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E-M:/ Running for Oakland County Drain Commissioner
- Subject: E-M:/ Running for Oakland County Drain Commissioner
- From: "Maryann Whitman" <email@example.com>
- Date: Wed, 01 Nov 2000 20:43:10 EST
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: "Maryann Whitman" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Enviro-Mich message from "Maryann Whitman" <email@example.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
Running for Oakland County Drain Commissioner, Democrat
JOHN E. LEVIN
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
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
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.
2) SLOW THE FLOW
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."
3) CLEAN THE STREAM
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.
4) SAY HELLO TO THE NGOs
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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