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August 2023


There are a number of updates at Downtown Newsmagazine that I would like to share this month with followers of our publication.


2023 NOVEMBER ELECTION


Voters in Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and part of Bloomfield Township will be deciding a number of local election issues this November.


If you reside within the boundaries of the Bloomfield Hills School District, there will be a ballot issue request for renewal of a 0.697-mill building and site sinking fund tax which was last approved in 2018. Eleven of Bloomfield Township’s precincts will be facing this on a special election ballot, as will voters in the city of Bloomfield Hills. If approved, this tax will be collected for three years starting in 2024, replacing a similar tax that expires this year.


In Bloomfield Hills, all five positions on the city commission are up for a vote. In Birmingham, four of the seven positions on the city commission will be decided, plus there will be three positions on the Baldwin Library board on the ballot. Birmingham voters will also be determining the fate of a tax to help fund the purchase of the YMCA building on East Lincoln Street in the city as a permanent home for the Next program that serves older residents in Birmingham and some neighboring communities.


As we have done since our launch in 2010, Downtown Newsmagazine will be producing a Voter Guide for the election, appearing in our October issue which mails in late September, along with posting the contents on our website. We bring this out early for the benefit of those voters who decide to cast ballots before November 7. Although we anticipate the Voter Guide will be considerably smaller than the 36-page election guide we produced in 2022, we know that our efforts are appreciated, based on feedback from our readers.


We are already starting to discuss issues that we would presented to candidates who will be sent a questionnaire, the answers to which would appear in the Voter Guide and will be used as part of our process to develop editorial endorsements.


A couple of decisions relative to the Voter Guide have already been determined. First, we normally pay minimal, if any, attention to library board elections. But given the attempts by both political parties to weaponize, if you will, local elections, including school board, library board and city commission elections as part of the culture wars, we have decided to create questions for the Baldwin Library Board candidates.


Second, although city elections are non-partisan contests, we are going to follow the precedent we set in the 2022 elections by asking all candidates whether they believe the results of the 2020 election were valid or not. We believe that answers to this question speak to both the character of candidates and their ability to decipher fact from fiction. After all, these are important local positions and, if political parties have their way, could be a launching pad for higher office in the future for some of the victors this November.


THREATENED PLANET NEWSLETTER


In June we launched a new newsletter – Threatened Planet – and a companion website (threatenedplanet.com), patterned along the lines of The COVID 19 Diary newsletter that we produced, at first daily then moving to a less frequent basis for nearly two years during the height of the pandemic.


The Threatened Planet newsletter consists of curated information gleaned from over 30 print and online news sources where reliable information is provided on the health of the environment and the efforts to remedy problems facing the planet. We monitor daily a diverse list of sources – ranging from the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, national sources like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Time and Newsweek, the major newspapers on both the east and west coasts and in the southern states, major publications from Europe, a variety of scientific journals and government websites, along with newsletters from environmental groups, as well as a wide-ranging list of other reliable print and online news outlets.


Our first issue of the Threatened Planet newsletter was emailed to several thousand of our followers. At first we thought a monthly frequency made the most sense, but the volume of information was almost overwhelming so we are now issuing it twice during each month. Each issue of the newsletter is archived on threatenedplanet.com. The Threatened Planet newsletter knows no set geographical boundaries – if we find information about the challenges to the planet and possible solutions to problems, be it in Michigan, the rest of the country or in other nations, we provide a link to the stories. For those concerned about the environment, we do the legwork by aggregating relevant information from a wide swath of sources and attempt to offer links mostly to those sources not restricted by a paywall. You can sign up for the newsletter in the “contact” section of threatenedplanet.com or on the home page of downtownpublications.com. Research and composition of the Threatened Planet newsletter is the work of
 Austen Hohendorf, my Brooklyn-based son who did some writing for us during the early launch period of Downtown Newsmagazine and has served as an occasional advisor on some issues in recent years. This is a part-time and remote gig for Austen who has worked for the past decade in media and communications in New York City.


DOWNTOWN JOINS THREADS


Downtown Newsmagazine can now be found on the new social media platform introduced by parent company Meta (Facebook) – Threads. No, it is not the end-all and be-all in terms of replacing Twitter, which has deteriorated greatly since billionaire Elon Musk purchased it.


Fellow billionaire Mark Zuckerberg launched Threads, which lacks some of the important features to which Twitter users have become accustomed, although hundreds of millions have signed up, many no doubt in search of a replacement for Twitter. Meta officials say they will be issuing improvements in coming weeks or months to address critical reviews of the new social media platform.


At this writing, you must have an Instagram account to sign up for Threads, and if you want to quit Threads then you will lose your Instagram account, basically trapping you in the Meta world, so to speak.


Media outlets are faced with Musk’s hostile approach to the media in general, or the equally negative media treatment by Meta. It’s a no-win situation.


But we are giving it a whirl for now. So follow us if you join Threads.


David Hohendorf

Publisher

DavidHohendorf@DowntownPublications.com

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