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Barnett Tells City's 'Great Story' in State of Rochester Hills Address

Mayor said he 'certainly would consider' running for another term as a write-in candidate.

In a venue he declared as having "the most comfortable seating of any state of the city address," Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett delivered a multimedia report card on the town to a crowd of about 250 supporters Wednesday night.

For the second year, the address was at ; guests were served popcorn and pop while they waited and appetizers afterward. Boy Scout Troop 356 led the Pledge of Allegiance and City Councilman Mark Tisdel sang the National Anthem.

Barnett took a few moments at the start of his address to thank his supporters for re-electing him last November — and to foreshadow his political future. Barnett is term-limited.

"I'm careful not to say this is my last term, because the city charter does allow me to run as a write-in candidate," he said. The audience applauded.

"Based on your support, I certainly would consider that."

A showpiece of the address was a yellow robot that greeted guests as they entered the theater. The Fanuc Robotics M-1iA helped illustrate Barnett's revelation that more robots are produced in Rochester Hills than anywhere else in the world.

The robot visited with Barnett before the address, he joked.

"He tied my tie. He picked out my outfit. He gave me a pep talk," Barnett joked.

Barnett's State of the City addresses are known for having themes (last year, the mayor built on the city's AAA Bond rating for a James Bond theme). This year, he compared the city to a game of Monopoly.

Like the board game, the city is always moving, it stays comeptitive, people are building houses here and are "generally trying to avoid jail," he said.

"We have a great story to tell in the community tonight."

Among the highlights:

  • The housing market: Last year, 116 new homes with an average sale value of more than $400,000 were built in Rochester Hills. "That growth is at the very core of what we're all about," Barnett said. "Nowhere in Oakland County was there more construction than in Rochester Hills."
  • Business attraction and retention: Barnett and representatives of the city helped cut 28 ribbons on new businesses last year, and the city attracted nine high-tech companies with 750 high-paying jobs to the city. "I believe most problems can be fixed by a good-paying job," Barnett said. The city's business vacancy rate is estimated to be 8 percent in 2012.
  • Jobs: The city's unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, the lowest in Oakland County, Barnett said.
  • The popularity of city parks: There were 1.2 million visits to the city's parks. A movie showcasing some of the park features was shown on the big screen in the theater.
  • The tax rate: At 9.7 mills, Rochester Hills is the lowest-taxed city in all of Oakland County, Barnett touted.
  • The happiness factor: In a survey of residents last year, when asked whether they were satisfied with their decision to live in Rochester Hills, 97 percent of residents answered "yes."

"Our biggest challenge is to continue to elevate our game," Barnett said.

Rubel Shelly, president of , was the evening's emcee.

He joked that the city and Emagine had been searching for the appropriate theater for Barnett's address and had considered the "drama and action room," the "comedy room" and the "theater reserved for horror flicks."

"Mayor Barnett personally vetoed that last one, as he thought it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy," Shelly joked.

Westland Mayor William Wild, a good friend of Barnett, introduced the mayor. "A lot of people in Rochester Hills may not know, but we're your unofficial sister city in Wayne County," Wild told the audience.

Several local political dignitaries sat in the audience. Among them: Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills; former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester Hills; Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard; Oakland County Commissioner Jeff Matis and Oakland County Judges Lisa L. Asadoorian, Nancy Tolwin Carniak and Julie A. Nicholson.

Scot Beaton March 15, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Kristin, Thanks for covering this event. Don't think I will have time to watch online; but I do have a few questions/comments: Kristin, was this a 'State City Address' or a 'State of the Mayor Address'? my opinion; I don't think this was the was the proper venue to announce future personal goals? In the past a 'State City Address' was low-key held at city hall... do the taxpayers pay to rent the Emagine Theatre, and pay for the popcorn and pop while they waited and appetizers afterwards? Among the highlights: Kristin, don't want to sound like a 'Debbie Downer' just trying to keep government honest. 116 new homes with an average sale value of more than $400,000... northeast end of town mostly from one sub...? what's the plan to 'up' existing home values? Business attraction and retention: Did our mayor mention Dan Casey, Manager of Economic Development; we very lucky to have Dan he's responsible for those jobs not our mayor. Did our mayor mention we spend up to 1/2 million taxpayer dollars every year retaining and creating private sector jobs. Same general fund dollars could go towards Cops or fix Streets. The popularity of city parks: Did our mayor mention he supported building water tanks in our parks? Riverbend Park, Nowicki Park and the land next door to Adams High School when I left council has remained in limbo, and our mayor has no plans to develop them. to be continued...
Scot Beaton March 15, 2012 at 07:27 PM
Kristin, The tax rate: At 9.7 mills... to retain that millage did our mayor mention that cost the jobs of three Oakland County Sheriff's. The happiness factor: Did our mayor mention this is a non-scientific survey... an Oakland University classroom project? Did our mayor mention that our 'tax' for Oakland County Sheriff funding is expiring this year... and a millage renewal will not retain the level of service we have today. Did our mayor mention we have a over $35 million local street maintenance, repair issue that has not been resolved. We have zero funding in the city to fix our streets. Did our mayor mention last year he failed to veto the destruction of a beautiful historic home, and a rezone on that property that will now allow 45,000 square feet of strip mall to be built there. note: out of 51,839 registered voters in Rochester Hills in the last election only 10,866 showed up and voted.. a pathetic turnout for a mayor's race... don't you think? Kristin, Thanks for covering this event. Scot Beaton former Rochester Hills Council member 9 Years 1988 to 1997 President, Rochester Hills City Council 2 Years
Scot Beaton March 16, 2012 at 02:38 AM
update: Dan Casey has moved on and his replacement is Pam Valentik... heard from friends in Troy she is going to be a great asset for our city.
Lee Zendel March 16, 2012 at 06:46 PM
The "survey" and the printed results are, in large part a farce, with some of the reported results reflecting the opinions of less than 3 dozen residents ! Next the so-called 1.2 million park visitors amount to every single resident of Rochester Hills, nursing home seniors, adults, children, infants, all 71,000 of us going to the parks an average of over 16 times that year. Dear reader- how many times did you use the city park system ?
lisa w March 17, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Ok we should all be keeping a close eye on city council and how they will amend the city charter to allow for barnett to be a write in or just run again. When is enough enough. I really think with using tax dollars to pay for a private state of the city address for only bryan supporters should be investigated along with investigating the relationship between campaign contributions and awarded contracts and positions in the city. What other city has their mayor on the city channel self promotiong or branding himself. Someone really thinks a lot of himself. Accountability of the mayor needs to be investigated as well. Like I said enough is enough. It's time to look at a recall. We are going to be left with nothing good in our city. By the way did anyone ask Bryan if his campaign contribution were completely filed from Nov election. There seems to be much missing just like on his signs that were missing who paid for them. I have one if the mayor would like to explain why he feels like he does not need to play by the rules. RECALL BRYAN BARNETT. Watch for the water tower issue come up again because that was only tabled not dismissed.
Carol Calley March 20, 2012 at 06:54 PM
To my knowledge this event was privately funded-not using taxpayer dollars. Why shouldn't the state of the city be a big deal? It's a celebration of accomplishments. Constant criticism and political games will only bring negative attention to the city in a time when Rochester Hills is making great strides. The above comments are broad and capricious. Unless you have solid evidence of any wrong doing by Mayor Barnett, it's best not to go around spreading things that are not true. It would be far more productive to use your energy for something positive in your community and further the mission of Rochester Hills.
Scot Beaton March 20, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Carol, Question? Do the taxpayers pay to rent the Emagine Theatre, and pay for the popcorn and pop while they waited and appetizers afterwards? After the Monday March 19th city council meeting; mayor Bryan Barnett assured me that all expenses for the 'State of the City Address' were covered by the Emagine Theatre, and others in our business community. No expense charged back to the city.  I also, since this post have talked to many residents who were in attendance that night, and they were quite turned off by his write-in-candidate comments, so I do feel my post in the Patch was appropriate. Carol thanks for you comments... just keeping government honest.

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