Feb / Mar 2014

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When Dave Garcia started as the new executive director at Affirmations in 2011, he heard complaints about the floor every day — or so it seemed. The off-white carpets were stained, ripped, and had become an eyesore.

The beautiful building that opened in 2007 as a showcase of the LGBTQ community four years later was languishing because of a bad interior design decision. The floors were affecting how the community felt about the building. Dave heard feedback from members that the space was great but the floors made the building seem shabby. Every day, it was “the floors, the floors, the floors.”

And that’s the nature of running an organization: Oftentimes, you don’t get to choose the priorities. Instead, they choose you.

Recovering from this bad decision was more than a cosmetic change. It was having profound effects on Affirmations. In 2011, the building didn’t even open until 4:00 P.M. and Dave said about his priorities when he joined Affirmations, “the first thing was to fight the public perception that we were dying.”

So rather than raise money for the new flooring from donors — donors who less than ten years ago had raised over five million dollars for the Open the Doors capital campaign — Dave looked to Building for the Future, a financial service that helps nonprofits plan for capital improvements. Though flooring was not initially on the list of big ticket items that Building for the Future would help fund, Dave negotiated an agreement to get the flooring replaced.
Making sure the floor was fixed was a reality but also a metaphor.

Dave worked with staff and the board of directors to build expertise. He went about meeting the financial challenges by increasing donations, grants, and corporate sponsorships. He raised the profile of Affirmations by adding a premiere fund-raising event called Spring Bash. This black-tie affair provides a venue to court more affluent donors and corporate sponsors. The Shore 2 Shore Equality Ride’s inaugural voyage was held last summer. Based loosely on the AIDS/LifeCycle Ride, it benefited all Michigan LGBT Community Centers and was a big success even in its first year.

Now on solid financial ground, Affirmations has started adding programs to serve the community. Last year, it expanded the David Bohnett Cyber Center. A bank of 15 computers is available for member use, and provides the technology resources which allowed Affirmations to collaborate with the Michigan Educational Partnership in hosting an alternative high school program. Besides expanding programs, Dave’s love of public policy and political activism also led him to spearhead the Hungry 4 Equality campaign last fall. Corresponding with the Fall election, hunger strikers gathered in a “living room” staged in Affirmations’ front window along Nine Mile. The strike raised awareness about existing anti-gay legislation in Michigan, especially anti-adoption, anti-marriage, and laws that allow discrimination in the workplace. Dave was one of the first wave of hunger strikers, and the event was covered by local, national, and international media.

Affirmations also posted an Equality Rights Hall of Shame that was visible from Nine Mile Road. Members of the Hall of Shame included Michigan legislators, politicians, and the Supreme Court. Dave saw the Hall of Shame as an opportunity “to educate the community, especially our straight allies, about who is behind the anti-gay movement here.” While both of those campaigns were very successful, they also brought criticism. Some felt the campaign was too in-your-face or that it was not the role of a community center to push a political agenda. But one thing is sure: Nobody thinks that Affirmations is dying. With a strong board and staff and the finances on the rise, Affirmations’ future looks bright. But Dave feels sad and a little guilty for leaving. “We still have work to do here,” he said. The fights for marriage and adoption and against workplace discrimination still need to be won. But he feels confident that “it’s just a matter of time.”

When the lifelong Michigander goes to Los Angeles to work as the Director of Public Policy and Community Building at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, it will be big challenge. But serving as Executive Director of Affirmations and before that of the Gay and Lesbian Center in Kalamazoo has prepared him. It has “toughened my skin,” he said. “There will always be criticism. I’ve come to expect it and that’s going to help me moving forward.” Dave turns 40 this year and his son is graduating from high school, so it is an ideal time to try something different. In his new position he will travel and advocate for changes to public policy internationally. But while he is saying goodbye, Affirmations will continue.

It celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, anchoring West Nine Mile with all the stuff that makes Ferndale fun and fabulous.

If something happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a preparation. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotence and other states connected to erectile dysfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What people talk about “viagra stories“? The most vital aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong soundness problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual malfunction switch on injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual disfunction. Even though this physic is not for use in women, it is not known whether this curing passes into breast milk.

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After spending more than 20 years serving the citizens of Ferndale as part of the Ferndale School Board, long-time education advocate Chuck Moeser announced his intention to retire from his position last December.

With an impressive list of accomplishments and accolades, including serving ten years as Board President, Moeser felt the timing was right to announce his
departure. “With the Board’s organizational meeting in January, [announcing my retirement in December] would give the Board and my replacement a full year to work together,” Moeser said. “I felt it to be the right time for myself and the Board.”

His thoughtfulness about the timing of his announcement was no surprise to the people who know him best, including School Board President Jim O’Donnell
who has served with Moeser for several years. “Chuck has always been the epitome of graciousness and was a well-prepared and strong leader and advocate
for the district,” O’Donnell said. “The school board wishes Chuck Moeser all the best in his retirement.”

Looking back on a long and distinguished term, it wasn’t hard for Moeser to point out the proudest moments of his tenure – both personal and professional. “My proudest moments were when each of my three kids graduated from the same high school I did and I was able to sign their diplomas,” Moeser said.

“And from a Board perspective, keeping the many programs that make Ferndale a great district intact while balancing the budget during State revenue reductions and increased State mandates. And helping to keep our schools both economically and academically in good shape over my 20-plus years of service to the community.” For now, Chuck Moeser and his wife are planning on moving to Traverse City for their second retirement. They’re counting on relaxing, volunteering, and spending plenty with time with their children and grandchildren. Though nothing is set in stone, he’s looking forward to what a new experience might bring. “My wife and I are about to begin our next great adventure in life,” Moeser said. “You never really know what comes next.”

Selected to fill the vacant seat on the board left by Moeser’s departure is Jennifer LaTosch, a Senior Attorney at Miller Canfield and a long-time Ferndale resident. Her interest in seeking the position came from a decision made with her partner to stay in Ferndale and get more involved. “When we decided to stay in the Ferndale area, we both committed to getting as involved as possible to help make the schools the best possible for our kids and all of the kids that go to school here,” LaTosch said.

“We have an amazing community, and I know our schools can be just as amazing.”

Only a month into her service, LaTosch is already making a fast impression on her colleagues. “Jennifer LaTosch is a worthy successor to Chuck,” Board President O’Donnell told Ferndale Friends. “She impressed the board with her intelligence and thoughtfulness on the Citizens’ Strategic Plan Review Committee and in her application and interview for the open board position. Jen is going to be a tremendous colleague on the board.”

Speaking of the work the Ferndale School Board has done over recent years, LaTosch said that she is “so impressed with the vision to create a strategic plan, the follow-through in creating a community driven strategic plan, and the dedication to carrying it out.” She believes that “we are at a very difficult crossroad in public education, but by rallying together and sticking to our collective vision, I am confident that we will come through this and be even stronger.”

With full elections coming up in November, LaTosch’s term will last until December 31st, 2014. In that time, she’s excited about the possibilities of what the Board will be able to accomplish together. “I am excited about seeing the vision and goals of the strategic plan come to fruition,” LaTosch told Ferndale Friends. “I would also like to continue the commitment of the board to provide transparency and open communication. And at the base of making our schools successful is the need to work towards a balanced budget that provides for the excellent education for our kids, the programs that we all love, and a positive and supportive environment for our kids, families, staff, and community.”

If something happened with our soundness, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a medicament. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat emasculation and other states coupled to erectile malfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What people talk about “viagra stories“? The most essential aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile disfunction can be the symptom a strong health problem such as core trouble. Causes of sexual dysfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a condition called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual dysfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this treatment passes into breast milk.

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Kurt Metzger is a mayor who can do the math. But Pleasant Ridge’s first new mayor in a generation is no number-cruncher; he’s more like a number-coordinator.

Metzger wants to illuminate a “regional vision” for our closely-tied communities to share. It’s possible we could all start seeing this vision by way of numbers and statistics. At least, if any mayor will show you a thing or two about stats and demographics, it’s Metzger. Metzger’s background is in data analysis. He began his career in the ‘70s with the U.S. Census Bureau and recently retired as Director of Data Driven Detroit — a regional information hub for data coordination, providing information analysis for a range of groups and institutions thus that they can make the best-informed decisions. Metzger, who won 53% of the vote in Pleasant Ridge’s mayoral election last November, is the guy, the “data-guru,” as he’s known, who can show you what it all adds up to. Put another way, his equations, if worked out, show the “potential” for improvement.

And, when Ferndale Friends asked Metzger about the “unrealized potential” of the Southeast Michigan region, it strikes quite a chord in him. “That term truly captures the message that I have been trying to spread for years,” said Metzger.

“We have all the pieces here, we just need to figure out how we bring them all together and get them working with a unified vision.”

Metzger assures that he’ll work to preserve and strengthen the close ties between our two communities, along with his amicable relationship with our mayor and council members. There are contractual ties between us, but then, also, we can connect by sharing a new and improved vision (or mentality). Metzger speaks of what’s been, heretofore, a detrimental mentality for our region, that being one of “home rule and win-lose confrontation.”

“We have to begin to believe that collaboration can ‘grow the pie’ for all and get away from the idea that the ‘pie’ is finite and that we can’t afford to share even a sliver.”

Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge are just players in a larger tri-county region, anchored by Detroit. Metzger, who worked downtown for decades as a research analyst for the Michigan Metropolitan Information Center and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, implores that we work together to appreciate “Detroit’s success as being: our success.”

“It starts with Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge,” he said, “and it grows to Hazel Park and Huntington Woods and then Detroit and Highland Park and Warren.”

Metzger grew up in Cincinnati, OH. He moved to Detroit in 1975 to begin his work with the Census Bureau. He spent his first Michigan-years in Ferndale (first on LaPraire and then on Troy St.), before he moved to Pleasant Ridge in the mid ‘80s. As an analyst working in Detroit, Metzger said that “the issues of this region have allowed me a ‘laboratory’ of study where demographic knowledge is critical for understanding regional dynamics.” A mayor who’s constantly contemplating “regional dynamics” and revels in poring over numbers? Metzger likely isn’t your typical idea of a local politician.

“I have a strong belief in fact-based decisions,” he says. Indeed. From the start, that’s refreshing rhetoric. But, like we said, Metzger has the numbers to back himself up.

But, more personally, he’s also been able to work and meet people from all over the state; from corporate execs to block captains, he’s worked with the wealthy and the homeless, from all races and ethnic groups. As Metzger sees it, he’s been fortunate to be able to bring a “gift of information” to the region. “I believe in outcome measurement,” he stressed. “I believe that one needs to monitor results on a regular basis to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.”
Among his respected beliefs are transparency in government, community involvement, and participatory government: open, shared, and debated decision-making. “We’re a small, highly-educated community. I feel we have a chance to take the lead in community involvement. A strong message of open data sharing will drive in increase in resident participation in community decision-making.” He admits, though, an “aversion to politics. I never had an interest in running for anything.”

The City Commission’s vote to cancel its fire contract with Ferndale and switch to Berkley back in 2011 spurred Metzger to get further involved. He found encouragement by two young residents, Ann Perry and Jason Kryziak, winning seats on the Commission. When election season came around “no one else would come forward for mayor,” Metgzer said. “I owed them for their courage over the last two years and therefore could not say no when they asked.” Metzger’s expertise with demographic trends and data coordination has aided the Michigan Land Use Leadership Council, SEMCOG, Michigan Kids Count, the Michigan Early Childhood Investment Council and many more. He has also served on the board for the Greening of Detroit. But as of last November, he’s the mayor-next-door.

“We are working closely with Ferndale to envision regional transit and complete streets coordinated between the two communities,” Metzger said. He’s looking towards developing a seamless set of bus and bike lanes connecting the community and providing a more walkable, friendly Woodward — from Detroit past I-696. “These are exciting discussions that Ferndale and Pleasant Ridge will be driving with SEMCOG, MDOT, and others.” Mayor Metzger proclaims it, (just as our bumper-stickers do): “I love Ferndale! I love the energy of its elected officials,” he continued. “I love the diversity of its residents. It’s a great example of what the Millennials are looking for — density, diversity, walk-ability, a culture of openness and innovation, a government that cares and listens. Not to mention, the best librarians I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with….”

“I could go on but…my electorate might start questioning my allegiance.”

Retired from his day job, Metzger is looking forward to spending more time with his wife of 36 years. “We’ll never leave this area,” he assures, proudly and gladly. Professionally, though, he assures that he’ll also never leave “the data-game….in both consulting and volunteer roles with various institutions.”
He’s enthused by his “terrific” Commission partners who are working with him to help Pleasant Ridge blossom into a more “participatory government.” Collaboration, he repeats. A Regional Agenda, he also reiterates.

Sounds good to us. Here’s to a new year, to a new mayor, and to new ideas for collaboration.

If slightly happened with our health, we believe there is a solution to any maladies in a cure. What medicines do patients purchase online? Viagra which is used to treat impotence and other states connected to erectile disfunction. Learn more about “sildenafil“. What humanity talk about “viagra stories“? The most substantial aspect you should look for is “sildenafil citrate“. Such problems commonly signal other problems: low libido or erectile dysfunction can be the symptom a strong heartiness problem such as heart trouble. Causes of sexual disfunction include injury to the penis. Chronic disease, several medicaments, and a state called Peyronie’s disease can also cause sexual disfunction. Even though this medicine is not for use in women, it is not known whether this treatment passes into breast milk.