End of Road for County Transit Effort?

Ann Arbor city council considers withdrawing from new transit authority; Washtenaw board retracts support for regional transit

The expansion of transit services throughout Washtenaw County appears to be taking turn away from some specific approaches that have been intensively discussed for the last couple of years.

Act 196 Transit Authority

Possible action by the Ann Arbor city council this week could lead to dissolution of a newly incorporated Act 196 transit authority – called The Washtenaw Ride – just as it is emerging.

At its Nov. 8 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council is now scheduled to vote on the question of opting out of a newly incorporated countywide transit authority – an initiative that the city of Ann Arbor had been expected to help lead. With Ann Arbor’s withdrawal, this particular approach to expanding transportation services would be effectively ended.

Update: The Ann Arbor city council did decide to opt out of the transit authority, on a 10-0 vote taken at the Nov. 8 meeting.

And the topic of transit has already been raised at the post-election Nov. 7 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners. Dan Smith, a Republican who represents District 2 covering northern parts of the county, had been prepared to introduce two transit-related resolutions at the meeting, but wound up placing only one of them on the agenda. The one he brought forward was a proposal to rescind support for a metro Detroit regional transit authority (RTA) – which the board had given in September of 2011. Although board chair Conan Smith has been a champion of legislation to enable an RTA, Dan Smith’s resolution passed on a 6-4 vote.

More significantly, Smith had also considered bringing forward a resolution to dissolve The Washtenaw Ride, a new countywide transit authority created under Act 196 of 1986 when the county filed articles of incorporation last month with the state. [.pdf of resolution to dissolve The Washtenaw Ride]

The Oct. 3 filing was undertaken as part of a four-party transit agreement between the county, the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, which is leading this initiative. Since then, all but five of the 28 municipalities in the county have voted to opt out of the new authority. However, those that are still participating include several of the county’s largest population centers: Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and Saline.

Dan Smith’s resolution indicated that because so few municipalities are participating, the Act 196 authority should be dissolved. He held off introducing it, however, in part because of pending action by the Ann Arbor city council the next day. As The Chronicle reported in mid-October, Ann Arbor city councilmember Stephen Kunselman had said he planned to pursue the possibility of Ann Arbor opting out – because he felt he’d have the required six-vote majority after the new city councilmembers are sworn in on Nov. 19.

But now the city council will take up the issue of withdrawing from the new transit authority at its Nov. 8 meeting. And that withdrawal will be accomplished with the support of at least some of those on the council who previously advocated to expand the AATA’s governance and service area through incorporation of the new authority. A resolution on withdrawal of Ann Arbor from the Act 196 authority was added to the Nov. 8, 2012 agenda the day before the meeting – sponsored by not just Kunselman, but also mayor John Hieftje, and councilmembers Sabra Briere, Christopher Taylor and Marcia Higgins. That indicates the city council’s resolution on withdrawal is almost certain to pass.

Under the terms of the four-party agreement, once the city of Ann Arbor withdraws from the Act 196 authority, the city can terminate the entire agreement. The council’s resolution indicates encouragement to the AATA to continue to work towards regional transportation, but not with the mechanism of this Act 196 authority. 

Dissolving The Washtenaw Ride

The county board has never been unified in its support of the current approach to a broader public transit entity, an effort that the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has been working on for more than two years.

The county’s role in creating the transit entity was laid out in a four-party agreement with Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and the AATA, which commissioners approved on Aug. 1, 2012 in a 6-4 vote. Subsequent revisions involving the other entities resulted in the need for a re-vote. That second vote occurred on Sept. 5, 2012, and it also drew just six supporting votes on the 11-member board. Alicia Ping, Wes Prater and Dan Smith voted against it, and two commissioners were absent.

Commissioners had understood that the county’s only role in connection to the new authority would be to file articles of incorporation with the state under Act 196, which occurred on Oct. 3. But during their Oct. 17 meeting, commissioners learned that the county would be sending out additional notification letters to local jurisdictions about the new transit authority, called The Washtenaw Ride. That had come as a result of some disagreement between legal counsel for the various parties about when the 30-day opt-out period actually began – upon incorporation, or at some later time. For the county to send letters prompted concern among some commissioners, including from those who had opposed the county’s participation.

Since the incorporation of the new authority on Oct. 3, 2012, the second wave of letters has not been the only glitch. Another challenge was the composition of the new authority’s board. The initial expectation had been that the seven current members of the AATA board would also serve on the 15-member board of the new transit authority. But when views of legal counsel to various parties diverged on the ability to render simultaneous service on the two boards, the city of Ann Arbor elected to pursue a strategy of appointing different board members to the new authority. That appointment process is already partly underway.  [See Chronicle coverage: "Positions Open: New Transit Authority Board" and "Ann Arbor Mayor: Need Transit Board Members"]

Also since incorporation, the majority of jurisdictions have already opted out of the new authority, even if a majority of the county’s population would remain. The resolution that Dan Smith had considered bringing forward at the Nov. 7 board meeting cited complications arising from the number of municipalities that have opted out of the authority, stating that it will require a change to the articles of incorporation. The resolution also pointed to the availability of other options to provide public transit:

WHEREAS, municipalities throughout the county continue to provide transit services utilizing W.A.V.E., People’s Express, and Purchase of Service Agreements with AATA; and

WHEREAS, as an Act 55 of 1963 entity, AATA may form an Act 196 Authority on its own and without any involvement of the board; and

WHEREAS, the five remaining political subdivisions may form an Act 196 Authority on their own and without any involvement of the board;

The idea of continued service echoes the language of the city council’s upcoming Nov. 8 resolution, encouraging the continued effort to expand service, which reads in part:

Resolved, That AATA is encouraged to continue to discuss regional transportation options among Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti township, Ann Arbor township and Pittsfield township, leading to a better understanding and process for improving local transit options;

The language about continued provision of service in the resolution of both bodies implicitly addresses a condition of termination in  four-party agreement, which states: “No such termination or dissolution shall be effective unless and until provision for continued transportation services to Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti is in place, operational and all liabilities on the New TA have been satisfied.”

Dan Smith’s resolution would have rescinded previously approved board resolutions authorizing the county’s involvement.

However, it does not appear that the county board actually has the ability to dissolve the Act 196 authority known as the Washtenaw Ride. One way the authority could be dissolved is a scenario where no funding is identified before the end of 2014. From the four party agreement:

12. Termination of Agreement.

b. Discretionary Dissolution or Withdrawal Conditions. The Washtenaw County Board will also be allowed to dissolve the New TA if there is no Authority-wide voter approved funding passed before December 31, 2014, or voter approval passes Authority-wide but the same is defeated in the City of Ann Arbor.

But because it’s still well before Dec. 31, 2014, the necessary time has not elapsed for the board of commissioners to dissolve the transit authority under 12 (b).

The authority could also be dissolved based on which political subdivisions opt out. From the articles of incorporation:

The Authority may be dissolved in accordance with the provisions of Act 196 and as provided for in Section 12 of the Public Transportation Agreement referenced in section 3.01. If the City of Ann Arbor is the only political subdivision in the County remaining within the Authority after the expiration of the statutory 30-day withdrawal period, the Authority shall be dissolved.

However, the condition for dissolution in Section 10.02 isn’t met, because the city of Ann Arbor is not the only political subdivision in the county remaining in the authority after expiration of the 30-day withdrawal period – in part because the period isn’t over, and in part because the city of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, and the city of Saline have not withdrawn.

The resolution that Dan Smith had considered bringing forward also stated: “… that pursuant to Attorney General Opinion #7003 (December 23, 1998) the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners requests the Michigan Legislature to dissolve ‘The Washtenaw Ride.’”

The Attorney General opinion cited in the resolution notes that an act of the legislature would be required to achieve the dissolution: “It is my opinion, therefore, in answer to your second question, that the dissolution of a transportation authority organized under the Public Transportation Authority Act requires an act of the Legislature and may not be accomplished by the unilateral action of the city in which it was established.” [.pdf of AG opinion 7003]

Ultimately, it’s not clear if any action by the board of commissioners would be necessary to end the approach to expanding transit  –  if the Ann Arbor city council approves the resolution that’s on its Nov. 8 agenda to opt out of The Washtenaw Ride.

It’s possible that the board of commissioners might pass a version of Smith’s resolution that calls upon the state legislature to dissolve the transit authority, once the Ann Arbor city council has acted. A member of the state legislature who’d be called upon to act is former Washtenaw County commissioner Jeff Irwin, who on Nov. 6 won re-election as representative of the 53rd District of the Michigan House. Irwin had been instrumental over the last few years in helping to shepherd the proposal to incorporate a new transit authority.

Rescinding Support for the RTA

At the county board’s Oct. 17, 2012 meeting, commissioner Wes Prater had asked for an update about proposed state legislation regarding creation of a regional transit authority (RTA) for southeast Michigan – the city of Detroit and the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. Conan Smith has been an advocate for that effort, both as chair of the county board and in his role as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance.

About a year ago, at its Sept. 21, 2011 meeting, the board unanimously passed a resolution of support for the RTA. From then until the Oct. 17 meeting, little discussion of the RTA has taken place a commission meetings, and several commissioners seemed unaware of the county’s level of involvement in that effort.

So on Nov. 7, Dan Smith brought forward a resolution to rescind the board’s previous support. [.pdf of resolution to rescind support of the RTA]

The resolution also stated that the board opposes any other legislation that would involve Washtenaw County in an RTA:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners opposes legislation which would include Washtenaw County in a Regional Transportation Authority, which does not protect:

  • The ability of county entities to manage designated transportation funding.
  • The right of county entities to independently mange a transit system.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners supports the concept of a Regional Transportation Authority to enhance interconnectivity among the communities of the southeast Michigan region, but feels that Washtenaw County and the voters thereof should determine when to join the Authority.

Smith’s original draft – which was distributed to commissioners – had included references to specific pending state legislation. After a sidebar discussion with Conan Smith, Dan Smith revised the language to eliminate the citations to HB 5309 and SB 909. During deliberations, Conan Smith and Yousef Rabhi both thanked Dan Smith for “softening” the resolution, though both said they couldn’t support it, despite that change.

Rabhi and Conan Smith were joined by Felicia Brabec and Rolland Sizemore Jr. in voting against the resolution. However, six commissioners supported it – Dan Smith, Leah Gunn, Barbara Bergman, Rob Turner, Alicia Ping and Wes Prater – which was sufficient to pass the measure. Ronnie Peterson was absent.

Discussion on the topic might continue at the board’s Nov. 8 working session. That meeting includes an update on the RTA from Gary Owen with Governmental Consultant Services Inc., the Lansing-based firm that serves as the county’s lobbyist on state issues.

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  1. November 8, 2012 at 3:06 am | permalink

    Thank you for your prompt and thorough coverage of the action at the Board of Commissioners. This (transit issue) is quite a tangled skein and your reportage has been invaluable in trying to keep up with it.

    I reviewed the RTA issue recently in a post [link]. I’m not sure how the BOC’s action will affect Conan Smith’s role in the RTA. I hope that the working session’s discussion will elucidate that. Since the legislation to create the RTA is still pending in the state legislature, it could presumably be imposed on Washtenaw County regardless of the BOC’s position, and I don’t know that the BOC is able to choose the county’s representation. As you have reported earlier, Conan Smith will doubtless no longer be the chair of the BOC beginning in 2013, and his role on the RTA as representing Washtenaw County was predicated partly on that position.

    Forgive me if I missed this, but I believe that the article does not include the last day that a community may withdraw from the Washtenaw Ride, which I am informed is December 10 (based on the day letters were sent from the County Administrator).

  2. By Alan Goldsmith
    November 8, 2012 at 6:44 am | permalink

    “Conan Smith has been an advocate for that effort, both as chair of the county board and in his role as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance.”

    A dictionary definition of conflict of interest. Now that Mr. Smith, through the magic of gerrymandering, is going to be my County Commissioner, I am hoping he will see the error of his ways and start representing his district to the County as opposed to the other way around.

    Until Mr. Smith was appointed the Chair, wasn’t this position rotated on an regular basis? Time to start doing that again.

  3. November 8, 2012 at 8:33 am | permalink

    The new countywide transit authority was formed through the execution of a four party contract and the separate filing of articles of incorporation. As you note, the documents raise significant questions about whether acts of the City of Ann Arbor can dissolve the authority.

    The four party agreement is a contract and therefore terminates according to its own terms or by the mutual agreement of all parties to the contract. In other words, the City of Ann Arbor cannot unilaterally act to terminate that contract.

    Section 5.01 of the Articles of Incorporation provides that a quorum of the Authority’s Board is a simple majority of Board members. Section 4.01 allocates Board seats to areas of the county that have opted out completely or partially. The 8 members of that Board from communities other than Ann Arbor constitute a quorum and can call a meeting of the new Authority’s Board.

    As amended, the Articles of Incorporation require a 4/5 majority of the Board to modify the Articles of Incorporation. Thus, to change which communities get representation requires a vote of 12 Board members, including those from Ann Arbor and those from the opt out communities.

    Paragraph 11 of the four party agreement allows the new Authority to incur expense and requires AATA to pay those expenses. Until the four parties to that contract agree to terminate the contract, the new Authority’s Board is free to act in an official capacity and even spend the funds of our AATA.

    When the four party agreement was being considered, some residents questioned whether the City was in such a hurry pushing it forward that they may have failed to exercise a healthy sense of skepticism. It becomes apparent now that the parties have empowered an entity in which no one wants to participate and that they failed to include adequate means of ending the plan under such circumstances.

  4. By Observatory
    November 8, 2012 at 8:50 am | permalink

    Perhaps in Ann Arbor such an in-artful question as mine will be pooh poohed or even contemptuously dismissed by you and the eye rolling incestuously intertwined and conflicted know every things whose every spout and tout is religiously transcribed and/or illustrated here … but here goes anyway:

    What might be the estimated ballpark cost of this failed plan?

    Some of us who just ‘pays our taxes’ here think it would be neat to read your ballpark accounting of the cost of AATA staff time and benefits, city of Ann Arbor staff time and benefits, Washtenaw County staff time and benefits, neighboring townships and municipalities’ time and benefits, attorneys’ and legal bills to research, draft and execute the now worthless documents of incorporation, consultants and studies and whatever else an ordinary non governing class elite might not know about that was dedicated and spent on the development and promotion of this plan … which was hatched by whom? remind me I forget … that is suddenly and gratefully seen fading into memory.

  5. November 8, 2012 at 9:22 am | permalink

    It’s too bad to hear this, given the overwhelming support for better transit among most County residents, especially in the more urbanized areas. We should remember that even those who expressed concern about the transit plan before Council wanted to see transit improvements like extended late-night service hours – which the AATA five-year plan would have made a reality. (See my post yesterday at partnersfortransit.org.)

    Whether in Ann Arbor or Detroit, people are going to have concerns about local control, and that’s fair, but it doesn’t make sense to retain the same transit footprint when many people now live beyond the city. In 1970, soon after AATA was first chartered, 56% of the County population lived in the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Today, as development has spread outward, only 39% do. Moreover, the County’s economy has become increasingly dependent on Ann Arbor, and as Ann Arbor housing has grown more expensive, more working families need affordable transportation to jobs in the city.

    And while some people may not see the need for a transit connection to Detroit, I, for one, would be happy not having to bicycle or stay there overnight when I can’t get a ride. There are thousands of people who commute between Detroit and Wayne County every day, and it’s about time the region joined the rest of the civilized world.

    We may not always agree on the niceties of structuring transit authorities. But I think most people in Ann Arbor want better transit, and I hope we can let our elected officials know that.

  6. November 8, 2012 at 9:33 am | permalink

    Re (4)Your question is very pertinent. I certainly don’t know everything despite a fair amount of attention to this subject, but I can give you a figure far below the “ballpark” estimate that you describe (that would take an incredible amount of work to prepare). In the Report to the Treasurer from August 2012, AATA spent about a million dollars on this project over the last eleven months. About half of that came from Federal and state grants, and half from Ann Arbor taxpayers. The countywide venture was combined with two other activities, so it is not possible to be more precise.

    Re (3) This is both convincing and chilling. I assume however, that Ann Arbor is able to withdraw (opt out), which would mean that the millage election could not be held in May for Ann Arbor voters. Since the 4-party agreement has a contingency that a majority of Ann Arbor voters endorse the millage, presumably this would prevent our millage and assets being transferred to the new entity.

  7. November 8, 2012 at 10:03 am | permalink

    The countywide plan is dead. We are now participating in the funeral games. 8-)

  8. November 8, 2012 at 10:34 am | permalink

    Re: “The countywide plan is dead.”

    I think it’s fair to say this particular approach to implementing broader transportation service is dead. But my sense is that the AATA’s intent is not to let the 30-year master plan and the five-year service plan turn into giant piles of very expensive paper. Instead, I would expect that the AATA would look to implement whatever portions of those plans it can with other mechanisms – like a self-incorporation as an Act 196 Authority or Act 55 with additional purchase of service agreements. From coverage of the May 16, 2012 meeting of the AATA: “Bernstein felt that the AATA is well-positioned, no matter what. The AATA could remain an Act 55 transit authority and continue to deliver services.” Support for those alternate kinds of approaches have received support from people like Stephen Kunselman during city council deliberations against the particular approach to governance ensconced in the four-party agreement.

    The specter raised in [3] appears to be the idea that the city cannot unilaterally terminate the four-party contract and that a “rogue” Act 196 authority board could start spending the assets of the AATA. From the article: “Under the terms of the four-party agreement, once the city of Ann Arbor withdraws from the Act 196 authority, the city can terminate the entire agreement.” That sentence is supported by this chunk of the four-party agreement:

    The City of Ann Arbor may also withdraw from the new TA Agreement using any of the methods authorized by MCL 124.458. In the event the City of Ann Arbor exercises any of the foregoing rights, the City of Ann Arbor may immediately terminate this agreement upon written notice to the other parties.

    What the city council will be doing by opting out of the Act 196 authority is exercising its right under MCL 124.458 (Act 196 of 1986), thus giving it the right under the terms of the contract to terminate the agreement. And termination of the agreement is included in the city council’s resolution. So the specter raised in [3] is not a legal possibility.

  9. By JK
    November 8, 2012 at 10:54 am | permalink

    Here’s a thought. Let the AATA gets its own house in order first and provide improved more efficient and financially viable service to the areas it currently does cover. Once that happens then, then maybe people in other areas will turn and look and say, “I’d like transit like that in my area” and actually want to support a broader transit approach.

  10. November 8, 2012 at 10:55 am | permalink

    Re (8): Could you explain how they could self-incorporate as a 196 authority? As such, could they have a claim on Ann Arbor’s transit millage and use that for regional purposes?

    The Act 55/POSA arrangement would be perfectly fine with me, as it distributes services according to local funding of them. That is how AATA has been a “regional” authority for some time. But I had the impression that they were trying to move beyond that.

  11. November 8, 2012 at 11:02 am | permalink

    Re: “Could you explain how they could self-incorporate as a 196 authority?”

    It’s one of the first sections in Act 196:

    124.453 Public authority; formation generally; membership; articles of incorporation; approval.
    Sec. 3. (1)
    An authority incorporated under Act No. 55 of the Public Acts of 1963, being sections 124.351 to 124.359 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, or an authority having a population of less than 1,000,000 incorporated under the metropolitan transportation authorities act of 1967, Act No. 204 of the Public Acts of 1967, being sections 124.401 to 124.425 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, may form a public authority under this act. Political subdivisions which are members of an authority described in this subsection which form a public authority shall be members of the public authority

  12. November 8, 2012 at 11:14 am | permalink

    Re (11) Thanks, I was wondering how the mechanism would work and what influence the Ann Arbor public could have over such a move.

  13. November 8, 2012 at 11:23 am | permalink

    Re (8) Thanks Dave, I missed that provision of the 4 party agreement. It is great that the City is able to kill the 4 party agreement in this way.

    I did not mean to imply that the communities that opted out would actually convene and conduct business. It only takes a majority to hold a meeting but it takes a 4/5 majority to alter representation of regions where all communities have opted out. That design points to the fact that the drafters of the plan never really considered the likelihood that so many communities would opt out.

  14. By Larry Baird
    November 8, 2012 at 5:40 pm | permalink

    Re (8) “I think it’s fair to say this particular approach to implementing broader transportation service is dead…”

    Here’s another approach as outlined by the Chronicle’s “AATA Gets Advice..” column dated 12/10/2009:

    “Taking the AATA and the city of Ypsilanti as an example, if the Washtenaw County board of commissioners were to vote to join the AATA under its existing Act 55 authority, the city of Ypsilanti (among others) would be included in that Act 55 authority. Any millage levied – in the city of Ypsilanti and across the county – would need to be approved by county voters. So Ypsilanti would have no choice about being in the authority, but voters would have a choice at the polls about whether to approve the associated millage…”

    So does the new board have the votes to make such a decision?

  15. By John Floyd
    November 9, 2012 at 1:24 am | permalink

    @9 JK

    You have hit the nail on the head. Your principle – “make service so good that other people want in” (or words to that effect) are applicable to other services. This should be the benchmark for city services, as well as AATA bus services: if nearby residents don’t think that Ann Arbor services are a good enough bargain for them to want in, the city needs to re-think what it is doing.

  16. November 9, 2012 at 8:02 am | permalink

    Yes, this entire exercise was done without any understanding of county politics. The staff and Ann Arbor councilpeople mistook a willingness to sit at the table for a willingness to commit to a tax. They did not understand the township aversion to taxes.

    I did a post that goes into this in detail: [link]

  17. By Tom Whitaker
    November 9, 2012 at 10:12 am | permalink

    Following up on (15)…At the same time, whether it’s by millage, point of service agreements, or some other funding mechanism, AATA needs to assure Ann Arbor’s millage-paying taxpayers that others brought in to the system are paying an amount that covers the true cost of providing the service, including overhead, maintenance, and regular replacement/addition of buses.

    This whole scheme reminds me of our compost and recycling operations, where Ann Arbor residents have paid millions for the purchase of assets such as trucks, processing equipment, and facilities such as the single-stream MRF. Then, the private companies hired to operate these Ann Arbor assets are encouraged to take on materials from other communities. I wonder if those communities are paying enough to cover the full cost of operations including the wear and tear on our assets, or are we simply subsidizing services for other communities, allowing the private operators to profit at our expense?

  18. By Observatory
    November 9, 2012 at 11:00 am | permalink

    The Chronicle great as it and it is great and founded and stewarded by wonderful and great people is not, because of its choice of its business model, IS NOT able to advocate for ‘the people.’ This is sad.

    But true.

    By accepting AATA advertising along with all the rest of Ann Arbor’s governmental and green industrial complex advertising as the Chronicle’s bread and butter The Chron is beholden FIRST to boondoggles like the AATA and the insiders doing the boondoggling… and NOT to the citizens of Ann Arbor.

    The dear old Chron is the politician’s lapdog … not the people’s watchdog. It is like a high school yearbook published for the consumption of and to endear yourselves to the current class of Ann Arbor’s governing elite.

    Oh well at least it’s locally owned and operated.

    Of and for and about the mayor … his appointees … and the whole damn stinking mess of the people’s republic of ann arbor … god bless their little hearts. The Chron is just part and parcel … a slice of carrot in the stew pot.

    Hint: they ain’t got ‘yer back.

  19. By James
    November 9, 2012 at 11:21 am | permalink

    How much has been dumped into WALLY as well? It is only common sense that rural public transit will fail. If the townships and outlying communities would like routes that connect their communities to AATA, they should do the planning and come up with the tax dollars for the expanded service. Why Ann Arbor is taking the lead on rural transit services is head scratching.

  20. November 9, 2012 at 11:32 am | permalink

    Observatory, you are obviously not a fan. You have now written two dismissive comments about the Chronicle (and, I gather, its regular readers and commenters come in for some of the disdain).

    But I vigorously disagree with your assessment. The Ann Arbor Chronicle is a treasure for our community. It is practically the sole source of comprehensive information about what is happening in our government.

    The role of the publication is not to “advocate for the people”, though I enjoy the occasional column (opinion). It is accurate, complete reporting, and succeeds well at that. The fact that they accept advertisements from legitimate public institutions is not contradictory to that. They don’t take political advertisements, a policy they put into place early on. They are as level and fair as is humanly possible.

    They have also provided an invaluable archive and history. One council member has said she turns first to the Chronicle when she needs to look something up. Their habit of providing links to important documents is marvelously useful for those of us who like to follow subjects closely.

    I’ll send in another check today. Thanks for the reminder.

  21. November 9, 2012 at 1:22 pm | permalink

    It seems that Observatory needs some help with his/her/its observations. I have never seen a more accurate source of news than the Chronicle. It is up to national standards. Thankfully for us, the Chronicle is staying local.

  22. November 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm | permalink

    Re (18), Observatory, if you came here for opinions, you are in the wrong place. Try a Fox News outlet or something. The Chronicle chokes back their contempt of the contemptible and withholds their admiration of the admirable to provide in depth, accurate information. Most of us who come here are capable of forming our own opinions and don’t need the press to provide one for us.

    Thanks Mary and Dave. Hope you get a chance to catch up on your sleep.

  23. By Rod Johnson
    November 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm | permalink

    Observatory is trolling. No need to give him/her the attention hs/she is seeking.

  24. By anna ercoli schnitzer
    November 10, 2012 at 6:19 am | permalink

    Observatory may well be “trolling” as Rod #23 puts it so well, but this gives me a chance to make my own observation, which is that Mary and Dave come as close to perfection in what they do as is humanly possible. We are extraordinarily lucky to have The Ann Arbor Chronicle. All that is needed is OUR support!

  25. By Observatory
    November 10, 2012 at 10:04 am | permalink

    Fair criticism … I admit it I was a bung hole I was contemptuous … I hear ‘ya …. I am chastened … I am heartened the quality and salinity of your defense of the D&M crew …. I must confess i was suffering from hunger and frustration when I posted … it’s probably not important to you but it had been a day filled with frustrations… and i am not comfortably well off as many of you here if you are circumspect and broadmindedly honest … ARE … you are comfortable …… financially … property taxes are not a hardship for you… health care is provided for you … income is perhaps a matter of going to the mailbox for you… I don’t know this but if it is true for you … trust me that it is NOT true for me…. and good for you…. anyway it had for me been a bad day and I was grouchy …. hypoglycemic …. please forgive me … i feel like i am being rightly obsequious before a group of elders… who have rightly scolded me… I admit it … I was wrong …. … please be kind as you accept or reject my presence

    Meanwhile back at the ranch … have a legitimate viewpoint. I am a real person….It isn’t very nice …and it is falsehood….to say I watch Foxnews…… if this is an honest give and take .,, let’s be fair I am not a name caller. I will not lower myself to it …. I am not perfect…. I admit it ,,,,, I am an bridge builder , at the very ery very least a bridge builder wannabe … you call me names … be dismissive as i was perhaps guilty of being dismissive MEA CULPA … that is your business ,,,, I crae about America ,,, I care about A2 … I am a homeowner and a believer ….. that it is critical we recognize we’re in the same boat together .. we must row together we must bail together. I welcome being part of the solution. I like Cahill I like Armentrout. I like others … but these two stand out as beacons. I really really like Dave and Mary. Most definitely.

  26. November 10, 2012 at 12:13 pm | permalink

    Re (25) Welcome back to the fold. And thanks for the kind words in my direction.