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On the Ballot: Gregory Kucera Jr., City Council

Longtime resident has regularly attended City Council meetings for the past eight years and now looks to fill an empty seat.

Age: 63

Occupation: Retired illustrator and production artist

Family: Lives in Clawson with his wife, Nancy; has two adult children and two grandchildren.

Community Activities: Clawson Lions Club, Clawson Eagles, American Legion, Zoning Board of Appeals

What are the biggest challenges facing Clawson? Declining property values, a low tax base, improving the conditions of City Park

 What solutions do you support? Encouraging new, diversified businesses to help increase our tax base, maintaining a high level of city services such as snow removal and trash pick-up to keep Clawson a desirable place to live, holding fundraisers and seeking grant money for City Park improvements.  

 What makes you a good candidate? "One of my traits is patience and I will listen to both sides of an issue before forming my opinion. I want the best leadership for Clawson and I feel I would bring a solid background to the City Council."

More on elections

Clawson Patch is profiling all the candidates this week. Here are the other profiles:

Community volunteer has a passion for politics.

 

Mavericks general manager hopes to find solutions for city budget cuts.

Official election page

Kurt Hack October 12, 2011 at 02:01 AM
Greg, not sure if your watching this thread or not but I do have some questions for you. 1. How would you work with and/or combat the State on their efforts to enact regionalization for inner-ring suburbs? How would you position Clawson so that the effects of regionalization do not negatively effect customer-facing services or, better yet, allow Clawson to profit by offering services to other communities? 2. What is your position on the upcoming Headlee override millage renewal? How do you propose marketing your position to the voters to attain your outcome? 3. What is your position and proposed funding vehicle for park system improvements? 4. What is your position on the Council’s current use of, or lack thereof, of volunteer boards and committees? 5. Would you support in moving the City towards an activity based costing accounting practice so that we could more accurately cost City operations? Also, would you demand full labor and materials cost disclosure for maintenance\repair\operations before making capital equipment purchases? 6. Would you support pressing the City administration for a policy that freely allows video and photography of police operating in the public? If so, how would you propose garnering support for this? If not, why not?
Kurt Hack October 12, 2011 at 02:07 AM
This document outlines school funding fairly well: http://muskegonisd.org/dept/SchoolFunding/FundingCrisisFAQ.pdf
cw October 12, 2011 at 12:52 PM
As for whether or not the park needs work, it CLEARLY does. Its funny to me that people are saying that Clawson residents are sending their children to other districts, and in the same breath they are saying that the "play fields" don't need work. Don't you think that a stellar athletics program would help KEEP Clawson kids in Clawson schools? I'd also like to know actual statistics on children that are living in Clawson & going to other public schools (I really feel that private schools are another matter, families that choose private are usually going that route no matter what, IMO) beyond "it seems like". I actually HAVE children in Clawson public schools and know many young families in the community. Aside from a few that actually live in Troy but participate in our city athletics, I don't know any families that live here & send their children to other public schools. As for the SofC issue, the fact is we need the cash. No, those families don't pay property taxes, but how many families don't have any kids at all & still pay property taxes? The state funding, as Kurt Hack said over & over, follows the child. I do think that we should consider some limits on SofC kids. I know some districts only allow SofC kids to enroll at the kindergarten or other early levels which is a great way to make sure that the kids really do become involved in the community.
Sandy G October 12, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Thank you Kurt. I guess my real problem is we have to many SofC students. Every child deserves a good education & I don't doubt that Clawson is that place. What I don't like is that the bad experiences that I have had with these children whenever my daughter is having a issue with a child that is SofC,it seems that they are not disaplend (sp?) in the proper manner & the child that actually lives her is punished according to the book. Don't get me wrong, some of my daughters best friends are SofC and I adore them. When you are a SofC student, you should feel it is a privilege and you should be on your best behavior. If your not , you need to go back to your cities school. You no longer have that right anymore. Our school system is failing our children for this reason & many others.
Kurt Hack October 12, 2011 at 01:31 PM
Sandy G, I agree that there number of SOC kids can, and most likely does, have an effect on the quality of the system. In Clawson's case, being such a small district to begin with, I think they may be trying to find funding any way that they can to stay alive. As to why the dilution of SoC kids to in-district kids has an effect, I suppose there are many reasons. I would tend to think that in-district kids\parents has a little more sense of ownership to the school that they are going to. This combined with what the societal norms are from where the SoC originates from probably have the largest influence. To your point about lack of discipline or sense of entitlement, I tend to fall more on the side of looking at the parenting or homelife of that child. I, personally, believe that most children haven't yet developed the capacity to understand the privilege of going to their non-home district. While teenage narcissism and angst is difficult to contend with as parents, we can only hope they eventually outgrow it! :-)
michael J October 12, 2011 at 02:26 PM
What is Great about this issue there is no name calling or short fuses. Ppl here only talk in a public school way. Double Dipping, tax avenue, etc.The school tax is for education,does not cover after school activities. The funding does follow the student, as of yet, does it across county lines?, ThaT is on the govr's desk with 8 or more other bills. The tax does not pay for the infrastructure of after school activities. for give me but it is like a fast food reast. drive in and go to class, if not claw. any wheres but where they live, looks greener. After school, hang some wheres, till we get off work, a teen hanging is an idle mind, the teen center is on 4 days, But the oversr, is vol. her time for Fridays (the day, not reasturant) cause she knows what will happen to "them" I beleive, the Library that we are paying for the upgrades as I type, has seen their share of S of C hangers, enough to wave a yellow flag, it was kept as quiet as possible. yes the funding does follow the student, but not the ripple effect that over spills. 33% occupency, means the 900 computers, could of been 600., This should of been hashed out in the beginning, when the District decided to go sell their soul. at our expense, "fighting for their life" is such a good term, cause it is time to say, nomas, take the burden of trying to be a Big Boy, and merge, share the problems, this is only the beginning.......... oh the "Burger Castle" closed, oh there is another one over there,
Sandy G October 12, 2011 at 03:04 PM
I just want what is best for the children. Even the SoC students. They all deserve a good education. After all they are our future. As for discipline, I agree, it always starts in the home. At least I know it does in my home. I understand the funding, but not at the cost of my child. It is time to look at the school of choice and make it less and better.
Clawson Citizen October 13, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Yes! This thread is so refreshing with ADULT, no name calling etc in it! Thank you for the good straight answers too. I am just noticing a change in Clawson, I am mixed on how I feel about it. I do pay school taxes, even though I do not have kids anymore in school. So I am still doing my part too. I do not mind supporting my school district if ALL children are getting the exact same treatment. But I also know of some families who actually moved out because of some "favoritism" that was being shown to SoC students. They did go to/moved to Troy. Just a few years ago, I know for a fact families were pulling out of Troy schools EX: because IBO, etc. Now, it seems in reverse, which surprised me. If the whole state becomes SoC schools, this could turn children/families into "school jumpers", going from one school district to the next, if something doesn't agree with them. Just one fast example. Does Clawson even have a limit on SoC kids? Like the example of Troy? I hadn't thought of that one? I even heard a SoC child also complain of "kids" leaving, might have meant a SoC or Clawson child not sure, but there a grumblings for sure. How I was alerted to this at Clawson High School. But with so many empty homes, we are not getting all our school taxes until these homes are sold again too. I know we haven't hit the bottom of the housing market here. Why a possibility to look at some of form of payment from SoC families to help with our school district. Just a thought.
michael J October 13, 2011 at 03:18 PM
Clawson Citizen: That is so honest & pure, healthy, out pouring for debate,if that is TOO strong then discussion. There are several ave's I want to go down this morning.if too many then all the info gets souped together. Why do we have a school district? 2.2 sq. mile district, one of the smallest urban in the State, yet we want to be a BIG elbow rubber.Claw. is exactly what the Govr is aiming at when he says no district under 3.5 sq. in the urban area. (think, if we had 1 mile add on to each boundry) Frankli hlls, Huntington Woods, Pleasent Ridge, Beverly Hlls, to name the closest of coummunities, that DONT have their own school district they seem happy & pelpetating. We're told we need the District & DDA or our HOME values will fall. hUh?, don't look now. Every city listed above have neither. Some schools have a clause no new SOFC enrollment, above the 10th grade. so they are folded in gradualy. Govr. wants state wide, S OF C, any KID to any school, I think he is afraid of the LawSuites or some districts going private, which helps the state also. Part of his plan is to switch to Charter Schools, (getting rid of tenure) Beverly H. has 17 schools priv & pub they are all part of B'ham Dist. B'ham, says NO S OF C., residents only, see below,, along w/Blf'ld a TUITION rate is available,for both ttp://enrollment.birmingham.k12.mi.us/modules/groups/homepagefiles/gwp/1613447/1594340/File/BPSEnrollmentResidencyRequirements.pdf?sessionid=e2c3b11f637ecfdc5c2cb896da6ce7a9
Kevin Turner October 13, 2011 at 04:37 PM
As President of the Board of Education for Clawson Public Schools please allow me to explain the benefits that Schools of Choice brings to the district and to the community. The district keeps accurate accounts of what city students live in. The last numbers I saw 1278 children lived in Clawson and 536 were from other cities or a 70:30 ratio. The SOC children essentially fill in the empty seats. The SOC children bring with them the foundation allowance from their home district. For example, a child who lives in Ferndale would bring $7,710 which is slightly less than a Clawson child (7,889). http://www.senate.michigan.gov/sfa/Departments/DataCharts/DCk12_FoundationHistory.pdf (part 1)
Kevin Turner October 13, 2011 at 04:38 PM
The additional students allow the district to continue to operate without any loss in programs. The district would look drastically different if it had only 1,200 students! It balances our enrollment and has kept us financially sound in these tough economic times for our schools. A recent independent financial audit confirmed our sound financial footing. As for SOC children behaving worse, the evidence doesn’t support this. Several studies have been done, including one by the district a few years ago that looked at discipline issues and where the child was from. In every study, the percentage of children with discipline incidents closely matched the population. So, 70% of our discipline issues were from Clawson children and 30% were from SOC. Kids will be kids, no matter where they are from. (part 2)
Kevin Turner October 13, 2011 at 04:39 PM
In fact, CPS can be more selective in who is allowed to enroll as SOC. If a child’s parent moves to Clawson, CPS is obligated to enroll that child. If the same child attempts to enroll as SOC, CPS can and has denied enrollment if there are discipline issues in the child’s background. The process to enroll as SOC changed several years ago and the district has denied many students who would not fit our culture. One benefit to the community is that some parents who send their children to CPS schools eventually buy a home in the community. I know of one family who has 6 children enroll because the district allowed the father to enroll his kids when they were living in Royal Oak. The children are current and past leaders in their high school. We also looked at where Clawson parents send their children to school. 86% of all Clawson children attend CPS, 8% attend private schools and 6% attend another public school. http://www.clawson.k12.mi.us/files/_CRBcO_/0261bb16b9bc72053745a49013852ec4/state_of_schools_2010.pptx There is talk at the state level of expanding SOC so that any child can attend any school. I’m not sure how far that will go, but SOC, if managed well, can be a great way to bring in additional revenue so that programs are not cut due to shrinking enrollment and declining state revenues. (part 3)
Kevin Turner October 13, 2011 at 04:43 PM
the link above is not working, see the district's site: http://www.clawson.k12.mi.us/pages/Clawson_Public_Schools/School_Board and under News, select the "Board President Delivers State of Schools Address"
Kurt Hack October 13, 2011 at 04:46 PM
Thanks for that, Kevin! I was just about to ask if we had real statistics to work with as we armchair quarterback your board's decisions. :-)
cw October 13, 2011 at 07:15 PM
Thank you for the statistics! I appreciate the information. As for the comment about Bev. Hills, Pleasant Ridge, etc. not having their own public schools, I don't have actual statistics, but I would guess that the vast majority of the students in those cities are going to private schools. Those are pretty wealthy areas for the most part. Clawson is not, nor ever has been on par with those types of communities. Beverly Hills also does have at least one private elementary school within its city limits. Not everyone wants to or can afford a private school, especially in Clawson. (I know that some people make the sacrifice, that is not the debate. It is simply that Clawson and Beverly Hills cannot be compared to one another)
cw October 13, 2011 at 07:21 PM
I don't know how you can possibly think that the condition of our schools, play fields and downtown area WON'T affect housing. Why on earth would a young family want to stay in a city that is not allowing progress downtown, not maintaining its play fields and parks, and neglecting its schools??? Isn't that who we are trying to attract? When my husband and I wanted to buy a house & have a family, Clawson was one of our top choices because while we have always loved the area and we could also see additional progress being made. I think that the downtown IS making progress & it is obvious that there are many people and families that care very much about our schools and our community.
michael J October 13, 2011 at 08:09 PM
Kevin, I would not answer any other way, if I was in your shoes, your commended for doing so. I am not in your shoes though, we should not monday morning Q'back,(with a smile) we all should be good little clawsonites & do as we are told,? samo smao, or should we be coaches & scouts, like scout what other districts are doing. I guess my observations are not so wrong. We are looking for seat fillers, selling our souls. flooding the system, unwritten rule in B'sket ball never sub. more then "X" because it changes the chemistry of the game. other communities say NO,SofC. The district does not seem to be helping with after school day care for the older kids. thrown off on to the community, I do not have an offspring in this discusion. What I am hearing, BBQ's patio sitting, etc is Clawson families learn a lot, when their kids are in elementry, then they move b4 H S, I don't know if job change, or personal things they have observed. As far as some moving here, it certainly has not made a dent, But doesn't surprise me, were down to 100K and brick, so help me my neighbor.across, we were having an area tea fest, she is a C H S old supporter true & thru, she was talking about one of the 4closed homes sold, on the street, "yea & they don't know how to mow their lawn,lol.they start in the middle do circles, thats it, no edging, hell not even to the edge , her husband said O MY, I can see it now, my name is, get your mower, I want to show you how to use it, she is so religious, lol
cw October 13, 2011 at 08:47 PM
Clawson isn't alone in the Schools of Choice decision, in fact, I believe that the only exceptions are Grosse Pointe, Clarkston & Birmingham at one point, but I believe that has changed. Almost all of the metro detroit suburban districts are now schools of choice. I don't consider it "selling our soul" but keeping up with the times to maintain enrollment numbers. I agree with setting limits, however, it is what it is. Our district and most neighboring districts simply do not have the numbers to support their public schools. I don't think that closing more schools and lumping more and more kids into a building is the answer, so allowing some SofC kids into each district seems to be a good solution. As for the older kids not having daycare, I honestly haven't heard of it being a problem. I don't think kids hanging out anywhere is an issue as long as they aren't causing trouble, and I haven't heard anything to the contrary.
michael J October 13, 2011 at 09:43 PM
C W I did not look up every district I gave examples, to get others thinking, & investigating. Bloomf'ld is another. A Lansing mandate,was be part of or get lower amounts, so some did just enough, yes yr right, but u can't stop at yes or no, S of C needs to go into depth, not too far either. there'is S of C IN District, (where a multi H S's can be set up for different ciric, Science math in one arts more in other, thus don't need as many teachers, to cover both sch. then there is Cross district, Marine city, is very clear, IN district only, I took Marine City cause C H S just played them. Hazel park,gives COLLEGE PAID tuition for - graduating from H P, more depending how many yr's in city. (can not just do 12 th (?) as far as the other, a teenager in an area where he doesn't live goes where.? for 3 hr's till picked up by parents from work If u read above, I said it was kept QT, all city employees have Fri off, but one, She vol.her fridays.at teencenter I think she shamed the city into a plan, if not, then she is still not being paid, my friend this was on TV, library was at the budget meeting which is not on TV.now a yr or so ago u heared about the kid from Pont. who set one of our teachers hair on fire? that was QT Kevin Turner didn't mentrion that one, That is why the're screening The S OF C applicants which is good. as for selling souls, 8 mi walkers dont call it that either, they call it Survival, I wouldn't say that here if we had email.so don' beat me up ,
cw October 14, 2011 at 01:47 PM
I don't think I'm beating you up....I'm simply stating that Clawson needs the SofC students. I believe that restrictions would be good. I believe that the best system would be to allow kids in at the elementary level only & limit the numbers. As for the loitering SofC students, how do you know that they are SofC and not Clawson kids? Just curious. As a middleschooler I used to wait for my mom at the library because I hated being home alone & was too old for a latchkey program.
cw October 14, 2011 at 02:01 PM
Here is a list of Schools of Choice in Oakland County: http://www.oakland.k12.mi.us/Departments/GovernmentCommunityServices/SchoolsofChoice/tabid/235/Default.aspx It also appears that some districts do accept students on a tuition basis. Clawson is listed as only accepting in-county kids. I know some people had that as a suggestion, but it appears that limitation is already in place.
michael J October 14, 2011 at 02:31 PM
CW, I know cause it was brought up at C C meeting. on tv, and at a budget meeting, when the decission was made to > 4 days ....... I know very few would know about this cause only one non elected tax payer was at the Budget. C C also had each department hd, one to each meeting,to give a spiel and the teencenter overs'r came to CC, and spoke, she then went into the teencenter need please don't shut it down. She was asked by one council member how many S of C , and how many Claw, Res. it was like 2 or 3 were claw. all others were SofC ................. she is a person of color, VERY Articuate (?) calming, was not rattled by the questions, fielded all of them very nicely, it was easy to see how she could handle the teens. During that spiel, she brought up at taking preasure off the library, I bet you as a youngen were well behaved, under the mom's threat you have to do this we can't afford....... words to that effect. C W, I was the sole custodian of my 3 sons back in the 70's. to get to priv.sch B'Ham, they took the cab to the bus stat. the drivers put .25's in the pool table for them, they then took the bus to B'ham, I started at 7, 24 miles away, could not miss, I then did an agreement with cab co, for X amount, 5 days a week, so they could have one less step in their day, they all played sports so afternoon was a lock, so I do relate, mom's now days drive them as close as 1 block away. but my info on stuff is all public, just that ppl don't follow till they are surprised.
j l scha October 14, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Hey Kev.HI to the Family too much lying by omission or political or criminal assperations (FACTS STRONG ARM ROBBERYS NO AP CLASSES INCORRECT ADMISSIONS TO CASA (ROBBERYS) FERNDALE CHECK OTEC CHECK ADMISSIONS GPA STUDENTS UNABLE TO READ COMPUTER SCREEN IN EMEARGING TECH CLASS (Sorry about spelling tears in my site for our students) no other system wants our legacy massive amount of management test scores no cursive skills no metric skills and dont let residents use up valuable positions on sports team those are for sale and pay to play is not issue those spots are worth 7000 dollars each plus scholarships that go unused second year of college ,check all this info out. Oakland does not even clawson male students undereducated with act scores in 30ts check it out KEV MICK JOE THANKS FOR VOLENTERING JOE more blurred vision
micheal j October 15, 2011 at 02:43 AM
there is no name calling because canseeallsides, m smith, and many others are not responding they must have moved education for our kiddies is important, not the ball parks
michael J October 15, 2011 at 02:53 AM
cw I didn't say you were, beating me up, I think I said don't beat me up for my last sentence. After all started this discussion, and thanks for finding the oak. co. I was looking on the states site I sent mine to private so they would rub elbows w/ the kids whose first words were College, & it oozed from the dinner table, So your preaching to the choir, about the future, I at no time ever said to do with out the schools. just we are too small to do what it takes, some thing will have to give, or there will be more lot more homes for sale., in 2008 we were 6th highest taxed city out of 31 cities in Oak. Co. the lowest was Bloomfield Hills. we added the school comp's and library since then, now we are looking at the headlee over ride, which has to be more then it was or we will stay at 4 days, so we will have to ok one whopper, or severa smaller increases, for a certain amout of time? I don't know about you I haven't gottten a raise since 2007 .
John L. October 17, 2011 at 02:32 PM
The wording in this "j l scha" response sounds a lot like Michael J. Interesting.
michael J October 17, 2011 at 05:08 PM
I would think you'd be more concern about the fact Clawson Tax, is 5th highest of the 31 cities in Oakland county, school tax is right there, and DDA is THE Highest of the 9 cities w/a DDA Is that clear enough? .Do you need a hearing aid? sounds like, but different for sure.
Ehmelle November 01, 2011 at 08:43 PM
One right here on our block on Key West and as a neighbour watching such conduct, we reported it to the school and the school then made the necessary changes. She no longer has serveral kids being dropped off in the moring or the BUs service coming to her front door. She claimed she was a daycare! I guess the daycare is out of business because the kids don't go there anymore. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY AS A RESIDENT who knows of such goings on to report it. Call the school with the vicinity and they have all the addresses of each kid along with the bus route. They will tackle the problem...don't get into it with a irresponsible neighbour that has no problem cheating the system.
Ehmelle November 01, 2011 at 08:53 PM
You can all the tax money handed to you on a platter it doesn't change the values within a community. Many people, many values all vying for the different things! Stellar fields is not what keeps kids in Clawson schools. Why would it when only a few kids truly excell at athletics or are athletically inclined? In my opinion it is the advance academics, innovative teaching methodologies, excellent teachers, open minds, and a supportive community. Not blue collar-red-neck-thinking that wants to keep it a samll quant town and for what? Because it looks good in print????????
Ehmelle November 01, 2011 at 09:00 PM
SANDY G.... ....people having the option to go where they want regardless of socio economic distinction and that is a great thing. Lets face it we don't want to be near someone from a poorer community is may spread like a bad virus and get us all sick.... "Can't have that kid near mine as I worked hard to be in this social class and now my kid is in with an inner city kid, that can't be."....stop the hatred and bigomy and realize the kids just want to learn and maybe just maybe your kid has a problem in attitude. I don't know many inner city kids that aren't grateful. I think people jump because they are ignorant. I think they are teaching their children when times are tough just run from the problem.

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