
  • Jerome Raska, Blumz…by JRDesigns

New Business:

  • McRub / JLM Medical Massage
  • Nick’s Pizza
  • Public House
  • Tai Fai Restaurant

Special Service:

  • Heather Coleman Voss, Oakland County Michigan Works! Ferndale
  • Mayor David Coulter, City of Ferndale
  • Jeannie Davis, Ferndale Seniors
  • Derek Delacourt, Ferndale CED Director
  • Ann Heler, FernCare Free Clinic
  • Christine Hughes and Cindy Wilcox, Ferndale DDA
  • Rev. Jim Pool, Renaissance Vineyard Church
  • Crystal Proxmire, OC115

Best of Ferndale:

  • FernCare Free Clinic
  • Ferndale DPW
  • Ferndale Public Schools
  • Gage Products Company
  • Garden Fresh Gourmet
  • Greenleaf Bodyworks
  • Michigan Youth Arts
  • Progressive Metal Manufacturing Company
  • Royal Services
  • Western Market

Best of Royal Oak:

  • 8250 Closet
  • J & D Auto
  • Oak Park DPW
  • Paramount Precision Products
  • Scheers Ace Hardware

Volunteer of the Year:

  • Lori Champagne, Champagne Engraving
  • Heather Coleman Voss, Oakland County Michigan Works! Ferndale
  • Crystal Foster, Clear Financial
  • Jim Shaffer, Jim Shaffer and Associates / Keller Williams Realty
  • Rita Van Keymeulen, Creative Office Designs

Questions by Derek Lindamood

Who or what prompted the idea for the 3-60 Project?

Our city’s downtown strategic revitalization vision and long-term planning prompted the 3-60 Project. As early as 1998, the City’s Master Land Use Plan already incorporated specific language about mixed-use residential and office space development on city-owned parking lots.

For the past six years, the real estate crash depressed property values, making new development financial unviable for most communities. Now that real estate is in recovery and Ferndale is a highly desirable community, multiple developers have interest building in Ferndale, including the 3-60 Project team.

What are the potential benefits for the residents and businesses of Ferndale that this project could bring?

I believe great downtowns make people a priority as a revitalization strategy instead of just car travel and parking spots. I often wonder how we can use the city’s under-utilized parking lots to strengthen our connectedness and social interactions — or create a stronger sense of place. With Ferndale’s intense focus making walking and biking more safe and enjoyable, our downtown provides people an engaging environment that leads to great experiences for those who live, work and visit our downtown. With that in mind, the development project can help solve current challenges and position us to further achieve downtown goals and aspirations.

First, a development project like 3-60 will create more parking for downtown businesses. We all know it can be a challenge to find parking at peak times in our downtown. Time and again, our DDA and businesses have made increasing parking supply a top priority.

A second major benefit from this project is more daytime foot traffic. Our downtown business owners and the DDA have been consistently vocal about the need to balance downtown Ferndale’s thriving night-time economy with the slower daytime economy. More people living and working in the downtown will result in more people walking, dining and shopping during the day.

Adding more choice of housing options is another benefit. Increasingly, some people desire lofts, one-two bedroom apartments or condos located in a walkable urban downtown where they can complete most of their daily trips by walking or taking transit.

New office space means businesses bringing new jobs. The 3-60 Project seeks to fill the proposed new office space with second-stage tech companies that will most likely provide high- paying jobs.

Increased neighborhood retail space for entrepreneurial small businesses is an overall benefit to our community. Remember, the City can negotiate with any developer what types of business uses are allowed in the new storefronts (i.e., retail versus a bar or restaurant).

What is this project – i.e., how many loft units, how many stores, what are they intending to be used for – and what is the ultimate goal for this undertaking: What is it that the 3-60 Project hopes to achieve for the City of Ferndale?

The ultimate goal of any project on City-owned parking lots is to fulfill the City’s strategic revitalization goals. Other developers proposals were considered, however the 3-60 Project provided more options worthy of further exploration.

Conceptually, the 3-60 Project team proposes one residential loft building with 75-100 living units and three office buildings approximately 60,000 square feet each. As part of the proposal, the city seeks to add a public parking deck to reduce the existing parking capacity issues in the downtown and support the residential and office space uses.

We are in control of what we want this development project to achieve for us as a community. City staff are working closely with the 3-60 Project team to ensure their proposal meets the city’s stated goals, and follows the city’s required development review process.

What is the current timeline of this project, start-to-finish? How will this undertaking affect downtown businesses, and for how long?

The 3-60 Project has three phases, and the project proposal is currently in Phase One. Activities in Phase One included several public outreach sessions, and a parking and financial feasibility study. Phase One is the most critical for the city—this period determines the cost and financing options to build the new public parking deck.

City Council accelerated the suggested 18-month timeline to complete the conceptual evaluation of the 3-60 Project after 12 months. At the end of the 12-month period, City Council will determine if there is enough potential to move forward to a formal planning review process (Phase Two). If City Council approves moving to Phase Two, then construction (Phase 3) could start in late 2015.

How will this project be funded, and what is the estimated cost for taxpayers?

This development project is designed as a public/private partnership, which means that the developer will fund the construction of the residential and office space, and the City funds the construction of the parking deck, leading to both parties gaining benefits.

The financial feasibility study is currently underway. As of this writing, City Council has yet to receive a detailed project proposal with all the cost and project financing information, which is the final step of Phase One. Council anticipates city staff and the 3-60 Project team to provide more details in early 2015.

What will City Council propose to do to mitigate some of the anticipated traffic congestion, etc. that could cause downtown businesses to see a decrease in activity at their stores?

With any project on city-owned parking lots, I expect the developer to conduct a traffic impact study based on the number of proposed parking spaces. This study, performed in Phase 2, will inform the city and DDA on any anticipated increase in traffic congestion and recommend avoidance solutions.

What are the potential issues e that the construction of the 3-60 Project could cause for the residents and businesses?

I know that any major downtown development project the City approves will have short-term impacts on businesses and residents during construction. Construction will result in street, sidewalk and alley closures, traffic detours and construction noise.

City Council made an earnest effort to include public feedback early in the development concept stage, and City staff are collaborating with the 3-60

Project team to incorporate suggestions into the development proposal. A major concern expressed by business owners during the 3-60 public input sessions is that construction or closure of both the Withington and Troy lots at the same time is untenable. City staff are working with 3-60 to determine how to construct one lot at a time, keeping essential parking available to downtown businesses.

I know City Council will ensure City staff, and the DDA, downtown businesses and other partner organizations develop a strong mitigation plan that reduces the impact of construction. Together we will need to identify alternative parking solutions, understand the individual needs and concerns of each business, and then determine business technical support services to assist them throughout the construction phase. I know Ferndale’s DIY attitude and creative energy will guide us through.

Who is responsible for ensuring the project is completed within the time frame specified by the builder?

The City is responsible for holding any developer accountable on their approved development plan. For example, the Vity held the Lofts at 9 development team accountable for their approved plan and construction timeline, which was a successful project for the community.

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Q: I was stopped for having expired plates on my car. The police ordered me to get out and asked for my driver’s license. It was from another state and had expired. They started to rifle through my car and I said “Sir, I do not give you permission to search my car” and the officer said “I’m going to impound it so your permission doesn’t matter.” Can he do that?

The short answer is “yes.” If your plates are expired, you can be charged with a crime. Likewise, if your license is also expired, you do not have the proper legal authority to drive the car. Since you couldn’t drive it, the police were within their right to impound it.

Once the police decide to impound your car, they have a right to do an “inventory search.” They do not need your permission and they do not have to obtain a warrant.

The police don’t always use the same terms. They may refer to impounding your car as “seizure,” “forfeiture,” “nuisance abatement” or some other term. This tactic is common in drunk driving, drug cases and prostitution cases. Whatever they call it, if they decide to keep the car, they are entitled to look through it without first getting a search warrant. If they locate contraband, you could get charged with additional criminal offenses based on what they find.

Not having up-to-date Michigan plates or tags on your car gives the police the right to pull you over. They have “probable cause.” This is because it is probable that someone (likely the owner or driver) failed to renew the plates. All they need to conduct a stop is a “suspicion” of criminal activity that they can describe or “articulate.” If they have more than a suspicion, like here, then they can not only stop you, they can also search and detain you.

If the police did not have probable cause, then they could not impound your car. The impoundment is completely separate from any criminal charges. The state calls it “nuisance abatement.” This is a “civil infraction.” It is not a crime, so you do not have a right to an appointed lawyer and other rights you would otherwise have. The idea is that your car is creating a nuisance because you are using it to engage in criminal acts. To abate the nuisance, they take the car even if the driver was not the owner. While you could rent a car and return to your nuisance activity, the law entertains the legal fiction that the car caused the nuisance and not the driver.

In order to get your car back, most places charge hundreds of dollars. This includes the towing company with the contract to tow your car. They can charge you for “storage” on a daily basis, so the longer you take to decide what to do or to get the money, the more it costs.

“JUDGE RUDY REPORTS” is a regular feature in Ferndale Friends. This “ask the lawyer” format column welcomes questions from readers. If you have a legal question or concern, send your question by email to Advice about specific cases or individuals cannot be provided but general legal questions and topics are welcome.

By Jason Shubnell | Photos © 2014 Ed Abeska

BACK FOR ITS eighth year, the Ferndale GoodFellows dressed up and drank down in honor of the end to Prohibition.

Various Ferndale establishments tried to recreate the feel of the 1930s, hosting their own drink specials, while bar staffs and patrons were encouraged to wear period costumes (think Al Capone and The Great Gatsby). The event raised funds for Ferndale GoodFellows, who offer assistance to needy families during the holiday season. The event took place Saturday, December 6, starting around dinner time and running until the bars closed.

Lifelong Ferndale resident Larry Mills and his wife Monica are the brains behind the event. “Watching the History Channel, learning about December 1933, my husband suggested a fundraiser for Ferndale Goodfellows,” Monica said. “Any opportunity for Monica and Larry to get dressed up is cause for celebration in itself,” said Michael Hennes of Howe’s Bayou, which has been a participating venue in the event every year.

Donations are raised through sponsorships and passing the “moonshine jug” at participating venues. Last year, eight venues and more than a dozen volunteers raised over $3,500 for needy families. $22,500 has been raised over the event’s eight-year run. Volunteers stopped to pass the jug around all participating bars. Patrons were encouraged to put donations in the jug whenever they wanted to make a contribution. The moonshine jug will be left at Just 4 Us until after Christmas, so there’s still a chance to contribute.

“Off-duty police officers work with the fire department and other service organizations as part of Good Fellows to ensure each child is warm, sheltered, fed and hopefully has a toy for the holiday.”

Tito’s Vodka was a sponsor for the first time in 2014. “Ferndale is a big supporter of Tito’s and I thought that would be the least I could do,” said Sam Randazzo, state manager for Tito’s Vodka. “Everyone deserves a Merry Christmas.”

A history lesson.

PROTESTANTS AND PROGRESSIVES from both political parties, as part of the Anti-Saloon League, were the force behind Prohibition. After years of legal and political wrangling, the United States officially

became a dry country on January 17, 1920, when the 18th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was passed.

Michigan had actually been trying to ban alcohol as early as 1852, believing that “such a ban would reduce crime and improve both family life and employee productivity,” according to documents from Wayne State’s Walter P. Reuther Library. Citizens of Michigan actually approved a prohibition amendment to the state constitution in 1916. However, “bootlegging operations and smuggling networks formed within hours.”

The Michigan-Windsor lake border was a match made in bootlegging heaven. One of Detroit’s most famous mobs, the Purple Gang, were notorious bootleggers.

When the Great Depression hit in the late 1920s and tax revenues waned, a new source of revenue was needed. The Cullen-Harrison Act legalized the sale of beer with an alcohol content of 3.2 percent. Upon signing the act, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reportedly said, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

The 18th Amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933, with ratification of the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As of 2012, the state of Michigan has at least 120 breweries.

“We’re not actually honoring the end of Prohibition,” said Hennes. “More like celebrating the end of the silly law that banned drink in the first place.”