Comments on: Hampton Inn Progresses, U-Haul Project Slows it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Thu, 11 Jul 2013 16:51:35 +0000 Re (7) Pat, my comment (6) was intended to address the first paragraph of your comment and not the remainder of that comment. I do agree with you that appointments to boards and commissions should be based on some level of competence in the area, whether through experience or education.

I don’t think the Mayor’s contribution to Mr. Peter’s PAC is relevant to question of Mr. Peter’s qualifications. The two gentlemen share common goals and ideas. One man established a PAC, the other contributed.

I also do not believe that being qualified would lead to the diversity of views that I would seek, if elected. There are plenty of highly qualified urban planners who support the idea that urban density will cure a variety of social ills.

The goal of having diverse points of view on boards and commissions will require the election of Council members who see value in that diversity. I don’t think we have that many independent voices on Council now.

If elected I would work to require both competence and diversity of views in appointments.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Thu, 11 Jul 2013 00:49:11 +0000 @Lou Glorie:

“….Pat has come back with the real nitty-gritty on our new planning commissioner….”

My point was the primary value of Jeremy Peters to Mayor Hieftje was not any expertise in areas relating to land development or construction – but rather “….fidelity to the mayor’s agenda.”

To couch the Peters appointment as a “citizen’s representative” on the Planning Commission requiring no special expertise also holds no water. Why? Because it has not been shown that Mr. Peters has a “dog in the fight” of local development. Appointing someone like Tom Whitaker, who attends City Council meetings due to his interest on development issues and who is active in Germantown preservation matters, would be a far more suitable candidate.

The Planning Commission is an important position and the Mayor should try to seek out the most highly-motivated and knowledgeable citizens to serve thereon.

By: JK JK Thu, 11 Jul 2013 00:28:36 +0000 Diversity in thinking brings to light issues and solutions that wouldn’t otherwise be considered for sure.

By: Lou Glorie Lou Glorie Wed, 10 Jul 2013 21:17:13 +0000 @ everybody. I think Pat was responding to Mark’s implication that JP is likely to be a yes-man for the mayor. Mark perhaps cited not the best sources. Pat has come back with the real nitty-gritty on our new planning commissioner. I agree that the state’s contribution record is not necessarily an indicator of local affiliation. However, JP’s history–his local championing of some campaigns, dissing of opponents–clearly shows certain tendencies, which one could interpret as fidelity to the mayor’s agenda.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Wed, 10 Jul 2013 21:04:26 +0000 Beautifully said, Jack.

Campaign contributions do indicate affiliation (or at least mild approval) but are not, as you say, unseemly. And yes, people generally appoint those who agree with their views when possible. Imagine if they did not!

What has perhaps warped the current membership of all our appointed positions is that the Mayor has been in office so long. On average, one might expect some change in the population of boards over time as the top leadership changed. But our mayor has been able to populate all boards exclusively with “his” people because of his long tenure.

Historical note: I recall that when Ingrid Sheldon was our long-term Republican mayor, she negotiated with the Democratic majority on appointments so that there was some diversity. She appointed me (a known Democrat) to two different positions and I served with Republican members of those committees. It made for better decision-making, I think, if you are willing to accept the notion that real debate improves things.

Perhaps now that the Council is no longer in lock-step with the Mayor on all things, some of that diversity can re-emerge.

By: Patricia Lesko Patricia Lesko Wed, 10 Jul 2013 19:58:22 +0000 @Jack, be sure to say this loudly at your debate tonight: “While I, personally, believe that diverse views increase the quality of decision making, I do not believe that the appointment of people with opposing views is required by any existing rule or standard.”

You can shoot yourself in both feet at the same time.

While on some philosophical level you believe diverse views increase the quality of decisions, you don’t see any standard by which a Council member should press to appoint people with diverse views to boards and committees?

City residents should be appalled and outraged that John Hieftje has appointed (and been allowed to appoint) yes men and women who tell him what he wants to hear, and who are willing to vote to waste millions of tax dollars on his boondoggles. AATA’s county-wide transit scheme comes immediately to mind, and so do your public protestations about the mayor’s appointments of yes men and women having resulted in that fiasco.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Wed, 10 Jul 2013 19:30:33 +0000 Without addressing (#5) Pat’s second and subsequent paragraphs, I tend to agree with Dave on the manner in which Mark addressed the implied correlation between campaign contributions and local board appointments. The Secretary of State’s contribution records do not seem germane to local political appointments.

First, there is the periodic assertion that our local Democrats are not really Democrats. If an appointee has contributed to Democrats in State elections, what impact would that have on our Dems-in-name-only local pols?

Second, I would think that local political contributions would be a better indicator of close connections. If an appointee has frequently given to the campaigns of the Mayor and those he supports, that might indicate something that contributions to Dems in State-wide races might not.

Even the correlation between local contributions and local appointments is not evidence of something unseemly. If the Mayor appoints someone who shares his views on planning or transit or something, that really shouldn’t surprise anyone. While I, personally, believe that diverse views increase the quality of decision making, I do not believe that the appointment of people with opposing views is required by any existing rule or standard.

If Mark was trying to imply that a person only becomes eligible for appointment if he or she has contributed to certain political campaigns, that claim would require much better evidence than anything Mark has provided, or even implied, here.

By: Patricia Leskoq Patricia Leskoq Wed, 10 Jul 2013 14:52:36 +0000 @Dave are you and Mark having a discussion about the impact of political contributions in our fair city, or are you condescending to Mark and browbeating him for sport? While I know from experience that can be fun, you missed the point, alas.

The individual with no appreciable urban planning experience was appointed, perhaps, because The Citizens for Art in Public Places PAC was incorporated in August of 2012 by Jeremy Peters. Tight-fisted Hieftje donated $650 to that PAC. To put that donation into perspective, Hiefthe rarely gives more than $50 to his Council pals when they run for office; Hieftje didn’t donate to Mr. Dingell when he was in a contested race against Rob Steele, and Hieftje stiffed Virg Bernero in 2010.

Peters, as you may remember (or not), posted an October 2012 entry to Concentrate’s MEDC-supported blog in which Peters called political activists concerned with attacks on local transit “obstructionist.” Peters attacked activists supportive of the protection of parkland by the local Sierra Club and that group’s members as “obstructionist.” Peters attacked those who were concerned about raising taxes in support of public art while at the same time cutting services, as “obstructionist.”

To drive home his argument, Peters invoked a Gospel straight from the Sainted Republican Bible of political screed by urging the “obstructionists” to just say YES! to county-wide transit no one wanted, to just say YES! to parkland for parking and to just say YES! to spending $100,000,000 for a new library—to make things better for “our children.” He wrote that: “our children.”

Jeremy Peters has no children.

While Peters passed himself off as a reasonable-minded supporter of “our children,” art, county-wide transit, parkland for parking and public land for private development, he neglected to mention in his bio. was he was behind the The Citizens for Art in Public Places PAC. Oops.

So maybe that’s why John Hieftje rewarded him with a seat on planning? I really don’t know.

Maybe, Dave, you could call Hieftje, and ask him why, when the results of a zoning overhaul were judged a disaster, Hizzoner tapped the Music Man for Planning. Maybe you could ask Sabra. Mark Karoi raised a very interesting question and you might look into what would be a very interesting story about how Jeremy Peters (and Kirk Westphal for that matter) ended up on Planning while a googleplex of Urban Planning Ph.D.s at local universities just never seem to get invited to the party.

I know several Council members who would be appreciative of that question being asked and answered, as would I and, I would venture, the general public.

By: Mark Koroi Mark Koroi Wed, 10 Jul 2013 02:47:42 +0000 @David Askins:

No “negative conclusions” were intended, although Peters has a history of copious but small donations toward Democratic Party-aligned interests in general which may make him amenable to appointment by the mayor when coupled with his history of public endorsements and volunteer work for Democratic Party-related issues.

My point was that Peters’ political contributions history likely may have been a factor that could have helped his candidacy for the important post of Planning Commissioner.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Wed, 10 Jul 2013 02:26:22 +0000 Re: “According to Secretary of State records …”

Mark, if you’re going to start a thread about past campaign contributions made by new planning commissioners, then I would appreciate it if you would not cherry-pick one part of the description of a dataset – the number of contributions – and then invite readers to draw negative conclusions based on that one facet of the dataset.

In commenting, the basic principle here at The Chronicle is to “be generous.” That doesn’t mean you have to say anything nice about Jeremy Peters or anybody else. But that basic principle does include an expectation that you’ll be generous with your own time – in this case by investing the extra minutes it would take to give a more thorough description of the dataset, and by not imposing that burden on someone else.

For example, in the future – to the extent that campaign contributions are on topic – here’s what you might consider providing for readers. First, link to the secretary of state’s database not just the general state government website, with the expectation that readers somehow navigate their way to the right page so they can confirm what you’re saying is accurate. Then, you say that a Jeremy Peters [with Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti addresses] is shown in the database with 50 contributions totaling $721.86 for an average contribution of $14.44. [That includes contributions from Jeremy J. Peters, but not those of Jeremy E. Peters, who appears unlikely to be our new planning commissioner.] Of those 50 contributions, 34 went to just 3 organizations as repeated small contributions: Jennifer Granholm’s campaign, Jocelyn Benson’s campaign, and ACTBLUE Michigan. The contributions began in 2004, so over the last nine years, he’s averaged about $80 a year in campaign contributions as recorded by the secretary of state.

From all that I’d conclude he’s politically engaged. I don’t see that the dataset supports any conclusions about inappropriate implicit requirements for an appointment to Ann Arbor’s city planning commission.

I think that if you start by giving a fair description of the dataset, it’s far more difficult to invite readers to draw the negative conclusions you seem to want them to.