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E-M:/ Running for Oakland County Drain Commissioner

Enviro-Mich message from "Maryann Whitman" <maryannwhitman2@hotmail.com>

I don't know if this is an appropriate forum, but it seems to me that this 
fellow is saying something worth listening to.  What do you think?  MW

John Levin 2000
One North Saginaw
Pontiac, MI 48342
Tel. 248-338-0666
Fax 248-335-8682

Running for Oakland County Drain Commissioner, Democrat


John E. Levin, MPH, CEBS is a commercial leasing and sales agent for 
Accurate Appraisal and Realty in Pontiac.  Born in 1951, Mr Levin grew up in 
Huntington Woods.  He attended Oakland University where he earned a B.A. in 
psychology, and he attended the University of Michigan, where he earned a 
masters degree in public health.  He has worked in the field of medical care 
quality assurance and cost containment.  He has worked in managerial 
capacities for the Michigan State Medical Society, Blue Cross and Blue 
Shield of Michigan, and for the Mutual of Omaha Companies.

Mr. Levin's community involvement presently includes service as President of 
the Shaker Heights Subdivision Association and as President of the United 
Home Owner Associations of Bloomfield Township (UHOA).

1. Why are you running for this office?

I have had a longstanding interest in water quality issues.  I believe that 
Michiganders, situated in the midst of the Great Lakes, have a special role 
as stewards of the Great Lakes ecosystem. And I believe we can do a better 
job than we are doing.  To wit, the National Wildlife Federation gave 
Michigan a "D" grade for its handling of water pollution caused by runoff.   
There are 1.2 million people in Oakland County.  We use and discharge 
approximately one hundred billion gallons of water a day.   Our activities 
of daily living should not be a source of deterioration in the water quality 
of the Great Lakes. Indeed, one of the arguments put forward by those who 
would make Great Lakes water a trade commodity is that we, the residents of 
the mighty mitten,  have not been responsible stewards.  In other words, we 
may not impose restrictions to protect this resource if we ourselves are 
squandering it.  As Brennan Van Dyke an attorney on U.S. Senator Carl 
Levin's staff said in an article in "Hour Magazine" (Dec., 1999, p. 38) "You 
can't have one conservation standard for people in the basin and another 
standard for people far away."

For the first time in nearly three decades there will be a new drain 
commisioner.  This provides an opportunity for a person to bring a new 
emphasis and fresh leadership to that office.  I hope to be that person.

2. What makes you more qualified than your opponent(s)?

In my opinion the people of Oakland County are faced with two good choices 
for drain commissioner.  John McCulloch has a good background in auditing 
and finance and has experience in county politics.
John Levin has a background in public health and in program management and 
administration.  There are enough challenges that come with the office to 
occupy either candidate's strengths.

3. What key issues need to be addressed in this position, and how would you 
do that?

The powers of the Drain Commissioner are tightly circumscribed by the drain 
code (Public Acts 40 of 1956 and 104 of 1978) and related legislation such 
as the Inland Lake Level Act (P.A. 59 of 1995), and the Soil Erosion and 
Sedimentation Control Act (P.A. 347 of 1972).  This is largely an 
adminstrative, not a legislative, position.  Nevertheless, the drain 
commissioner is in a position to do some relationship building and to exert 
some affect on policy direction.  Three issues with which I would concern 
myself are:

1) RAISE THE STATURE OF THE OFFICE-  The name "drain commissioner" suggests 
an office which concerns itself with counting manhole covers and making sure 
that the ditches don't overflow.  This name is innaccurate and misleading.  
The number of issues which flow through the drain office and the 
interweaving of applicable legislative, policy, jurisdictional, and 
political matters make this office a very important place of business.  I 
would seek to raise the stature of this office by promoting its true face to 
local, state, and federal entities as well as the general public.


Until recent decades the approach to stormwater management has been to 
quickly eliminate the inconvenience of excess surface water after a 
rainstorm.  This has been accomplished by the immediate channeling of water 
away from a given site.  But this approach results in the sudden 
accumulation and concentration of water volumes downstream, necessitating 
the construction, operation, and maintenance of a stormwater management 
infrastructure to prevent downstream flooding.  Besides requiring huge 
capital investments, this approach deprives the local area of its major 
source of groundwater recharge and carries runoff pollutants to our lakes.

In recent years there has been an emphasis on detaining rainfall where it 
has fallen for later discharge.  This allows for more control over the 
volume of water in the drains, but still eventually sends it away from where 
it has fallen.  This indicates, at last,  a shift from disposal to 
management.  I would like to work to accelerate the move from disposal to 
management.  I would try to accomplish this by supporting such initiatives 
as the Shiawassee and Huron Headwaters Resource Preservation Project.  I 
respond very sympathetically to the words of Nancy Strole, Springfield 
Township Clerk, in an "Oakland Press" article (6/4/2000, p. A-3) in which 
she says, "We need to get away, find another means for stormwater 
management, rather than just box it up and send it on downstream...or just 
scooping out your traditional retention and detention basins."


Illegal plumbing connections, illicit dumping, and reckless contamination of 
our streams and rivers is intolerable.  I would work hard to enhance 
enforcement of ordinances and regulations which pertain to such insults.  
The Oakland County Drain Commission already has a Storm Water Action Team 
which pursues violations of this nature.  I would want to learn more about 
how well this team is funded and otherwise supported within the Commission 
and the County government.


Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are a great source of public 
partnership and activism for water resources management.  Where reasonable, 
I would want to capitalize on their energy and commitment by working with 
them on pertinent issues and projects.  Such groups include the Michigan 
Groundwater Stewardship, Michigan Lake and Stream Association, North 
American Lake Management Society, American Water Resources Association, 
Clean Water Action, and various friends of particular rivers and watersheds.

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