Council Caucus Sparsely Attended

Ward 5's Anglin sole attendee

Ann Arbor City Council Sunday caucus (Jan 18, 2009): Attendance at city council’s Sunday caucus was light: Mike Anglin, who represents Ward 5, had council chambers to himself. None of his colleagues on council or any members of the public attended. Several factors may have combined to contribute to the lack of enthusiasm for caucus on that particular evening, which is not a required meeting on the part of council.

It’s unlikely that lack of interest in the subject matter on the agenda affected attendance. Council’s agenda indicates that it will receive an annual update from the AATA’s board chair David Nacht. He will likely have something to say about WALLY (the proposed north-south commuter rail), the north-south high-capacity connector in the Plymouth-State corridor, progress on the search for an executive director, discussions about the future of the Blake Transit Center, fare increases, and perhaps he’ll also mention the roll-out of the new fare boxes set to occur later this month.

Council will also hear from Sue McCormick, director of public services area for the city of Ann Arbor, about the environmental assessment process for airport improvements.

There are also three site plans for residential projects on the agenda, each of which received a unanimous recommendation from planning commission, all by the same developer: 1012 Hill St., 833 East University, and 808 Tappan St. The three sites involve alteration of an existing structure that does not currently conform to zoning.

On Tuesday, council is also scheduled to hold a final vote on a proposed graffiti ordinance, the language of which has been altered since the initial vote.

Also on the agenda, an easement for public utilities from the Ann Arbor public schools for the Miller-Maple transmission water main project, which is located at Forsythe and Wines schools. Mayor John Hieftje had asked that it be postponed at the last council meeting, citing his curiosity about the public school’s apparent resistance to having an electrical conduit installed along the easement.

But likely counting among the reasons for Anglin’s solo performance on Sunday night is the revised council meeting schedule due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which shifts the meeting to Tuesday from Monday. Also, at least two councilmembers are traveling to Washington D.C. to attend the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States – Sabra Briere and Tony Derezinski.

Briere’s absence marked the first time since she began service on city council in November 2007 that she had not attended caucus – a streak The Chronicle can verify first-hand from April 2008 until now. (We began attending in April 2008, though coverage did not begin until September of that year.)

Her absence may have factored into others’ non-attendance as well, because Briere always brings homemade chocolates to caucus, which she hands around to colleagues and the public – think truffles and similar confections. As time permits, she may file a report for the Chronicle from D.C.