Comments on: DDA Board Grumbles: Budget, Streetlights it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Mon, 10 Jun 2013 12:17:11 +0000 I haven’t been in the 5th for more than 2 years. 4th Ward now.

“Ray Detter reported out from the previous evening’s meeting of the downtown area citizens advisory council. He noted that the DCAC had supported the passage of the A2D2 zoning and the downtown design guidelines two years ago.”

The rest of that section sounds more like Detter’s personal commentary, but who’s to say for sure? It’s similar to his input at meetings I’ve attended and seen reported on here. Board chairs have given him that apparent privilege for years, it seems. I suspect that there’s an unspoken understanding among board members about this situation, wherein they (believe they) can distinguish between DCAC input and Detter input. Regardless, (and assuming that I’m not totally misinterpreting the situation) it’s something I’m sure Leah can remedy as the current chair.

In the meantime, maybe the Chronicle can reconsider the term “reported out from” and apply it more judiciously in future coverage.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 10 Jun 2013 03:02:37 +0000 Re (11) Sorry, that information was based on a (recent) private communication with Susan Pollay. She must have been referring to past service on that board.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 10 Jun 2013 03:00:35 +0000 Re (10) Thanks, Mark, on behalf of the “feisty ferment” of the Fifth, I’ll accept your praise for our ward. But give Chuck a break. It is a tremendous shock to assume an elected position and discover all the complexities and demands – and then to welcome a new member of the family too (a son recently joined them). I was disappointed in his decision about 413, but I also understand that each council member must (ideally) come to these decisions based on the best information he/she has.

One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Chuck is his willingness to involve himself in some small daily details that affect individuals or small areas. Council are often asked to serve as intercessors with City bureaucracy, and he does that. He has responded to a couple of inquiries of my own.

And I think we can still claim Steve Bean too.

By: Mary Morgan Mary Morgan Mon, 10 Jun 2013 02:52:51 +0000 The list of current Dawn Farm board members is long, but it doesn’t include Susan Pollay: [link]

However, she has served on the Dawn Farm board in the past. Her name appears on the list of board members most recently in the 2008-2009 annual report: [link]

If you’re active in this community and serve on nonprofit boards, potential conflicts of interest will inevitably arise. If I were a DDA board member, my main concern would be that relationships like this are fully disclosed whenever an item comes before the board for consideration.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Mon, 10 Jun 2013 01:30:43 +0000 @Vivienne Armentrout:

“As I understand, Susan Pollay is on the Dawn Farm Board….”

Wow! The executive director of the DDA also sits on the board of an organization which has received substantial funding from the DDA.

It looks to me like a possible conflict of interest.

I spoke at City Council public commentary last month in support of the Kailasapathy/Kunselman-sponsored proposed ordinance amending the DDA’s operation and this is yet another example why more oversight is needed. Removing the Mayor from the DDA Board and imposing term limitations are definitely a step in the right direction, but additional strictures to avoid conflict of interest situations may also be necessary. I witnessed Joan Lowenstein, Leah Gunn and a third DDA Board member speak in opposition to the aforeaid proposed DDA amending ordinance – but I was not impressed.

The DDA Board needs as much supervision as possible to ensure prompt accountability.

I have been impressed with both your and Steve Bean’s working knowledge of these issues. The Fifth Ward seems to have the most knowledgeable residents. It seems that, seven months into his first term, Chuck Warpehoski has proven himself to be a mild disappointment as a City Council representative for the Fifth Ward – especially during the 413 E. Huron voting and his notorious “pit of my stomach” comment that described his disgust with that project but he was going to vote fot it anyway due to risk of liability exposure the City Of Ann Arbor purportedly had. If you had been elected, then I am sure that that project would have been rejected. Chuck has often – but not always – taken the side of the “Mayor’s Club” or “Council Party”.

I appreciate the informed commentary of both you and Steve Bean on these important issues.

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Sun, 09 Jun 2013 20:20:36 +0000 @5: I agree with a couple of exceptions, Jack. First, I wouldn’t call the DDA (board) a bureaucracy. Second, please don’t focus on term limits as a means to address concerns about the DDA, but rather look at the full picture and explore options to address the array of issues that citizens have pointed out.

Re the economic development task force:
“There are a lot of businesses that SPARK talks to who want to locate downtown, but the right kind of space is not available for them, Krutko had also told the group, according to Lowenstein. And corporate leaders often raise the issue of the availability of hotel and meeting space in downtown Ann Arbor. He’d said it is a real obstacle, because other communities have the ability to host large conferences, and can then attract people who become aware of the community through their attendance at the conference.”

If businesses are already wanting to locate downtown, is there really a need for a downtown conference center to serve the purpose of bringing business people to the community (by which Krutko apparently means just the downtown)? In other words, what’s the real problem that he’s looking to solve? Is it possible that we don’t actually have a problem?

Re Downtown Blooms Day:
I’m not sure if this event originally came about from it (I’ve been wondering for years), but when I suggested to council member Kathy Edgren back in the late ’80s that the city organize a spring cleanup day I had a different event in mind, primarily that it be citywide and that it not put kids to work cleaning up after us adults. The kids in the video look like they had fun though. Thanks to them and the adults who participated and coordinated it, including Nancy.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Sun, 09 Jun 2013 19:48:17 +0000 Re: “How many years has Leah Gunn served on the DDA – seems like over twenty?”

From the article: “The board’s July 3 meeting will also be board chair Leah Gunn’s last meeting, which will mark the end of over two decades of service on the DDA board, beginning in 1991.”

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Sun, 09 Jun 2013 19:27:34 +0000 @4: Good point about the in-lieu payments, Vivienne. It results in an appearance of something other than a clear and consistent policy.

Governments have the power to set policy to require development that meets community desires and standards. I question whether public financing is necessary at all in order to accomplish that. As Vivienne has highlighted, a lack of policy has backfired and fallen short of goals, it seems, at least in those recent examples. I’m sure someone can point to other examples to the contrary, but the question remains. In any case, the payment in lieu option (hard to call it a policy) undermines the overall (purported) goal.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Sun, 09 Jun 2013 19:21:25 +0000 “….an intrenched bureaucracy that has become arrogant in the exercise of its responsibilities.Term limits on DDA Board sevice are long overdue.”


How many years has Leah Gunn served on the DDA – seems like over twenty? Gunn’s key allies on City Council include Mr. Eaton’s electoral opponent Marcia Higgins.

I have heard complaints by downtown busineses that the DDA favors certain business over others.

The DDA is ruled by a fiefdom of elitist political insiders rather than representing a broad cross-section of the Ann Arbor community. Gunn and Joan Lowenstein, for example, have donated many thousands and thousands of dollars to local political campaigns during their long years in local politics. The same goes for the CAC.

The DDA nedes to be aggressively taken on by City Council members like Sumi Kailasapathy and Mr. Kunselman.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Sun, 09 Jun 2013 15:57:30 +0000 The article notes ” If the DDA retains the ability to amend its budget later, that would allow the board to work around the council-approved budget parameters.”

I am willing to give he DDA Board points for its persistence in believing that its authority is superior to that of the City Council.

The DDA was created by City ordinance under authority of State statute. The members of the DDA are appointed by the Mayor, subject to approval by the Council. The City ordinance puts limits on the rate by which the DDA TIF can grow. The DDA, acting as if it has supremacy over the Council, refused to accept the City’s interpretation of the TIF growth limits in the City ordinance.

The State statute requires the Council to approve the DDA budget before the DDA Board adopts that budget. Now, the DDA Board is looking for ways to circumvent the supervision of the City Council over the DDA budget.

It is as if the DDA Board is unaware that they are under scrutiny. Many in the community question the need for any DDA. Yet, the DDA Board acts as if its will should be unquestioned.

When Council member Stephen Kunselman proposed term limits for DDA Board members, some questioned his motives. Others questioned the need to limit service on that Board. This persistent defiance of Council indicates an intrenched bureaucracy that has become arrogant in exercise of its responsibilities. Term limits on DDA Board service are long overdue.