Comments on: Column: DDA, City Council – No Politics Here it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Wed, 11 Sep 2013 15:08:15 +0000 Of the myths identified in the column (transparency, debt clause, and opt out), I think the most egregious is the debt clause.

It appears that the advocates of the curious reading of the debt clause understand that their interpretation of that provision is not obvious and therefore needed to be bolstered by historic reliance on their interpretation. Unfortunately for that narrative, you have demonstrated that there is no clear evidence that anyone had ever read that language to mean what these folks now say it means.

Earlier in the column, you mention that some misstatements at the meeting caused you to “worry about the ability of some of those at the table that day to effectuate good public policy.” I share that concern.

Thank you for a thoughtful column and for directing attention to the important concerns you raised here.

By: RICK STEVENS RICK STEVENS Tue, 10 Sep 2013 18:16:15 +0000 Time for a number of the DDA to retire. Bob G. should do so. I have asked him repeatedly why it is he feels it’s OK for SPARK to hide their audits and he refuses to even discuss the topic.

I asked him if they were hiding something since the audits seem ‘top secret’ to us taxpayers (who pay SPARK a large percentage of their total funding) and he again refused to talk about it or get us the audits.

Crony capitalism at its best.

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Tue, 10 Sep 2013 15:28:32 +0000 On the other hand, lawyers can be very useful in sorting things out. Thanks, Jack!

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Tue, 10 Sep 2013 15:01:19 +0000 The column notes that the parking contract between the City and DDA runs through 2033 with an option for either party to terminate the agreement in June 2022 provided the party seeking termination gives one year of advance notice. I believe there a couple of ways to alter the contract in addition to that termination clause.

First, any contract is subject to modification by mutual agreement of the parties. While it is hard to believe the current DDA Board members would agree to modify the agreement, they are subject to replacement. This was demonstrated when City Council removed all members of the housing commission by simple majority vote of Council in 2010.

I would think that a completely reconstituted DDA Board might have different views on the parking contract, among other things. Perhaps, just the possibility of being replaced would give current members reason to revisit the subject and consider making modifications to the parking contract.

A second way to approach the parking contract is to make it moot. If the DDA were dissolved, the contract between the City and DDA would no longer have any effect. Section 30 of the Michigan DDA Act allows a municipality to dissolve its DDA by passing an ordinance. See MCL 125.1680 [link]

The City could contract directly with Republic Parking, without the involvement of a DDA. It seems to me that Republic Parking is responsible for fixing the management problems within our parking system, not the DDA.

I do not mean to express any opinion on whether the parking agreement between the City and DDA needs revision. I am just noting that there are methods available to achieve those modifications if Council finds it desirable.

By: Dave Cahill Dave Cahill Mon, 09 Sep 2013 20:52:23 +0000 Keep doing your job, Chronicle!

By: Vivienne Armentrout Vivienne Armentrout Mon, 09 Sep 2013 18:21:00 +0000 Something I’ve become aware is how much a person’s professional training affects the way they think, act, and perceive policy issues. So an architect is likely to think in terms of pictures rather than dollars in a discussion of public spaces, for example. A linguist is likely to pick up on the subtleties of language usage. Thanks for that delightful thumbnail. (Why is a fixed-gear bike hip and groovy?)

It has been pointed out to me that a professional characteristic of lawyers is that they try to win their cases, not to discover the truth. So a lawyer is not likely to entertain facts or concepts that are contrary to the outcome he/she is trying to achieve. My background as a scientist makes me want to discuss all evidence and all viewpoints, at least initially. This is often confusing to people who wonder what side of an issue I am on. In contrast, a lawyer will attempt to present only that information which supports his case, and to discount other information or viewpoints. Apparently, that can extend to using jargon unfamiliar to non-lawyers and implying that non-lawyers are ignorant.

By: Patricia Lesko Patricia Lesko Mon, 09 Sep 2013 16:33:58 +0000 “I’ve been told by one public official that it’s not their job to give a correct recitation of history – because that’s The Chronicle’s job.” Yes, and thus a serious problem arises when “chronicling” is confused with news reporting. If you write down what people say without checking their facts and presenting a variety of viewpoints, you present their incorrect recitations as “fact.” Unwary news consumers accept those “facts” as the “truth.” As a result, you frequently lend a helping hand to public officials like John Hieftje and his political allies who care little for the truth, or so you tell us in this piece.

This piece, in fact, does a credible job of telling the truth and showing that officials such as Christopher Taylor are either not as bright as you graciously give them credit for, or else deliberately bamboozling the public.

As for Sabra Briere and Chuck Warpehoski, neither has demonstrated the independence you’d like to credit them with. As with Marcia Higgins’s attendance record, you might look at Warpehoski and Briere’s voting records and document how often they’ve voted in lockstep with John Hieftje. Then, talk to us about facts instead of your gut feeling which has obviously been influenced by a variety of factors, not the least among which has been your desire to get information for your stories.

Finally, it’s easy to focus in on Steve Kunselman and make him look like a harridan, but he’s by no means alone in his desire to slow the DDA’s tax capture and impose term limits. The DDA Board members have no idea the PR hole they have dug for themselves. Come November, they’re going to be buried alive and still yammering on about codicils and prerogatives.

By: Alan Goldsmith Alan Goldsmith Mon, 09 Sep 2013 16:04:47 +0000 Sabra Briere will hopefully see the light and not be of the same mind she was in her private email exchanges with the DDA where she bashed Mr. Kunselman and piled on with members of the Mayor’s clique. She needs to take a strong stand reining in the DDA–or maybe she already has from her actions.

By: Edward Vielmetti Edward Vielmetti Mon, 09 Sep 2013 16:02:36 +0000 Note to elected (and appointed) officials: never, ever exclude a member of the Ann Arbor Chronicle reporting team from what should be a public meeting, because they will never, ever forget that you did.