He’s Ba-a-a-a-a-ck (Unfortunately)

Fresh off the campaign trail, after cheating by using taxpayer-funded vehicles to push his preferred candidates onto the city council, Mayor Eric Haven apparently now has more time on his hands to use (and abuse) the city manager’s weekly email list. This time, Haven is extolling the virtues of Bill Basinger and Jennifer Radcliff while warning you of . . . the “others.” Ooo, those others. Bad, bad people, they are. (Read that in your best Yoda voice.)

Using Thanksgiving as an excuse, Haven invaded our email boxes this week to talk about two people that he calls “visionaries.” If you’ve lived here for a while, you immediately recognized this as one old guard member stroking other old guard members while at the same time not wasting any opportunity to warn you about shadow people who threaten to bring a dystopian future that Haven and his buddies need to protect you from. To prove his ominous point, Haven uses phrases such as “protecting,” “good defense,” “great offense,” “specter of an expanding township engulfing the pristine village,” “dread[ ],” and “existing pressures to take our hometown and turn it to someone else’s benefit” (without naming names, of course).

Divisiveness, thy name is Haven. (The phrase “one-trick pony” also comes to mind.)

So, let’s talk about Basinger. Haven seems to suggest that Haven was just a young whippersnapper watching and learning from Basinger’s antics, but a quick internet search reveals that Basinger is only three years older than Haven. I’ve always found it humorous that Haven and others like to add the phrase “Assistant Attorney General” when mentioning Basinger’s name in what is clearly a naked attempt to boost Basinger’s credibility, even though he’s been retired for a long time now and has no title. For people who’ve worked inside the government and know better, that title simply means that Basinger was one of large number of staff attorneys assigned to either a division within the Attorney General’s office or to one of the many departments within the state. As of this writing, there are 250 people who have the title “Assistant Attorney General”:


The group of former assistant attorneys general probably number in the thousands. (But hey, Basinger might have seen the actual Attorney General at a Christmas party, so there’s that.)

Honestly, I had no clue who Bill Basinger was until he sent a letter to everyone in Clarkston (except me) attacking me for appealing my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case and because I made a small contribution to the city council campaign of someone Basinger didn’t like. (I’ve attached that first Basinger letter here: 20171101 – Basinger letter.) Basinger was an equal opportunity jerk in this first letter – he also attacked Ed Adler, Robert Roth, former councilmember Scott Reynolds, and former mayor Steve Percival. And shocker! Basinger also supported Haven’s candidacy. (See how the mutual admiration society works in Clarkston?)

Insulting the intelligence of the reader, Basinger claimed that the issues in my FOIA case were “too complex” to address in the letter (🙄) but you should be sure to defer to the “experts” on the board of the “Michigan Municipal League Legal Defense Fund.” (Um, the “too complex” issue in my case was whether a public official could hide Clarkston records in a secret, off-site file and claim they weren’t public records under Michigan law. There, fixed it for you, Basinger.) Basinger’s letter referred to “an unprecedented threat to the character of our community,” which is the same type of pablum that Haven regularly vomits out. Ah, yes. The ever-present threats that these daddy-types need to protect us from. Anyone who disagrees is an enemy to be feared, and these enemies (otherwise known as your neighbors) purportedly want to destroy everything that the old guard tells you that you must hold dear.

Basinger also wrote a second letter that was apparently supposed to be posted on a now-defunct website called “Clarkston Matters.” My favorite part of the post – that was put up and removed from Clarkston Matters so that the content could apparently be sent instead in a letter to every Clarkston resident (except me of course) – was Basinger’s reference to my “very doubtful to succeed application to the Michigan Supreme Court.” (About that prediction from the very-learned Basinger . . . 😂 😂 😂 . . . I won.) Basinger also had Haven’s back after Haven’s secret mayoral campaign was discovered (https://www.clarkstonsecrets.com/november-2018-election/) – Basinger and Haven’s other friends worked to get the charter language changed so that what Haven did isn’t a problem anymore.

Fun facts: Clarkston Matters is also the name of a short-lived Political Action Committee (PAC) established by Jordan Bellant (Campaign Finance – Oakland County Clerk). Who is Mr. Bellant, you might ask? That would be City Manager Jonathan Smith’s son-in-law (though this short-lived PAC was apparently dissolved before the wedding). The Clarkston Matters website never got any real traction, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Current Historic District Commission member Melissa Luginski (wife of current council member Joe Luginski) tried to drive traffic to the Clarkston Matters website (20181029 – Luginski Facebook post). Not happy with just attacking me, the “The Man of La Wompole” post that Luginski linked to was a very lengthy and vitriolic attack on fellow resident Cory Johnston. Surprise!  Luginski (and Clarkston Matters) also supported Haven’s candidacy. (Actually, come to think of it, that should not be a surprise to anyone.)

This brief trip down memory lane is to give a heads up to new Clarkston residents – you should be aware that these people all know each other, they scratch each other’s backs, and they coordinate their attacks on people that they don’t like, often in secret. You won’t have any problem with them – until you do something they don’t agree with or express an opinion they don’t like. Then the masks quickly drop, and the knives come out. I used to be uniformed and uninvolved too – like many of you, my life was so busy that I didn’t take the time to learn who was on city council, didn’t usually vote for any of them just for the sake of voting, and I was oblivious to what was happening in our local government. My eyes were opened when many of these old guard hacks supported attempts to destroy my husband and me personally, financially, and professionally – all because we insisted that they should not have unlawfully closed a public meeting or be permitted to keep secret files of Clarkston records in off-site locations.

Basinger’s letters prompted me to look into his background, and unlike Haven, I wasn’t impressed. I responded to Basinger’s attacks on me here:  https://www.clarkstonsecrets.com/william-basinger-expert-in-everything/. And the Oakland Press wrote about Basinger (and other familiar names) here: 20151030 – Clarkston sued, accused of favoritism after rejecting re-zoning request for proposed new restaurant – The Oakland Press.

Awesome, huh?

Funny how Haven claims that Basinger wanted to “protect” us from “chain food dispensaries,” but how is that defined? Because Haven has had no problem bowing low to the company that owns three of the five restaurants in town, and he didn’t care a whit when affected residents complained that the traffic from the opening of the third restaurant destroyed a lot of quiet neighborhoods because the city council did nothing to ensure that there was adequate parking available for patrons before that restaurant opened. Oh, wait. Haven doesn’t live near downtown (or in the historic district), so the traffic and noise are not a problem for him, and the three restaurants are owned by someone Haven likes. That’s all that’s necessary.

And what about Basinger’s ostensible campaign to prevent “commercializing our homes into cute boutiques”? Haven recently voted for just such a thing to take place. The Residential Planned Development District ordinance (RPDD) allows for 10% commercial development within residential neighborhoods. Haven voted for this at the first reading of the ordinance, claimed to have had a change of heart by the time of the next meeting, and unsuccessfully moved to get the 10% option removed. Unlike the short-term rental ordinance that failed because it didn’t get four votes that same evening (even though the city is pretending it actually passed 😂), Haven could have stopped the RPDD ordinance dead in its tracks if he’d really wanted to do so. If Haven had voted no, the RPDD ordinance would have failed for lack of four council member votes. The RPDD most definitely allows “cute boutiques” in residential neighborhoods. So, has Haven helped to create the future that he claims we should dread? Yes, Virginia, he has, so I think it’s time for Haven to stop pretending otherwise.

As for Ms. Radcliffe, beyond my general distrust of anyone that Haven endorses on general principle, I honestly don’t have much to say about her and don’t think we’ve ever met. She’s apparently close to Haven because she signed one of Haven’s petitions for mayor when he was running his secret campaign in violation of the city charter, but she signed along with lots of Haven’s other old guard friends (including Basinger) –  2018 Haven nominating petitions. Haven was elected mayor on November 6, 2018 and nominated Radcliff for a spot on the Historic District Commission twenty days later on November 26, 2018. If there are any conclusions to be drawn from that, I’ll leave it to you.

I can’t wait for the next Haven essay. 🙄 How about you?

  • As usual, Haven has little understanding of how municipal entities work, or history. The township would not have expanded by “engulfing the pristine village” as a village is by law and definition part of a township. The village was platted and named in 1842 but not officially incorporated as a village until 1884. It remained part of Independence Township until it incorporated as a city in 1992. Townships were established by Congress in 1825 and Independence was named in 1834, prior to village’s existence.
    All of this raise the issue of why all the “city of the village of” signs say it was established in 1832 since it had no name and did not exist at that time.
    It seems Haven likes to praise the historic aspects of the city only when he can misstate them to suit his purposes. Everyone may also want to realize that the political and economic conditions today are not the same as they were 30 years ago so using old arguments may not be relevant to his current fear mongering.
    It is worth noting that the all the city’s major services come from and are controlled by surrounding Independence Township including, police, fire, sewer, water, library, schools and more. Residents of the city don’t even have a vote on police, fire, sewer, and water. So much for greater control versus trying to work together.

    I do recall Clarkston Matters but not the post referenced by Melissa Luginski. Not sure how I could have missed it. Perhaps it was so meaningless that I gave it a retention score of zero.

    As to Ms. Radcliffe, she built her house and moved another one to their current location on Main Street in the 1970’s. She has admitted that her house does not meet the historic guidelines that are now used, and she is a member of the commission that makes those determinations. Of course, when she built her house, there was no historic district and no commission, just like when all the other “historic” buildings were created. The current office building that she moved to Main Street was not historically here so that raises all sorts of questions about maintaining the historic sanctity and authenticity of Main Street.
    She is opposed to the commercial use of the property next door to her, even though it existed, was occupied, and used long before she moved here. She doesn’t like that it occasionally has live music. Her daughter has also complained about this even though she doesn’t live here but considers the adjacent commercial property her “childhood backyard” even though it has never been her backyard or that of her parents. Go figure.
    I understand that Ms. Radcliffe has complained to Mayor Haven who has tried to intercede against the legal use of adjacent commercial property. On the other hand, she could have built her house somewhere else, especially when she admits it does not follow the guidelines they now want to impose on everyone else.