AADL Makes Infrastructure Investments

Library taps over $600K from fund balance for downtown entrance renovation, elevator repair, carpeting replacement; also, board hears from supporters of summer game, critics of communication efforts

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (July 21, 2014): Action at the July board meeting allocated in total nearly $570,000 toward three infrastructure projects, mostly related to the downtown library. A special meeting on July 29 added $75,000 to that amount.

Rachel Coffman, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Rachel Coffman spoke during public commentary to earn points in the AADL summer game. (Photos by the writer.)

Most of the funding was for renovations of the downtown library’s front entrance. The board authorized a $425,523 construction budget for that project at 343 S. Fifth Ave., which has been in the works for several months. The budget covers new doors, a redesigned facade, and heated sidewalks, among other changes. The construction manager is O’Neal Construction of Ann Arbor.

Also related to the downtown library, trustees authorized a $93,598 contract with Schindler Elevator Corp. to repair the public elevator, which has been out of commission since this spring.

A week after the July 21 meeting, the board called a special meeting for July 29 to address additional issues related to the elevator. The four board members present at that meeting voted to authorize an additional $75,000 for elevator work.

Because of the elevator repair work, the Friends of the AADL bookshop is now located in the main first-floor lobby of the downtown building, rather than its normal location in the lower level, which is closed. It’s been in the lobby since June 30, and is open all of the hours that the building is open. Books are sold at the circulation desk.

The third infrastructure project approved on July 21 was $50,000 for carpet replacement in parts of the downtown library, as well as at the branch located at the Westgate Shopping Center.

The money for all three projects will be taken from the fund balance, which stood at $8.17 million as of June 30.

In other action on July 21, the board approved five adjustments to the 2013-14 budget, for the prior fiscal year ending June 30, 2014. The adjustments totaled $96,300.

Public commentary was dominated by fans of AADL’s summer game – in part because they could earn points by speaking to the board. Other issues raised during public commentary included concerns about communication, outreach to underserved populations, the cost of renovations to the downtown library entrance, and the “purging” of reference books.

The board’s August meeting is canceled. The next scheduled board session is on Sept. 15. [Full Story]

Poll: Clear Favorite for Ann Arbor Mayor

Scientific poll by Public Policy Polling of 435 likely voters in the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary election indicates: Christopher Taylor 39%, Sabra Briere 19%, Stephen Kunselman 15%, Sally Petersen 13% and 15% still undecided.

From July 28-29, several Ann Arbor residents reported being polled by telephone about their preferences in the upcoming Democratic mayoral primary election. The Chronicle has obtained the results of that poll of 435 likely voters by Public Policy Polling (PPP), a North Carolina polling firm.

July 28-29, 2014 Survey of 435 likely Democratic primary voters by Public Policy Polling. <strong>Top Chart among all voters:</strong> Christopher Taylor (39%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (15%); Sally Petersen (13%); Undecided (15%).  <strong>Bottom Chart (if the election were conducted among those who disapproved of current mayor John Hieftje's performance)</strong>: Christopher Taylor (19%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (32%); Sally Petersen (20%); Undecided (9%).

July 28-29, 2014 survey of 435 likely Democratic primary voters by Public Policy Polling. Top Chart among all voters: Christopher Taylor (39%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (15%); Sally Petersen (13%); Undecided (15%). Bottom Chart (if the election were conducted among those who disapproved of current mayor John Hieftje’s performance): Christopher Taylor (19%); Sabra Briere (19%); Stephen Kunselman (32%); Sally Petersen (20%); Undecided (9%).

They show Ward 3 councilmember Christopher Taylor to be a clear favorite, with about a week to go before the Aug. 5, 2014 primary. Taylor polled at 39% compared to 19% for Ward 1 councilmember Sabra Briere.

Ward 3 councilmember Stephen Kunselman and Ward 2 councilmember Sally Petersen polled a few points behind Briere at 15% and 13% respectively.

The poll indicates that 15% of voters still haven’t made up their minds. Margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 4.7%.

The relatively large four-candidate field is attributable to the fact that no incumbent is in the race.

Kunselman was the first of the four candidates to declare his candidacy – before mayor John Hieftje announced last year he would not be seeking reelection to an eighth two-year term.

The PPP poll also asked respondents if they approved of the job that Hieftje was doing as mayor.

One of the patterns revealed in the analysis of the poll responses is that Kunselman would be a 12-point favorite if the election were held just among those voters who disapproved of Hieftje’s performance. But the poll indicated that only 27% of Ann Arbor voters disapproved of Hieftje’s performance.

A polling question that asked about favorable or unfavorable opinions of candidates – independently of an inclination to vote for them – showed Kunselman polling with the highest unfavorable opinion numbers, at 36%. But the “not sure” category for that question polled fairly high across all candidates, ranging from 29% to 43%.

The poll also included two questions about future growth – one about downtown development, and the other about the need for an improved train station. The poll indicated 46% support for the downtown projects that have been approved and built in recent years and 39% opposition. The need for a new train station polled at 52%, while the alternate view – that the current station is adequate – polled at 35%.

The content of the poll – which evinces some knowledge by its creator of the Ann Arbor political landscape – was not commissioned by The Chronicle or by any of the four mayoral campaigns. Tom Jensen grew up in Ann Arbor and is now director at Public Policy Polling, a firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. But Jensen still follows Ann Arbor politics. It was Jensen who put the poll together – out of his own interest. And it was Jensen’s voice that was used in the interactive voice response (IVR) technology deployment of the Ann Arbor mayoral poll.

The poll drew as a sample all those who’d participated in any primary election (Democratic or Republican) since 2006. Poll respondents included 32% Republican or other non-Democratic affiliation.

In a telephone interview, Jensen stressed that any poll result should be viewed with a lot of caution, especially with local elections. “I would definitely, as a pollster, encourage people to take caution in over-interpreting one poll of a low-turnout race in the middle of the summer. You’re definitely prone to more error.”

But based on the results of this poll, he said he was 99% confident that Taylor was going to be the next mayor of Ann Arbor.

Additional charts and some additional background on the polling methodology are presented below. [Full Story]

Column: Get Your Sign Outta My Yard

Kestenbaum in 2006: "You get to the point where any manifestation of the opponent is a personal attack on you. Your opponent's sign in someone's yard, My God! You know, it hurts."

Over the weekend, local attorney Laurie Longo brought to my attention a political sign placed on North Main by probate court candidate Julia Owdziej – who’s also the incumbent in that race.

This is the sign that was placed on North Main Street by the Julie Owdziej campaign.

This Photoshopped “art” took as its starting point a sign that was placed on North Main Street by the Julie Owdziej campaign. The alteration of the sign was undertaken so readers could be shown the physical dimension of the sign in context, without providing whatever publicity benefit that comes from having a photo of a candidate’s yard sign replicated on The Chronicle’s website. The bicycle is included for a sense of scale. The tagline is a Southern expression I grew up with that essentially means: Do not ask me what time it is, little one.

The incumbency is the result of a gubernatorial appointment made just two months ago, on June 2, 2014. And that forms a part of Longo’s objection to the sign – because it displays the text “Judge Julia Owdziej” in the context of the campaign tagline “Protecting the County’s Most Vulnerable for Over 20 Years.”

The sign seems to implicate that Owdziej has been serving as judge for two decades, not two months. Certainly if I were editing an endorsement op-ed that included a sentence like, “Judge Julia Owdziej has protected Washtenaw County’s most vulnerable for over 20 years,” I would move to strike the word “judge.”

I imagine some readers might agree with Longo’s conclusion – that because the sign is misleading (and violates Ann Arbor’s political sign ordinance), voters should consider other candidates instead. Other candidates in the race are: Jane Bassett, Tamara Garwood, Constance Jones, and Tracy Van den Bergh.

That conclusion is, I think, somewhat debatable. Some voters will likely consider that message to be, technically speaking, factually accurate – even if misleading – and within the latitude that is typically afforded political candidates who are trying to market themselves to voters.

What does not seem open to debate is Longo’s point that the billboard-sized sign was in obvious violation of the Ann Arbor ordinance on political signs – most clearly the maximum size for such signs, which is 4′ x 3′. [.pdf of Ann Arbor ordinance on political signs]

When I reached Owdziej by phone Sunday night (July 27), she indicated that the city of Ann Arbor had contacted the campaign about the sign and that the trailer to which it was affixed was to be removed on Monday. And on Monday it was removed.

That’s consistent with remarks made by all probate court candidates in response to a question posed about yard signs at a July 19 forum hosted by the Washtenaw County Democratic Party: They’ll remove signs that are in violation, if the violations are pointed out to them.

So in this final week leading up the election, I would first like to encourage all candidates – not just those in judicial races – to make sure they adhere to local laws on political signs. If you don’t know that you’re not supposed to have any signs in the public right-of-way or within 5 feet of a sidewalk (with some exceptions), then please read up on the details.

For readers, there are at least two options for addressing political signs that you think aren’t in conformance with Ann Arbor’s ordinance. Contact the candidate and tell them where the offending sign is, and ask them to remove it – or to explain why they think the sign is actually in compliance. A second option is to contact community standards by phone at 734.794.6942, or by email at communitystandards@a2gov.org. ​

Below are the responses that probate court candidates gave on July 19 to the question about campaign yard signs – as well as some thoughts of my own about yard signs, with a look back to a 2006 interview with Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum. [Full Story]

2014 Pre-Primary Finance: Donor Analysis

A look at Ann Arbor city council and mayoral campaign contributions through the lens of people who gave to multiple campaigns, and their ties to public bodies

A dataset analysis of pre-primary contributions to 11 different local campaigns for Ann Arbor elected office confirms some clear patterns among the donors. The primary election will be held Aug. 5, 2014.

Excerpt from summary report of a dataset of campaign contributions made to Ann Arbor local campaigns during the pre-primary reporting period for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary election.

Excerpt from summary report of a dataset of campaign contributions made to Ann Arbor local campaigns during the pre-primary reporting period for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary election.

The dataset was compiled by The Chronicle after the Friday, July 25 deadline for filing campaign finance reports. It includes contributions to the 2014 mayoral Democratic primary campaigns for the four candidates – Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman – as well as contributions to Democratic city council primary campaigns of seven candidates in three wards: Don Adams and Sumi Kailasapathy in Ward 1; Nancy Kaplan and Kirk Westphal in Ward 2; and Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen in Ward 3.

Contributors to those 11 campaigns appear to perceive city council candidates Don Adams, Kirk Westphal and Julie Grand as aligned with mayoral candidate Christopher Taylor – as well as with each other. And judged by their donations, contributors appear to perceive city council candidates Sumi Kailasapathy, Nancy Kaplan and Bob Dascola as politically similar to each other – and to some extent politically similar to mayoral candidates Sabra Briere and Stephen Kunselman.

Those conclusions are based on the 1,278 individual contributions totaled across all the campaigns (517 for city council races and 761 for the mayoral race). The Chronicle counted at least 312 contributions that were made by people who gave to more than one of the campaigns. Those 312 contributions came from 99 different people. Not typical of the contributions were those of 22nd circuit court candidate Veronique Liem, who gave money to seven of the 11 campaigns, including all four mayoral candidates.

The Chronicle also tagged donors in the dataset as current or past members of public bodies – like the city council, the city planning commission and the Ann Arbor District Library board. That exercise revealed that every current member of the library board made at least one contribution to mayoral or council campaigns. Taylor received contributions from five of seven library board members and Briere from one. Westphal received contributions from three library board members.

Stephen Kunselman has campaigned in part based on his endorsements from four current city councilmembers – all of whom contributed money to his campaign. Ward 2 council candidate Nancy Kaplan received contributions from the same four, plus a former councilmember.

When former councilmembers are included in the count, Taylor received contributions from a total of seven. Briere received contributions from four former councilmembers. Among council candidates, Westphal received the most contributions from current and former councilmembers – a total of seven.

The Chronicle initially compiled the set of data – for three city council races and the mayor’s race – in order to generate analyses of geographic trends and distribution of amounts that have been contributed to each campaign. Those analyses are presented in previous coverage: “Council Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps” and “Mayoral Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps.”

The dataset should be viewed with the caveat that data entry was done manually from scanned documents generated by the campaigns, so they include a range of spelling variants and other minor inconsistencies. In addition, The Chronicle’s institutional knowledge about donors’ background, even when combined with online research, is imperfect. Some donors in various categories might have been missed.

Below we present some of the patterns of contributions made by donors to the campaigns.  [Full Story]

Local Candidates Sketch Views on the Arts

| Twenty candidates attended a forum hosted by the Arts Alliance on July 23, held at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor and focused on the creative sector. The event included presentations by each candidate as well as opportunities for questions from the audience, and drew out policy positions related to the arts. [Full Story]

Council Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps

| According to reports filed with the Washtenaw County clerk’s office, seven Ann Arbor city council candidates in three contested Democratic primary races on Aug. 5, 2014 have raised a total of $57,877 in itemized cash contributions. The Ward 1 Sumi Kailasapathy raised $5,345 compared to $4,570 for Don Adams. In Ward 2 Kaplan's raised $16,314 compared to $12,419 for Westphal. Among the three Ward 3 candidates, Bob Dascola raised the most money with $7,385 in contributions compared to $6,595 for Julie Grand and $5,248 for Samuel McMullen. [Full Story]

Mayoral Election Finance 2014: Charts, Maps

| With a July 25, 2014 filing deadline for pre-primary campaign contributions, candidates in the Ann Arbor mayoral Democratic primary submitted paperwork showing total of $153,847 in contributions.Totals by candidate were: Christopher Taylor ($75,198); Sally Petersen ($44,495); Sabra Briere ($26,680); and Stephen Kunselman ($7,474). This article includes charts of each candidate's donation distribution as well as plots of donations geographically. [Full Story]

Column: Dave Brandon’s Fireworks

| In a rare moment of dissent, the University of Michigan's board of regents rejected a request from athletic director Dave Brandon for fireworks at two football games this season. With the athletic department now giving away tickets for free, columnist John U. Bacon writes that the program is at risk of failing to fill the Big House this fall – and that's when the real fireworks might begin. [Full Story]

County Concerned by Rise in Juvenile Crime

| An increase in violent crime committed by teens in Washtenaw County has spurred the need for additional funding from the county’s Child Care Fund. At their July 9, 2014 meeting, county commissioners have authorized using $642,707 to pay for a range of services overseen by the county’s dept. of human services. The county board also made mid-year budget adjustments, created a new board of health, and authorized putting a 10-year parks & recreation millage renewal on the Nov. 4 ballot. [Full Story]

Column: DDA Pay Increases, Open Meetings

| Earlier this month, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority executive director Susan Pollay received a 5% raise from the DDA board, bringing her annual compensation to $114,570. The procedure used by the board this year to award Pollay a salary increase appears to have been completely consistent with the requirements of Michigan's Open Meetings Act (OMA). However, that procedure was different from the one used to award raises to Pollay in each of the two previous years – of 8% and 6.7%, respectively. Decisions on those raises do not appear to have been made at open meetings. [Full Story]

July 21, 2014: Council Live Updates

| A common theme among several of the items on the council's July 21, 2014 agenda is infrastructure. That includes physical infrastructure – like roads, sidewalks and bridges. But it also includes legal infrastructure. The council will be considering a vote to put a charter amendment in front of voters for the Nov. 4 election. The amendment would establish eligibility requirements for elected officials, after a federal court ruled earlier this year that the existing requirements are not legally enforceable. Three land sale/acquisition items also appear on the agenda. [Full Story]

Kingsley Condo Project Takes Next Step

| A 22-unit condo project called 121 Kingsley West will be headed to city council, following a vote at the July 15, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor planning commission. The five commissioners who were present all supported the project, but it takes six votes for a recommendation of approval – so it will be forwarded to council with a recommendation of denial. Also on July 15, commissioners elected new officers. Wendy Woods replaced Kirk Westphal as chair. [Full Story]

July 21, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview

| A common theme among several of the items on the council's July 21, 2014 agenda is infrastructure. That includes physical infrastructure – like roads, sidewalks and bridges. But it also includes legal infrastructure. The council will be considering a vote to put a charter amendment in front of voters for the Nov. 4 election. The amendment would establish eligibility requirements for elected officials, after a federal court ruled earlier this year that the existing requirements are not legally enforceable. Three land sale/acquisition items also appear on the agenda. [Full Story]

Five Candidates Vie for Probate Judgeship

| Five candidates seeking to be the next Washtenaw County probate judge answered questions about themselves, probate law and general judicial philosophy at a candidate forum held July 7, 2014. Jane Bassett, Tamara Garwood, Constance Jones, Tracy Van den Bergh and recently appointed judge Julia Owdziej will appear on the Aug. 5 primary ballot. The non-partisan primary will narrow the race to two candidates for the Nov. 4 general election. Owdziej was appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Snyder just last month, on June 2, to fill the vacancy on the court left by Nancy Wheeler’s retirement. [Full Story]

Circuit Court Race: Conlin, Woodyard, Liem

| Last Monday, three candidates vying to fill a vacancy on Washtenaw's 22nd circuit court participated in a League of Women Voters forum. Pat Conlin, Mike Woodyard and Veronique Liem will compete in the non-partisan Aug. 5 primary, which will advance the top two candidates to the Nov. 4 general election. Conlin and Liem are local attorneys while Woodyard works in the Wayne County prosecutor's office. At the July 7 forum, the candidates fielded questions covered topics including: family, the visibility of the court and general judicial philosophy. [Full Story]

Court to Ann Arbor: Aren’t You in Contempt?

| A procedural issue on the Ann Arbor Ward 3 city council ballot counting question has been decided by a federal court as expected: The Michigan Secretary of State has been allowed as an intervening party in the dispute. Not necessarily expected, however, was the court's issuance of a show cause order that requires the city of Ann Arbor to demonstrate why the city is not in contempt of court. The court has essentially ordered the city to present an explanation for the fact that the city clerk sent out ballots to 392 voters that did not contain Bob Dascola's name – after the court had earlier ruled in a lawsuit that the city's eligibility requirements could not be enforced ... [Full Story]

Live Mayoral Forum: Affordable Housing

| A forum for Ann Arbor mayoral candidates was hosted on July 15 at 7 p.m. at St. Clare's and Temple Beth Emeth at Genesis of Ann Arbor, located at 2309 Packard St. Focus of the forum was homelessness and affordable housing. Competition for the Democratic Party’s mayoral nomination is a four-way race: Stephen Kunselman, Sabra Briere, Christopher Taylor, Sally Petersen. All candidates currently serve on the Ann Arbor city council. Kunselman and Briere are in the middle of their two-year terms, while Taylor and Petersen have chosen to run for mayor instead of seeking re-election to their Ward 3 and Ward 2 council seats, respectively. [Full Story]

Live from the Library: Ward 2 Council Forum

| The Orchard Hills-Maplewood neighborhood association hosted a forum on July 14 at 7 p.m. for Ward 2 city council candidates in the Democratic primary election, to be held Aug. 5, 2014. The Ward 2 city council race features current chair of the city planning commission, Kirk Westphal, and current trustee on the Ann Arbor District Library board, Nancy Kaplan. [Full Story]

Concerns Lead to Delay for Glendale Condos

| Four projects were on the Ann Arbor planning commission's July 1, 2014 agenda, but the meeting was dominated by one in particular: A proposed condominium development at 312 Glendale, the site of a former orchard just south of Jackson Avenue. Commissioners ultimately voted to postpone action until they can get more information about a proposed retention/detention pond. Three other projects were recommended for approval on July 1: (1) The Mark condos on West Liberty; (2) a rebuild of the Delta Chi fraternity at Hill and Oxford; and (3) an expansion of the Gift of Life facility on Research Park Drive. [Full Story]

Greenbelt Communications Plan In Progress

| At its July 3, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission discussed a plan to create an internship, drawing from students at the University of Michigan. The intent would be to help create awareness of the city's greenbelt program, by using social media and other strategies. [Full Story]

Council Candidates Live: Ann Arbor Dems

| The Ann Arbor Democratic Party hosted a candidate forum for all city council candidates July 12, 2014 at the Ann Arbor Community Center at 625 North Main Street. This article includes the audio broadcast from that event. Races in three of the city's five wards are contested. The Ward 1 race features one-term incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams, who is seeking elected office for the first time. The Ward 2 city council race features current chair of the city planning commission, Kirk Westphal and current trustee on the board of the Ann Arbor District Library board, Nancy Kaplan. This year’s Ward 3 contest features Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen, who are all competing for the seat ... [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Ballot Dispute: Michigan Wants In

| Michigan's Secretary of State has asked the federal district court to be allowed as an intervening party to an action that is current pending before the court – on the question of how to count ballots in the city of Ann Arbor Ward 3 Democratic primary. The Secretary of State's current position is that votes in the Ward 3 race that are cast with the incorrectly printed ballots should still be counted – if no replacement ballot is sent in by the voter. [Full Story]

Column: Greek Drama In A Public Park

| Chronicle editor Dave Askins urges readers to attend one of the upcoming performances of "Elektra," which is the Penny Seats Theatre Company West Park production this year. His pitch is not for Greek drama, but rather for Greek drama performed in an Ann Arbor park. The show will be performed over three weekends in July. [Full Story]

Column: Saying Good-Bye to Coach Mac

| Columnist John U. Bacon says farewell to Coach Mac McKenzie, who coached him as a youth and taught him much more than just baseball. McKenzie died recently, and Bacon reflects on his influence. [Full Story]

Mayoral Candidate Forum: CTN Broadcast

| The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area is hosting candidate forums for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary elections, as it does every year for local races. Competition for the Democratic Party's mayoral nomination is a four-way race: Stephen Kunselman, Sabra Briere, Christopher Taylor, Sally Petersen. The scheduled broadcast start time on CTN is at 8 p.m. today (July 9) and can be viewed as a live video stream in the embedded player below. [Full Story]

Ward 3 Candidate Forum: CTN Broadcast

| The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area is hosting candidate forums for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary elections, as it does every year for local races. This year's Ward 3 contest features Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen. Grand is a lecturer in public health policy at the University of Michigan Dearborn, and former chair of the city's park advisory commission. Dascola owns a downtown barbershop. He filed a successful lawsuit to be placed on the ballot this year. McMullen is a University of Michigan sophomore, who graduated from Rudolf Steiner High School in Ann Arbor. [Full Story]

Ward 2 Candidate Forum: CTN Broadcast

| The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area is hosting candidate forums for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary elections, as it does every year for local races. The Ward 2  city council Democratic primary forum features current chair of the city planning commission Kirk Westphal and current trustee on the board of the Ann Arbor District Library board Nancy Kaplan. The Ward 2 seat does not have an incumbent this year, because Sally Petersen is running for mayor, instead of seeking re-election to another two-year term on the city council. [Full Story]

Ward 1 Candidate Forum: CTN Broadcast

| The League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area is hosting candidate forums for the Aug. 5, 2014 primary elections as it does every year for local races. The Ward 1 city council Democratic primary forum features one-term incumbent Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams, who is seeking elected office for the first time. [Full Story]

Election Commish Live: Which Votes Count?

| On July 8, 2104, the Ann Arbor city election commission met to discuss the question of how to count votes that are cast in the Ward 3 Democratic primary election. This was a live broadcast of that meeting. In-person voting for the election takes place on Aug. 5, 2014. But the point in dispute concerns ballots that were printed incorrectly and sent to absentee voters. The question of counting votes has arisen because the ballots for the race were printed incorrectly, omitting the name of one of the candidates. Printed correctly on the ballots were Julie Grand and Samuel McMullen. However, Bob Dascola – who had filed a successful lawsuit against the city in order to be a candidate ... [Full Story]

July 7, 2014: Council Live Updates

| The Ann Arbor city council's July 7, 2014 agenda is comparatively light. It includes approval of a contract for animal control services with Washtenaw County, which is a new arrangement. A number of public services infrastructure items are also on the agenda, including the final approvals for three special-assessed sidewalk construction projects. The rezoning of four different Ann Arbor Housing Commission properties will be given consideration by the council, as well zoning and site plans for two non-downtown parcels. [Full Story]

DDA Acts on Infrastructure, Governance

| Much of the July 2, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board was devoted to infrastructure projects and organizational matters, as the DDA board restructured its committees and elected new officers for fiscal 2015, which began on July 1. The board awarded a $390,000 grant to First Martin Corp. for infrastructure related to an extended-stay hotel at Huron and Ashley, and granted a one-year extension to a $650,000 grant previously given to the 618 S. Main apartment project. The board also voted to give DDA executive director Susan Pollay a 5% raise, bringing her salary to $114,570. [Full Story]

Sunday Funnies: Bezonki

| In the July 2014 adventures of Bezonki, our feckless friend encounters a host of challenges while attempting the hose approach to art. This, of course, leads to some time in jail, an arduous trek across the desert of rainbow trees, some bartering with the natives, and what appears to be a strawberry daiquiri machine – or perhaps a bomb. With Bezonki, who can ever say? [Full Story]

Column: License Your Dog

| Ann Arbor's Fourth of July parade featured dogs as participants and onlookers. The piece is a photo essay of dogs at the parade. But it's also a reminder to dog owners to license their animals. Out of an estimated 30,000 dogs in the city, only about 7% have the required license from the city. The city will be using proceeds from dog licenses to fund its contract with Washtenaw County for animal control services. [Full Story]

July 7, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview

| The Ann Arbor city council's July 7, 2014 agenda is comparatively light. It includes approval of a contract for animal control services with Washtenaw County, which is a new arrangement. A number of public services infrastructure items are also on the agenda, including the final approvals for three special-assessed sidewalk construction projects. The rezoning of four different Ann Arbor Housing Commission properties will be given consideration by the council, as well zoning and site plans for two non-downtown parcels. [Full Story]