AAATA Preps to Shift Gears

Board takes first steps toward replacing CEO Michael Ford. Also: buses ordered amid uncertainty on hybrid vs. clean diesel; pension plan amended to include same-sex couples

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board meeting (Aug. 21, 2014): The meeting began with CEO Michael Ford’s formal announcement of news that board members and the public had already heard – that he was leaving the AAATA in mid-October to take the job as CEO of the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. Ford had formally tendered his resignation that day. The four-county area of the RTA includes the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland as well as the city of Detroit.

CEO Michael Ford listens to public commentary at the Aug. 21 meeting of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Board. (Photos by the writer.)

CEO Michael Ford listens to public commentary at the Aug. 21 meeting of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board. (Photos by the writer.)

Two items on the board’s voting agenda related at least indirectly to the leadership transition that the AAATA will be making. First, the board approved a resolution authorizing board chair Charles Griffith to appoint an ad hoc subcommittee to conduct a search for Ford’s replacement. The resolution approved by the board at its Aug. 21 meeting also authorized $50,000 for consulting services to help with the search.

Griffith said he has asked board members Anya Dale, Gillian Ream Gainsley and Eric Mahler to serve with him on the search committee, citing a desire to have a mix of board experience and geographic diversity represented on that group.

Second, the board approved the AAATA’s FY 2015 work plan, which will provide the basis for the FY 2015 budget. The budget will appear on the board’s Sept. 25 agenda for approval. The AAATA’s fiscal year runs from October through September. At the Aug. 21 meeting, Sue Gott credited Ford with developing the work plan, saying it would be valuable as a blueprint for the transition in leadership.

A major decision on the choice of bus technology might be made after Ford departs the AAATA in mid-October. Although the board approved a 5-year bus procurement contract with Gillig, and authorized an order for the first 27 of up to 60 buses called for in the 5-year contract, the board left the choice of drive-train technology open – between hybrid electric technology and clean diesel. The upfront capital cost difference is $200,000 per bus more for the hybrid technology. That final choice of technology will need to be made by the November board meeting.

Also at its Aug. 21 meeting, the board amended its pension plan to recognize same-sex marriages, which stemmed from a Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and the IRS ruling that resulted from that decision.

The board chose to delay approval of new service standards, which are a required element of AAATA’s Title VI compliance. The board can meet the Federal Transit Administration deadlines for submission of its Title VI materials if it approves the new service standards at its September board meeting.

Board members also received an update on the progress being made in a Michigan Dept. of Transportation environmental assessment of a project that could implement active traffic management (ATM) of the US-23 corridor. The project includes the idea of allowing vehicles to use the median shoulder during peak demand periods. The MDOT presentation included a visit from former AAATA board member Paul Ajegba, who is region engineer for MDOT’s University Region – a 10-county area that includes Livingston and Washtenaw counties. If The Chronicle publishes coverage of that presentation, it will be in a separate report.

The Aug. 21 meeting was held in the boardroom at the AAATA headquarters on South Industrial, instead of the usual location, which is the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library. The downtown library on South Fifth Avenue was closed in connection with the repair of its public elevator. [Full Story]

Push to Program Liberty Plaza, Library Lane

Ann Arbor park advisory group recommends one-year effort to program events at sites on downtown "Library Block," make recommendations to city council by October 2015

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Aug. 19, 2014): Liberty Plaza was the focus of two items that appeared on PAC’s Aug. 19 agenda: (1) extension of a fee waiver for events held at Liberty Plaza; and (2) feedback in response to city council action, which addressed Liberty Plaza and the potential park atop the Library Lane underground parking structure.

Paige Morrison, Colin Smith, Bob Galardi, Graydon Krapohl, Ann Arbor park advisory commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Paige Morrison, Colin Smith, Bob Galardi and Graydon Krapohl before the start of the Aug. 19, 2014 Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Regarding feedback on Liberty Plaza and Library Lane, PAC unanimously passed a resolution to form a subcommittee to study issues related to those urban parks, and to allocate or obtain resources to oversee programming there for up to a year.

Based on that effort, the subcommittee would analyze the outcome and deliver recommendations to council next year – no later than October 2015. This resolution, drafted by PAC chair Ingrid Ault and vice chair Graydon Krapohl, had been emailed to commissioners earlier in the day but was not available to the public prior to the meeting. [.pdf of Aug. 19, 2014 Liberty Plaza resolution]

The Aug. 19 discussion also included comments from Matthew Altruda, who programs the Bank of Ann Arbor’s Sonic Lunch weekly summer concert series at Liberty Plaza. Ault had invited Altruda to the meeting to describe that effort, which is widely cited as a successful use of Liberty Plaza.

Regarding the fee waiver, PAC voted unanimously to extend the waiver through October 2015 – coordinating with the subcommittee work on Liberty Plaza and Library Lane.

Both Aug. 19 items – the feedback to city council (but with no accompanying resolution) and fee waiver – had originally appeared on PAC’s July 15, 2014 agenda, but were postponed because three commissioners were absent at that meeting.

In other action, PAC recommended approval of three three-year professional services agreements (PSAs) for engineering services in the parks and recreation unit – with SmithGroupJJR, Stantec Consulting Michigan Inc, and Tetra Tech Inc. The amount was not to exceed $150,000 annually per agreement.

The commission also elected David Santacroce as chair for the coming year, replacing Ingrid Ault in that position. Paige Morrison was elected as vice chair. Each vote was conducted by “secret ballot” as stipulated in PAC’s bylaws. The one-year terms begin Sept. 1.

One topic that did not appear on PAC’s Aug. 19 agenda was a review of the proposed four-year extension on a University of Michigan lease of three parking lots at Fuller Park. The city council – at its meeting the previous night, on Aug. 18 – had indicated an interest in having PAC take another look at the lease renewal, but parks and recreation manager Colin Smith told commissioners that he didn’t have additional details on the request.

During deliberations on Aug. 18, mayor John Hieftje had recommended postponing council action until early October, in order to give PAC two meetings during which they could reevaluate the lease agreement. PAC had already recommended approval of the lease, after discussing it at their July 15, 2014 meeting. The parliamentary option chosen by the council was to postpone, not to refer to PAC.

The two council representatives on PAC – Mike Anglin (Ward 5) and Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) –  chose somewhat different points of emphasis in their characterizations of the council’s Aug. 18 action on the Fuller Park lease. When Anglin told commissioners that the council wanted PAC to review the lease again, Taylor stressed that the council action was “a straight postponement” – not a vote to refer the item back to PAC. He added that the council was interested in hearing if PAC has any further thoughts on the use of the site. [Full Story]

Shelton to Hear Motions in FDD Case

On his last day in court before retirement, judge Donald Shelton to hear three motions: (1) disqualify city attorney's office; (2) sanction city attorneys; (3) reassign case away from judge Timothy Connors

The footing drain disconnection lawsuit filed against the city of Ann Arbor in late February has taken several procedural turns over the last six months, with virtually no issues on the merits of the case yet resolved.

Abigail Elias, Stephen Postema, Irv Mermelstein.

From left: Assistant city attorney Abigail Elias, city attorney Stephen Postema and co-counsel for the plaintiffs Irvin Mermelstein. The photo is from the July 2, 2014 hearing on a preliminary injunction in the Yu v. Ann Arbor case, which judge Donald Shelton denied.

The latest procedural issues now appear set to be decided on Aug. 27, 2014 – judge Donald Shelton’s final motion day before his retirement.

The case involves a claim of unconstitutional takings – inverse condemnation. Plaintiffs in the case, Yu v. City of Ann Arbor, are three Ann Arbor residents who had their footing drains disconnected under the city FDD program.

The procedural issues that could be decided next week include a motion to disqualify the city attorney’s office from representing the city due to conflicts; a motion to sanction city attorneys for filing documents with statements that plaintiffs allege are not well-grounded in fact; and a motion to reassign the case to a judge other than Timothy Connors. All three motions were filed with the court on Wednesday, Aug. 20.

A dispute about whether those Aug. 20 filings were properly served upon the city is one of the issues Shelton could decide at the start of the hearing.

By way of background, the case was originally filed in the Washtenaw County 22nd circuit court and assigned to Shelton in late February. The city then removed the case to federal court. However, the plaintiffs moved for remand from the federal court back to the circuit court – a motion that was granted by judge Avern Cohn in late May.

When the case returned to the circuit court, plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, which was heard and denied by Shelton in early July. The city had filed a motion for summary disposition on June 9, which was originally scheduled for July 30. It was subsequently rescheduled by the city for Aug. 13, and then shifted by the city again to Sept. 18 – which is after Shelton’s scheduled retirement.

According to the court administrator’s office, the case will not officially be reassigned to a different judge until Sept. 2. However, when The Chronicle inquired with the 22nd circuit court’s central scheduling office, the staff indicated that the plan was to reassign all of Shelton’s civil cases to Connors. So the city’s paperwork scheduling of the Sept. 18 hearing specifies Connors as the judge. [Full Story]

Column: On Taking Time to Hear

This column is not about deer versus people. It's about corporations versus people. Also football. Even the U.S. Constitution.

At the Aug. 18 Ann Arbor city council meeting, anti-Israel activists left council chambers mid-session. Their parting shot was to contend that the council cared more about deer than about people. The reference to deer was an allusion to an agenda item that allocated $20,000 for development of a deer management plan. It was approved by the council in a unanimous vote.

But this column is not about deer versus people. It’s about corporations versus people. Also football. Even the U.S. Constitution.

This is the electronic time clock at the public speaking podium in Ann Arbor's city council chambers. The elements in red (except for the American flag in the background) have been digitally added. 

This is the electronic time clock at the public speaking podium in Ann Arbor’s city council chambers. The elements in red (except for the American flag in the background) have been digitally added.

First, here’s some background. On Aug. 18, the anti-Israel activists had not been able to address the council during reserved public comment time at the start of the meeting – because the council rules stipulate that preference is given to speakers who want to address an agenda item. A boycott against Israel was not on the agenda.

So during that comment period, the council heard from five people who spoke in favor of spending the $20,000 on a deer management plan. The other five reserved slots were taken by: Thomas Partridge, who was officially signed up to talk about the planning commission’s work plan (one of the attachments in the clerk’s report); two people who signed up to talk about revisions to the taxicab ordinance; and two people who had signed up to talk about the lease agreement with the University of Michigan for three parking lots at Fuller Park.

That meant that anti-Israel activists were not able to reprise their demonstration at the previous council meeting, on Aug. 7, when eight of their group were signed up to speak. On that occasion, nearly all the commentary was complete. But then chants of “Boycott Israel” led mayor John Hieftje to recess the meeting. And he eventually decided to have Ann Arbor police clear the room of more than 50 activists. In this case, “clearing the room” translated into two officers telling the group’s leaders – Blaine Coleman and Mozghan Savabieasfahani – that they and their group had to leave. And after a few minutes, amid more loud chants and heated statements, the group left council chambers under their own power.

The contrast on obvious display at the Aug. 18 meeting was between two types of meeting attendees: (1) those who wanted to address the city council about an agenda item; and (2) those who wanted to address the council, but not on an agenda item.

That’s not the contrast I want to focus on. I want to focus on the contrast between two speakers who were alternates on the waiting list for reserved speaking time – both of whom wanted to address the council about an agenda item.

The two alternates were: Larry Baird, an Ann Arbor resident who signed up to talk about the Fuller Park lease agreement; and Michael White, a representative of Uber who was attending the meeting to speak against regulation of drivers for hire. Baird was slotted ahead of White on the alternate list. [Full Story]

The 2014 Bezonki Awards: A Celebration

| Continuing a tradition that began in 2011, The Ann Arbor Chronicle recognizes remarkable people and organizations in this community with the 4th annual Bezonki awards. The 2014 Bezonki winners were honored at an Aug. 15 reception: Ryan Burns, Linh and Dug Song, the Finding Your Political Voice program, Mary Jo Callan, Tom Fitzsimmons, and Jeannine Palms. [Full Story]

New Citizen Participation Tools Reviewed

| At their Aug. 12, 2014 working session, Ann Arbor planning commissioners gave feedback on new guides that staff have developed for residents and developers, aimed at improving communication about proposed development projects. The "Citizens' Guide to Effective Communication" and "Developers' Guide to Leading Effective Citizen Participation Meetings" were drafted by planning staff, based in part on suggestions from the planning commission's citizen outreach committee. [Full Story]

Aug. 18, 2014: Council Live Updates

| Land use and development is set up to be a dominant theme of the Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, as it frequently is for many of the council's meetings. An additional highlight will be initial consideration of a change to the city's taxicab ordinance – in response to the entry of services like Uber and Lyft into Ann Arbor's market. Projects to be considered by the council include the State Street Village project, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission's North Maple Estates proposal and the 121 Kingsley West project. [Full Story]

County Explores Offering New ID Card

| A proposal to establish a county-issued ID card program is being reviewed by the board of commissioners, who were briefed on the recommendations of a task force at their Aug. 7, 2014 working session. A county identification card would allow residents who don’t have a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID to access services that require that kind of identification, like renting an apartment or opening a bank account. [Full Story]

Aug. 18, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview

| Land use and development is set up to be a dominant theme of the Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, as it frequently is for many of the council's meetings. An additional highlight will be initial consideration of a change to the city's taxicab ordinance – in response to the entry of services like Uber and Lyft into Ann Arbor's market. Projects to be considered by the council include the State Street Village project, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission's North Maple Estates proposal and the 121 Kingsley West project. [Full Story]

Column: Parking Oversight, Please

| What if on-street metered rates were raised a dime, and rates across other parts of the parking system were also raised by an equivalent percentage? In this column, Chronicle editor Dave Askins encourages the Ann Arbor city council to use its Sept. 8 joint work session with the Downtown Development Authority to ask The contractually stipulated work session would be a good opportunity for councilmembers to ask for metrics on Ann Arbor's public parking system. Requested information should include stats that indicate how well Ann Arbor’s public parking system supports three different key user groups: (1) downtown employees; (2) retail/transactional customers and visitors; and (3) downtown residents. [Full Story]

County Takes Action on Budget, Tax Levies

| At their Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners took initial votes to levy two taxes that would generate revenues for economic development, agricultural projects, and support of indigent veterans. They also approved allocations for six projects using $87,760 in Act 88 revenues. The board received a second-quarter budget update, with projections showing a general fund surplus of $211,920 for the year. [Full Story]

Platt Road Housing Project Partially Delayed

| Ann Arbor city planning commissioners took mixed action on a proposed Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC) property.They sent the rezoning request for the 3451 Platt Rd. property – R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district) – to the city council with a recommendation of approval. However, commissioners postponed consideration of the site plan for the five-building, 32-unit project, amid concerns about the site's location in the floodplain and stormwater management.The commission approved a change to its bylaws that would stipulate that speakers who have already spoken at a public hearing can speak at a continuation of that public hearing only at the discretion of the planning commission chair [Full Story]

Ending It: 6 of 1, Half-Dozen of The Chronicle

| On Sept. 2, 2014, The Ann Arbor Chronicle will observe the sixth anniversary of its launch. That's also the last day on which we'll publish regular new reports.The website will remain live, with its archives freely accessible at least until the end of 2014, possibly longer. There may be a special project or two that we will wrap up and eventually insert into the archives.The event listings will remain live, and it's our intent to maintain them into the future. [Full Story]

Aug. 7, 2014: Council Live Updates

| The Ann Arbor city council's election-week meeting is being held on Thursday, Aug. 7, instead of Monday. The agenda is relatively light, with many of the items dealing with land-use and zoning matters – which have an associated public hearing. The consent agenda is packed with renewals of contracts for various software packages and computer maintenance. Among the land development items are the Delta Chi project and The Mark condominiums. [Full Story]

How Ann Arbor Council Races Were Won

| This article includes the final unofficial results for the city council races, including maps and charts. In Ward 1 Sumi Kailasapathy received 1,113 (56.8%) votes compared to 840 (42.8%) for Don Adams. In the Ward 2 city council race, Kirk Westphal received 1,819 (59%) votes to Nancy Kaplan's 1,261 (41%). In the three-way Ward 3 race, Julie Grand received 1,516 (51.1%) votes compared to Bob Dascola's 794 (26.8%), and Samuel McMullen's 616 (20.8%). [Full Story]

By Precinct: How Taylor Won Ann Arbor

| Final unofficial results from the Washtenaw County clerk's office have confirmed the results of early, informal reports directly from the Aug. 5, 2014 polls: Christopher Taylor has won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Ann Arbor. Some observers felt the four-way race could be won with as little as 35% of the vote. Taylor achieved a near majority, but fell a couple of percentage points short of 50% city-wide. Taylor received 7,070 votes (47.6%) compared to Sabra Briere's 2,967 (20%), Stephen Kunselman's 2,447 (16.5%) and Sally Petersen's 2,364 (15.9%). [Full Story]

Judicial Races Winnow Choices for Fall

| Julia Owdziej and Tracy Van den Bergh will advance to the Nov. 4 election for Washtenaw County probate judge, following the outcome of a five-way race in the nonpartisan Aug. 5 primary. And in the 22nd circuit court race, Patrick Conlin and Veronique Liem prevailed over Michael Woodyard to advance to the Nov. 4 election. [Full Story]

Alea Iacta Est: Election Results (Aug. 5, 2014)

| This article provides early, informally reported results from the individual precincts for the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary elections for city of Ann Arbor mayor and city councilmember. These results include tallies for the mayoral primary, contested by Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman. Ward 1 results are for the race between Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams. Ward 2 results are for the race between Nancy Kaplan and Kirk Westphal. And Ward 3 results are for the three-way race between Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen. [Full Story]

Primary Election Day: Aug. 5, 2014

| As we have for the past few years, The Chronicle will be touring Ann Arbor polling stations on Election Day and providing updates throughout the day. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. This article includes reports from the field on observations made from some of the 48 different precincts throughout the city. [Full Story]

Column: Help Collect Early Election Results

| Unofficial results for Tuesday's local primary election races will be available on the Washtenaw County clerk's election results page. Polls close at 8 p.m. so the earliest results will start showing up on the clerk's website a couple hours after that. The Chronicle would like to improve on that "delay." We're asking regular folks throughout the city to visit a precinct after the polls close at 8 p.m. – and report the numbers from the publicly posted paper results tape. [Full Story]

Aug. 5 Primary: Procrastinator’s Guide

| Leading up to the Aug. 5, 2014 primary election, this article provides a roundup of Chronicle election coverage, for anyone who's still studying up on the candidates. It includes links to reports and recordings of candidate forums, campaign finance data, analysis and other information. Links are also provided to candidate websites and League of Women Voters candidate profiles. [Full Story]

Parks Group Weighs Fuller Parking Lease

| The main action item at the July 15, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission related to renewal of a lease for parking at a Fuller Park surface lot. PAC recommended that the city renew the lease for two years, with an additional two-year option for renewal beyond that. The agenda also included two items related to Liberty Plaza, which were deferred to a later date because three commissioners were absent. [Full Story]

Sunday Funnies: Bezonki

| In the August 2014 adventures of Bezonki, we watch some critters go on a bit of a romp, never noticing what's under their feet. Are they being chased? Just getting some exercise? Only Bezonki knows for sure – at the cost of an unwelcome surprise. [Full Story]

AAATA Gears Up for More Accessible Service

| The July 24, 2014 meeting of the AAATA board was the next-to-last one before the the Aug. 24 rollout of the expanded services that will be offered, funded by a new millage that passed in May of this year. The board received some updates on the preparations for that implementation. And three of the board's July 24 voting items were related at least indirectly to implementing additional services: approval of a plan for acquisition of 20 new buses; adjustments to the current fiscal year's operating budget; and approval of a tweak to the AAATA's mission statement. A prominent theme of the meeting was accessibility. [Full Story]

Aug. 7, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview

| The Ann Arbor city council's election-week meeting will be held on Thursday, Aug. 7, instead of Monday. The agenda is relatively light, with many of the items dealing with land-use and zoning matters – which have an associated public hearing. The consent agenda is packed with renewals of contracts for various software packages and computer maintenance. Among the land development items are the Delta Chi project and The Mark condominiums. [Full Story]

AADL Makes Infrastructure Investments

| 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. The project include renovations to the downtown entrance, elevator repair, and carpet replacement. Public commentary was dominated by fans of AADL's summer game – in part because they could earn points by speaking to the board. [Full Story]

Poll: Clear Favorite for Ann Arbor Mayor

| 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. The results 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. [Full Story]

Column: Get Your Sign Outta My Yard

| Chronicle editor Dave Askins offers his thoughts on campaign signs – after hearing complaints about a sign a political sign placed on N. Main Street by probate court candidate Julia Owdziej – who's also the incumbent in the race. The sign is overly large according to the city of Ann Arbor's ordinance on political signs. It has now been removed. Askins includes in this column all the probate candidate responses to a July 19 forum question about yard signs. Other candidates are: Jane Bassett, Tamara Garwood, Constance Jones, Tracy Van den Bergh. [Full Story]

2014 Pre-Primary Finance: Donor Analysis

| A dataset analysis of pre-primary contributions to 11 different local campaigns for local Ann Arbor office confirms some interesting patterns. The primary election will be held Aug. 5, 2014. 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. [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]