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DESKA: FRONT/BACK 48 • GERAK: SOCIAL LIGHTS 52

DOWNTOWN R O C H E S T E R

R O C H E S T E R

H I L L S

DECEMBER 2016

PLUS

OAKLAND CONFIDENTIAL POLITICAL NEWS AND GOSSIP

KING OF TRASH: THE BATTLE FOR HAULING CONTRACTS RISE AND FALL: DECLINE OF OAKLAND DAILY NEWSPAPER TAX DRAGNET: HOME EXEMPTIONS AND LOST REVENUE ECRWSS Postal Customer EDDM

DOWNTOWNPUBLICATIONS.COM

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID ROYAL OAK, MI 48068 PERMIT #792


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ADDRESS 2005 Chalet Drive 3588 Joshua 117 Woodward Avenue 365 Huntington Court 630 University 75 Foxboro 2216 Rochelle Park 1361 Acre 2166 Elkhorn 1134 Barneswood Court 309 2nd Street 606 Baker Street 2436 Lassiter Drive 317 Wesley Street 555 May Road 4789 Goodison Place Drive 5156 Stonehenge Minimum Average Maximum

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Sale Price Beds Baths Sqft Total Price/Sqft Close Date $270,000 4 2.1 2,223 $121 11/1/2016 $350,600 4 3.1 2,648 $132 11/1/2016 $140,000 2 1 958 $146 11/2/2016 $209,000 3 2 1,320 $158 11/2/2016 $242,000 3 2 1,694 $142 11/2/2016 $244,900 3 2 1,816 $134 11/2/2016 $249,000 2 3.1 1,694 $146 11/3/2016 $275,000 4 2.1 2,622 $104 11/3/2016 $280,000 3 2 1,698 $164 11/3/2016 $290,000 4 2.1 1,950 $148 11/3/2016 $474,900 4 3.1 2,324 $204 11/3/2016 $275,059 4 2.1 2,674 $102 11/4/2016 $320,000 4 2.1 2,608 $122 11/4/2016 $449,000 4 3 2,000 $224 11/4/2016 $165,800 3 1.1 1,268 $130 11/7/2016 $571,000 3 3.1 3,347 $170 11/7/2016 $760,000 5 4.3 4,664 $162 11/7/2016 $140,000 958 $102 $327,427 2,206 $148 $760,000 4,664 $224

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DOWNTOWN12.16

21

Rise and Fall of an Oakland County newspaper Once considered the dominant newspaper of Oakland County in sales, circulation and news coverage, The Oakland Press has witnessed a steady decline, thanks in part to challenges facing all newspapers and a changing roster of owners.

FROM THE PUBLISHER

10

David Hohendorf writes about the “alternate reality” experienced the day after the general election and his advice to his sons on moving forward but staying involved. Plus he provides an update on our efforts for a coal tar sealcoat ban.

CRIME LOCATOR

15

A recap of select categories of crime occurring in the past month in Rochester and Rochester Hills, presented in map format.

OAKLAND CONFIDENTIAL

17

Our political gossip/rumor column details the latest on a weak write-in attempt; interesting data from the November election; a possible local GOP member’s elevation to the national stage; our TSL nomination: plus more.

MUNICIPAL

42

Family’s lawsuit against city moves forward; historic landmark homes discussed; gaming license request rejected; Rochester Elevator’s future to be studied; two smaller housing developments okayed.

FRONT/BACK

48

Katie Deska gives us the the latest on what’s happening in the front and the back of the house in metro Detroit area restaurants with a series of short takes on the latest news and gossip for the industry.

THE COVER The annual tradition of the Big, Bright Light Show in downtown Rochester, which involves over one million points of light each year. The holiday lights display are part of the seasonal celebration that includes the annual Christmas Parade on Sunday, December 4. Downtown photo: Rochester Downtown Development Authority.


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32

Battle for trash hauling The Rizzo firm, now under FBI review in Macomb County, has captured a good portion of the Oakland County trash hauling market.

37 Tax audits for homesteads Oakland County and the state work diligently to make sure that residential homeowners are not gaming â&#x20AC;&#x201C; knowingly or not â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the property tax system.

28

Adam Baron

FACES SOCIAL LIGHTS

52

Society reporter Sally Gerak provides the latest news from the society and non-profit circuit as she covers recent major events.

ENDNOTE

58

The practice of no-bid, long-term trash hauling contracts needs to be reviewed by local municipalities; the issue of historical legacy properties in Rochester.

18 28 41 44

Mark Tisdale Adam Baron Sue Daniels Madelyn Rzadkowolski


METROPOLITAN

248-601-3399 Direct: 248-601-1000

Office:

Tour Our Homes at: CoreyandCrew.com Email: Debbie@CoreyandCrew.com

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Orion Township  $409,900

Downtown Rochester $289,000

Oakland Twp. $349,900

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Ranch condo with 2 bdrms., great rm. with gas fireplace, fin. bsmt. and 1 car garage. Spacious kit. w/dining rm. Backs to treed setting for privacy. All appliances, inc. gas, water, trash & mo. assoc. fee.

Rochester Hills $289,900 4 bdrms., 2.5 baths in prime location near schools and all conveniences.  Fin. walkout bsmt., hardwood flooring throughout, library, first floor laundry, tiered deck.

DURING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, LETâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S PAWS FOR A CAUSE BECAUSE HEALTHY, HAPPY PETS GET RESCUED FIRST! Corey & Crew is opening our doors for the month of December so you can open your hearts to the desperate needs of the many homeless animals housed and cared for each year by the Rochester Hills Humane Society.  Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how you can help:

ITEMS NEEDED (Note: Items in Red are Urgently Needed) â&#x20AC;˘ Cat & Dog Toys (nonporous) â&#x20AC;˘ Kong Toys â&#x20AC;˘ Newspaper â&#x20AC;˘ Canned Dog, Cat & Kitten Food â&#x20AC;˘ Cage Covers â&#x20AC;˘ Cat Litter â&#x20AC;˘ Cat Perches (step stools) â&#x20AC;˘ Clorox Wipes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Petkin Paw Wipes (8â&#x20AC;?x7â&#x20AC;?) â&#x20AC;˘ Dog food rolls: Natural Balance, Happy Howieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, Pet Bontanics â&#x20AC;˘ Facial tissue & paper towels â&#x20AC;˘ Feliway Spray â&#x20AC;˘ Fleece Spray â&#x20AC;˘ Nylabones â&#x20AC;˘ Oster Grooming Clippers

â&#x20AC;˘ Paper Towels â&#x20AC;˘ Pig Ears â&#x20AC;˘ Rabbit and Ferret Toys â&#x20AC;˘ Rawhides â&#x20AC;˘ Rubber Dishwashing Gloves â&#x20AC;˘ 4 Littman Brand Stethoscopes â&#x20AC;˘ Towels

PLEASE DELIVER ITEMS MON.-FRI., 9 am. â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 5 p.m. to: 135 Romeo Rd., Rochester 48307 Have questions: call Corey & Crew at 248-601-1000.   Tax deductible receipts will be provided.

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DOWNTOWN ROCHESTER • ROCHESTER HILLS PUBLISHER David Hohendorf NEWS EDITOR Lisa Brody NEWS STAFF/CONTRIBUTORS Allison Batdorff | Rachel Bechard | Hillary Brody Katie Deska | Kevin Elliott | Sally Gerak Austen Hohendorf | Kathleen Meisner | Bill Seklar PHOTOGRAPHY/CONTRIBUTORS Jean Lannen | Laurie Tennent Laurie Tennent Studio VIDEO PRODUCTION/CONTRIBUTOR Garrett Hohendorf Giant Slayer ADVERTISING DIRECTOR David Hohendorf ADVERTISING SALES Mark Grablowski GRAPHICS/IT MANAGER Chris Grammer OFFICE 124 W. Maple Birmingham MI 48009 248.792.6464 DISTRIBUTION/SUBSCRIPTIONS Mailed monthly at no charge to homes in Rochester, Rochester Hills and parts of Oakland Township. Additional free copies distributed at high foot-traffic locations in Rochester and Rochester Hills. For those not receiving a free mail copy, paid subscriptions are available for a $12 annual charge. To secure a paid subscription, go to our website (downtownpublications.com) and click on “subscriptions” in the top index and place your order online or scan the QR Code here.

INCOMING/READER FEEDBACK We welcome feedback on both our publication and general issues of concern in the Rochester/Rochester Hills communities. The traditional “letters to the editor” in Downtown are published in our Incoming section and can include written letters or electronic communication. Opinions can be sent via e-mail to news@downtownpublications.com or mailed to Downtown Publications, 124 W. Maple Road, Birmingham MI 48009. If you are using the mail option, you must include a phone number for verification purposes. WEBSITE downtownpublications.com

FACEBOOK facebook.com/downtownpublications TWITTER twitter.com/downtownpubs

Member of Downtown Publications DOWNTOWN BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD DOWNTOWN ROCHESTER/ROCHESTER HILLS


FROM THE PUBLISHER ormally the morning after an election – presidential or off-year – I find myself almost in an alternate reality.

N

At the publishing group we generally work until the early hours of the morning – this year until 3:30 a.m. – waiting for election returns to allow us to send out an email newsletter blast to the several thousand plus local residents who have signed up to receive online notices about the latest news updates to our website. Unfortunately, I am cursed. I followed national news and analysis until past 4 a.m. and called it a night, but within a couple of hours my natural body clock commanded that a new day start. I got my first text at about 7 a.m. from a friend in the Metamora area bemoaning the elections results. So it was no great imposition that my youngest son, Austen, phoned at 7:56 a.m. from New York to share his experience that morning about the E train ride from 50th Street uptown to Lexington Ave/53rd Street near his office. Like his older brother who lives in the Meatpacking District, and everyone else I know, we had all hung on until the wee hours to get the latest results on the presidential election. We exchanged multiple texts throughout the night as state-by-state results came in and we shared our disappointment with the Trump victory. Austen's description that morning of the normal rush hour train ride (think noisy ruckus) to work had all the makings of a Rod Serling “One Step Beyond” episode – considerably less crowds than normal, an eerie silence where there was no conversation whatsoever, on the subway and the sidewalks of Manhattan. I first thought of that line from Sounds of Silence – “people talking without speaking.” His experience was much like what I encountered the day after the election as I interacted with local business people near our office in Birmingham. As a result, I use my column this month to share some added thoughts for my sons who grew up in a household where politics and the workings of government were common topics of discussion. They have matured into young adults who are intellectually engaged with the world around them. They probably don't need my advice, but I dispense it anyway. The election this year for me was a bit different than others. As with all elections, voting is a question of deciding between alternatives. For the 2016 general election, the choice was between two flawed candidates. Simple as that. One a continuation of a dynastic tradition who carried with her baggage from the past that overwhelmed any substantive discussion of policy that had been developed. The other, an uninformed media manipulator who shocked many people as he gave rise to followers taking his lead that it was now politically correct to vent publicly their hidden thoughts about race, sexual preference, women, immigrants. You name it. Lack of civility, coupled with no real knowledge of how the government works, which does not portend well for the country. This election in my case was focused more on preserving for the benefit of my family and the coming generations certain rights and freedoms that

we all have enjoyed in our lifetime – all appearing to be in danger during the campaign, and even now as the the president-elect starts to assemble his administration. The first thought I shared with my sons was that they were fortunate to have been raised and educated in an inclusive environment, where gay rights, women's rights, the civil rights of all populations and religions were both respected and protected. Therefore it was only natural that they, like me, were repulsed by what was heard from our next president. But I also remind myself that even in educated communities like those served by Downtown newsmagazine, Trump still drew heavy voter support, so I suspect not everyone voting for him could be written off as part of the unholy alt-right and white supremacy crowd we would see at his rallies, although I am completely mystified how anyone could ignore the offensive and exclusionary views the campaign came to embody. My second observation, made as we all watched the street protests outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue and across the nation, was that – done peacefully – there was some value in putting the new administration on notice that claims of having a mandate with this election was just one more falsehood thrown out by the Trump inner circle. Mind you, this is a president-elect who called for citizens to march on Washington when President Obama was first elected. While Trump may have won the election thanks to the outdated electoral college system (worthy of a column by itself), he lost the popular vote by over a million ballots. Without an overwhelming mandate, any attempt by the incoming national leadership to run roughshod on issues such as protection of the environment, government surveillance of select populations in the country, threats to the civil rights of both people of color and members of the LGBT community, restriction of women's reproductive rights, tampering with consumer protection regulation or freedom of the press would be disingenuous at best and set off alarms. Which brings me to my most important advice – I remind my sons that the democracy is strong and resilient and can withstand Donald Trump. But the democracy only remains strong if we are diligent and challenge the powers that be. Which means we must stay informed, involved and be willing to speak out publicly and contest what we view as not in the public's long-term interest. COAL TAR SEALCOAT UPDATE: As noted in my column last month, we are now starting our campaign to call on elected officials across Oakland to ban the sale and use of coal tar sealcoat for blacktop driveways and parking lots due to proven threats to human health and aquatic life in the environmentally sensitive county. As you are reading this issue, we are now mailing an information packet (copies of the October Downtown longform feature on the topic; editorial opinion; publisher's column; and a sample ordinance) to nearly 600 elected officials comprising all local municipal councils members, the entire county board of commissioners and the Michigan House and Senate members who represent Oakland County. David Hohendorf Publisher DavidHohendorf@downtownpublications.com


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Happy Holidays! NEW PRICE

As we reflect on 2016, we are extremely grateful to our clients who have trusted us to meet their real estate needs throughout the year. Best wishes to all for a peaceful holiday and a joyful New Year!

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OAKLAND TOWNSHIP 4571 Chatford Court | $435,000

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP 5760 Murfield | $724,999

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP 2462 Selkirk Court | $579,900

Cul-de-sac location with walking trail, trees & large patio in back yard! Great room with floor-to-ceiling windows. Spacious master with 2 walk-in closets & jetted tub.

Hills of Oakland first Homerama show house built by Moceri. Floor master suite leads to balcony. Finished walkout LL. Every upgrade and detail imaginable!

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Wellington sub cul-de-sac location filled with updates and upgrades throughout! Meticuously maintained. Finished lower level with possible 5th BR. 3-car garage. 3,454 SF | 4 BR | 3.2 Baths | MLS# 216107847

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP 2312 Pond Vallee | $1,595,000

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP 3777 S. Century Oak Circle | $669,999

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP 1450 Silverbell Road | $1,699,000

2.41 acre estate in luxurious gated community. Georgian Better than new in great Century Oaks sub! Oversized Colonial offers elegant master suite and finished daylight kitchen and nook overlooking family room. Possible 6th lower level. Garages with room for 6-7 cars. bedroom/bonus room on 2nd floor. Ready-to-finish LL. 4,886 SF | 6 BR | 3.1 Baths | MLS# 216081558 7,442 SF | 5 BR | 4.2 Baths | MLS# 216023510

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INCOMING Accountability in education The third grade reading bill (now pending in Lansing) provides schools with extra funding for diagnostic assessments of students with reading difficulties such as decoding and comprehension in order to provide these students with specific and individualized interventions. Unfortunately, without a change in culture, we still will not see an improvement in results. Being prepared with initial reading skills before a student even starts school should be expected and required. There are too many students reading lower than their current grade level. Students start and end every day at home. There needs to be an attitude at home that education and reading is important. Students without the support of caring parents at home are destined to fail. The impossibility of educating a student without the support of their parents is the real problem. Education should be a partnership between students, parents and teachers. Why can we not legislate the lack of parental responsibility and dedication? Students along with their parents and school need to be held accountable for academic progress and literacy development in order to obtain improved results. Accountability is the key to getting improved results since students do not want to be held back a grade. Why are students not held back in every single grade and any subject if these interventions do not help the student meet the required standards? If they pass the subject, they should go on to the next grade. If they fail the subject, they should be required to go to summer school or repeat the grade. Michael Lerchenfeldt Rochester Hills

Rochester housing story What was not said in the (Rochester housing) report (November/Downtown) is that the medium household income in Michigan is $49,000 and that the medium household income in Rochester on the west side is $76K. I think many of us are aware of the problems in housing, wages and jobs all across the U.S. When you build all new in a city on what little land is left and cater only to a certain financial class at the exclusion of an entire working class, it is devastating. downtownpublications.com

The builders/developers say they are meeting market demands, not necessarily true. They are driving that market. They look only for what they consider "desirable.” Ask them if they build like this in Lake Orion, Oxford, Troy, or Utica? They are building to attract a profit level. When you drill down, they will tell you they can't afford to build and sell the housing that would be affordable to people earning $35-65K and living in this city. Heck, most of our own city employees can't afford to live here and neither can the backbone of people that raised this city to the level it is –and those with young families and those that service the affluent – everyone from secretaries, to landscape workers, janitors, postal employees, Fed Ex drivers, beauticians, clerks, receptionists, wait people and a large segment of 55 and older that don't have huge pensions and a million dollars in the bank. The developers and builders are driving the media to convince people they need to spend and afford the housing they choose to put up for their profit levels and to sustain the business they are in. And they chose Rochester. Sure hope the taxes it brings in defers ours being raised for infrastructure. And plan on taking a much longer time to drive from one end of town to the other – traffic with dense buildings will increase the flow substantially, and then consider water and electricity. Patricia Kane Rochester

Not ‘schools of choice’ In a recent issue, you covered the critical issue of school funding (November/Downtown). While we greatly appreciate the article and the dialogue it undoubtedly created in our community on this important topic, there was an error that we feel we need to address. Bloomfield Hills Schools was noted as a schools of choice district, but we do not offer a schools of choice enrollment program. Bloomfield Hills Schools offers a tuition option for nonresident enrollment, but we are not a choice district. Thank you for helping to correct this error and thank you for your reporting. Shira Good, Director Communications & Community Relations, Bloomfield Hills Schools DOWNTOWN

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OAKLAND CONFIDENTIAL Oakland Confidential is a periodic column of political/government news and gossip, gathered both on and off-the-record by staff members at Downtown newsmagazine. We welcome possible items for this column (all sources are kept strictly confidential) which can be emailed to: OaklandConfidential@DowntownPublications.com. Numbers count: Now that we’ve all recovered from our collective national election hangover, we’re examining the vote, looking at who voted and where the turnout was. While only 13 percent of registered voters in the city of Detroit turned out to vote on November 8, locally, voter participation was much stronger, with 79 percent of registered voters in Bloomfield Township, 76 percent of voters in Birmingham and 76 percent in Rochester Hills. It appears that straight party ticket that Michigan Republicans fought against so hard actually benefitted them more than Democrats on Election Day. In Rochester Hills, clerk Tina Barton said 10,644 people voted straight party Republican, while there were 7,953 Democrats circling the straight party oval. In Birmingham, same story – almost 55 percent of voters (3,193) were Republican straight party voters, versus just under 44 percent (2,547) of Democrats. Bloomfield Township also had more Republican straight party voters, with 8,052, or almost 57 percent of straight party voters. Countywide, Oakland County had it flipped, with 53 percent voting straight party Democratic, for a total of 178,242 votes, and 149,861 (45 percent) Republicans voters going the straight party route. Voter turnout in Oakland County was 72 percent. Absentee ballots were also up. Statewide, the Michigan Secretary of State reported nine percent of voters did it absentee. Almost 11,000 of the 35,212 Bloomfield Township ballots were absentee; Rochester Hills processed 13,215 absentee ballots election night out of 52,553 total ballots, and Birmingham had 4,445 out of a total of 17,412 votes cast. By the way, while Rochester Hills went for president-elect Donald Trump, Birmingham and Bloomfield Township both supported Hillary Clinton. Movin’ on up: Far be it for us to comment on rumors, or to hesitate to check them out. So when word trickled down that Michigan Republican chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, a native of Bloomfield Hills and currently a resident of Northville, was possibly being considered as the chair of the national Republican Party, to replace soon-tobe chief of staff Reince Preibus, we were on it like flies at a picnic. Communications director for the Michigan Republican Party Sarah Anderson said, “We are not commenting on that story right now.” But a highly placed sourced said, “Of course MCDANIEL she’s being considered. Has she been offered the job yet – not yet.” Romney McDaniel is the niece of former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and daughter of G. Scott Romney. C’mon on down: While scare tactics may have worked at the top of the ticket, it didn’t seem to have worked for Republican treasurer candidate John McCulloch, whose campaign mailers repeatedly stated that county treasurer Andy Meisner, a Democrat, “has been working to bring Syrian refugees to Oakland County,” referring to a Pontiac housing project Meisner supported, but which did not come to fruition. Meisner said the development was like a lot of others he supported – finding owners to buy tax foreclosed properties. McCulloch brought along county exec L. Brooks Patterson, who has had some nasty things to say about immigrants, including in September that he’d sue the federal government to stop Syrian immigrants from being settled in Oakland County – although he claims to love other immigrants who bring foreign investment to the county. McCulloch also quoted Sheriff Mike Bouchard as not being a fan of the current vetting process of refugees. Turns out Bouchard, who along with Patterson was reelected on November 8, and is of Lebanese descent, told the House Committee on Homeland Security on September 21, 2016, “The current vetting process for refugees is entirely insufficient...All refugees allowed to enter the U.S. should be closely monitored by the federal government,” noting that the wife of the San Bernardino attacker had fraudulently entered the country on a fiancee visa. Just a note: according to the U.S. Department of State, there have been a whopping total of 482 Syrian immigrants settled so far in Oakland County. As an aside, Meisner noted that he never heard from McCulloch after he won. Not classy, John. Money matters: Nearly a half-million dollars was spent during the 2016 election cycle on Oakland County’s 39th District state legislature seat, one downtownpublications.com

Democrats have been trying unsuccessfully to overturn since 2012, when it fell under Republican control, won by incumbent Klint Kesto. The race was the most expensive in Oakland County this year, and the 11th highest of all Michigan’s House races, according to a spending analysis of 110 districts by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. About $484,958 was spent on the race, with roughly $410,410 spent on Kesto’s side, and $74,548 in documented spending on Democrat Mike Stack’s campaign. Those amounts, which include broadcast television spending, candidate fundraising and disclosed independent spending reported to the Federal Elections Commission by the candidates or other committees on their behalf, are expected to increase in the coming months as additional spending is disclosed, said Craig Mauger, who heads up the Michigan Campaign Finance Network. “The money tracked there wasn’t as high as expected,” Mauger said, citing the $734,000 spent on the 39th District seat during the 2014 election. Mauger noted spending in Birmingham’s 40th District, by comparison, was virtually non-existent. Still, the 6.96-percent margin of victory reached by Republican Michael McCready over Democratic challenger Nicole Bedi made that race one of the closest state House seats in the county. Oakland County Democratic Party Chairman Frank Houston said Stack’s bid for the 39th District seat was a top target of the party at the state level. “From an Oakland County party perspective, we wanted to make sure our countywide positions were re-elected, which they were by good margins, and wanted to make sure we had a competitive candidate against Brooks (Patterson), which we did with Vicki Barnett.” The party also targeted the Oakland County Commission’s 5th and 14th districts. “Those were targets, and Stack was a top target.” Spending was also heavy for the state’s 8th Congressional District, where about $2.512 million was spent on Republican Mike Bishop’s and Democratic challenger Suzanna Shkreli’s campaigns. Bishop, who won his second term in Congress, raised about $2.1 million through the election cycle, with just $165,694 raised in the quarter before the election. Shkreli, whose campaign was launched in July, raised $411,421 in the quarter prior to the election. In total, candidates and supporters spent the third highest amount of any congressional race in the state, behind the 1st and 7th district seats. Mickey Mouse election: In the “count ‘em contentious” category, the guy who lost the election to be the Republican candidate for Bloomfield Township supervisor, Dave Thomas, in the August primary to incumbent supervisor Leo Savoie, decided to register as a write-in candidate for November. Problem was, it was so late in the game – Thomas filed on Thursday, October 27, as a write-in candidate; the final date to register was Friday, October 28 – that most people were unaware he was even running. Savoie handily won re-election (there were no Democrats on the entire THOMAS township slate), receiving 17,459 of the 18,100 votes cast. Thomas had 161 write-ins in 32 precincts, said township clerk Jan Roncelli. “There were all kinds of write-ins, Donald Duck, their whole family. It’s anyone’s right to put in their own name, or anyone else’s. But we’re not going to tally it,” she said. Sorry, Mr. Thomas. You got outvoted by a whole motley crew of characters. TSL: State Senator Marty Knollenberg’s vote in late October against a pair of bills intended to stop bicyclists from being hit by passing vehicles on the road earned his return to the list this month. However, we must give the senator props for breaking a pattern of non-communication by returning our call and offering a thoughtful explanation of his vote. Introduced by Dearborn Heights Democrat David Knezek and Kalamazoo senator Margaret O’Brien, the bills are two of several introduced in response to the fatal crash that killed five bicyclists this year in Kalamazoo. Specifically, the two bills would require motorists to give bicycles at least five feet of clearance when passing. On October 20, Knollenberg was one of only two senators to vote against the bill, which passed the chamber 34 to 2, with one senator excused from voting. An avid cyclist himself, Knollenberg supported an associated bill to increase driver education and instruction on bicycle awareness, but said the five-foot rule would be impractical from an enforcement standpoint. “It would have been easy to vote yes and feel good, but from a practical perspective, I don’t think it’s practical. How will an officer measure it? It creates a lot of confusion,” he clarified. “These injuries are unconscionable and shouldn’t happen. Usually, they are the fault of a distracted driver, and that scares me more than anything else.”

DOWNTOWN

17


FACES Mark Tisdel ongtime Rochester Hills resident Mark Tisdel has served as city council president since 2014, but many people in the community may know Tisdel better for his musical ability. For more than 20 years, Tisdel has been singing at local weddings, funerals and charity benefit concerts in the Rochester area and surrounding communities. Last spring, Tisdel performed his 22nd annual charity concert for Southfield-based Angels' Place, which provides homes and services to people with developmental disabilities. He has also headlined dozens of other charity shows, sung at hundreds of weddings and funerals, and has made three albums, two of which are currently available on iTunes. "I started playing guitar and singing in elementary school, and through high school and college, and at friends' weddings and family events," Tisdel said about his singing career. "In Christmas of 1992, my wife bought me four voice lessons. Apparently, she couldn't think of anything else. They were not on my Christmas list." Born and raised in the Port Huron area, Tisdel moved to Kalamazoo after earning a football scholarship to Western Michigan University as a fullback. "My job was to get a running start and collide with people bigger and stronger than me," he said. After hitting his head enough times at Western, Tisdel transferred to Drake University and continued his football career while earning a degree in journalism. While both were attending Drake, Tisdel married his high school sweetheart, and later moved to Rochester Hills in 1989. "We have lived in the same house for 24 years," he said. "We are regulars now, trying to figure out what we want to do when we grow up." In the meantime, Tisdel is a principal at a Rochester Hillsbased insurance company, has served on city council since 2011, and maintains an active performance schedule for his jazz, classical, opera and Christian music. "I've probably done about 350 funerals in this area over the years," he said, adding that he has sang at as many as 46 weddings in one year. "If you do enough of those in the same community for 25 years, people get to know your name and you make an impression on them," he said. "I guess that worked out well for me at the polls." While out campaigning door-to-door one year, Tisdel said one woman knew him from singing at both of her daughters' weddings and her father's funeral. "It hit my like a ton of bricks," he said. "I'm thinking I am doing something fun. I get to stand up and sing songs that I like, but for all these family milestones, I have been part of â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it was really a slap in the face, that this is more serious than I considered. When you think about it, how many people have that opportunity in their lives." Tisdel said the music has also influenced him over the years. "It's powerful music and a powerful message, and it's had a big impact on me," he said. "If you have any intellectual integrity at all, it's very difficult to get up on a Saturday morning and have to sing that message to your neighbors, and then run around the rest of the week being (a jerk). It's had an impact on my perception and where I fit in. "Just be nice, if nothing else. That's the biggest impact it has had on me. I'm not always nice, but I try."

L

Story: Kevin Elliott

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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THE RISE AND FALL

OF A DAILY NEWSPAPER BY KEVIN ELLIOTT


Most people might not consider being hospitalized with an unexpected heart condition a stroke of good luck, but Frank Shepherd, former owner of 21st Century Newspapers and The Oakland Press, said a three-day stint at a cardiac unit near the end of 2003 was just that. At 62 years of age, Shepherd had amassed one of the largest newspaper companies in the country, buying 129 newspapers in five years, starting with The Oakland Press, which had a daily circulation of about 90,000 and was making nearly $20 million a year in profits. He had successfully battled The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press for advertising dominance in Oakland and Macomb counties, but Shepherd, like few in the newspaper business, could foresee the impending recession and how it would decimate ad revenues. Nor were they aware how the online and digital revolution would eat into their subscriptions and swallow their classified sections. But in October of 2003, while being treated for a heart issue at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Shepherd read a book his wife had bought him from the gift shop that put the writing on the wall. "It was written by a woman who was an auto writer for The Ann Arbor News. I still have the book and underlined parts. Basically, her thesis was that the auto industry was going away, and the Japanese were taking it over, and it would go to Mexico and the South, and business would go in the shitter," he said. "I said, 'I think she's right.'" Faced with health concerns and convinced his business would be facing a major downturn, Shepherd decided to sell his publications and retire. That November, he went to New York City to tell his creditors he wanted to put the company up for sale. In the spring, 21st Century Newspapers was on the auction block and sold to the Journal Register Company for $415 million. "At the end of the day, I wasn't that good – I was lucky," Shepherd said of his decision to get out of the business. "The timing of my heart problem was lucky. I was only 62 and wasn't ready to retire. I was looking to expand. The health problem and the book triggered it. I got lucky. "When we closed the deal in 2004, and they closed the books in September, it was the first time that 21st Century Newspapers and The Oakland Press missed their revenue estimates. I don't think they ever recovered." About four years after the sale of the business – which included The Oakland Press, The Macomb Daily, The Royal Oak Daily Tribune, The Morning Sun in Mount Pleasant, and more than 100 other newspapers across Michigan – the Journal Register Company

declared bankruptcy for the first time. In 2012, the owners of The Oakland Press filed for bankruptcy a second time, eventually merging with Denver-based MediaNews Group, owner of The Detroit News. Today, the company is operated by Digital First Media, which became the business name of MediaNews Group, which had also filed for bankruptcy protection in the past. Once considered the dominant paper of Oakland County in sales, circulation and news coverage, The Oakland Press has witnessed a steady decline, with daily circulation plummeting to slightly more than 23,000, according to the most recent figures from The Alliance for Audited Media. As print circulation continues to plummet, so goes its associated revenue from the sale of papers and advertising. Faced with declining profits, the paper has been forced to slash employees, leaving its sports and news departments with a skeleton crew of editorial staff. A review of one week's worth of editions of the Oakland Press reveals that advertising by local retailers is weak at best and some weekdays, nonexistent. The Sunday edition is still beefy, in large part thanks to advertising from auto dealers and preprints or advertising inserts, a huge profit item for most newspapers, numbering from 12-15. The classified want ad section, which in its heyday ran 40 pages or considerably more, is now down to just several pages. "That is just sad. That is just very sad," Jack Lessenberry, head of journalism faculty at Wayne State University and senior news analyst for Michigan Public Radio, said about the paper's circulation number. "They have had a lot of good people and reporters that are now scattered around." While Lessenberry credited many of the paper's staff for its quality of work, including current local news editor Julie JacobsonHines, he said The Oakland Press has become a "sort of wretched" paper that employs "huge headlines and no content, with some reporters working out of their homes rather than coming into the newsroom. "They clearly don't have money to add staff," he said. Requests for comment from the current executive editor and the publisher of The Oakland Press weren't returned. However, interviews by Downtown newsmagazine with several previous editors, publishers and Detroit-area newspaper veterans since the paper was sold from ownership of the Fitzgerald family in 1969 tell a story of a once strong paper in a state of decline. "This was a very good paper, and the staff was moving into the southern part of the

county. Then disaster happened," Lessenberry said. "All newspapers have been in trouble, and a lot of their problems might have happened anyway, but it was exacerbated by corporate greed and people that didn't have an interest in journalism." Once employing more than 100 people in its newsroom, today The Oakland Press has less than 20 editors, reporters and multimedia journalists listed on its editorial staff. Those that remain must find ways to do more, while new hires must focus on ways to increase digital content, which includes finding and promoting news that will bring traffic to its website and mobile platforms. Industrywide, the trend has many journalists tracking web statistics in order to meet production and readership quotas to help drive digital profits in the face of declining print revenue. Regardless of increasing gains in digital revenue, income from the printed product remains the largest source of revenue for newspapers, industrywide. Declines aren't necessarily unique to The Oakland Press. Daily newspapers across the country have all witnessed their print circulation wither since the 1990s. The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press have both lost hundreds of thousands of subscribers. In 2015 alone, the average weekday newspaper circulation, including print and digital readership combined, fell seven percent from the previous year, the greatest decline since 2010, according to a report by the Pew Research Center. Likewise, the trend of cutting staff in order to achieve profitability has emptied newsrooms throughout the nation, with staffing losses of about 39 percent over the past 20 years, or about 20,000 positions. Today, there are an estimated 33,000 employees working in newsrooms across the nation. The most recent assessment of the industry found that print advertising losses are falling much faster than expected, which is likely to spur even more cuts to already struggling newsrooms, according to Ken Doctor, a national news analyst and author of Newsonomics. "Almost all reported double-digit losses in print advertising this quarter compared to the third quarter of 2015," Doctor said of the three largest publicly-owned newspaper companies and those private companies that shared information. “That's swamping any other progress these companies have made. Digital First Media is in that same place. They have done steady reductions of staff over time, and I anticipate more of those in 2017." Despite the industrywide trends, some former publishers, editors and newspaper veterans say the demise of The Oakland Press

Once considered the dominant paper of Oakland County in sales, circulation and news coverage, The Oakland Press has witnessed a steady decline, with daily circulation plummeting to slightly more than 23,000.


With less than eight months on the job, McIntyre sent the entire news staff into the field to cover the first day of school in Pontiac. The coverage gained national attention and the staff became a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. has been accelerated by various corporate ownerships over the years. Particularly, the former Journal Register Company, which has a reputation for practicing what Forbes once labeled "cheapskate journalism," as well as the current Digital First Media, which some media experts say is in the process of bleeding its papers of profits until they can be sold to the highest bidder. Denver-based Digital First Media, which owns both The Oakland Press and The Detroit News, is among the three largest newspaper companies in the industry, behind Virginiabased Gannett, which owns the Detroit Free Press, and New York-based GateHouse Media. Digital First Media is owned by Alden Global Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that invests heavily into distressed businesses and property. Digital First Media previously invested heavily into digital expansion of its newspapers under former CEO John Paton â&#x20AC;&#x201C; including the creation of Project Thunderdome, a high tech, national newsroom in Manhattan that could output digital content to the company's papers across 15 states, which was closed in 2014 as part of a cost-cutting initiative to save more than $100 million, In May of 2015, Alden Global Capital ended talks with Apollo Global Management to purchase Digital First Media for a reported $400 million. Former Digital First CEO John Paton left the company after the deal floundered. Today, the company holds 67 daily newspapers and 180 non-daily publications. In Michigan, Digital First Media owns five daily newspapers, including The Detroit News, The Macomb Daily, The Morning Sun, The Oakland Press and The Royal Oak Daily Tribune. It also owns The Source in Clinton Township; The Press & Guide in Dearborn; The Voice News in New Baltimore; MI Prep Zone; Go & Do Michigan; The News Herald in Southgate; and Morning Star Publications in Traverse City. "I haven't heard that they are actively shopping it as they were before, but there's no doubt for the right offer that Alden would sell in a heartbeat," Doctor said of Digital First Media's holdings. "It's a financial investment. What they are calculating, just as they did when they let the Apollo deal go, is that 'if we hold on for three years and cut as needed, how much can we take out of these papers for the next three years versus selling them.'" Meanwhile, Doctor said Digital First Media is in "milking mode," or working to squeeze profits without making significant investment in its newspaper products. "They are very much in milking mode, more so than others," he said. "On a curve, it's an affliction for the whole industry, but they have

done it longer and deeper than others, and it doesn't show any sign of slowing up." As Digital First Media and others in the industry continue to make cuts in an attempt to stay profitable, those in the industry say the quality of many newspapers, including The Oakland Press, have dwindled, which in turn hurts the value of the product. Michigan State University journalism professor Stephen Lacy said that diminished quality at a paper also contributes to declines in circulation. "Part of the problem is, and there's plenty of documentation on this, is that circulation is a function of the quality, and the investment in the newsroom," he said. "Over time, you cut your newsroom and your circulation. And as you reduce circulation, you're less of an advertising target. Now that print is declining as a percent of revenue, digital revenue goes up, but it's not at the pace to keep up with those losses. "The smart newspapers are trying to squeeze as much revenue out of their print products that they can until it becomes cost prohibitive." Lacy said quality and accuracy also impacts readership, overall. "One problem is that when you reduce the quality, which can be as simple as spelling words correctly and getting names right, is that you lose credibility. As quality declines, and I mean that broadly, you're losing your credibility, as well as running off readers. People stop trusting their local paper. "Twenty years ago, surveys found people didn't like the media, as defined by Washington D.C., and New York City, but they liked their local newspaper and news station. Today, we find that applies to local as well. This disinvestment had an impact on circulation and content." Retired newspaper man Bill Thomas, who served as managing editor of The Oakland Press from 1985 to 1998, said the decline of the paper began years before it was sold to The Journal Register Company, but that the severe cuts to the newsroom's senior staff and corporate influence of how to provide local news coverage essentially destroyed the paper. "The downfall of the news side was under Journal Register Company, and whatever else it started to call itself," Thomas said. "One of the things that (former owner) Capital Cities did was that they let their papers run autonomously. There was no central control. In today's newspaper industry, corporate decides. They tell you what the paper is going to look like. When that happens, everything starts to fall apart because there isn't one cookie-cutter approach to journalism." When major cuts started hitting the

newsroom, the staff that was let go took with them decades of journalism history. Today, Thomas said he's disenchanted with much of what is happening in the newspaper industry and infuriated about what has happened to his former newspaper and its staff. "It's not endemic to The Oakland Press, but I think it's a case study in what happens when you pay too much for an organization, for a newspaper, and you don't have the resources or ability to make sure its success continues," Thomas said. "I think that's what happened under the Journal Register Company with The Oakland Press." The origin of The Oakland Press dates back to the mid-19th century, when J. Dowd Coleman established the Pontiac and Oakland Gazette in 1843, according to the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society. In 1854, the newspaper was acquired by ZB Knight, who renamed the paper The Pontiac Gazette. In 1906, the paper was absorbed by The Press, which was formed in 1900, and renamed The Press Gazette. Finally, in October of 1914, the paper was sold to Howard Fitzgerald, George Gardner and Harry Fitzgerald, of Flint, who expanded the paper and later renamed it The Pontiac Daily Press. In 1953, the paper was renamed The Pontiac Press. The Fitzgerald family continued to own and operate the paper until 1969, a year after Capital Cities Broadcasting entered the publishing industry and purchased The Pontiac Press as its first daily newspaper and published the paper as a six-days per week daily. The paper didn't change its name to The Oakland Press until 1972. About the time of the sale of the paper by the Fitzgerald family, Capital Cities appointed Dan Burke, former head of Detroit radio station WJR, as president of the company. Burke, who spearheaded the purchase of the paper, then appointed Phil Meek as publisher of the paper, who had previously worked in Ford's central finance department. In 1971, Meek released the paper's editor and replaced him with Bruce McIntyre, who was made publisher in 1977 and remained at the paper until 1995. From his start, McIntyre said the paper quickly earned a reputation as an essential news source for Oakland County. "The first thing we ran into was the busing crisis," McIntyre said, recounting some of the coverage that earned the paper its solid reputation. "Unless you were there, you can't understand what it was like. The Ku Klux Klan came in and bombed the school buses a week before school opened. It was a nasty period." With less than eight months on the job, McIntyre sent the entire news staff into the field to cover the first day of school in Pontiac. The coverage gained national attention and


the staff became a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. "We cleaned the building out of people," he said. "By that, I mean we sent everyone in the editorial department, except for someone to answer the phones, on the streets. Sports writers. Everybody. All over town. All the schools. Every school that we could get to, to report what was going on. It was quite a day." As the county seat, Pontiac at the time was the largest city in the county. The surrounding communities hadn't yet gained their current stature, and in 1972, The Oakland Press was the only daily newspaper in the county, albeit six days a week, without a Sunday paper. As the events of 1971 influenced residents to leave Pontiac, many settled in the surrounding communities, causing the paper's circulation to spread into much of the northern part of Oakland County. As new residents moved into the growing municipalities, so did the newspaper's circulation. Throughout his time at The Oakland Press, McIntyre said daily circulation peaked at about 75,000 to 80,000. When two of the labor unions went on strike at the paper in 1977, McIntyre said The Oakland Press continued to publish by bringing in outside help, allowing the paper to add a Sunday edition to its publishing schedule. "We had been negotiating with the unions back in 1976 on the renewal of contracts. Those negotiations stalled and we weren't getting anywhere," McIntyre said. "In 1977, right after the time I became publisher, we brought in some outside pressmen." Initially brought in to assist with problems happening with the paper's pressroom, where the paper is printed, the move caused issues with the union members that were already working there. On December 29, 1977, the pressman's union went on strike. "That's an odd time to strike," McIntyre said. "The Christmas business is over. The heaviest advertising time of the year is over, and it's the middle of winter. So, when they walked out, the newspaper guild, which was the editorial department, walked out in support of them. The other unions didn't, so we continued to publish the paper." In order to continue publishing, the newspaper hired new editorial staff and brought in people from their other papers to run the presses. With publication of the paper still going strong, and a Sunday edition added to the mix, the company was able to rid the two unions from the newspaper. "The aftermath, and this wasn't our choice, but what happened, but none of the people that struck, in either union, ever came back to work," McIntyre said. "There wasn't any prohibition to them coming back. Technically, the strike is still there, but a substantial

number of them were replaced. We had to replace 90 percent of the people in the newsroom." By 1979, CapCities had become one of the most profitable publicly-owned media companies in the country. It had also earned a reputation for breaking unions at other papers, the same as it did at The Oakland Press, by bringing in outside workers to cross picket lines. "For a year, we had to move trucks through the picket line, and sometimes it got pretty nasty. People who worked there and continued to work there took a lot of abuse. I don't mean physical abuse, they just took constant abuse going to work," McIntyre said. "There were efforts to try to cut our circulation, but we never lost any substantial circulation. We never lost any substantial advertising. And, while the strike was still going on, we started the Sunday paper." On the inside, McIntyre said Capital Cities executives left their editors to operate on their own. As publisher, he said the paper was always profitable, and budgets to corporate were simply submitted and approved. Neither Burke nor Meek had any interest in inserting themselves into the journalism process, McIntyre said. "They wanted someone who knew what they were doing, and they wanted to stay out of their hair," he said. In 1985, Capital Cities made a huge play in the media business and purchased the much larger American Broadcasting Company (ABC) for $3.5 billion. The resulting company was known as Capital Cities/ABC, which was roughly five times the size of the original CapCites. Despite the size, McIntyre said, management at ABC adopted the CapCities style of management, allowing The Oakland Press to operate with a large degree of autonomy. From an editorial standpoint, McIntyre said his philosophy was to create a complete newspaper that provided complete local coverage, as well as what was going on in the world. At the same time, he said coverage and circulation was focused on areas where they already had a stronghold, rather than attempting to expand into other areas of the county. "Our advertisers don't care if we have 10 percent of the houses in Novi or Farmington Hills. What they care about is if we have 60 percent of the houses in Waterford," McIntyre said about where he chose to focus circulation. "If we dilute our obligation by chasing circulation in places where we are never going to achieve a sufficient majority, then it's a waste of time," Traditionally, he said, the paper had its

strongest circulation in Waterford, Lake Orion, Pontiac, Rochester and West Bloomfield, with some in other locations like Birmingham, but not in high concentrations. The Oakland Press, McIntyre said, never had any significant circulation in southern Oakland County, with its reach being diminished south of Square Lake Road. It's strength, he said, lay in the northern and western parts of the county. Today, McIntyre, who has served on his hometown city council in Orchard Lake Village since his retirement in 1998, said cuts instituted at The Oakland Press by the Journal Register Company have hurt the quality of the newspaper and its coverage. "There are probably six to eight local stories in the whole paper, including some that were written by people in Macomb and Royal Oak," McIntyre said, holding up a Monday edition of the paper. "There's not much in there." Worse, he said, are the cuts to some of the longtime newsroom staff that were hired on his watch, which included the firing one day in 2006 of former managing editor Susan Hood, assistant managing editor Dolly Moiseeff and editorial page editor Neil Munro, who had each been at the paper for more than 30 years. "I keep telling people in my business, the way that you grow is that you start with readership. You start basically with the editorial side. You have to create a readership vehicle, and from that you sell circulation, and from that circulation you sell advertising," McIntyre said. "You can't do it in reverse. You can't avoid it. You can't get around it. You have to start with a product that people want to read, because if they don't, forget the rest of it. "So, of course if you demolish the editorial side of the business, what do you expect?" Bill Thomas, who was made executive editor of The Oakland Press in 1985, said he believes the beginnings of the paper's decline started about 1996, after the Walt Disney Company purchased CapCities/ABC for $19 billion. At the time, the purchase gave Disney an important distribution outlet for its programs through ABC's broadcast holdings. "Disney didn't really want newspapers. (Disney CEO) Michael Eisner hated newspapers, and it was clear that he didn't want to soil his hands with the ink-stained wretches," Thomas said. "That was the beginning of the end of The Oakland Press, and what we had built into a phenomenal paper." The following year, Disney sold its papers to Knight Ridder, which at the time owned the Detroit Free Press and was unable to acquire The Oakland Press. Meanwhile, Frank Shepherd was wrapping up his work for Stauffer Communications in

From 1991 to 1997, circulation at The Oakland Press reached 85,672 daily and 101,364 on Sunday. In 2000, the numbers remained higher than any year prior to 1997 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; daily circulation at 79,184 and Sunday at 96,867.


Immediately after Journal Register bought The Oakland Press, we were able to do some hiring and ramp up a little. They were pouring fresh money in. They just purchased it, and they wanted to be competitive. Topeka, Kansas, where he had increased increased profits of that family's papers to sell to Morris Communications. With a successful track record of increasing profits and flipping the holdings, Shepherd sprung at the opportunity to purchase The Oakland Press and develop a cluster of papers in his home state of Michigan. "I called Disney and tried to talk to the CFO, Thomas Staggs," Shepherd said. "I talked to his assistant because he was out to lunch, and I told her I wanted to buy the paper. He called me back and said, 'I understand you want to buy The Oakland Press.' I said, 'Yes.' Staggs said, 'You and another 1,000 people. Get in line.'" Playing his Michigan roots, Shepherd said he was able to bond with another executive who told him he vacationed in Traverse City. In the summer of 1997, Shepherd purchased The Oakland Press for $110 million. The deal, he said, also included the Lapeer County Press, "which was one of the nicest weeklies in Michigan." The sale also included a group of five other weekly newspapers in the southeastern area of Michigan's thumb region, with weekly circulations totaling about 59,000. While he had retired from The Oakland Press in 1995, McIntyre remained with Capital Cities/ABC until it was purchased by Disney. When he left the paper, Capital Cities/ABC replaced McIntyre with one of his former reporters, Dale Duncan, who left the paper in 1980 and returned as publisher in 1995. "The paper didn't change much," Duncan said about his time as publisher until 1997. "We gained a lot of readers and advertisers during the (Detroit newspaper) strike, and hung on to them for a while, which made it very attractive to Shepherd when he came in and bought it." It was in July 1995 when six different unions began striking at The Detroit News. The strike, which also involved unions at the Detroit Free Press, including The Newspaper Guild, the Teamsters, pressmen, printers and distribution, lasted through early 1997. While the papers continued to publish during the strike, both lost significant circulation that they never fully recovered. However, the strike provided a boost in circulation for The Oakland Press. From 1991 to 1997, newspaper circulation at The Oakland Press reached its peak number, going from 75,457 daily circulation and 82,644 on Sunday, to 85,672 daily and 101,364 on Sunday. In 2000, the numbers remained higher than any year prior to 1997, with daily circulation at 79,184 and Sunday at 96,867, according to audits by the Alliance for Audited Media. Just prior to closing on The Oakland Press

in 1997, Shepherd received a call from a bank that owned The Macomb Daily, the Royal Oak Daily Tribune and The Shopper, in Utica, inquiring if he was interested in purchasing the group. Shepherd said he closed on that group of papers and the others from Disney on the same day. Shepherd operated the group of papers under his own company, 21st Century Publications. In 1998, former Oakland Press editor Bill Thomas left the paper to become publisher of The Macomb Daily. He was replaced by Garry Gilbert, who worked for the paper until 2006, when he joined the faculty at Oakland University, where he currently serves as the director of the journalism department. "We were doing quality work," Gilbert said, who said he started with a newsroom staff of about 90 people. Under his watch, the paper won the Michigan Paper of the Year award six times, and a public service award from the Michigan Press Association. "We used to go by the expression: we cover every leaf that falls in Oakland County." During the time that Shepherd owned the papers, the editorial side of the paper remained largely unfettered. "I let the editors at each publication do what was important. I had good editors with Bill Thomas and Garry Gilbert," Shepherd said. "I let them do what they do best, and didn't interfere with what they did in the editorial process. I think they did a good job. I spent most of my time bringing in other papers and working on sales. "The heart of a paper is editorial, and the life is the revenue, so I spent most of my time shoveling money in the front door." When Shepherd purchased The Oakland Press in 1997, he said the paper was making about $10 million a year. By the time he sold it in 2004, he said he increased profits to about $18 million. The Lapeer paper was making about $4 million a year in profits. "When I bought The Oakland Press, they only covered about half the county," he said about the paper's sales and circulation. "My first quote when I was interviewed was, 'I didn't buy half the county. We are going to expand into the whole county.' And I did that to get (sales) away from the Free Press and News. "We were extremely successful in covering newspaper racks. Then we went after some of their editorial space and went after major accounts." Shepherd said he increased profits by centralizing operations and sharing services among the papers. Printing became centralized in Lapeer, and two months after the purchase, he formed The Greater Detroit Newspaper Network. Operating as a separate

business, the company focused on bringing in major national and regional advertising accounts, which brought in about $45 million in revenues each year in national accounts. Of that, he said about 70 percent of the revenue came from preprint ads, or inserts. "The Oakland Press was the maraschino cherry on the sundae that drew the major accounts. It was the fifth largest daily in the state, and that got us in the door. Once we got in the door, we opened up our coat and there were all these other publications that would sell at a very low rate," he said. "That was our trick. It wasn't brain surgery." While Shepherd said he hadn't considered selling 21st Century before 2003, Thomas said he believes his enthusiasm for owning the papers began to wane prior to then. "He announced he was going to sell, and that took the wind out of everyone's sails. Then he came back and said he wasn't going to sell, so the staff that was excited got disenchanted," Thomas said. "Then, in fact, he did sell. So, the initial enthusiasm Frank (Shepherd) brought to it, in terms of staff, waned pretty quickly." In 2004, Shepherd did sell 21st Century Media to the Journal Register Company for $415 million. At the time, the company had earnings of about $36 million, making the sale about 11.5 times its Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA). Analysts say newspapers today are typically valued about three to five times their EBITDA. "Immediately after the Journal Register bought The Oakland Press, we were able to do some hiring and ramp up a little. They were pouring fresh money in. They just purchased it, and they wanted to be competitive," former editor Garry Gilbert said. "We hired some news and sports people, but shortly after we had to face decisions on how to contract the size of the staff." At the same time, Journal Register was starting to tinker with expanding the company's digital capabilities. In the newsroom at The Oakland Press, Garry Gilbert said nobody was yet sure how to approach digital offerings. "Our reaction was that 'we don't really understand this digital platform, let's shovel our content into this digital and see what happens," he said. "Unfortunately, some innovative things were happening, like Craigslist and Facebook, which came from creative people that weren't in the media." As websites like Craigslist started taking classified advertisers from traditional newspapers, the Oakland Press and others entering the digital fray began giving away online content for free.


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"Most people probably agree that was a mistake," Gilbert said. "If content has value, if it's proprietary and accurate, and has value to the audience, they are willing to pay for it." In 2006, Garry Gilbert ended up leaving The Oakland Press for Oakland University. He was replaced by Glenn Gilbert (no relation), who served as executive editor until 2014. About a month after Glenn Gilbert was hired, the paper fired managing editor Susan Hood, assistant managing editor Dolly Moiseeff, and editorial page editor Neil Munro. Together, the three editors had nearly a century of journalism experience. "They wiped out the editorial history of the paper when they showed Neil Munro and several other key editors the door in a cost-cutting deal. They called them in and let them go in one day, and they had nobody left," Bill Thomas said. "Anyone with any historic journalism experience has left, except (local news editor) Julie Jacobson-Hines, and she's trying to keep The Titanic away from the iceberg." Admittedly, such cost-cutting measures has left Thomas disenchanted and disillusioned with the newspaper industry today, which is one of the reasons that influenced his retirement after 40 years in the business. "It infuriates me what these people did to a quality newspaper," he said. "If you're interested in chasing prostitutes on the street corner, then Journal Register is your company. If you're interested in quality journalism, then look elsewhere because they ruined The Oakland Press." Glenn Gilbert, who was hired as executive editor by Journal Register Company, said staff reductions came at corporate directives, which were to be done by cutting from the top down, taking out the more experienced staff and replacing them with "multimedia journalists." And while he said he tried to place a greater emphasis on local news coverage, continued losses in the newsroom and a focus on digital content made coverage difficult. "From the time I started in 2006 to the time I left in 2014, we eliminated 20 of our 60 positions, just in the newsroom. That was mandated from corporate," Glenn Gilbert said. "As our staff was reduced, we could no longer provide any comprehensive coverage of local government, and that was the thing that hurt us the most. "There was a lot to it. Simultaneously, we talked about turning the newspaper over to the public and trying to bring the outside in. There was a great emphasis on citizen journalism, but in reality, it was more use of stringers and freelance. I was supportive in that effort because it was less expensive to present the same kind of story and it preserved our staff for more serious journalism."

Despite cuts, Journal Register Company struggled with profits and paying massive debt, much of which came from the purchase of 21st Century Communications. In 2008, the New York Stock Exchange announced it was planning to suspend trading of the company's stock. In April of that year, it was delisted. In 2009, Journal Register Company declared bankruptcy for the first time. "After Journal Register went into bankruptcy, it emerged and had a new CEO, John Paton, who had a digital emphasis," Glenn Gilbert said. "It was a totally different attitude. We began treating print as an afterthought. I would frequently joke about it and say, 'Do we still have a print edition?'â&#x20AC;? The emphasis on digital did earned the paper some accolades. In 2010, The Oakland Press was named as one of the newspapers in the country that is "doing it right," by Editor & Publisher magazine. "Few other media companies have set out to tackle digital initiatives the way the Journal Register Company has, so it's no surprise that this category features two Journal Register titles," the magazine stated in 2010. Despite the efforts and recognition, the company remained unable to cope with its financial debt and Journal Register declared bankruptcy for a second time in 2012. The company was purchased by an arm of Alden Global Capital and renamed 21st Century Media. That company was merged with MediaNews Group. Both are managed today by Digital First Media, which was formed in 2010, drawing on Paton's digital emphasis. Print circulation at The Oakland Press in 2005 had started slipping, with audit figures showing daily circulations at about 65,000 Monday through Wednesday, and Friday and Saturday; 77,000 on Thursdays; and about 79,000 on Sundays. Daily circulations in 2010 held relatively close. By 2015, after Glenn Gilbert left the paper, print circulation dropped to 37,824 for daily editions and 49,626 on Sunday. One year later, in 2016, daily circulation is down to 23,730 and the Sunday circulation has dropped to 36,349, according to AAM audits. Its sister publication, The Macomb Daily, has a Sunday edition circulation of 42,236. As circulation and staff declined at The Oakland Press, so did its position in the local marketplace. "In the past, they were certainly a competitor. They had many automotive ads, and the mom-and-pop shops. They might not have been thought of as a competitor, but anyone who takes a dollar is a competitor," said Jim Sherman, president of Sherman Publications, which operates a group of weekly newspapers that includes The

Clarkston News, The Oxford Leader, The Citizen in Ortonville and Goodrich, and the Lake Orion Review. "Recently, they aren't a competitor. I'm not even sure they have sales reps that go to the north. I used to get excited about what is going on, but we aren't finding them out there in the marketplace." The decline of the paper, Sherman said, isn't just bad for The Oakland Press and its staff, but can have a negative impact on his own business. Further, he said it's disappointing to see another paper struggling. "It's not good for me for those guys to be small. People want to talk about the health of your product, and the health of my product is pretty healthy," Sherman said. "Those guys not being healthy makes us have to answer questions and listen to people talk about digital. Nobody has made money off of it." Glenn Gilbert said the focus on digital was so overwhelming that he had stopped keeping track of circulation figures at all. When current editorial director Don Wyatt asked him about The Oakland Press circulation numbers as Gilbert was leaving in 2014, he said he had no answer for him. For the staff in the newsroom, their value too began to center on their digital capabilities. "The people I hired needed to be multimedia journalists. The very position changed. I had, too. I felt that was the only way we could win. We needed to excel at whatever we did, and if it didn't, we had to stop," Glenn Gilbert said. "I would say that when I left, I had a different view. But while I was there, I tried to encourage the staff and believed it myself that we were just changing. We are no longer interested in counting the number of newspapers we sell, we are interested in counting page views. As far as digital went, we were a leader. We felt good about ourselves and what we were doing. But in reality, we continued to lose staff." Since leaving the paper, Glenn Gilbert said the one-track focus on digital has hurt the newsroom and eliminated some work that he was proud to accomplish. For instance, The Oakland Press prep sports coverage has traditionally been a point of pride for the paper. However, Gilbert said the paper recently let go of their lead prep sports people. While making forced reductions at the paper, Gilbert said he tried to rally the staff around the digital emphasis, which has been hailed as its salvation. However, as more cuts continue to hit the paper, he questions its viability. "If you don't feel a sense of accomplishment in what you're doing, if you don't have a mountain to climb and get to the summit, then God help you. It's depressing," he said. "You reach a point that maybe we aren't viable. I don't think the staff is happy if they aren't viable at something and if they aren't, maybe it's time to close up."

We eliminated 20 of our 60 positions, just in the newsroom. That was mandated from corporate â&#x20AC;Ś we could no longer provide any comprehensive coverage of local government, and that was the thing that hurt us the most.


FACES


Adam Baron orn and raised in Rochester Hills, Adam Baron left his hometown more than 25 years ago to travel the globe in a quest for knowledge and a career in higher education. This summer, Baron returned to his hometown to raise his own family and serve as the dean of students at Rochester College. "I have worked in higher education for the last 20 years at different universities and colleges," said Baron, who has worked and studied in London, Shanghai, Houston, and other locations in England and the United States. "To be working as the dean of students and replacing one that has been here for 20 years, to come back to a hometown that lines up with my values, and a place that gives back to the community â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it's exciting." Born and bred in the former Avon Township, Baron left shortly after graduating from Rochester High School in 1989 and headed to Illinois to attend Wheaton College, where he earned degrees in biblical and theological studies and educational ministries. He has served as a student pastor at Holy Trinity Brampton Church, in London; the assistant to the dean of students at Torchbearers Bible Schools in Lancashire, England; a visiting faculty member for Pepperdine University in Shanghai, China; and a resident director and learning coordinator for Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. He earned a masters of divinity from Pepperdine University and a masters of arts in modern religious history from King's College at the University of London. Following his Christian faith led Baron to Wheaton College, but it was his experience there that made him realize he wanted to help guide others at a pivotal point in their lives. "I think my faith came alive to me as a freshman in college. Up until that time, you did what your parents told you to do, but in my first year of college it became personal to me. I had a sense of calling into student related ministry or higher education," he said. "I felt that age bracket was making these major life decisions with little or no life experience. I know I felt that way, and I wanted to help students navigate these big decisions." As the dean of students at Rochester College, Baron is responsible for overseeing the Student Life Office, which includes housing and residence life, student activities and campus programming, spiritual formation and wellness, and related cocurricular activities. Through his travels and work in other places, Baron said he learned students everywhere have similar questions about their lives, regardless of differences in cultures. "They are all asking common questions: 'What am I good at? What should I be doing with the rest of my life? How much money can I make, or should I make? Should I be pursuing money or something that I love?'" he said. "Those were similar questions in all the places I went to." Now back in his hometown, Baron said he is excited to be involved with the community that helped shape him. And, while he said he's surprised by the amount of development and diversity that has come to Rochester Hills, he said the values appear to remain the same, pointing to the growth of the nearby Woodside Bible Church and Kensington Church. "I appreciate the changes and growth," he said. "The values are remaining very similar, it seems."

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Designer Showcase European Transitional Style Colonial loaded with character & all high end amenities, very private almost 3/4 acre wooded cul-de-sac lot w/lavish gardens & beautiful patio areas w/exceptional landscaping, over 6,000 sq. ft. of finely appointed finished living area, entertainers gourmet island kitchen with all commercial grade built-in stainless steel appliances & gorgeous furniture grade cabinetry. Truly an entertainers dream. 3185 Saint James Court, Oakland Twp $1,299,900

Almost 132 acre private estate with approximately 5,000' of frontage on the all sports Lakeville Lake. RED TAIL LODGE is a privately owned 8,600 sq. ft. custom built log home with 4,000 sq. ft. finished walkout on a peninsula of Lakeville Lake, this could be an incredible family compound or just continue to utilize as a private estate, home sits over 1/2 mile off road through the woods. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. 1398 Lakeville Road, Oxford $3,900,000

PRIVATE 10 ACRE ESTATE WITH 2100 SQUARE FOOT POLE BARN

10 ACRES + 60x40 POLE BARN

Once in a lifetime location on this 2,500 sq. ft. Ranch with walkout basement set back through the trees on a rolling, very private 10 acre parcel fantastic views of 2 ponds, attached 3-car garage plus over 2,100 sq. ft. pole barn with 4 large doors, cement floor and electricity, original owners have maintained home extremely well, large island kitchen, 4 bedrooms upstairs with 2 more bedrooms in mostly finished walkout basement and new roof 2016. Paved Road. 71455 Fisher Road Romeo, MI 48065 $649,900

Custom built 1 1/2 story with finished walkout basement on private 10 acres with 60' x 40' pole barn, nice open floor plan with huge great room, 2nd kitchen and 2nd fireplace in finished walkout lower level, Anderson windows, large island kitchen with granite countertops, 4 full bathrooms, all high end finishes throughout, 2nd floor loft over-looking great room, huge cement aggregate patio overlooking well-manicured grounds with waterfall. 5860 Sandhill, Almont $999,900

STUNNING CONTEMPORARY WITH BUILT IN POOL BACKING TO STONEY CREEK

CUSTOM HOME ON 2 ACRES WITH BUILT IN POOL

Custom built soft contemporary home featuring almost 8,000 sq. ft. of finely appointed living area on a private lot with built-in swimming pool. Home features a stunning entrance with dual staircases and bridge overlooking grand foyer & great room, all high end finishes throughout, marble, granite, Brazilian cherry floors throughout entire home, 3 fireplaces, upper level private sun deck patio, all bedrooms have private baths, 2nd gourmet kitchen & wet bar and wine cellar in finished walkout lower level, and extensive landscaping. 57127 Willow Way, Washington Twp $899,900

Imagine driving up to this beautiful 5 bedroom 1 1/2 story home with finished daylight basement, built-in gunite swimming pool, large fire pit, plus a basketball court on 2+ acres! All high end finishes throughout, tumbled marble & Brazilian cherry floors throughout most of 1st floor. Gourmet kitchen with large island, stainless steel appliances, 3 gas fireplaces, 1st and 2nd floor laundry rooms, wrought iron staircase, central vacuum including the basement, all homes on private road have 2+ acre lots. 14933 Timberwoods Court, Washington Twp $749,900


Tom Zibkowski

Tom@TomZibkowski.com www.TomZibkowski.com

Realty Executives Midwest

586-532-6700 Ex 114

When Experience Counts. Over 4,000 Closed Home Sales Since 1982 4.5 ACRE OAKLAND ESTATE

16 ACRES OF ABSOLUTE PRIVACY - OAKLAND TWP

Custom built Tuscan stone castle high on a hill overlooking a private 4.5 acre estate with built-in swimming pool and waterfall to large stocked pond. This home is an architectural masterpiece featuring approximately 12,000 sq. ft. of finely appointed living area. Home features an attached greenhouse atrium with date trees, 60' x 20' billiard hall with wet bar, 3-story stone floating staircase. This is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. 5600 Orion Road, Oakland Twp $3,550,000

Rare Find! Private, wooded, 16 acre gated estate just minutes from downtown Rochester. European style Villa, featuring over 10,000 square feet of finely appointed living area with indoor swimming pool & sauna, elevator servicing all 3 levels, over-sized heated garage with huge work shop, carriage house and large horse barn. The list of amenities is incredible. 1700 Schilling Lane, Oakland Twp $1,749,000

1 1/2 STORY WITH FINISHED BASEMENT & BUILT IN POOL

CUSTOM BUILT 1 1/2 STORY ON 2 ACRES

Stunning model show condition custom built 1 1/2 story with full finished basement and built-in gunite swimming pool. This home features a great open floor plan with gourmet kitchen open to large hearth room, breakfast nook overlooking private yard, built-in swimming pool has waterfall and hot tub, finished lower level features wide open entertaining area with theatre area, large wet bar, 3.5-car attached garage with epoxy floors, library with built-in cabinetry, dual staircases to 2nd floor, extensive landscaping, quiet cul-de-sac location, newer roof & furnace. 57159 Mooncreek Court Washington Twp $659,900

One of a kind custom built rustic timber styled 1 1/2 story home w/walkout basement on over 2 acres. Entire 1st floor has hand rubbed 8" quarter sawn white oak flooring with chamfered edges, gourmet kitchen with large hearth room, 4.5 car garage w/an additional 1,100 sq. ft. finished bonus room, all high end finishes, state of the art high efficiency mechanical systems w/geo thermal heating &, outdoor kitchen featuring built-in pizza oven and stainless steel BBQ on large cement patio. 5575 West Road, Washington Twp $1,249,900

NEW DESIGNER COLONIAL BACKING TO STONEY CREEK PARK

EXQUISITE FRENCH CHATEAU IN THE EXCLUSIVE "LAKE IN THE WOODS"

Stunning decorator showcase custom built 1 1/2 story home with walkout basement, 4.5 car garage on a premium almost 1 acre lot backing to Stoney Creek Park in the highly sought after Bradbury Park. All high end finishes throughout, awesome owners suite with 2-way floating fireplace between elegant master bath, upper and lower covered verandas with fireplaces overlooking Stoney Creek Park, walkout basement is dry walled and ready for your finishing touches. 61899 Bradbury Run, Washington Twp $1,290,000

Exquisite French Chateau in the exclusive "Lake in the Woods" community, featuring approximately 7,000 sq. ft. of finely appointed living space, all high end finishes throughout, huge gourmet chef island kitchen with all built-in commercial grade appliances, library walks through to spacious 1st floor master bedroom, 4.5-car attached garage, extensive landscaping, finished lower level walks out to private yard with built-in swimming pool and features a 2nd kitchen, 4th full bathroom, entertainer's style bar, theater room, wine cellar and extra high ceilings. 54311 Queensborough Drive Shelby Twp $999,900

3 BEDROOM DETACHED CONDO IN GLACIER CLUB GOLF COMMUNITY

SHOWCASE 1 1/2 STORY LAKE ST. CLAIR & CANAL FRONT HOME

Mint condition updated detached Ranch Condo in the Exclusive Glacier Club Golf Community. Home featuring 3 bedrooms, 3car side entry attached garage, finished basement with 2nd full bathroom, granite counter-tops throughout, beautiful and private courtyard patio plus brick pavers across back of home, nice open floor plan, high end finishes throughout. 59768 Glacier Club Drive Washington Twp $369,900

Designer showcase 1 1/2 story lakefront home with built-in swimming pool with 100' on Lake St. Clair and 200' of canal frontage with boat hoist for 40' boat, incredible views from walls of windows overlooking lake, entertainers gourmet kitchen with built-in commercial grade stainless steel appliances, 2-story marble fireplace in great room, huge year round sun room with deluxe hot tub, covered porch overlooking pool, wet bar with wine cooler in living room, private backyard, jet ski lift and landscaped fire pit patio on waters edge. This is one of the best locations on the lake! 38430 Lakeshore Drive, Harrison Twp $1,499,900


THE KING BATTLE OVER GARBAGE BY LISA BRODY

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hat was once a small snow plowing company, with only the city of Hamtramck as a major customer, is now the dominant waste hauler in southeastern Michigan, with contracts for hauling trash and recycling for 55 municipalities, including 20 out of 62 communities in Oakland County. This growth by Rizzo Environmental Services has come at the expense of other waste haulers, and is now the subject of a public corruption probe by the FBI in Macomb County. While there currently is no known evidence of corruption by Rizzo in Oakland County, there has been a battle for supremacy and dominance in the county, and if numbers tell the story, that story says that Rizzo is currently the reigning king of trash hauling, a multimillion, if not billion dollar, industry. The battle for garbage disposal in Oakland County may seem like a strange war, but it's actually a classic conflict, a blazing battle over territory, money and power. The dirt on Rizzo, and how they became the king of the trash heap, may not be as salacious as what has happened in Macomb County. From research so far relative to Oakland County, it appears the company has a reputation for providing their customers with very good service at a very good price, often underbidding their competition. As for possible improprieties in Oakland County, or if the FBI is investigating any corruption in the county, Tim Wyley, FBI public affairs spokesperson said, “I would be able to neither confirm nor deny if we are looking into Rizzo in Oakland County. I have nothing I can share with you regarding any of our investigations with Rizzo or Oakland County.” Rizzo Environmental Services is in the process of being rebranded as GFL after a sale on October 3 to GFL Environmental (Greener for Life), a company valued at $2.4 billion out of Toronto, Canada, which operates in all of Canada's provinces. Rizzo was a family-

owned business for over 50 years, since 1965, out of Sterling Heights. Early on, it was known as C&R Maintenance Inc., providing waste control services to home and business customers in metro Detroit, renting roll-off dumpsters, front-load containers and compactors of various sizes for home and commercial use, as well as landscaping and snow removal for some customers. The company also handled all forms of recycling. By 2012, the company was known as Rizzo Services. C&R Maintenance initially was a commercial maintenance company begun by Chuck Rizzo Sr. in 1965. Over the years, the company grew, operating Snowone, a snow removal company that is now defunct; Rizzo; Rizzo Services; Rizzo Express, a waste management service; and Titan National, a national vehicle shipping company. Rizzo Express and Titan National are both no longer operational businesses. Over time, Chuck Rizzo Jr. joined his father in the business, and was CEO and president of the company when it was sold recently to GFL. According to numerous published reports, at least three Macomb Township officials are charged with taking bribes from Rizzo Environmental Services in exchange for helping the trash hauling company win a contract. The FBI has announced they are conducting a full public corruption probe of “pay-to-play” schemes and charging the politicians behind them in Macomb County, stating, “this is an extensive investigation into systemic corruption.” In light of that news, Chuck Rizzo Jr. resigned, as of October 25, from the company he and his father created. According to published reports, Rizzo Environmental Services is cooperating with the government after getting caught allegedly paying bribes to Macomb County trustee Dean Reynolds who was charged with selling his vote, for $75,000 in cash and a free lawyer in his divorce, in exchange for pushing through an $18 million deal with Rizzo Environmental Services. Macomb County trustee Clifford Freitas was also charged with accepting


OF TRASH HAULING IN OAKLAND a cash bribe, of $7,500, for providing the company with”sensitive bidding information” to help Rizzo win a contract in 2015. According to a criminal complaint, Freitas also accepted a $35,000 bribe from the company to make sure that Macomb Township residents would be billed for garbage services on their water bills in order to save money for Rizzo Environmental Services. Frietas and Reynolds have declined comment. When called for comment on this story, on how Rizzo grew to become the dominant waste hauler of Oakland County, Chuck Rizzo Jr., hung up the phone on Downtown newsmagazine. GFL Environmental Inc. President and CEO Patrick Dovigi made the announcement, “In the best interests of the company and our customers, Chuck Rizzo Jr. has resigned, effective immediately. I will oversee Rizzo's business on an interim basis until further notice.” Dovigi also announced that he was immediately having Rizzo's signature red trucks repainted green and the Rizzo logo replaced with GFL. While he said that was in the plans when he purchased the company, he was moving it up quicker, given what had transpired. Dovigi and GFL, which owns waste hauling companies in every province of Canada except Prince Edward Island, purchased Rizzo from Kinderhook Industries, a private equity firm that acquired Rizzo in 2012, allowing it to expand. Rizzo was GFL's first U.S. acquisition. At that time, Rizzo Services, it's name at the time, provided collection services in 16 municipalities throughout southeast Michigan. At the time of its acquisition, Kinderhook stated that Rizzo represented the eleventh environmental services transaction they had completed in the previous four years. They did not reveal financial terms of the transaction. At the time of its investment, Kinderhook managing director Rob Michalik said, “Rizzo has had extraordinary growth due to its loyal

customer base, market leading service and exceptional management team led by Chuck Rizzo Jr. who has 25 years of waste industry knowledge.” “The recapitalization of Rizzo by Kinderhook will enable the company to continue to expand its service footprint throughout southeast Michigan. Our partnership with Kinderhook will enable us to further grow our platform and expand our current service offerings,” Chuck Rizzo Jr. said on September 13, 2012, after its acquisition. Growing the platform and expanding service offerings is precisely what Rizzo did over the past four years, going from the provider of waste management services to 16 communities in 2012 to 55 in 2016. Included in those numbers are 20 in Oakland County, many of which are relatively new contracts. Communities now with Rizzo under contract include Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills, Fenton, Franklin, Highland Township, Keego Harbor, Lake Orion, Madison Heights, Milford Township, Milford Village, Orchard Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, S. Lyon, Royal Oak, Southfield, Sylvan Lake, Walled Lake and West Bloomfield. Southfield, Franklin and Walled Lake all have contracts which began in the last few months; several other municipalities awarded Rizzo their waste management contract within the last couple of years. The most significant new contract Rizzo acquired in the last four years is for portions of the city of Detroit, which the company received in 2013, from the city's emergency manager, under a five-year contract. It shares services for the city with Advanced Disposal. As Rizzo expanded its tentacles throughout Oakland County, other hauling companies lost their contracts. Many came at the expense of Waste Management, a Houston, Texas-based recycling and waste management company that alleges it is North America's leading provider of integrated solid waste services. Currently, Waste Management has a contract with four


Oakland County municipalities: Farmington, Farmington Hills, the city of Novi and Northville. The firm previously also had contracts with Bloomfield Township, Franklin, Madison Heights, Royal Oak and Southfield in Oakland County, along with eight communities in Macomb County, and another eight in Wayne County, all of which have switched to Rizzo. “A decade ago, Waste Management served approximately 45 communities in the tri-county area. Twenty-one of those contracts are now being serviced by Rizzo Environmental. In some instances, bid processes we've certainly not seen before, like allowing bids to be revised and resubmitted, were observed,” said Tom Horton, spokesperson for Waste Management. “We won’t speculate on factors that have helped them win bids. But Waste Management continues to have a major footprint in and commitment to southeast Michigan and across the state, with more than 500 trucks daily collecting solid waste on behalf of our highly valued customers. We will continue to watch as the recently announced investigation unfolds.” “We have a five-year contract (with Waste Management) that is set to expire on June 1, 2017. It was extended once. Sometime between now and then, we will be choosing a new contractor. It may be Waste Management, or we may choose to bid it out,” said Jim Gallogly, director of the department of public works for Northville. “It's been forever” that Farmington has had a contract with Waste Management, said department of public works director Charles Eudy said. “I've been here 22 years, and they've had it for at least that long.” any of the municipalities have five, eight, even 10-year contracts with Rizzo, including Rochester, which first signed a contract with Rizzo in 2010, followed by a contract extension through 2017. An official in S. Lyon said the community had a 10-year contract with Duncan, which was acquired by Rizzo. Why tie up their municipalities with such lengthy periods of time? One official explained that this is the Rizzo business model, which has helped them grow their enterprise and their dominance. “A contract with eight years left is more valuable than one with two years left,” the official said, who did not want to be identified. “It is considerably more valuable to finance, and you can approach banks to loan you more money for trucks and equipment. Who would give you a contract for eight years with all of the fluctuations of gas and other variables? But if you have to ramp yourself up in order to grow, you need someone to loan to you so you can borrow to get more equipment, so you need those longterm contracts. They're good for the municipality, and they're good for the company,” he explained. “If they have to eat a little bit of each contract, the valuation of the company is still growing. The goal is to sell the company, and the company is way more valuable if they have more contracts. And they have just resold the company.” He said that between the first hedge fund, Kinderhook, which provided a huge infusion of capital to allow Rizzo to grow, and the purchase by GFL, Rizzo's valuation had increased by 50 percent, “so the second (buyer) paid much more for (the company). There's a tremendous amount of revenue coming out, and the second buyer was willing to pay more. That's why Rizzo is willing to be the low bidder, even fix their contracts. They just understand the system, and there's nothing wrong with that.” Waste Management, however, beat out Rizzo Environmental for a new contract with the city of Novi which began July 1, 2016, said Mike Csapo, general manager of Resource Recovery and Recycling Authority of Southeast Michigan (RRRASOC), a municipal solid waste provider to nine communities, negotiating contracts on behalf of Southfield, S. Lyon, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Walled Lake, Wixom, the Village of Milford and Milford Township. Csapo explained that RRRASOC helps their member cities deploy solid waste contracts for their communities. “Because we contract jointly for all events with a private service contractor,

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we get very good prices versus a small community for one event.” He said the consortium helps the community determine if they are getting good service, are they getting good pricing, have they bid out the contract previously, and are there comparable communities which have bid their contract out recently that can be used as a comparison. Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCCRA) is another municipal grouping which negotiates contracts for its 12 member communities, which includes Berkley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Clawson, Ferndale, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge, Royal Oak and Troy. Jeff McKean, general manager of SOCCRA, said, “We keep an eye on services and prices on each community. We did a very extensive RFP (request for proposal) process for all the communities, and two went with Rizzo – Royal Oak and Hazel Park. Car Trucking has had long contracts with Birmingham, Beverly Hills and Ferndale; the others went with Tringali (Sanitation) for a 10-year contract, from July 1- June 30, 2017.” McKean said SOCCRA made the decision to extend the contract with Car Trucking for Birmingham, Beverly Hills and Ferndale for another 10 years, until June 30, 2027; Tringali's contract with Berkley, Clawson, Huntington Woods, Lathrup Village, Oak Park, Pleasant Ridge and Troy was also extended through June 30, 2027. He said they decided to extend the contracts, without going out to bid once again, because “we have very good contractors that provide very good services. For our communities, service is more important than price. “We also did a market survey of all the prices being charged in southeastern Michigan, and our prices are very competitive, so we thought there was no need to do a bid process,” McKean continued. “There's been no pushback from any of our communities.” Royal Oak has had a contract for the last 9.5 years with Rizzo, Greg Rassel, director of public service said. “The contract was for 10 years,” Rassel said, noting the 10 years is up July 1, 2017. He said SOCCRA is negotiating a contract extension for Royal Oak through 2027. McKean said that Hazel Park, which has had Tringali as a contractor for many years, indicated they wanted to switch contracts, and they are switching to Rizzo through 2027. A representative from Tringali declined to comment for this article, citing a fear of reprisals. RRRASOC's Csapo, which helped both Novi and Southfield bid out contracts this past spring, with Southfield choosing Rizzo and Novi selecting Waste Management, said they both went through a similar bid process. The city of Southfield chose Rizzo for an eightyear contract with a five-year renewal contract available, with their contract going into effect July 1, as a result of a comparative bid. “It was managed by the city's purchasing department, with our assistance and evaluation,” Csapo said. He said the bids were reviewed by Southfield's administration, then by their finance committee, and finally by the Southfield City Council in a study session, ultimately winning approval from city council in an open meeting. ust the opposite, the city of Novi chose Waste Management when they went through a similar process, Csapo said, after having had a subscription process, where each homeowner or subdivision privately contracted with individual waste hauling contractors. Novi followed a very lengthy process where they also looked at services and prices in several communities, developed an RFP with the help of RRRASOC, then went through an administrative review, a consultant review committee, and then city council, where they awarded a five-year contract with a three-year contract extension available, to Waste Management, effective July 1, 2016. “Private contracting is more commonly done in rural townships. The data shows that when you have a subscription process, you pay higher prices. It's simple math. There's the economies of scale and service densities that allows for better pricing, and it provides

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for less trucks on the roads, and more control of the level of services, as well as trash gets set out at the street less frequently,” Csapo said. In Oakland County, several municipalities still have private contractors for their residents' trash collection. Many are in northern and western Oakland Country, from Brandon Township, Clarkston, Groveland Township, Holly Township, Independence Township, Lake Angelus, Lyon Township, Oakland Township, Orion Township, Ortonville, Oxford Township, Southfield Township and Springfield Township. There are also a smattering of other companies operating in Oakland County, with contracts for one, two or three municipalities. Csapo sees the growth of Rizzo as “one of being able to meet or exceed the level of other contractors. We called around to other Rizzo customers (when doing Southfield's bids) to check and evaluate their level of service. Invariably, it was very good. That's always the number one concern. Service is the primary concern – besides price. Will the service be of the caliber that residents deserve? When you call around to existing communities and they say it's been very good, that's what matters. Then, with price – with a competitive bidding price, in one case – Southfield – they were the low bidder; in another – Novi – Waste Management was the clear low bidder. “Just being subjective to the marketplace, you look at price and performance,” Csapo continued. “It appears in many of the competitive bids, Rizzo has been the consistent low bidder while providing good service. Numerous communities cite their satisfaction with Rizzo's service. “Our experience is that they provide very good service at very good rates,” said SOCCRA's McKean. “We find service is very important to customers – 'We don't just want our garbage gone; we want it done properly.' We find many people have very good experiences with Rizzo. We hear many stories like that.” Jerry McCallum, director of city services for Orchard Lake Village, said they had had an original contract with Republic that ended in 2015, and signed a five-year contract with Rizzo, beginning that year. “We went out to bid, and their (Rizzo) prices – you couldn't beat them. Every community says the same thing. Republic came to us and said they would keep their prices the same, and we said, no, we have to bid our contracts out,” McCallum said. “You're getting a very good service for a very competitive price. Why wouldn't we want to save our community money? With a five-year contract, I imagine we will bid it out once again because being fiscally responsible, our council tends to bid out large contracts.” loomfield Township first signed an eight-year contract with Rizzo in 2007 after an advertised open bid, where six companies bid on the business. Supervisor Leo Savoie said the township board unanimously approved the contract with Rizzo because it came in lowest. “At the time, staff reviewed a number of competitive bids in neighboring communities as well, and did comparative bids, and felt that reviews of service were excellent, so we went with them.” In November 2014, the township board extended the contract for another eight years, through 2023, as Rizzo said prices would remain flat if there was no bid of the contract. Only trustee Brian Kepes voted against the contract extension, as he wanted the contract to go out to bid. No one has been dissatisfied with the service, Savoie said. “I voted against it because I thought it was the appropriate thing” to bid the work out, Kepes said. SOCCRA's McKean said, “I've been surprised at how successful they've been. You typically don't see one company dominating like that, and they've been dominating for the last five years.” Across the country, it's not unusual for one trash hauler to become dominant in a region, although it can vary from region to region, said Chris Dougherty, spokesperson for the National Waste and Recycling Association.

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“There are more than 10,000 communities that have waste service contracts. It's a very competitive industry, and there is no one trend to point to. Every community, every region, does it differently,” Dougherty said. “It is not uncommon for one company to get momentum and accumulate contracts. But everything just varies by region. Some companies are very vertically integrated, having their own landfill, which they also benefit from having other waste haulers use their landfills. In any industry, vertical integration is a good thing because it leads to economies of scale.” Rizzo dropped its plan for a landfill in 2014. It had proposed a landfill in Macomb County, as well as had options in St. Clair County and for the Clinton Valley Farms landfill in Lenox Township (Macomb). Instead, reports stated that they, along with Advanced Disposal, agreed to dispose trash at the Detroit Renewable Energy waste to energy plant in Detroit, also known as the Detroit incinerator. An individual in the business, who requested to remain anonymous, inferred that Rizzo's growth has not been all great service at low bids. “You don't just get that big – it doesn't just happen. It's easy to figure out. It's greed when you get to 55 communities. Anywhere Rizzo is, there's any issue. You're not that lucky.” Publicly, Rizzo has donated thousands of dollars to the campaigns of just about anyone – and everyone – running for public office in Oakland County, as has Waste Management to a lesser extent. Both donate through political action committees – PACs. izzo formed its PAC in 2013, donating $5,000 to county executive L. Brooks Patterson in the last couple of years; $8,400 to county sheriff Michael Bouchard; $1,000 to Mike Gingell, chairman of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners; $250 to Oakland County commissioner Shelley Taub (R-Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Township); $5,000 to state Sen. Majority Floor Leader Mike Kowall (R-White Lake) and $550 to his wife Eileen, a county commissioner; $500 to state Sen. Marty Knollenberg (Troy, Birmingham, Rochester, Rochester Hills); as well as a largesse of donations to council members and commissioners in numerous municipalities, including Rochester Mayor Cathy Daldin, who received $250. State Rep. Mike McCready (R-Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Bloomfield Hills) received $1,000, and Bloomfield Township supervisor Leo Savoie and trustee Brian Kepes each received $500 from Rizzo, but all three recently donated their political contributions from Rizzo to charity to avoid any appearance of impropriety given the Macomb investigation. While there is nothing illegal, or unusual, to see corporations donating to lawmakers, the scope of Rizzo's donations, and their pervasiveness throughout much of Oakland County, appears more aggressive than others, including Waste Management and Republic. Tringali does not have a PAC. Appearances do not necessarily insinuate guilt. Since the recent Macomb County corruption probe, attorneys for many municipalities are examining their Rizzo contracts to see if there is any contractual implications from their acquisition by GFL, as all of the contracts have a clause stating that they do not have to be assigned to another contractor without prior written approval by the governing council. One official said that GFL is asserting that no assignment is necessary because its purchase was strictly a financial deal. But ultimately, if communities are satisfied that GFL is providing the same good service that Rizzo had, and that the communities expect, there is little likelihood contracts will be voided. “Communities have to decide whether they're still getting very good service at a very good price, and if they would get the same service at the same price if they voided the contract and went back out to bid with another company,” the official noted. “Since the FBI investigation of Rizzo, we've been keeping a close eye on the situation,” said SOCCRA's McKean. “So far, Rizzo hasn't been charged with any wrongdoing.”

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TAX DRAGNET AUDIT OF CLAIMS BY HOMEOWNERS BY KATIE DESKA

wning a home provides many benefits, from the pride in having a place of your own, to being able to take a deduction on your annual tax return. One responsibility of home ownership is paying property taxes to your municipality, which includes funds to the state which come back to local school districts as per-pupil funding. When the home is your primary residence, homeowners pay the municipality's annual millage rate. However, if the home is a second, or other non-primary residence, the non-principal residence tax can run up to 18 mills, depending on the approved millage for the district. When the home is the principal residence, homeowners â&#x20AC;&#x201C; those who own and occupy their home â&#x20AC;&#x201C; can file a principal residence exemption (PRE). In state audits, approximately 99 percent of PRE filings are found to be valid. However, there are thousands of tax exemptions that are denied at the municipal or county level, as well as during the audit led by the Michigan Department of Treasury. Which means that there are hundreds of thousands of dollars the state, local municipalities and school districts are missing out on.

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The PRE became available in 1994, as a result of the passage of Proposal A, a statewide effort designed to cut and cap local property tax burdens, and to gradually reduce the disparities in school funding, and provide tax relief to property owners. “It essentially changed, to a great effect, the percent of education revenues coming from property taxes, and shifted it over to sales tax,” said Andy Meisner, Oakland County Treasurer. Governed by the regulations established in the General Property Tax Act, to claim a PRE the homeowner/occupier must file a form with the local municipality, at which point the exemption information is posted to the local property tax roll. Second homes, vacation homes and income property may not be claimed because they do not serve as an individual’s principal residence. Additional exclusions to the exemption, and/or grounds for denial, include claiming a similar exemption, deduction or credit on a property in another state that has not been rescinded; claiming the PRE for another property for the same tax year; and filing income taxes as a resident in a state other than Michigan. Exclusion also applies in cases where the homeowner or their spouse owns property in another state – for which an exemption was claimed – unless, that person and their spouse file a separate income tax return. Under the changed tax structure, which has been the norm for over 20 years, the school operating millage applies only to non-principal residence properties, such as a cottage up north, or a second home that an individual owns and leases as a rental property. While property taxes account for a smaller percentage of the local school operating budgets as a result of Proposal A, the school operating millage continues to be the most significant source of operating funds. While the exemption provides an incentive to homeownership, there are a host of hiccups associated with the tax break that can lead to savings for thousands of property owners across the state. Yet many believe the School Aid Fund gets robbed of dollars that could provide for better programming, more upto-date materials or higher paid teachers. Some property owners who are found to have an illegitimate PRE on file specifically attempted to outwit the system to save money, but other cases that lead to a denied PRE arise less intentionally. Eligibility for the exemption hinges on both ownership and occupancy, so problems can arise with the validity of a

There are hundreds of thousands of dollars the state, local municipalities and school districts are missing out on.

homeowner’s PRE when a realty agent provides the PRE affidavit at the time of closing on a sale if the individual has not actually moved into the home yet. Another common error that may occur mistakenly is when someone moves into a nursing home full-time, but never formally rescinds their PRE, as the law requires. Such a scenario could result in grandma or grandpa, or their family members, receiving a hefty bill for back taxes – plus interest – when they were not deliberately dodging in the first place. Audits to find those who should have been paying on extra properties have been conducted by the state of Michigan since September 2006, when the state entered into a contract with Tax Management Associates to conduct an annual audit. Tax Management Associates reviews PREs for parcels in 40 or more of the 83 counties statewide. The 2015 state-led audit led to the denial of nearly 10,300 PREs that were previously on file, and uncovered an estimated $18.3 million in back taxes owed to the School Aid Fund, according to Danelle Gittus, Michigan Treasury Department Public Information Officer. The actual disbursement of money into the School Aid Fund depends upon successfully recovering the money due. In 2014, Gittus said, the state found roughly 6,300 denials that would have amounted to $14.1 million in recovered money. And, in 2013, the state issued over 5,900 denials – amounting to $14.8 million in additional funds owed to the state’s School Aid Fund. “The PRE is tied to state tax. When someone is not paying that, but they’re not eligible to have that exemption, then it would be the schools that would suffer the brunt of the harm of that,” said Oakland County treasurer Meisner. “At a time when school funding from Lansing has been very volatile, that could really make worse some of the financial challenges that our school districts are going through. “For folks that are eligible, they are not

required to pay the (up to) 18 mill tax, the state education tax, so it’s a significant tax benefit given to people who claim it because it’s knocking out a big amount of property taxes,” said Meisner. Voters within the districts of Rochester Community Schools and Avondale Public Schools approved the maximum operating millage, meaning that homeowners who don’t file a PRE with the municipality are charged 18 mills annually, or $18 on every $1,000 of taxable value. Homeowners within the boundaries of Bloomfield Hills Schools who don’t claim the PRE – in other words, whose primary residence is not in the district – pay 10.2740 mills to the district annually. And Birmingham residents without a PRE on file are billed each year for 9.2728 mills to fund the Birmingham Public Schools operating expenses. “There are seven general reasons for a PRE denial,” said Gittus with the state treasury department. “They include unqualified land, rental property, partial exemption, non-owner occupied, nonresident owned property, property owned by a company, and failure to respond to a request for information.” According to the Principal Residence Exemption Audit Report, published in December of 2015 by the treasury department, the three most common reasons for denial are due to the failure to respond to request of information; claiming an exemption on property that is not occupied by the owner; and claiming the exemption on a property that is a rented rather than owned. The most common reason for denial in Oakland County in 2015 resulted from failure to respond to an inquiry initiated by the state, which accounted for 514 denials, or 58.6 percent. Exemptions that were claimed for a home that the owner does not live in accounted for 194 denials, or 22 percent. And PREs claimed for a property that was rented accounted for 16 percent of the denials. In 2015, the state treasury department audited 58 counties, generating exemption denials for nearly 10,300 parcels, of which 40 percent were in located in Wayne County. Six additional counties – namely, Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Kent, Bay, and Ingham counties – accounted for another 29 percent of the total. That year, Wayne County had 4,302 denials, compared to Oakland County’s 877 denials. However, in 2012, the first year that Oakland County was audited by the state under the contract with the private auditing firm, the two counties had


roughly the same number of denials. Wayne County tallied 1,780 denials, only 27 more than Oakland County’s 1,753. “Beginning in 2009, the election to audit is made every five years,” stated Ron Leix, public information officer at the Michigan Treasury Department. “Currently, treasury is required to audit 40 counties that have not selected to do their own. However, treasury may still audit PRE claims in those counties that opt to do their own audits. Treasury makes the determination to audit opt-in counties on a yearly basis, based on criteria that is considered confidential.” The steep drop in denials issued by the state for Oakland County from 2012 to 2013 illustrates the impact of the first round of robust sweeps of the county’s PREs. The professional audit wiped off roughly 1,000 exemptions that had previously been on the books. Since 2012, Oakland County has opted to have the state conduct the audit, a choice which ultimately benefits the state’s school districts because the state, with access to a much larger database of information, has the ability to catch illegitimate PREs that can slip through the cracks at the local or county level. “(The state) has more information on people through income tax filings and they have reciprocity agreements with Florida (and other states). They can check in Florida to see if someone has a homestead filing in Florida,” said Kurt Dawson, Rochester Hills Assessor/Treasurer, referring to the PRE, which was known as the homestead exemption until 2004 when the term ‘homestead’ was replaced with ‘principal residence.’ “They have the ability to audit beyond the information we have,” Dawson said. “Ours are a pretty basic audit routine – a name mismatch, or if they are not registered to vote here. The state has income tax records and can do a deeper audit. The state requests the jurisdictions' tax rolls and they query who has a homestead and who doesn’t, and from that they can determine, ‘should it be looked at?’. They run it by Social Security number.” Still, Dawson said, “We’re always looking at records, running reports. We do good guy/bad guy audits. We’re the good guys when we put people on the (PRE) list, who might not have known they qualify, and the bad guys when we take them off (due to ineligibility).” At the local and county level, there are a number of situations that can alert the assessor to a potentially illegitimate PRE. Many of these triggers involve PRE forms

Some property owners found to have an illegitimate PRE on file attempted to intentionally outwit the system to save money.

with mismatched addresses. Examples include having a driver's license that lists a different address; being registered to vote at a different address; having a utility bill registered at a different address; among others. When the assessor takes note of something suspicious on the forms and the question of eligibility lingers, additional information is requested from the homeowner. The assessor’s office may call, email or send a letter requesting clarification. In 2013, the Rochester Hills assessing office sent out 160 letters and denied 51 PREs. In 2014, there were 21 letters mailed, and 92 PREs denied. In 2015, there were 23 denials, none of which required further investigation. Once a denial is issued and the PRE is removed, it can retroactively effect the taxpayers status for the previous three years. When the denial is for a PRE filed in the current tax year, the local municipality issues the bill for the remaining balance, but when the individual owes taxes from years prior, the county issues the bill. The homeowner will be requested to pay the full difference between the PRE and nonPRE rate, in addition to a 1.25 percent interest rate. In response to PRE denials discovered in 2013, the county billed and collected $46,418 from Rochester Hills homeowners, and issued the money to Rochester Community Schools and Avondale School District. In 2014, the county billed Rochester Hills homeowners for $35,083, of which $3,066 has yet to be collected. In 2015, the county issued revised property tax bills to Rochester Hills residents totaling $39,443, of which $2,484 remains due. A similar scenario exists in Bloomfield Township, for which the county treasurer issued revised bills totaling $200,527 between the years 2013 and 2015. At press time, $4,213 is still outstanding. The money is owed by a handful of township residents, and belongs in the budgets for

Bloomfield Hills Schools and Birmingham Public Schools. Darrin Kraatz, assessor for Bloomfield Township, said, “As far as an official audit, like the state is doing, we don’t have any way to audit the entire database, but when a red flag is raised, we investigate it. “A lot of people don’t know any better. A lot of seniors bought a home in the township prior to 1994, and forgot they filed (the PRE). They don’t even know they have it, and they move to Florida, and apply down in Florida for the homestead (exemption), so we get in touch with them. “There are a lot of people getting the homestead who shouldn’t, and (the state) has the ability to check these people. They may have it and not even know it. (The assessor in) Charlevoix has no reason to check Bloomfield, and we have no reason to check Charlevoix, because the homestead’s been on his property since 1994,” Kraatz said. “But the state can say, ‘Oh, this is the same John Smith,’ so they try to get in touch with the person. If they don’t respond, the state denies one of the (PREs), and the county will send a bill and the local (tax unit) will send a bill for the current year.” As a local assessor, Kraatz said Bloomfield Township “send(s) the state our assessing database and they perform the audits. We’ll get a denial list from the state of Michigan, saying they don’t qualify, then we remove the homestead (exemption). Then they get billed for the difference between the PRE and a nonPRE.” The treasury department issues the list of erroneously claimed exemptions to local governments to bill, as necessary, on an annual basis. Between 2013 and 2014, the county treasurer’s office sent out bills totaling $28,440 after the state issued 291 denials for properties in the city of Southfield. Earmarked for the Birmingham, Southfield and Oak Park school districts, the county has received the majority, but is awaiting payment of $9,535. At the state level, the treasury department said it is unclear how much has been successfully recovered for the School Aid Fund as a result of the audits. “All we have is the estimated amount of savings to the School Aid Fund. There are many variables that affect the actual amount – as detailed in the (Principal Residence Exemption Audit) report – that it is nearly impossible to obtain an exact amount of back taxes paid to the state,” wrote Leix, public information officer for the treasury, in a statement. The money generated from the 1.25 interest rate that’s charged to unpaid back


taxes is dispersed three ways – to the treasury department, the local assessing office, and the county where the property is located. The amount each receives depends on which unit of government issued the denial. “When the department of treasury issues a denial, 70 percent of the collected interest is deposited into a restricted fund at treasury which can only be used for PRE audit purposes,” said Gittus with the state. As for the remaining 30 percent, the local tax collecting unit receives 20 percent of it, and the county where the property sits receives the leftover 10 percent. If the assessor of the local tax collecting unit catches and denies the exemption, the office will receive 70 percent of the interest, while the county in which the property is located will receive 20 percent, and the remaining 10 percent is sent to the treasury department. A similar breakdown occurs when the county equalization office identifies and denies the PRE, with 70 percent going to county. Joyce Bowers, supervisor of the Oakland County Equalization Office, said, “We have reports that we run in our database every year, like if there’s a different mailing address, we’ll look at why. We run audits on a yearly basis.” However, the investigation on the part of the county assessor’s office primarily focused on the 32 communities that the county contracts with to provide assessing services, including the cities of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Rochester. In 2015, the county equalization office denied 16 PREs for Birmingham, generating a total of

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$24,315 in property taxes that were due to the school district. The year prior, illegitimate PREs in Birmingham accounted for $49,536 from 39 denials. Bloomfield Hills in 2015 saw seven denials, which totaled $29,997 in back taxes owed to the local district, and in 2014, the city had nine denials, totally $22,698. Rochester schools were shorted $2,855 from six illegitimate PREs found by the county equalization office in 2015. The year prior, there were 22 Rochester properties’ denied, which amounted to $21,939 billed by the county on behalf of the local school districts. “When it’s found out that it’s filed (illegitimately), we will do a denial. They get mailed paperwork, and they have a right to appeal to the Michigan Tax Tribunal. They will get a tax bill for the portion that they did not pay,” said Bowers. Appeals to denials that were issued by the local assessor or the county are filed with the residential/small claims division of the Michigan Tax Tribunal, and must be made within 35 days of the denial. Appeals of denials issued by the treasury department are initiated by filing a petition with the hearings division of the state treasury. The success rate of appeals ranges from approximately 15 percent to 23 percent. Leix, with the treasury, said 23 percent of the appeals are overturned in full, whereas 15 percent of the appeals are partially overturned – an outcome

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that occurs upon receiving a partial exemption from the local school operating millage. A partial exemption, characterized as a percentage, may be issued when a homeowner turns a portion of the house into an office or business-related space, or if the homeowner occupies the home while also renting a portion of the house. In these cases, the homeowner can claim a partial exemption depending on the amount of square footage dedicated to the home versus the business enterprise or tenant. A partial PRE may also be claimed by someone who owns and occupies a portion of a duplex or apartment building. Another exception to the rule exists for activeduty military personnel. Those with an established PRE can retain that PRE while active in the armed forces, even if the person chooses to rent or lease their home. Additionally, a person is allowed to maintain an established PRE for up to three years on a home that was formerly their principal residence, but has since been put up for sale when they move into a new home. So, while under certain circumstances, having two PREs may be permitted, Oakland County Assessor David Hieber said, “Someone can be creative, and have two PREs for a while… and have moved to another state. Then the only recourse is to sue them, and now they live in Montana, so those are probably considered uncollectible. So there is some loss due to illegitimate PRE claims, or (from) mistakes that people make and do not even know.”

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FACES

Sue Daniels inding a way to have a positive influence in people's lives has been a longterm career goal for Sue Daniels. As the president and CEO of Rochester Hills-based Leader Dogs for the Blind, Daniels is able to help hundreds of blind and visually impaired people each year. "Growing up, I wanted to do something that would be helpful to people. In high school, I volunteered at a hospital, but I decided while I have a lot of admiration for that work, it wasn't for me," she said. "I considered teaching, then decided to try accounting, but my longterm goal wasn't to spend my career in the CPA field with a firm. I wanted to work with an organization that made a difference in people's lives." Daniels joined Leader Dogs for the Blind in 2004, after 10 years of working for the Southeastern Michigan Chapter of the American Red Cross. In 2011, she was promoted from CFO to CEO and president of Leader Dogs. The same year, Daniels was a recipient of the 2011 Crain's Detroit Business CFO Award for the non-profit sector. Since her promotion, Daniels has focused on several key initiatives for Leader Dogs, including updating the organization's strategic plan for the next three years, establishing a separate foundation to support the organization, implementing standards for client instruction and future Leader Dogs, and increasing the amount of human/dog interaction time for all dogs in training. Founded in 1939, Leader Dogs for the Blind's primary work is providing leader dogs to people who are blind or visually impaired. "The process to make that happen is pretty complicated," Daniels said. "We have a full vet clinic and four vet techs. And the success rate of dogs who graduate and can become leader dogs is a little over 50 percent."

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Serving roughly 220 clients annually, the organization needs about 450 dogs to be in the process each year. "They are serving as the eyes for people who can't see or have very limited vision, and they make life and death decisions on a daily basis for people," Daniels said of the dogs that graduate the program. "The person who is paired with the dog also has to be trained on how to work with the dog and give commands." Purebred labrador retrievers are the most common dogs in training, which start the process with a volunteer family for their first year. The dogs then train certified trainers at Leader Dogs for the Blind for four to six months, and are paired with clients. Canines not making the cut are often put into another line of service or available for adoption. "If a dog is distracted by squirrels, then they might not work out, but that doesn't preclude them from other kids of work," Daniels said. "We have 21 dogs in courthouses for children or people who are going to testify. The dogs have a very calming effect. If a dog is distracted by a squirrel, it doesn't matter in a courthouse setting." While Daniels said she doesn't have a dog of her own due to her husband's allergies, she gets her fair share of puppy time at the office, which allows team members to bring their own dogs to work. Outside of work, Daniels said she enjoys reading, hiking and biking. "I don't watch TV at all, other than professional football," she said. "I'm a big football fan."

Story: Kevin Elliott

Photo: Laurie Tennent


MUNICIPAL Penberthy family suit with city moves along

Work group to discuss historic barn move By Katie Deska

By Kevin Elliott

Developments in a 2015 court case involving a Rochester Hills family against the city, that has been displaced from their home for over a year due to flooding and sewage backups they claim were caused by the city's actions, could soon reach a resolution under a motion approved on Monday, October 24, by city council. Rochester Hills City Council members approved a motion to instruct city attorney John Staran to proceed with a case evaluation award, which was discussed in a special closed session meeting prior to council's regular meeting. Staran said the motion means that the suit may soon be settled if both the city and Penberthy family, which is seeking damages in the case, agree on the award determined by the court. "It's either close to settlement or close to trial," Staran said about the case. The lawsuit stems from an April 2015 eminent domain case filed by the city in which it sought a 30-foot easement along Philip and Mary Penberthy's property on Hamlin Road, between Crestline and Fieldcrest. The city was seeking the easement in order to proceed with a road widening project on Hamlin Road. Problems for the family began that summer when the home's private sewer line was severed by contractors, causing the home to flood twice with raw sewage. In July 2015, the family's garage, where they had stored their belongings, became flooded with water. That same month, the circuit court issued a temporary restraining order on the project. The Penberthy's subsequently sought damages from the city and contractors, claiming the work was the fault of the city and that it should be held accountable. In February of 2016, the court ordered the city to pay for the storage of the Penberthy's belongings and hotel accommodations while the case was being settled. At that time, the family showed in court documents that repairs and remediation from the flooding had totaled more than $50,000. The couple had previously estimated damages to exceed $250,000. Staran said the court has since separated claims against the city in reference to damages caused by sewage backups and flooding. Those 42

he Rochester Planning Commission, on Monday, November 7, decided to form a five- to six-member work group to brainstorm a handful of pragmatic options regarding the fate of a downtown historic barn, known as the Rochester Elevator. Built in 1880 by Charles K. Griggs on what is now the southeast corner of University Drive and Water Street, the barn was used as a grain elevator to ship crops to market by railcar, a profitable service that helped put the town on the map. Located at 303 E. University Drive, the structure stands on the site of a proposed condominium development. Developer Joe Salome, who hopes to build a three-building 42-unit complex, has committed to the city that he would financially assist in the effort to protect the barn. “It does not need to disappear completely,” said Salome, referring to the barn at the planning commission meeting. “But I need the city’s assistance with that.” Throughout the preceding months, there has been discussion by Salome, commissioners, city staff and the public about the potential of dismantling the barn and reassembling it at another site or transporting the barn intact to a nearby location. At the November 7 meeting, Salome presented the most recent site plan, and a public hearing was held. However, the planning commission concluded it was premature to recommend approval or rejection of the project until necessary logistics, such as the estimated cost and specific options for placement of the barn, get nailed down. As a result, the commission unanimously approved a motion to table consideration of the project for one month, while the work group further researches the matter. Composed of mayor Cathy Daldin, commissioners Jon Kingsepp and Eldon Thompson, deputy city manager Nik Banda, and the developer, the group is being tasked with establishing informal, yet concrete proposals for how to handle the barn. The group will receive additional input from city manager Blaine Wing, with the findings to be presented at the December planning commission meeting.

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claims have been included in a separate case against contractors and others who conducted construction work. The remaining claim against the city involves the amount paid by the city for the initial easement on the Penberthy property. "The only thing left in the condemnation case, which is what we started with, is the worth and value of the easement that the city acquired," Staran said. Staran said the court is required to conduct a case evaluation, which involves a small panel of mediators, prior to the case going to trial. If both parties agree on the amount of the award in the case, they can settle it prior to trial, which is currently scheduled for January of 2017. Staran said the parties won't determine for a couple of weeks whether they are able to come to an agreement and settle the case prior to a trial. Meanwhile, he said, the city continues to pay for the family's housing. "Hopefully, they can get back into their house," he said.

Gaming license denied to charity By Kevin Elliott

A request on Monday, November 14, by Rochester Hills-based Langeron Charities to be identified by the city as a recognized non-profit in the community was denied, effectively thwarting the organization's attempt to raise money through charitable gambling events. Under state law, the Michigan Gaming Board requires a resolution from the city where it is located indicating it is a recognized nonprofit organization before it will issue a charitable gaming license. Langeron Charities appeared before city council members for the third time since February 2015, when Langeron was first denied due to a lack of information in its application. The charity was denied a second time in July of 2015, when council requested additional information on the organization's history and activity as a non-profit.

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In its application to the city, Langeron President Igor Krichmar said the mission of Langeron Charities is to support the community of Rochester Hills and others in the state by organizing events "attributed to Ukrainian History," such as lectures, ethnic songs, dances, dining and other cultural activities, as well as "assisting the Ukrainian emigres into the American community by educating them in American cultural, historical, literary and religious traditions." Attorney Marc Mattoni, representing Langeron vice president Rudolf Krichmar, said the organization hopes to expand fundraising by the charity through charitable gaming events. However, neither Mattoni nor Krichmar were able to provide specifics on how such funds would be used for the community. City council vice president Stephanie Morita said she has been involved with many charities presently and in the past, including taking part in events that require charitable gaming licenses. "When I have done that, we've been able to state exactly how the money was going to be used in the community, and the community knew what the purpose of raising the funds was for," she said. "We don't have any of that information from your client." Under Langeron's Articles of Incorporation, filed in 2009 with the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth, the purpose of the organization is to "schedule and handle charitable fundraising events for funds to be used for the benefit of the community. Events focus around different types of recreational activities which might require local permits, but all events for generating funds are to be allocated for charitable purposes, including but not limited to hoising [sic] and clothing needs." Igor Krichmar also is listed as the owner of Royal Flush Poker Supplier LLC, which shares the same address in Rochester Hills as Langeron Charities. Rudolf Krichmar is listed as owner of Langeron Home Care LLC, which is active but not in good standing since 2010, according to state records. According to the city's policy regarding non-profit organizations, city council is permitted to recognize a a non-profit organization. However, "To recognize a non-profit organization the council shall consider the viability of the organization, the scope and level of activity and involvement in the 12.16


Landmark Rochester properties debated By Katie Deska

community and gained identity or recognition in the community for its accomplishments, activities, achievements and events." Based on the documented Langeron's activities since 2009, council president Mark Tisdel said the charity doesn't appear to meet the criteria of the city's policy. "Personally, I just don't see it," Tisdel said. Documentation on the charity's past donations that was supplied to the city show Langeron donated unidentified clothes in August to Neighborhood House, in Rochester; clothing and miscellaneous items in January and April to God's Helping Hand, in Rochester Hills; a $500 donation in February 2015 to Children Making Tomorrow, in Walled Lake; and donated gaming equipment to be used in March of 2015 to the Lake Orion Fireworks Association for a poker fundraising event. "I don't even know if all of that is in this community," Tisdel said of the donations. "That's just my opinion, but I just don't see it as an organization that has gained identity or recognition in this community based upon its accomplishments, activities, achievements and events. "I personally have been involved with charitable fundraising, with one organization for more than 22 years, and there's an awful lot more that they can be doing short of having a gaming license." Mattoni, who said he was speaking on Rudolf Krichmar's behalf due to difficulty with the English language, said the charity hopes that by introducing gaming into its fundraising activities, it would be able to raise more significant funds in shorter periods of time.. "That is a noble and honorable intent, and I would say that everyone up here appreciates that, and I would encourage him to continue to develop and create a valuable charitable asset in this community," Tisdel responded. "Our requirement is to affirm his organization at this date, and personally, I don't think it meets the definition here." Council voted unanimously to deny Langeron's request to be identified by the city as a recognized non-profit organization, with councilman Kevin Brown absent. The denial doesn't preclude Langeron from reapplying for a resolution from the city at a future date.

ochester City Council held a public hearing on Monday, November 14, regarding 12 properties within the city that have been identified by the Rochester Historic District Study Committee as eligible for the list of Rochester Historic Landmark Properties. The meeting came two years after city council unanimously passed the historic preservation ordinance in 2014, with the purpose of safeguarding the heritage of the city, strengthening the local economy, educating citizens and fostering civic beauty. The ordinance states that property owners can voluntarily opt-in to the historic district, which would result in a non-contiguous historic district that is composed of multiple parcels scattered throughout the city. However, the meeting on Monday, November 14, was not about establishing specific historic districts. Instead, the topic at hand was to solidify the list of 12 properties that were deemed eligible for the Rochester Historic Landmark Properties. The designation serves as a kind of monitoring device for properties that are historically significant but have not opted-in to become a historic district. After public comment and deliberation, council unanimously voted to move forward with the four properties that have expressed interest in opting-in to the historic district. There were owners of five properties who filed objections to having their properties being considered historically significant or having historical designation, and council unanimously voted to defer action until January, providing until the end of the calendar year for the property owners to present an explanation to the city as to why the property should not be considered historically significant and should not be included on the list. No direct action was taken on the remaining three properties, which do not have any letters filed with the city regarding the matter. While some of the property owners who opposed the designation expressed fears of potentially being strong-armed into conforming their properties to the standards set by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, which apply to historic districts, city attorney Jeffrey Kragt stated, “This process doesn’t establish historic districts.” Kragt went on to clarify what the impact of being considered a landmark property is, stating, “There are no requirements that a property owner has to paint or change a window (for example). It’s a way for the city to say, ‘Let’s keep an eye on these properties.’” The proposed list of Rochester Historic Landmark Properties was submitted to the city after the Rochester Historic District Study Committee conducted extensive research and worked with a consultant. The properties were also evaluated by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. Tricia DeMarco, a member of the Rochester Planning Commission and a member of the historic study committee, spoke during the public hearing, urging some of the property owners to rethink their opposition. “It’s an honorary designation. These properties were identified (as)… inherently important to the understanding and construction of our community here in Rochester,” DeMarco said. “Historic designations have proved to increase value. I urge you as a property owner to reframe the way this is being looked at and accept this honorary designation and collectively agree that these designations… provide value.” Council member Stuart Bikson recalled the time when the ordinance was being written. “From the start of the process, to me there was one thing made clear from the beginning, that we wouldn’t force anyone in it. To force people against their will, I think is an oversight on our part,” Bikson said. During council deliberation, council member Ben Giovanelli simplified the matter, stating, it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. If nothing is done and someone wants to tear down one of these properties,” he said, “we’ll have the same number of people here (opposed to demolition).” Mayor Cathy Daldin brought the conversation back to the proposed list of landmark properties. “This list was painstakingly created by the Historic District Study Committee. We tasked them to do the job. This list says we want to preserve this.” Later she followed with, “By approving the list, we’re not putting them in (a historic district).” Council member Kim Russell requested that more information be provided at a future council meeting, to which attorney Kragt confirmed he would provide further details regarding “what does being on this list trigger, according to the ordinance.”

R Two developments approved by council Rochester Hills City Council on Monday, October 24, gave the final green light on two small scale condominium developments that have been in the works since earlier this year. The Devondale development consists of four single-family homes on about two acres of land on the east side of Devondale, south of Austin Avenue and north of Auburn Road. The homes will range from 2,150 to 2,750 square feet and range in price from $250,000 to $350,000. Rochester Hills Planning Manager Sara Roediger said the developer, Paul Esposito, of Shelby Township, elected to develop the homes under the city's condominium plan process as he was unable to split the lots as needed under the zoning in the area. The planning commission approved Esposito's preliminary site condo plan in April, with subsequent approval from city council in May. "They are looking to build four homes," Roediger said. "They have down payments and are ready to build once they get the green light." Council members on Monday approved the final condominium plan by a vote of 6-0, with councilman Kevin Brown absent. In addition to the Devondale project, council members approved a final Planned Unit Development (PUD) agreement, site plan approval and wetland use permit for MacLeish Building, Inc., of Troy, who will be constructing seven two-unit condominiums, just north of South Boulevard and east of Sanctuary Boulevard. Dubbed Sanctuary in the Hills East, the 14-home development will be an extension of the existing Sanctuary in the Hills development to the west. The new homes will have starting prices about $475,000 with an average size of about 2,600 square feet. Preliminary plans for the project were approved by the city's planning commission in May. In June, the developer agreed to remove sidewalks planned for part of the project at the direction of the city, instead focusing on providing a connection to existing sidewalks on Sanctuary Boulevard. Council again voted 6-0 on Monday to approve the PUD, site plan and environmental permit, the latter of which will allow for the disruption of about .05 acres of high quality wetlands at the 4.47-acre site.


FACES


Madelyn Rzadkowolski iving in the past doesn't mean rejecting the present. For Madelyn Rzadkowolski, director of curatorial services for Meadow Brook Hall, it means bringing to life the people and places that helped to form the fabric of modern society. "I think it's important for people to know that our ancestors were the same as us. They had a sense of humor. They felt love and tragedy," she said. "It's important for people to be able to connect with these people in our past, and to understand how things were done and made, and that genius has always survived. They have helped us get where we are today." Built between 1926 and 1929 by Matilda Dodge Wilson, widow of auto pioneer John Dodge, and her second husband, Alfred Wilson, the 110-room, 88,000-square-foot mansion serves as a preeminent example of Tudor revival architecture in the country. As such, Meadow Brook Hall's collections include original paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, furniture, ceramics, carpets, costumes and other textiles. "My main goal is to have people come to Meadow Brook and have them walk away with more of an understanding of the estate, its history and connection to the community, more than have them say, 'that was a pretty house,'" Rzadkowolski said. "Our mission includes entertaining and educating." Starting as a volunteer, Rzadkowolski came to Meadow Brook with a passion for history, but without much knowledge of the estate and collections. Soon she was supervising a team of volunteers to re-house hundreds of Matilda Dodge Wilson's clothing and costumes. The vintage clothing, she said, is her favorite collection at the hall. "I have a vintage clothes collection," she said, noting that she wore a dress made by her great-grandmother in the 1930's for her photo with Downtown Publications. "I have a whole closet of vintage clothes. I have always been interested in them. I wear them when I am doing events at Meadow Brook." Her interest in fashion doesn't mean she's afraid to get her hands dirty, literally. After graduating magna cum laude with a degree in art history from Hope College, Rzadkowolski volunteered in the art world while working at an oil change shop and a pet store. She started working at Meadow Brook Hall in 2009, working her way up to the hall's programs coordinator, curator, and her current appointment this summer as director of curatorial services. "Before, I reported to someone for everything for exhibits and collections care," she said. "Now, I can't do everything I want to do, but I make more decisions on how to manage things." In 2011, Rzadkowolski and the former Meadow Brook curator collaborated to write "Images of America: Rochester and Rochester Hills," a photo history of the two communities. Today, Rzadkowolski's interest of history extends to the city of Detroit, where she sometimes conducts research and helps to give tours. Back at Meadow Brook, she is working to restore some of the rooms and collections to their original settings. "We are working on bringing the home back to what it looked like in 1929," she said. That means scouring through old invoices and photographs to lay out rooms and their belongings the way they were when the estate was in use as a home. It also means using photos to reproduce original artwork that has been sold and isn't available. "It's about giving the house the same magnificence that you would have seen if you came here then," she said.

L

Story: Kevin Elliott

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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PLACES TO EAT The Places To Eat for Downtown is a quick reference source to establishments offering a place for dining, either breakfast, lunch or dinner. The listings include nearly all dining establishments with seating in the Rochester area, and then some select restaurants outside the immediate area served by Downtown. The complete Places To Eat is available at downtownpublications.com and in an optimized format for your smart phone (downtownpublications.com/mobile), where you can actually map out locations and automatically dial a restaurant from our Places To Eat.

Rochester/Rochester Hills 112 Pizzeria Bistro: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 2528 S. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.289.6164. 2941 Street Food: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 87 W. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.606.4583. Alex’s of Rochester: Italian, Greek, & American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.852.2288. Antoniou’s Pizza: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 918 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307. 248.650.2200. Avery’s Tavern: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2086 Crooks Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.270.4030. B Spot Burgers: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 176 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.218.6001. Bangkok Cuisine: Thai. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 727 N. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.8841. Bar Louie: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations, 10 or more. Liquor. 1488 N. Rochester Road, Rochester, 48307. 248.218.5114. Bean and Leaf Café: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 439 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.601.1411. Big Boy: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No Reservations. 3756 S. Rochester Road., Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.852.5540. Also 90 E. Tienken Road, Rochester Hills, 48306. 248.601.7777. Bologna Via Cucina: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 334 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.651.3300. Buffalo Wild Wings: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 1234 Walton Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.651.3999. Chadd’s Bistro: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No Reservations. 1838 E. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.293.0665. Chapman House: French-American. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations recommended. Liquor. 311 Walnut Blvd., Rochester. 48307. 248.759.4406. Cheng’s Restaurant: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 2666 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.299.9450. Chicken Shack: BBQ. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 213 W. University Drive, Rochester, 48307. 248.656.1100. Chili’s: Tex-Mex. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2735 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.299.5281.

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM TMH

Chipotle Mexican Grille: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2611 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.402.0047. Also The Village of Rochester Hills, 84 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.402.0047. Chomp Deli & Grille: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 200 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 888.342.2497. CJ Mahoney’s Sports Grille: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 3260 S. Rochester Road, Rochester, 48307. 248.293.2800. CK Diggs: American & Italian. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 2010 W. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.853.6600. Clubhouse BFD (Beer-Food-Drink): American. Lunch, Saturday & Sunday. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations, 10 or more. Liquor. 2265 Crooks Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.289.6093. Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: Barbecue. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 1418 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.266.6226. Downtown Café: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 606 N. Main, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.6680. East Side Mario’s: Italian. Lunch & dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2273 Crooks Road, Rochester, 48309. 248.853.9622. Einstein Bros. Bagels: Deli. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 2972 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307. 248.606.4519. Famous Dave’s: Barbecue. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2945 Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48307. 248.852.6200. Firehouse Subs: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1480 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.656.9200. Also 3044 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.299.7827. Five Guys Burgers & Fries: American, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2544 S. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.299.3483. Ganbei Chinese Restaurant & Bar: Chinese. Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 227 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.266.6687. Georgio’s Pizza & Pasta: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Italian. 117 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.601.2882. Gold Star Family Restaurant: American & Greek. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 650 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.652.2478. Golden Eagle: American. Lunch, Sunday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1447 N. Rochester Road, Rochester, 48307. 248.651.6606. Grand Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 12 Marketplace Circle, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.289.1350. Half Day Café: American. Breakfast & Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. 3134 Walton Boulevard, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.375.1330. Hamlin Pub: American. Breakfast, Sundays. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1988 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.656.7700. Hibachi House Bar & Grill: Japanese Steakhouse. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 335 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307.

SERVING DINNER 6 DAYS, BRUNCH ON SATURDAY & SUNDAY. PRIVATE EVENT SPACE AVAILABLE FOR HOLIDAY PARTIES.

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The Rochester area is filled with discriminating diners and an array of dining establishments. Make sure the message for your restaurant reaches the right market in the right publication—Downtown. Contact Mark Grablowski for advertising rate information. O: 248.792.6464 Ext. 601 MarkGrablowski@downtownpublications.com

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FRONT/BACK Front/Back is a monthly column devoted to news stories, tidbits and gossip items about what's happening in both the front of the house and back of the house in the restaurants in the metro Detroit area.

Steakhouse adjustments Fresh blood has graced the kitchen at Eddie Merlot’s, an upscale steakhouse in Bloomfield Township at 37000 Woodward Avenue. Executive chef Justin Bates joined the staff after two decades in the industry. Most recently he served as executive chef for Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, where he spent years moving up the ranks. “We’re a national company, so (Bates is) not bringing any changes to the menu, per se, on his own. We’re going to more of a higher-end steak and (Bates) is part of the group of chefs that process and butcher the steaks, the cuts, themselves. All our cuts are butchered in house,” said general manager John Kelly, who also recently joined Eddie Merlot’s. Kelly shares management duties at Eddie Merlot’s with his responsibilities running The Stand Gastro Bistro down Woodward in Birmingham. Eddie Merlot’s is the only restaurant in the U.S. that serves Wylarah steaks, which come from Australia, said Kelly. While the Woodward Avenue location is the only Eddie Merlot’s in Michigan, the steakhouse has 11 additional outposts throughout the Midwest.

French restaurant closes After a year in business, Birmingham’s Au Cochon closed up shop in early November. “I’m not certain if it was the right concept,” said restaurateur and owner Zack Sklar, partner in Peas and Carrots Hospitality, which also owns and operates Social Kitchen and Bar, Mex and Beau’s Grillery. “We’re going to re-concept it, or do something else – I can’t pinpoint it,” he said of the closure. Formerly located at 260 N. Old Woodward, the French-inspired bistro offered brunch, lunch, dinner and a happy hour menu, all while sharing a kitchen with the former Arthur Avenue, an Italian concept, which Sklar and company folded earlier this summer. While Peas and Carrots has bid farewell to Au Cochon, a second installment of Mex is on the horizon. The colorful restaurant and bar first opened in Bloomfield Township at 6675 Telegraph Road, is set to swing open Thursday, December 1, at Great Lakes Crossing mall in Auburn Hills. Taking the reins in the kitchen will be Mark Barbarich, who is relocating from his current post at the now-shuttered Au Cochon. The new location, said Sklar, “will be a little bit different, more rustic, more casual.”

Destination downtown The name Prime + Proper is well suited to Jeremy Sasson’s latest project, a 10,000-square-foot restaurant and bar slated to open this spring, between April and May, not far from Sasson’s Townhouse Detroit. A steakhouse equipped to do in-house butchery and dry aging, Sasson and his team at Heirloom Hospitality desired an ambitious project, and settled on the first two floors of Capitol Park Lofts, a development at 1145 Griswold Avenue in Detroit, to be the canvas. Chef Michael Barrera, “is the culinary spear behind our organization,” said Sasson. In addition to the selection of 100 percent USDA certified Prime steaks and lamb, Prime + Proper will have a robust seafood program, “a progressive raw program, and a beautiful display of oysters and shellfish.” Sasson also envisions a retail component that will take shape from the cured meats, sausages, and charcuterie prepared on-site. “If you said that was best steak you’ve had on planet Earth, then there’s incentive to take some to-go… If someone’s going up north, and says ‘let’s get great steaks,’ but (they) don’t have time to stop, we hope this would be the place you would go, or to get some house-made sausages for a barbecue.” Next up on Sasson’s menu? He’s set his eyes on a Townhouse Ann Arbor.

Café expands Birmingham’s Café Succo, a juice bar and eatery at 600 N. Old Woodward, recently expanded to Royal Oak, where it shares the space with Jeffrey Omtvedt’s Detroit Taco Co. at 304 N. Main Street. Various dishes at Café Succo involve the acai berry, an antioxidant-packed fruit that comes from the Brazilian Amazon. “Our acai bowls are the most popular. It’s a superfood popular with athletes,” said chef Eric Ray, who has 12 years of restaurant experience and is behind both locations. “We are getting popular with the younger generation. They’re coming here after school and before sports.” The cafe also offers soups, salads, wraps and more. For the early morning crowd, the latest outpost offers breakfast sandwiches; a quinoa breakfast bowl; and the For Your Health Bowl, which starts by choosing one of five different bases –rolled oats, acai oatmeal, spinach and kale, eight ounces of Greek yogurt, or

248.266.6055. Honey Tree Grille: Mediterranean. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2949 Crooks Road, Rochester, 48309. 248.237.0200. Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1186 W. University Drive, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.651.3527. Johnny Black Public House: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1711 E. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.606.4479. Kabin Kruser’s Oyster Bar: Seafood. No reservations. Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Dinner, daily. 306 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.651.2266. Kerby’s Koney Island: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. 2552 S. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.844.8900. King Garden: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1433 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.656.3333. Krazy Greek Restaurant: Greek. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 111 E. University Drive, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.0089. Kruse & Muer In the Village: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 134 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.375.2503. Kruse & Muer on Main: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 327 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.9400. Lebanese Grill: Lebanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2783 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.606.4651. Lino’s Restaurant: Italian. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 50 W. Tienken Road, Rochester Hills, 48306. 248.656.9002. Lipuma’s Coney Island: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 621 N. Main Steet, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.9862. Lucky’s Prime Time: American. Weekend Breakfast. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations, weekdays. Liquor. 1330 Walton Boulevard, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.656.8707. Main Street Billiards: American. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 215 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.8441. Main Street Deli: Deli. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Dinner, Thursday, Friday. No reservations. 709 N. Main Street, Rochester, MI 48307. 248.656.5066. Mamma Mia Tuscan Grille: Italian. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 543 N. Main Street, Suite 311, Rochester, 48307. 248.402.0234. Mezza Mediterranean Grille: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor at The Village location only. 1413 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.609.2121. Also The Village of Rochester Hills, 188 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills. 248.375.5999. Miguel’s Cantina: Mexican. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 870 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.453.5371. Mitchell’s Fish Market: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 370 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.340.5900. Mr. B’s Food and Spirits: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 423 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.651.6534. Noodles & Company: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 184 N. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.375.5000. North Shack: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 990 E. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.853.3366.

O’Connor’s Public House: Irish Pub. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 324 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.608.2537. Oceania Inn: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. The Village of Rochester Hills, 3176 Walton Boulevard, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.375.9200. Olive Garden: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2615 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.853.6960. Outback Steakhouse: Steakhouse. Lunch, Friday-Sunday. Dinner, daily. Reservations, eight or more. Liquor. 1880 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.650.2521. Paint Creek Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 613 N. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.759.4205. Panda Express: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 3105 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.853.9880. Panera Bread: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 37 S. Livernois Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.601.2050. Also 2921 Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.853.5722. Also 2508 S. Adams Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.853.7430. Park 600 Bar & Kitchen: American. Weekend Brunch. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. Royal Park Hotel, 600 E. University Drive, Rochester, 48307. 248.652.2600. Paul’s on Main: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 630 N. Main Sreet., Rochester, 48307. 248.656.0066. Pei Wei: Asian Fusion. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1206 E. Walton Boulevard, Rochester, 48307. 248.601.1380. Penn Station East Coast Subs: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 146. S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.601.4663. Penny Black Grill & Tap: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 124 W. 4th Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.841.1522. Pudthai & Sushi: Thai & Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 2964 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.299.6890. Qdoba Mexican Grill: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1198 Walton Boulevard, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.608.2603. Also 3014 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.844.3668. Ram’s Horn: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1990 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.651.7900. Red Knapp’s Dairy Bar: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 304 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.651.4545. Red Lobster: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 2825 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.299.8090. Red Olive: Mediterranean & American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1194 Walton Boulevard, Rochester, 48307. 248.656.0300. Rochester Bistro: American-Continental. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 227 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.923.2724. Rochester Brunch House: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 301 Walnut Boulevard, Rochester, 48307. 248.656.1600. Rochester Chop House: Steakhouse & Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 306 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.651.2266.


Rochester Diner & Grill: American, Greek & Italian. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. 1416 E. Walton Blvd., Rochester Hill, 48309. 248.652.6737. Rochester Mills Beer Co.: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 400 Water Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.650.5080. Rochester Tap Room: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6870 N. Rochester Road, Rochester, 48306. 248.650.2500. Rojo Mexican Bistro: Mexican. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 401 N. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.601.9300. Sakura Sushi: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 6866 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48306. 248.608.3867. Shish Palace: Mediterranean. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. 165 S. Livernois Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.453.5464. Shogun: Japanese. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 173 S. Livernois Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.453.5386. Silver Spoon Ristorante: Italian. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 6830 N. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48306. 248.652.4500. Soho: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2943 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.289.1179. Sumo Sushi & Seafood: Japanese & Korean. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations, 24 hours in advance. Liquor. 418 N. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.601.0104. Tapper’s Pub: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 877 E. Auburn Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.852.1983. Tim Hortons: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 940 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.656.8292. The Meeting House: American. Weekend Brunch. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 301 S. Main Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.759.4825. Too Ra Loo: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 139 S. Main St., Rochester, 48307. 248.453.5291. Tropical Smoothie Café: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 2913 Crooks Road, Rochester Hills, 48309. 248.852.4800. Val's Polish Kitchen: Polish. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday, Sunday. Reservations. 224 E. Auburn Rd., Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.293.2660. Wayback Burgers: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 1256 Walton Boulevard, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.453.5746. Also 2595 S. Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, 48307. 248.844.2717. Willoughby’s Beyond Juice: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 120 E. 4th Street, Rochester, 48307. 248.841.1670.

Troy Capital Grille: Steak & Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Saturday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2800 West Big Beaver Rd., Somerset Collection, Troy, 48084. 248.649.5300. Cafe Sushi: Pan-Asian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1933 W. Maple Rd, Troy, 48084. 248.280.1831. Kona Grille: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 30 E. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 48083. 248.619.9060. Lakes: Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 5500 Crooks Rd., Troy, 48098. 248.646.7900. McCormick & Schmick’s: Steak & Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations.

Liquor. Somerset Collection, 2850 Coolidge Hwy, Troy, 48084. 248.637.6400. Mon Jin Lau: Asian. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1515 E. Maple Rd, Troy, 48083. 248.689.2332. Morton’s, The Steakhouse: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 888 W. Big Beaver Rd, Troy, 48084. 248.404.9845. NM Café: American. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 2705 W. Big Beaver Rd, Troy, 48084. 248.816.3424. Ocean Prime: Steak & Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2915 Coolidge Hwy., Troy, 48084. 248.458.0500. Orchid Café: Thai. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. 3303 Rochester Rd., Troy, 48085. 248.524.1944. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. Somerset Collection, 2801 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 48084. 248.816.8000. Ruth’s Chris Steak House: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 755 W. Big Beaver Rd., Troy, 48084. 248.269.8424. Steelhouse Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 1129 E. Long Lake Rd., Troy, 48085. 248.817.2980. Tre Monti Ristorante: Italian. Lunch, Thursdays. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 1695 E. Big Beaver Road, Troy, 48083. 248.680.1100.

Birmingham/Bloomfield 220: American. Lunch & Dinner, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 220 E. Merrill Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.646.2220. Andiamo: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6676 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48301. 248.865.9300. Bagger Dave's Legendary Burger Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6608 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48301. 248.792.3579. Beau's: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 4108 W. Maple, Bloomfield Hills, 48301. 248.626.2630. Bella Piatti: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 167 Townsend Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.494.7110. Beverly Hills Grill: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. Liquor. No reservations. 31471 Southfield Road, Beverly Hills, 48025. 248.642.2355. Big Rock Chophouse: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 245 South Eton Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.647.7774. Bill's: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, Daily. Reservations, lunch only. Liquor. 39556 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.646.9000. Bistro Joe’s Kitchen: Global. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Sunday brunch. Liquor. Reservations. 34244 Woodward Ave., Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.0984. Café ML: New American. Dinner, daily. Liquor. Call ahead. 3607 W. Maple Road, Bloomfield Township. 248.642.4000. Cafe Via: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 310 East Maple Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.644.8800. Cameron’s Steakhouse: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 115 Willits Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.723.1700.

organic frozen acai. It’s then topped with options such as granola, coconut milk, blueberries, strawberries and honey. “You still get your food quickly and it’s all healthy,” said Ray.

Veggie brunch option Ferndale’s GreenSpace Cafe, 215 W. Nine Mile Road, has expanded to include a Saturday and Sunday brunch, held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each weekend. “The number of requests from our patrons to add a brunch menu has been overwhelming. We carefully constructed the most delicious and nutritious menu to offer a brunch with benefits,” said co-owner Daniel Kahn, who opened the restaurant last December with his father, Dr. Joel Kahn, a cardiologist. New dishes include the Spicy Breakfast Burrito with tofu; Purple Masa Pancakes topped with caramel, blackberries, almond crumble and maple syrup; and a blackened tempeh scramble with vegetables. Accompanying the new brunch fare is a menu of craft cocktails, raw juices and the critical wakeup beverages.

Gathering soon Coming soon to Detroit is Gather, a community-oriented restaurant slated for 1454 Gratiot Avenue, in the neighborhood of Eastern Market. “We put the timeline at the end of the year, there’s a lot of things out of our hands, so to put a specific date on it, its difficult at this moment,” said Kyle Hunt, who co-owns the business with his wife Lea Hunt and good friend, chef Nate Vogeli. Once the seed to open a restaurant was planted, the three friends launched a Kickstarter campaign, and ended up raising $29,000 from supporters who are passionate about their model. “Our goal is to be sustainable with what we do, and not to waste food. With the scraps of all the food at Gather, we will make a hearty broth for the homeless. We’re trying to be full circle,” said Hunt. Vogeli, who returned to Michigan after working as a chef for Big Sky Ranch in Montana, will start off focusing on a dinner-only menu, which will be served at one of three tables, each seating 10 people. “We want people to sit together at the table and break bread. We won’t enforce it, but we want everyone to drop the cell phone and enjoy people and friends,” said Hunt.

35 years of vegan fare Royal Oak’s longtime vegetarian restaurant, Inn Season Café, recently celebrated 35 years of serving a menu heavy on locally-sourced organic food. Situated in a quaint butternut-yellow space at 500 E. Fourth Street, Inn Season was “founded on principles of the microbiotic diet,” said Nick Raftis, who purchased the restaurant in 2002 from chef-founder George Vutetakis. Today’s head chef, Thomas Lasher, first joined Inn Season in the 1980s, under the ownership of Vutetakis, before leaving to open a short-lived Ann Arbor restaurant with Raftis. Offering lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, Inn Season boasts a menu of satisfyingly delicious food suitable for many who struggle with allergies to wheat, soy and dairy. “When it comes to specials, what the farmer has will dictate where we go with the food – maybe it’s amazing green beans, fennel, or eggplant. (It’s) kind of like jazz, the chef uses his divine inspiration to create something magical.”

Townsend teas The Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, 100 Townsend Street, will host a series of specialty afternoon teas for the holiday season. Mothers, daughters, and grandmothers enjoy a “Frozen” tea on November 27 and December 18; and all the little girls will get in two little lines for the “Madeline” tea on December 11. A special Santa Clause tea will be held on December 21. Reservations are definitely recommended. For more mature audiences, the hotel will host an “Intimate Krug Journey,” hosted by Krug Brand Ambassador Nicole Burke, with a special themed menu accompanying.

Pop-Up Intel Yemans Street, 2995 Yemans Street in Hamtramck: Preeti Sidhu, home chef and caterer specializing in Indian food, Saturday, December 3. Revolver, 9737 Joseph Campau Avenue in Hamtramck: Ed Sura, of Chicago’s NoMi, Friday, December 2. Michele Bezue, of Michele Bezue Confections, Sunday, December 18. Front/Back is reported each month by Katie Deska. KatieDeska@DowntownPublications.com. We welcome news items or tips, on or off the record, about what's happening in the front or back of the house at metro area restaurants.


Churchill's Bistro & Cigar Bar: Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 116 S. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.647.4555. Eddie Merlot's: Steak & seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 37000 Woodward Avenue, Bloomfield Hills, 48304. 248.712.4095. Elie’s Mediterranean Cuisine: Mediterranean. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 263 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.647.2420. Flemings Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 323 N. Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.723.0134. Forest: European. Dinner, MondaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 735 Forest Avenue, Birmingham 48009. 248.258.9400. Griffin Claw Brewing Company: American. Dinner, Tuesday-Friday, Lunch & Dinner, Saturday and Sunday. No Reservations. Liquor. 575 S. Eton Street, Birmingham. 248.712.4050. Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 201 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.4369. Ironwood Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations, 6 or more. Liquor. 290 Hamilton Row, Birmingham, 48009. 248.385.0506. Luxe Bar & Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily; Late Night, 9 p.m.-closing. No reservations. Liquor. 525 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.6051. Mandaloun Bistro: Lebanese. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, Daily. Reservations. Liquor. 30100 Telegraph Rd., Suite 130, Bingham Farms, 48025. 248.723.7960. MEX Mexican Bistro & Tequila Bar: Mexican. Lunch, Monday-Friday, Dinner, daily. Liquor. 6675 Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Township, 48301. 248.723.0800. Mitchell’s Fish Market: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 117 Willits Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.646.3663. Phoenicia: Middle Eastern. Lunch, Monday-Friday; Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 588 South Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.644.3122. Roadside B & G: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 1727 S. Telegraph Road, Bloomfield Hills, 48302. 248.858.7270. Salvatore Scallopini: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 505 North Old Woodward Avenue, Birmingham, 48009. 248.644.8977. Social Kitchen & Bar: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations, parties of 5 or more. Liquor. 225 E. Maple Road, Birmingham, 48009. 248.594.4200. Streetside Seafood: Seafood. Lunch, Monday-Friday; Dinner, daily. Reservations, Lunch only. Liquor. 273 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.645.9123. Tallulah Wine Bar and Bistro: American. Dinner. Monday-Saturday. Sunday brunch. Reservations. Liquor. 55 S. Bates Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.731.7066. The Bird & The Bread: Brasserie. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 210 S. Old Woodard, Birmingham, 48009. 248.203.6600. The Franklin Grill: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 32760 Franklin Rd, Franklin, 48025. 248.865.6600. The Rugby Grille: American. Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations.

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Liquor. 100 Townsend Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.642.5999. The Stand: Euro-American. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 34977 Woodward, Birmingham, 48009. 248.220.4237. Toast: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily; Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 203 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.258.6278. Townhouse: American. Brunch, Saturday, Sunday. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 180 Pierce Street, Birmingham, 48009. 248.792.5241. Triple Nickel Restaurant and Bar: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Liquor. Reservations. 555 S. Old Woodward, Birmingham 48009. 248.480.4951.

North Oakland Clarkston Union: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 54 S. Main St., Clarkston, 48346. 248.620.6100. Holly Hotel: American. Afternoon Tea, Monday – Saturday, Brunch, Sunday, Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 110 Battle Alley, Holly, 48442. 248.634.5208. Kruse's Deer Lake Inn: Seafood. Lunch & dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 7504 Dixie Highway, Clarkston, 48346. 248.795.2077. Via Bologna: Italian. Dinner daily. No reservations. Liquor. 7071 Dixie Highway, Clarkston. 48346. 248.620.8500. Union Woodshop: BBQ. Dinner, Monday – Friday, Lunch & Dinner, Saturday – Sunday. No reservations. Liquor. 18 S. Main St., Clarkston, 48346. 248.625.5660.

Royal Oak/Ferndale Ale Mary's: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 316 South Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.268.1917. Anita’s Kitchen: Middle Eastern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 22651 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.548.0680. Andiamo Restaurants: Italian. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 129 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.582.0999. Assaggi Bistro: Italian. Lunch, TuesdayFriday. Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 330 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.584.3499. Bigalora: Italian. Weekend Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. No Reservations. Liquor. 711 S. Main Street, Royal Oak, 48067. Bistro 82: French. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 401 S. Lafayette Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.542.0082. The Blue Nile: Ethiopian. Dinner, TuesdaySunday. Reservations. Liquor. 545 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.547.6699. Bspot Burgers: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 310 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.268.1621. Cafe Muse: French. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 418 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.544.4749. Cork Wine Pub: American. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 23810 Woodward Ave., Pleasant Ridge, 48069. 248.544.2675. D’Amato’s: Italian. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 222 Sherman Dr., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.584.7400. Due Venti: Italian. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 220 S. Main St., Clawson, 48017. 248.288.0220. The Fly Trap: Diner. Breakfast & Lunch,

daily. Dinner, Monday-Friday. No reservations. 22950 Woodward Ave., 48220. 248.399.5150. Howe’s Bayou: Cajun. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 22949 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.691.7145. Inn Season Cafe: Vegetarian. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, TuesdaySaturday. No reservations. 500 E. Fourth St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.547.7916. Inyo Restaurant Lounge: Asian Fusion. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 22871 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.543.9500. KouZina: Greek. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 121 N. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.629.6500. Lily’s Seafood: Seafood. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 410 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.591.5459. Local Kitchen and Bar: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 344 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.291.5650. Lockhart’s BBQ: Barbeque. Sunday Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 202 E. Third St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.584.4227. Oak City Grille: American. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 212 W. 6th St, Royal Oak, 48067. 248.556.0947. One-Eyed Betty: American. Weekend Breakfast. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 175 W. Troy St., Ferndale, 48220. 248.808.6633. Pronto!: American. Weekend Brunch. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 608 S. Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.544.7900. Public House: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 241 W. Nine Mile Rd., Ferndale, 48220. 248.850.7420. Redcoat Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 31542 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, 48073. 248.549.0300. Ronin: Japanese. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 326 W. 4th St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.546.0888. Royal Oak Brewery: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 215 E. 4th St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.544.1141. Strada: Italian. Dinner, Wednesday Sunday. Liquor. No reservations. 376 N. Main Street. Royal Oak, 48067. 248.607.3127. Toast, A Breakfast and Lunch Joint: American. Breakfast & Lunch, daily. No reservations. 23144 Woodward Ave., Ferndale, 48220. 248.398.0444. Tom’s Oyster Bar: Seafood. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 318 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.541.1186. Town Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 116 W. Fourth St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.544.7300. The Morrie: American. Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 511 S. Main St., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.216.1112. Trattoria Da Luigi: Italian. Dinner, TuesdaySunday. Reservations. Liquor. 415 S, Washington Ave., Royal Oak, 48067. 248.542.4444. Vinsetta Garage: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 27799 Woodward Ave., Berkley, 48072. 248.548.7711.

West Bloomfield/Southfield Bacco: Italian. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, Monday-Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 29410 Northwestern Highway, Southfield, 48034. 248.356.6600. Beans and Cornbread: Southern. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 29508

DOWNTOWN

Northwestern Highway, Southfield, 48034. 248.208.1680. Bigalora: Italian. Weekend Brunch. Lunch, Monday-Friday. Dinner, daily. No Reservations. Liquor. 29110 Franklin Road, Southfield, 48034. Maria’s Restaurant: Italian. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2080 Walnut Lake Road, West Bloomfield, 48323. 248.851.2500. The Bombay Grille: Indian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. 29200 Orchard Lake Rd, Farmington Hills, 48334. 248.626.2982. The Fiddler: Russian. Sunday Brunch. Dinner, Thursday-Sunday. Reservations. Liquor. 6676 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.851.8782. The Lark: American. Dinner, TuesdaySaturday. Reservations. Liquor. 6430 Farmington Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.661.4466. Mene Sushi: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Beer & Wine. 6239 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.538.7081. Meriwether’s: Seafood. Lunch, MondaySaturday. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 25485 Telegraph Rd, Southfield, 48034. 248.358.1310. Pickles & Rye: Deli. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. 6724 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.737.3890. Prime29 Steakhouse: Steak & Seafood. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 6545 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.737.7463. Redcoat Tavern: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday-Saturday. No reservations. Liquor. 6745 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.865.0500. Shangri-La: Chinese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. Orchard Mall Shopping Center, 6407 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.626.8585. Sposita’s Ristorante: Italian. Friday Lunch. Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 33210 W. Fourteen Mile Rd., West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248. 538.8954. Stage Deli: Deli. Breakfast, Lunch, & Dinner, daily. No reservations. Liquor. 6873 Orchard Lake Rd., West Bloomfield Township, 48322. 248.855.6622. Sweet Lorraine’s Café & Bar: American. Weekend Breakfast. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 29101 Greenfield Rd., Southfield, 48076. 248.559.5985. Yotsuba: Japanese. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 7365 Orchard Lake Rd, West Bloomfield, 48322. 248.737.8282.

West Oakland Gravity Bar & Grill: Mediterranean. Monday – Friday, Lunch & Dinner, Saturday, Dinner. Reservations. Liquor. 340 N. Main Street, Milford, 48381. 248.684.4223. It's A Matter of Taste: American. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 2323 Union Lake Road, Commerce, 48390. 248.360.4150. The Root Restaurant & Bar: American. Lunch & Dinner, Monday - Saturday. Reservations. Liquor. 340 Town Center Blvd., White Lake, 48390. 248.698.2400. Volare Ristorante: Italian. Lunch & Dinner, daily. Reservations. Liquor. 48992 Pontiac Trail, Wixom, 48393. 248.960.7771.

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BUSINESS MATTERS First in Michigan Soft Surroundings, a ladies-centric store offering clothing, accessories, home goods and beauty products, will open its first Michigan location next spring in the Village of Rochester Hills, in the space adjacent to Chico’s. The addition fits the vision for the future of the Village, said Shelleen McHale, director of marketing for the outdoor mall. “We joke we want (the Village) to be a mom playground, where they can do all they need to do while having fun,” said McHale, noting how the previous additions of lululemon Athletica, Aveda Salon and Paper Source filled that agenda. “(Soft Surroundings) is really cute, and it kind of does a mixture. They carry a specific (makeup) brand, Jane Iredale, that you’ll find at a lot of higher end places where they do procedures like Botox (and other dermatological services).” The St. Louis-based chain launched in 1999, and uses a three-tier ratings system to describe the texture of a product’s material, including, “so soft,” “heavenly soft,” and “ultimate softness.”

Collegiate apparel shop Grizzlies, Spartans, Wolverines, Broncos and a host of other Michigan college-proud fans can visit the newly opened Campus Den to hunt for apparel, pennants and trinkets that show their team’s spirit. Located at 212 N. Adams Road, in the Village of Rochester Hills, the store opened in early November and is the latest outpost of the chain, which has 22 stores, all within Michigan. “They’ve got Grizzlies, Michigan, and Michigan State gear, and they’re getting a bunch more,” said Shelleene McHale, director of marketing for the outdoor mall. The store also carries sportswear, home decor and accessories for professional teams, including the Detroit Pistons, Red Wings, Lions and Tigers. Other nearby locations can be found at Great Lakes Crossing and Oakland Mall.

Rochester salon rebrands The former Voula Isakov Salon, 419 S. Main Street in Rochester, is under new ownership and has been renamed Ché Bella Salon. Owned and operated by mother-daughter duo, Lavinia Klemz and hairstylist Elisa Herrin, Ché Bella offers cuts, color, blow dry and styling, make-up, eyelash application, and eyebrow waxing and tinting. The salon also offers special occasion hair-dos and downtownpublications.com

serves bridal parties. Herrin, a stylist for eight years, is formerly of De Jolie Salon in Macomb. She partnered with her mother, Klemz, who focuses on behind-the-scene operations. “We’re getting ourselves out there more, and doing more events. We’re working as a team to expand and make (the salon) bigger and better,” said Klemz.

Interactive toy store Toyology, a family-owned toy store, opened a fourth location in October in the Village of Rochester Hills, 208 N. Adams Road. “Our whole purpose is learning through play, and having toys that teach,” said Jon Klar, who launched the metro Detroit business five years ago with his brother Aric Klar. “We have a whole section of cooperative games, mostly for preschool age, like if you win, you win together, or you lose, you lose together.” The selection of games and toys found at Toyology provide options to get kids away from swiping at the screen, and challenge them to use their senses. “We have minimal electronic toys; we’re really hands on. But, the older kid’s section is different. We have a lot of techrelated toys that are different than the big box selection. We handchoose every product,” said Klar, noting that Toyology is an all-ages store, providing infotainment for newborns through adults. The owners chose to expand to Rochester Hills because of the strong community and area events, said Klar. Additional locations include West Bloomfield, Royal Oak and Howell.

Complementary gyms Rochester Performance Gym, dedicated to athletes, power lifters, and strength trainers, opened recently at 260 E. Auburn Road in Rochester Hills. Located in the same plaza as The Rochester Gym, 278 E. Auburn Road, which opened in 2001, the Rochester Performance Gym takes a “back to the basics” approach, and is equipped with “barbells, deadlift platforms, power racks, dumbbells and kettlebells,” said co-owner Steve Stuecher. He and his business partner, Amanda Betron, are employees at The Rochester Gym, and were met with approval when they approached the gym owner with the idea for the performance studio. Since opening, the Rochester Performance Gym has developed a following of about 75 members, with an open gym membership. Other options include a

$5 one-day pass, or purchase of a $20 Conditioning 101 class fee, with the option of a class punch card. Stuecher has participated in the WPC Powerlifting competition in Portugal, and Betron has earned first place in two figure competitions, which she’s been participating in for over a decade. “It takes dedication and discipline,” she said of the competition. “(It takes) believing in yourself when you have good days and bad days, and going above the average person, and pushing yourself,” said Betron.

State of art chiropractic Licensed chiropractors Dr. Brendan Shanahan of Rochester, and Dr. Thomas Madigan of Lake Orion, opened Vitality Precision Chiropractic at 2590 S. Adams Road in Rochester Hills. “We use state of the art technology on patients for consultations, x-rays, and chiropractic care, depending on the individual’s health,” said Anna Kelly, chiropractic assistant. “We deal with a lot of nervous system issues, nerve interference, (to create) better communication through the whole body. Sometimes the curvature in your neck can put pressure on the nervous system, so what happens, it can create migraines, fatigue, nausea, and vertigo.” Chiropractic care can also assist with back pain, digestive issues, and other concerns. Utilizing NASA-certified diagnostic technology, Vitality clinicians identify the source of a patient’s health problems and create a corrective care plan. Shanahan and Madigan, who are both trained in Torque Release Technique, met while studying at Life University in Georgia.

Auto leather expansion Bader Leather, an original equipment manufacturer based in Germany, is moving its operations to Rochester Hills next spring. After 11 years in Troy, Fernando Caccia, director of sales and business development, said the company is ready for a larger space. Located at 2944 Waterview Drive, the forthcoming Bader USA building measures 13,000 square feet, and will provide space for additional equipment to be used for research and development. “There is no manufacturing in the building, but a lot of R & D going on,” said Caccia, noting the facility also has a design center and sales office. Serving GM, Chrysler, Tesla and others, Bader manufactures leather components for

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the interior of vehicles, including, “seats, instrument panels, doors, gear nobs, steering wheels, center consoles – everything that’s got leather in the car.” With a tannery in Iowa, and a facility in metro Detroit, Caccia said, “all the know-how from Germany, we’re bringing it to Detroit, to Michigan.”

Female finance firm The women-owned financial planning firm, Athena Financial Group, 900 W. University Drive in Rochester, is now certified to provide complete independent investment advisory services to its clients. “I wanted to be completely 100 percent fiduciary,” said founder Diane Young, noting that she’s broken relationships with all broker-dealers and is now completely fee-based. “We don’t sell products, and no kickbacks from firms – which is common in our industry. I don’t get paid from the product, so it doesn’t matter if it’s Vanguard or Fidelity, or stocks or bonds.” Founded in 2004, Athena offers four levels of service that clients can choose from to best suit their advisory needs “Women process differently, they like to ask questions, and 90 percent of advisors are men,” said Young. “We tell (clients) options and they can figure out what they like.”

Par Sterile Products Par Sterile Products, LLC, a Rochester-based subsidiary of Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., recently received a $350,000 performancebased grant through the Michigan Business Development Program, an initiative of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The funds are earmarked for an “upgrade to the Par Sterile Products facility in order to accommodate a new line of high tech filling equipment,” according to the company. As a result of the expansion at the Rochester site, 870 Parkdale Road, up to 30 new employees are expected to be hired and trained to assist with product manufacturing. Par Pharmaceutical Holdings, Inc. was acquired in 2015 by Endo International, a global specialty pharmaceutical company with headquarters in Dublin and Pennsylvania. Business Matters for the Rochester area are reported by Kevin Elliott. Send items for consideration to KevinElliott@downtownpublications.com. Items should be received three weeks prior to publication.

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SOCIAL LIGHTS/SALLY GERAK Here is the update on the recent social scene. Many more photos from each event appear online each week at downtownpublications.com where readers can sign up for an e-mail notice when the latest social scene column is posted. Past columns and photos are also archived at the website for Downtown.

DSO Opening Night Dinner

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DSO Opening Night Dinner The Thursday evening before the Detroit Symphony Orchestra opening Classical Series Weekend, 115 music lovers attended the Volunteer Sally Gerak Council’s Opening Night Dinner ($180, $325, $500tickets) at the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Center. VC president Ginny Lundquist chaired the second annual repast, one of the first events to be held in the Music Box after it was renamed the Peter D. and Julie F. Cummings Cube (Curated Urban Broadband Experience). As President/ CEO Anne Parsons announced, the new name honors the couple’s ongoing benevolence ($10 million-plus) to the DSO and marks the beginning of a new programming stream for the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Center. The concert which followed in Orchestra Hall featured conductor Leonard Slatkin conducting Bernstein, Gershwin, Beethoven and the world premiere of “Big Data” by 40-year-old Spanish composer Ferran Cruixent. The latter featured the musicians using their mobile phones to emit a clicking sound as the audience hummed.

7 1. Peter & Julie Fisher Cummings of Detroit & Palm Beach, FL. 2. Patti Finnegan Sharf (left) of Bloomfield, Ginny Lundquist of Orchard Lake. 3. Frank Ritchie (left) of Troy, Ellie Tholen of Birmingham. 4. Jill Jordan (left) of Farmington Hills, Sandie Knollenberg of Bloomfield, Suzanne Lareau of Royal Oak and Barbara Van Dusen of Birmingham. 5. Idell Weisberg (left) of Bloomfield, Dorothy Gerson and Ellen Kahn of Franklin. 6. Pat (left) & Hank Nickol of Birmingham, Lee Barthel of Farmington Hills, Cis Kellman of Southfield. 7. Joyce (left) & Myron LaBan of Bloomfield, Roz & Ken Gitlin of Orchard Lake. 8. Bud Liebler (left), Denise Abrash and Jim Hayes of Bloomfield.

Michigan Opera Theatre DiChiera Legacy Ball

Michigan Opera Theatre DiChiera Legacy Ball People are still raving about the Opera Ball which starred much that was Italian including esteemed MOT founder/artistic director David DiChiera, the son of immigrants. He first greeted about 200 VIPs who convened early in the Herman and Barbara Frankel and Allesee lounges. Many had been present for the first ball when the Detroit Opera House opened 20 years ago. The 366 dinner tickets ($750, $1,000) sold out weeks before the elegant soiree. As in the past, the tables were on a temporary floor constructed over the auditorium seats, as was a stage for the program. It featured lots of tributes, including one from 2015 ball co-chair Joanne Danto. She recalled first meeting DiChiera in 1961 when he gave her a role dancing in his Overture to Opera production of “La Traviata.” “David...your achievements will always inspire (us)...We love you,” she concluded. A Pas de Deux by Royal Winnepeg Ballet dancers, two opera selections by artists from MOT’s current season, surprise performances by MOT studio artists, and the men of the MOT Chorus disguised as waiters and a live auction rounded out the program. It was also applauded by the 120 Young Professionals ($125 ticket) from the Bella Festa Tramonte party. All guests could then dance to Ben Sharkey’s Big Band or savor Italian sweets, liquors and espresso. The DiChiera Legacy Ball raised $655,000, plus the live auction total of $107,535. Quite a legacy indeed, Dr. D. Project HOPE Tea at The Townsend Bettina Gregg and Linda Juracek-Lipa welcomed a sold-out crowd of 50 Women’s Division Project HOPE supporters ($60, $100 tickets) to the Townsend for Afternoon Tea. The formal tables almost filled the Tea Lobby, leaving only a bit of space for Artloft, Loretta’s Boutique, Dior make-up artists and a mini silent auction to provide diversions from the exceptional tea fare and the first girl friends’ gabfest of the fall season.

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Pink Fund Dancing with the Survivors Nearly 300 people ($150 ticket) trekked to Southfield’s Silver Gardens Event Center to sip, sup and applaud people dancing in support of Pink Fund’s mission - to provide three months financial support for active breast cancer patients in need of monetary assistance. The pink splashed evening, one of eight nationwide, raised more than $150,000. It was co-chaired by sisters Carol Segal Ziecik and Laura Segal.

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1. Ethan Davidson (left) of Birmingham, honoree Dr. David DiChiera of Detroit. 2. Floy Barthel (left) of Farmington Hills, Ron Michalak & Barbara Frankel of W. Bloomfield. 3. James, Clara & Françoise Colpron–Schwyn of Birmingham, Carol Friend of Troy. 4. Bob & Maggie Allesee of Bloomfield.

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Evans Scholars Hickory Stick benefit A bagpiper led 92 golfers clad in plus-fours and tams onto the course at Forest Lake Country Club for the annual Hickory Stick Invitational. (Players must use antique wood-shafted clubs, a challenge for most of them.) Awards were presented by event founders and co-directors Marty Gillespie and Chuck Plein at dinner. It also featured remarks of gratitude by MSU Evans Scholar Jacqueline Zuke and U of M Evans Scholar Nick Michetti. The 19th annual

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event netted more than $50,000 for the Western Golf Association’s Evans Scholar Foundation. It sends caddies with financial need to college. MOCAD Gala + Auction Ten years ago, when Detroit was on the leading edge of an historic recession, a determined band of contemporary art enthusiasts launched the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in a former car dealership. That it not only survived, but thrived is a tribute to its stewards. Earlier this month MOCAD’s founding director and board president Marsha Miro told 200 dinner guests ($1,000 & up tickets), “We are proud of every exhibition we have done...MOCAD was (our) dream....And now it is an important arts institution in this city, state and nation.” She followed board co-chair Elyse Foltyn and executive director Elysia Borowy-Reeder who thanked the event sponsors and the artists who donated more than 120 objects to the auction that raised $200,000. Following dinner the Afterglow staged by MOCAD’s energetic New Wave committee attracted another 150 partiers. It featured electrifying performers, light up cotton candy, energy drinks and lots of dancing. The 10th annutal Gala + Auction raised $350,000 for innovative and inspiring exhibitions and ambitious educational and cultural programming at the museum. Judson Center Havana Nights More than 525 supporters ($300 & $400-tickets) of Judson Center traveled to Havana, aka the ballrooms at the Westin Book Cadillac, to embrace the 92-year-old social service agency’s families and children. Cuban colors, music, flavors and floral dominated the scene. Before dinner, people bid more than $38,000 in the silent auction and bought $9,200 worth of raffle tickets. The program included board chair Kyle Hauberg’s calling for a “Judson welcome” for new executive director Lenore Hardy Foster, a video of some of the 4,000 children and families Judson helps each year, and unforgettable remarks by Rachel Fischer, an author and forensic nurse whose life story defies credulity. “I was one of five kids of a biker and a (heroin using) prostitute,” she began. Her saga included being adopted by a foster family with seven special needs children and getting a Christian foundation. She now works in the human trafficking field, where, she noted, she has “street cred.” The crowd gave her a very warm standing downtownpublications.com

Project HOPE Tea at The Townsend

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1. Bettina Gregg (left) of Bloomfield and Linda Juracek-Lipa of Birmingham, Sari Stefancin of Bloomfield. 2. Christa Hintz (left) and Shammy Loosvelt of Bloomfield. 3. Anita Hedeen (left) and Sherry Sagainaw of Bloomfield and Irene Davis of Beverly Hills. 4. Emma Minasian (left) and Audrey Mooradian of Bloomfield. 5. Angela Cosma (left) of Bloomfield, Cathy Pikulas of Franklin, Anita Terry of Bloomfield. 6. Dolly Andris (left) of W. Bloomfield, Tina Prevas of Bloomfield. 7. Judie Sherman (left) of Bloomfield, Katana Abbott of Commerce.

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Pink Fund Dancing with the Survivors

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1. Molly MacDonald (right) of Beverly Hills, Manouchehr and Brenda Kambakhsh of Rochester. 2. Karen Jacobsen (left), Carol Ziecik (left) and Elaine Minkin of Bloomfield. 3. Glynda Beeman (left) of Bloomfield, Laura Segal of Franklin. 4. Mother Daughter duo: Susanne Iacobelli (left) of Rochester Hills and Stephanie Iacobelli.

MOCAD Gala + Auction

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1. Elysia Borowy-Reeder (left) of Detroit, David & Elyse Foltyn of Birmingham. 2. Marsha Miro (center) of Bloomfield, Bruce & Kathy Broock Ballard of Orchard Lake. 3. Lynn (left) & Bharat Gandhi of Bloomfield, JJ Curis of Grosse Pointe. 4. Spencer (left) & Myrna Partrich and Andi & Larry Wolfe of Bloomfield. 5. Peter Remington & Peggy Daitch of Birmingham. 6. Joel (left) & Shelby Tauber of W. Bloomfield and Jeff Miro of Bloomfield. 7. Mert Segal & Glynda Beeman of Bloomfield.

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SOCIAL LIGHTS/SALLY GERAK ovation before bidding $50,750 in the live auction and another $66,000 in Take A Stand pledges. Havana Nights set a new record by raising $440,000.

Judson Center Havana Nights

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Brother Rice Boutique & Craft Show Mari MacKenzie chaired the annual Brother Rice Mothers’ ClubAutumn Boutique and Craft Show which attracted more than 200 to the school gymnasium. More than 33 vendors showcased such offerings jewelry, home decorations, trendy clothing, food, health & beauty items as well as greeting cards for Mary’s Mantle service to homeless pregnant women. Show proceeds are earmarked for the Scholarship and Financial Aid Foundation’s tuition assistance for deserving students.

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100 Women Who Care The 13th quarterly meeting of 100 Women Who Care of Greater Rochester brought 90-plus of 245 members to St. John Fisher activity center. At that meeting, like all others, they committed one hour to listen to presentations by representatives of three non-profits. After a quick vote, each woman wrote a $100 check directly to the winner, Turning Point, for whom board member Leslie Sheider made the pitch. Turning Point, which works to end domestic violence and sexual assault, will use the $24,500 donation for education and prevention programs. It will allow the hiring of an additional school educator. Last year, a single educator provided 406 school presentations that reached 6,300 students. There is currently a waiting list for schools to get Turning Point workshop presentations. An additional staff person will provide impactful prevention tools, particularly for high school students who may be in uncertain personal relationships or may be bystanders to questionable behavior. 100 Women Who Care of Greater Rochester co-founder Amy Whipple noted, “We are able to meet needs immediately. It’s an ‘ask and you shall receive’ giving model that is very direct and very efficient.” To date, they have raised more than $231,000.

5 1. Aleisa (left) & Kyle Hauberg of Bloomfield, Ann Marie LaFlamme of Rochester Hills. 2. Duane (left) & Lenora Hardy Foster of Rochester Hills, Heather & David Mingle of Rochester. 3. Joe (left) & Blair Fisher of Grosse Pointe, Joanne & John Carter of Bloomfield. 4. Jeff (left) & Susan Sadowski of Birmingham, Alex Sadowski of Chicago, IL. 5. Darleen (left) & Hugh Mahler of Birmingham, Rachel Fischer of Detroit and Houston, TX. 6. Larry Denton and Elena MacKenzie of Birmingham. 7. John (left) and Carol Aubrey of Birmingham, Steve Ebben of Lake Orion.

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Brother Rice Boutique & Craft Show

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2 1. Mari and Molly Mackenzie and Katie Nienstedt of Birmingham. 2. Katy Dudley (left) of Birmingham, Maria Mierzwa of Sylvan Lake, Jen Simpson of Bloomfield. 3. Jody Messinger (left) of Beverly Hills, Catherine Boston and Lis Andoni of Bloomfield. 4. Joe Fuhrman (left) of Huntington Woods, Larry Mackenzie of Birmingham.

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Polish the Jewel Legacy Luncheon Three weeks after Shauna Ryder Diggs hosted a cocktail supper for 35 of the Benefactors ($300 & up tickets), the Belle Isle Conservancy benefit luncheon was staged under a festival tent pitched near the Conservatory and the Aquarium. This enabled honorees Trayce and 12.16


Randy Fenton to be close to the two structures that have been the objects of their considerable philanthropy as a memorial to their son Aaron. They were among the 400 people ($150 tickets) at the 12th annual, al fresco affair, noted for the hats many of the women wear. Before lunch people sipped champagne as they bought raffle tickets for Steve Tapper’s Star of Belle Isle pendant and perused the extensive silent auction ($17,000). Rhonda Walker emceed the program that featured warm words of gratitude from chair Denise Ilitch, BIC founder/board chair Sarah Earley, president Michele Hodges and school programs director Amy Emmert. The latter inspired about $12,000 in pledges for DPS field trips. Thanks also to generous sponsors, the event raised about $160,000, earmarked for a new Splash Play Area on the island. Since it launched in 2004, the luncheon has raised $3 million toward restoration and enhancements on the island. OUR TOWN Art Show and Sale The 31st annual show and sale of work by Michigan artists opened at The Community House with the Art in Vogue party that attracted 250 people ($75 and up tickets), including lots of the 165 artists and models in head-turning dresses created by Matthew Richmond using upcycled materials. The early arriving benefactors were greeted by Carol and John Aubrey and Nancy and Dave Lau. That crowd included, to name a few Benefactors, former TCH executive director Gale Colwell, Margi Epstein, the Fred Leydorfs, Bill Powerses, Rich Sorensens and Ed Hagenlochers, as well as jurors Barbara Heller and Rachelle Nozero and Liz DuMouchelle, show co-chair with Robert Dempster. When the show closed three days later, 26 of the 417 objects in the show had found a new home and Bloomfield Hills artist Anita Damiani’s painting “Midnight Moonflowers” had won the People’s Choice title. Oakland Literacy Council Ex Libris The 27th annual dinner benefiting the free adult literacy programs of the Oakland Literacy Council at the Village Club attracted 111, including the youngest guest ever - Geneve Hunter’s 13-year old grandson Gabriel Cosman. The teen attended because he is a huge fan of the keynote speaker Johnathan Rand, author of dozens of horror fiction books for children and young adults. Other speakers included volunteer downtownpublications.com

Polish the Jewel Legacy Luncheon

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1. Shauna Ryder Diggs (left) of Grosse Pointe, Trayce & Randy Fenton of Bloomfield. 2. Denise Ilitch (center) of Bingham Farms, Sam Lites (left) and Jeff Krupcle of Birmingham. 3. Anne Parson (left) and Michele Hodges of Grosse Pointe, Sarah Earley of Bloomfield. 4. Rosemary Bannon (left) of Beverly Hills, Judy Jonna and Lidija Grahovac of Bloomfield. 5. Nicole Gize (left) of St. Clair Shores, Marjorie DeCapite of Birmingham. 6. Bonnie Larson (left) of Bloomfield and Diane Platt of Grosse Pointe, Peggy Daitch of Birmingham. 7. Dorian DiVita (left) of Bloomfield, Linda Solomon of Farmington Hills. 8. Tom Anderson (left) of Royal Oak, Danialle Karmanos of Orchard Lake, Suzanne Moceri of Bloomfield, Luavve Ewnd of Royal Oak. 9. Laurie Tennent (left) of Bloomfield, Elizabeth Bacon of Detroit. 10. Betty Desmond (left) of Bloomfield, Noreen Keating of Auburn Hills.

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SOCIAL LIGHTS/SALLY GERAK OUR TOWN Art Show and Sale

tutor Adelia Cooley and her student Ossie Tate, associate minister Dr. Roger and Mary Jo Byrd were also in the spotlight as the event honorees for their generosity to OLC for many years. The event raised more than $36,000 for the council.

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Gleaners Community Food Banks The Detroit Wine Organization promotes wine knowledge and enjoyment while benefiting local children’s charities. It selected Gleaners Community Food Banks for its fall philanthropic gathering and 600 kind hearted oenophiles ($85, $150-VIP tickets) flocked to Gleaner’s Detroit warehouse to sip, sup and socialize. VIPs savored Andiamo chow with premium wines from Joel Gott Wines, the DWO 2016 Winery of the Year. All were offered 300+ wines, comestibles from area purveyors and a silent auction ($13,000). In addition to premium wines and unique packages, the auction featured six, life-size, Jack Daniel statues, each with a corresponding bottle of “Jack” created by Kroger’s wine stewards. Thanks also to the sponsorship generosity of Kroger and Delta Air Lines, Detroit Uncorked raised more than $120,000. This will provide 360,000 meals for the hungry. DWO membership is free.

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1. Eliz DuMouchelle and Robert Dempster of Bloomfield, Rachelle Nozero of Novi. 2. Nancy (left) & Dave Lau of Bloomfield and Carol & John Aubrey of Birmingham. 3. Bill & Wendy Powers of Bloomfield. 4. Ellie Gause of Bloomfield, Jan & Bob Swanson of Bingham Farms. 5. Ann Booth (left) and exhibitor Julie Dawson of Birmingham. 6. Kathie Ninneman (left) of Bloomfield, Dave & Kathleen Devereaux of Birmingham. 7. Tory Sawula (left), Lynn Quigley and Mitzi Phillips of Bloomfield.

Oakland Literacy Council Ex Libris

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1. Julie Hoensheid (left) of Rochester Hills, Lisa Machesky of Birmingham. 2. Speaker/ children’s books author Johnathan Rand (left) of Topinabee, Gloria Johnson of Oak Park, tutor speaker Adelia Cooley of Bloomfield, student speaker Ossie Tate of Oakland. 3. Gabriel Cosman (left) of White Lake, author Johnathan Rand of Topinabee.

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CARE House Care Charity Ball With spirited vocals by some Mosaic Singers floating up from the Tea Lobby, some 300 supporters of CARE House of Oakland County chatted in the ballroom foyer before adjourning for dinner at the CARE House Care Night Charity Ball. The program, emceed by Fox-2’s Monica Gayle, had notable highlights. One was honorary co-chair/GM’s Alicia Bowler-Davis’ moving revelation about being abused as a child “...and there was no Care House when I was a child,” she said. Another was honoree Lisa Payne’s recollection of how she came to Care House through a close friend’s experience. “I had to get involved,” she vowed. Soon-toretire executive director Pat Rosen introduced her successor, Blythe Spitsbergen, and saluted staffers, “The life blood of CARE House.” Dan Stall then conducted a live auction ($52,250) and pledging. Music by popular Mark Randisi and the Motor City Jazz Orchestra rounded out the splendid evening. It raised $330,000 for the services CARE House has been providing sexually abused children since 1977. The agency’s 21st annual Circle of Friends 12.16


luncheon is Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017 at The Townsend. St. Hugo Altar Guild Benefit Nearly 200 people ($60, $70, $160 tickets) gathered at Oakland Hills Country Club one evening to support the charities of the St. Hugo Altar Guild. They socialized and did early Christmas shopping at 17 boutiques stocked with such appealing wares as fashionable apparel and accessories, jewelry and yummy confections. They also relished savory cuisine from a bountiful buffet and bought raffle tickets to win a $1,000 Somerset Collection gift card. Kathy MacIntosh chaired the benefit and her non-agenarian mother-inlaw came to it from her new home in Illinois to see all her gal pals. The Ladies Night Out raised about $20,000.

CARE House Care Charity Ball

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4 Heart to Heart GLAM Lunch Nearly 300 supported Beaumont Health’s Florine & J. Peter Ministrelli Women’s Heart Center. While most ($175, $250, $1,250 & $2,500 tickets) of them gathered in the Regency Room at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham for lunch, another 60 Gold Sponsors ($5,000) convened in the former Corner Bar, now redesigned as The Clancy Room. (It honors in memoriam the celebrated interior designer Dan Clancy, whose long history with The Townsend is evident throughout the boutique hotel.) Informal modeling of designer fashions provided diversion in the larger room while in the Clancy people perused a chance raffle of 14 super packages ($7,000) and fashion strategist Marianna Keros commentated a video presentation of major trends for Spring 2017 from the New York Fashion week. Some of the top trends she identified like ruffles and silver were on the runway in the terrific fashion show RGA’s Cheryl Hall-Lindsay produced in the main ballroom for everybody. It was preceded by expressions of gratitude from Beaumont’s Margret Cooney Casey and heart health advice from Dr. Pam Markovitz. Debra Ernst, Pearl Gordon, Carol J. Nederlander, Meryl Sakwa and Rachel Schostak co-chaired the chic event which raised $67,000 for the 15-year old women’s heart center at the Royal Oak hospital. Send ideas for this column to Sally Gerak, 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, 48304; email samgerak@aol.com or call 248.646.6390. downtownpublications.com

1. Amber Stack (left) of S. Lyon, Lisa Payne and daughter Katie of Bloomfield. 2. Fitz Davis (left) & Alicia Bowler-Davis of Rochester and Kappy & Dave Trott of Birmingham. 3. Jerry (left) & Pat Wagner and Dave & Tiffany Wagner of Bloomfield. 4. Linda & Dan Bomberski of Troy, Erik & Andrea Morganroth of Birmingham. 5. Michelle Murphy (left) of Macomb, Pamela Ayres and Jennie Casio of Bloomfield, Dan Greve & Monica Gayle of W. Bloomfield. 6. Sandie Knollenberg (left) of Bloomfield, Kathy & Mike Hudson and June Grannis of Troy.

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St. Hugo Altar Guild Benefit

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1. Kathy MacIntosh (left) and Karen Seitz of Bloomfield. 2. Gladys Kowalski (left), Julie Adell Verona and Laurie Adell Fischgrund of Bloomfield. 3. Erin McCullough Durren (left) of Bloomfield, Mimi McCullough of Troy. 4. Carolyn DeMattia (left), Sr. Barbara Rund and Marianne McBrearty of Bloomfield, Thelma MacIntosh of La Grange, IL. 5. Joan Page (left) and June Wienner of Bloomfield.

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Heart to Heart GLAM Lunch

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1. Florine Ministrelli (center) of W. Bloomfield, Lois Shaevsky (left) of Bloomfield and Cis Maisel Kellman of Southfield. 2. Francee Ford (left) and Debi Ernst of Bloomfield. 3. Carol Philips (left) of Grosse Pointe, Barbara Ghesquiere and Jane James of Bloomfield. 4. Karen Clancy (left) of Bloomfield, Meryl Sakwa and Linda Taubman of Birmingham.

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ENDNOTE

Lengthy, no-bid contracts must end now ews earlier this fall that Rizzo Environmental Services, recently rebranded as GFL Environmental after an October sale to an Ontario, Canada waste hauling company, was the subject of a public corruption probe by the FBI in Macomb County, caught numerous Oakland municipalities by surprise, as 20 of the 62 county communities have contracts with the Sterling Heights-based waste hauling company for hauling trash and recycling. The FBI said they wouldn't be able to confirm or deny if they were looking into Rizzo in Oakland County, or if there was any possibility of corruption in Oakland County. Many of the 20 Oakland communities are new Rizzo customers, having signed contracts with Rizzo only in the last couple of years. Research revealed that Rizzo came into those cities and townships with a reputation for providing their customers with very good service at a very good price, often underbidding their competition. On the surface, that sounds like a strong business model. After all, Rizzo has grown from a small snow removal company in 1965 to become the dominant waste hauler in southeastern Michigan, with contracts for hauling trash and recycling for 55 municipalities. The company has grown exponentially since 2012, when it was acquired by the private equity firm Kinderhook, skyrocketing from 16 contracts to 55. The question is – at what cost? Several of the communities which have contracts for service with Rizzo have chosen the waste hauling company without bidding out the contracts, basing their choice on Rizzo's reputation as one that provides an excellent level of service for a good price to the locales for which it provides service. Most of the communities, however, are renewing contracts with them without rebidding them out, a practice we think needs to change. Even when municipal consortiums play the middleman for municipalities, and review numerous contracts, it is in every single community's best interest to have several companies bidding for their

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work. Southeastern Oakland County Resource Recovery Authority (SOCCRA), which negotiates contracts for 12 member communities in southern and central Oakland County, general manager Jeff McKean said, “We did a market survey of all the prices being charged in southeastern Michigan, and our prices are very competitive, so we thought there was no need to do a bid process.” Bloomfield Township Supervisor Leo Savoie stated Rizzo told the township that the company would keep prices at a certain low level for the length of the contract – an eight-year renewal – as long as they didn't bid the contract out. By a vote of 6-1, trustees voted to renew the contract without rebidding it, because as Savoie said, no one has been dissatisfied with the service. With some Rizzo employees under criminal suspicion and a change in ownership, Bloomfield Township is now considering reviewing the contract. The other significant issue we question is the length of the contracts communities have signed with Rizzo and other waste haulers. Many of the municipalities have five-, eight-, even 10-year contracts with Rizzo, or competitors Waste Management, Republic, Tringali or others. That's great for the waste company, allowing them to go out and purchase new trucks, equipment, and lock in rates for gas, based on their size and long-term contracts, but how does that benefit taxpayers? The length of any service contract – whether for a waste hauler, law enforcement services from the sheriff's department, or any other service provider, should be for no longer than five years, with an open bidding process. A five-year process is not onerous upon a municipality, but allows for changes in the marketplace. It's the essence of a free market system, with residents the beneficiaries. Moving forward, local municipalities must change how they handle contracts for waste hauling services.

Put teeth in historic district ordinance ochester City Council members grappling with how to proceed with finalizing a list of potentially historic homes in the city should move ahead with the process as prescribed by the city's historic district ordinance, which was passed in 2014. The purpose of a historic district ordinance is to protect the heritage of a community by preserving areas in the city that reflect its history, architecture and culture. Such ordinances also serve to stabilize and improve property values and educate the public about its local history. Such ordinances are able to do so by requiring property owners to adhere to certain standards, usually those set forth by the state's Historic Preservation Office, which basically recommends maintaining a property so it reflects its historical significance. In a community such as Rochester, where historical significance is part of the community's character and draw, implementing a strong historic district ordinance is essential to the city's identity. City council in 2014 was wise to pass a historic district ordinance that allows the owners of properties recognized as having historical significance to opt in to a historic district. The process gives property owners a clear understanding of what they can expect in terms of improvements, maintenance and future uses of their properties. However, the ordinance also has an established process for how to handle properties with historical significance when property owners don't voluntarily opt into a district. Under the city's ordinance, the city's historic district study committee also is required to look at properties of historical significance that aren't included in the city's historic district. The city's historic district study committee recently identified 12 such properties, which are considered

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Rochester Historic Landmark Properties. Inclusion on the list means the city may take action if any of the properties are threatened in any manner, whether by actions of the owner, demolition or neglect. That action may require a public hearing to include the potential property into one of the city's established historic districts. On Monday, November 14, five landmark property owners objected to their homes being included on the list. Council members tabled the matter until January, when the owners will have the opportunity to present evidence as to why their homes shouldn't be included on the list. We recommend council members uphold the spirit of the city's ordinance by making their decision based on historically significance evidence, rather than emotional appeals based on fear, misunderstanding – or economics. Based on public comments, some of those opposed to the designation expressed fears of being strong-armed into conforming their properties to special standards. However, we point out that inclusion on the landmark list isn't the same as being included in a historic district. The landmark list does not mandate conformity to historic preservation, but encourages it so owners do not destroy the property through demolition or neglect. While it's understandable that property owners don't want anyone micromanaging their property, to maintain the heritage of the community, it is imperative that Rochester's rich history be preserved. We encourage both city council members and property owners of such landmark properties continue following the process set forth in the city's historic district ordinance, which looks at the bigger picture of the city, rather than each individual's personal agenda.


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