Mayor highlights the past year in State of the City address

By: Robert Guttersohn | Royal Oak Review | Published August 6, 2014

ROYAL OAK — From the construction of the city’s largest playground structure to the passage of the human rights ordinance last November, Mayor Jim Ellison lauded the city’s milestones in the past year during his state of the city address July 29.

“Let me begin my State of the City address by simply saying I am so proud of Royal Oak,” Ellison said just before listing off the numerous recognitions it had received from national publications this year. “It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”

Inside the Red Run Golf Course clubhouse, Ellison delivered the address for the 11th time in front of his family, city leaders, staff and 44th District Court Judge Derek Meinecke.

Mayor Pro Tem David Poulton called the mayor’s address an overview of good things going on in Royal Oak.

“There are a lot of positive things going on for the city,” Poulton said. “That’s why I see so many people moving here.”

He added that it veered from the controversy of last year when, during the speech, Ellison referred to the petition drive that landed the commission-passed human rights ordinance on the November ballot as “an abuse of statutory law.”

“I think it was more uplifting and was more positive,” Poulton said. “So, overall, a good speech”

Ellison cited city statistics, including the projected increase in new housing permits for the year and the more than 7,000 building permits issued in 2013, as a sign of the city’s growing popularity.

He also noted the 11 percent decrease in crime throughout the city and attributed it to the sharp uptick in officers on the force. Since passage of the 2012 public safety millage, the Police Department has brought on 22 new officers, according to the city.

“This pace of hiring is unprecedented in our community,” Ellison said.

Despite the accomplishments and growth, Ellison pointed out needed improvements to the city — namely, its roads.

At the July 21 meeting, the City Commission approved ballot language for the city to levy up to 2.5 mills for road repairs throughout the next 10 years. Residents will vote on the millage in November.

Ellison said he doesn’t count on Lansing to come up with funding for the roads.

“I do not think that what we’ve been hearing about in Lansing is another case of indecision,” Ellison said. “I call it what it is: a craven and cynical abdication of lawmakers’ responsibilities for the sake of political point-scoring in an election year.”

He said that with the ballot proposal, the city has “decided to take our future into our own hands.”

Near the conclusion of his speech, Ellison went on a personal tangent thanking the firefighters who responded to a fire started in the basement of his home in January. After making sure that Ellison and his family were OK, the firefighters entered the home in search of the family pets. Ellison said they didn’t stop searching until they all were accounted for.

“The humanity the firefighters showed me that day, it just reaffirms that we have the best damn Fire Department in the country,” Ellison said.