People magazine reports on the rock star Madonna and her daughter Lourdes Leon coming to the University of Michigan this week as part of a college tour. The magazine quotes UM senior Lindsey Meekhof: “Someone announced to my choir class Madonna was in the building, and choir wasn’t productive anymore after that.” [Source]
According to city clerk records, two sitting Ann Arbor city councilmembers have now pulled petitions to seek re-election in 2014 – Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) and Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5). They are both Democrats, first elected to the council in 2012.
Ann Arbor city councilmembers serve two-year terms on the 11-member body, which includes the mayor and two representatives from each of five wards.
Kailasapathy responded to a Chronicle query by saying she planned to file signatures by the end of the month. Candidates must submit at least 100 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. She took out the petitions today (Nov. 21, 2013).
The Chronicle asked Warpehoski if his action to take out petitions on Nov. 7 reflected a deliberate decision …
Editor’s note: Nelson’s “In it for the Money” opinion column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. Miss America 2014 Nina Davuluri has a local tie, having grown up in western Michigan and attended school at the University of Michigan here in Ann Arbor. She graced the pages of The Ann Arbor Chronicle back in 2008 as part of The Chronicle’s coverage of the Miss Washtenaw pageant that year. Incidentally, she did not win or even place (!) in that pageant.
On Nov. 1 the Ann Arbor Chronicle sent me to talk to Miss America. She was scheduled to speak at the India Business Conference held at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, and then give a press conference.
Not being a journalist by training, I imagined a room crowded with folding chairs and jostling reporters, camera flashes bursting and shutters clacking. I figured I’d maybe get one chance to ask Nina Davuluri (Miss America 2014) a single question – and no follow-ups! So I practiced saying “Thank you, Ms. Davuluri. David Erik Nelson, Ann Arbor Chronicle . . .”
I was a little foggy on what the actual substance of my question would be, but that didn’t end up being germane, because I was the only legitimate journalist who showed up to report the event . So we had some time to chat.
I’ll concede that you, as a “news consumer,” are right to question this. Should news media – even small-town news media – bother covering something like the annual Miss America pageant, let alone some specific Miss America showing up at this or that conference to blather on about … oh, god, I can’t even be bothered to imagine what drivel?
Clearly, the legitimate media – the Detroit papers, whatever the thing that was once the Ann Arbor News is calling itself this week, the various alternative weekly and monthly advertising vectors that “tell it like it is” – they didn’t deem it “newsworthy” that Miss America was speaking before a pretty large crowd of business people and aspiring business people.
But were they right to skip out on the event?
No. They were dead wrong.
The Washtenaw County board of commissioners has adopted the 2014-2017 general fund budget, an unprecedented long-term document that some commissioners believe will improve strategic investments and organizational stability. At their Nov. 20, 2013 meeting, commissioners made several amendments, but did not substantively change the originally proposed budget submitted by county administrator Verna McDaniel. Initial approval had been given at a six-hour meeting on Nov. 6, 2013. The Nov. 20 meeting lasted about two-and-a-half hours.
The $103,005,127 budget for 2014 – which represents a slight decrease from the 2013 expenditures of $103,218,903 – includes putting a net total of 8.47 full-time-equivalent jobs on “hold vacant” status, as well as the net reduction of a 0.3 FTE position. The recommended budgets for …
Two items related to workforce development in Washtenaw County were addressed at the Nov. 20, 2013 meeting of the county board of commissioners.
The board gave initial approval to accept $1,154,683 in funding from the Partnership Accountability Training Hope (PATH) program, which is part of Michigan’s welfare system. The funding is for the period from Oct. 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2014. The money, to be administered by the county’s office of community and economic development, is meant to help fund training and “job readiness” services to welfare applicants or recipients that are low-wage workers. [.pdf of staff memo describing PATH services] The funding is $5,520 less than the county received last year.
Commissioners also approved bylaws for the county’s workforce …
Mike at Zingerman’s Deli demonstrates how he can write in a style that matches the font used in Zingerman’s signs. He says he gives certain letters his own personal twist, but otherwise it’s dead-on. [photo]
Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission meeting (Nov. 12, 2013): The agenda for WCPARC’s November meeting was short but included four major items of business in addition to the usual reports on finances and activities of staff.
The commission received a report on properties under consideration for acquisition and took the first step to acquire two properties for the natural areas preservation program: (1) a conservation easement on the Koenn property, 264.4 acres in Sylvan Township’s extreme southwest corner, adjacent to the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources Goose Lake State Game Area; and (2) about 10 acres owned by Geddes Mill Ltd., valued at $1.27 million and located south of Geddes Road just west of Dixboro Road. The owner is interested in donating the land to WCPARC, with the stipulation that the property be available for public use.
Two other major items were related to ongoing projects: (1) upgrading infrastructure at the Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center in Ann Arbor; and (2) shepherding the proposed Eastern County Recreation Center in Ypsilanti. WCPARC director Bob Tetens reported that planning continues for the rec center, proposed for the south side of Michigan Avenue, just east of downtown Ypsilanti on the east bank of the Huron River. This is a joint project with the city of Ypsilanti, as that city seeks to redevelop its 38-acre Water Street site. Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber also briefly reported on efforts to coordinate planning for the rec center with changes brought by Ypsilanti’s master plan revisions, which are ongoing.
Other actions at the November meeting included approving reports on finances and the use of WCPARC’s major facilities; and getting updates on activities and projects, including a major new award and work on the Ann Arbor skatepark, which WCPARC is helping to fund.
Commission members also heard an unexpected announcement from WCPARC member Nelson Meade: he plans to leave WCPARC after the December 2013 meeting. Meade has been on WCPARC since its inception in 1973, and has served on many other public boards. Tetens announced there will be an open house on Dec. 6 at WCPARC headquarters to honor Meade.
Two deaf women carrying on a lively chat in ASL in School of Dentistry patient waiting area.
After three hours of discussion at their Nov. 19, 2013 meeting, Ann Arbor planning commissioners made decisions on the majority of recommendations for revising the city’s downtown zoning ordinance, but adjourned after midnight before completing their final resolution for city council. Though they did not formally vote to postpone action on the resolution, the item is expected to be taken up again at the commission’s Dec. 3 meeting.
This zoning evaluation began earlier this year, following a city council directive to the planning commission on April 1, 2o13 that was prompted in part by the controversial 413 E. Huron development. The council’s direction was to make recommendations to the city council by Oct. 1. Planning consultant ENP & Associates was …
A proposal to expand two buildings and the parking area for Germain Motors – the former Howard Cooper dealership on South State Street – was postponed by Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Nov. 19, 2013 meeting. Planning staff had recommended postponement, to allow the owners to address staff feedback on the project.
The proposal calls for a 4,877-square-foot …
The Ann Arbor planning commission has recommended approval of a four-story addition to the existing two-story building at 210-216 S. Fourth Ave., between East Liberty and East Washington in downtown Ann Arbor. The plan calls for creating 32 new housing units, including four studios, 14 one-bedroom, and 14 two-bedroom units. Planning commissioners took action on the project’s site plan at their Nov. 19, 2013 meeting. It will now be forwarded to city council for consideration.
The estimated $3.8 million project would expand the existing 17,273-square-foot …
In action at their Nov. 19, 2013 meeting, Ann Arbor planning commissioners have recommended approval of a site plan and development agreement for two restaurants at Briarwood Mall. The project was originally considered at the commission’s Oct. 15, 2013 meeting, but postponed because of outstanding issues.
The proposal calls for building two new freestanding restaurants – one at 6,470 square feet, the other at 7,068 square feet – on the east side of the Macy’s building at Briarwood Mall, 700 …
Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 6, 2013): At another nearly six-hour meeting, county commissioners handled a full agenda with several major action items, including the 2014-2017 budget.
Following about three hours of debate and some minor amendments, commissioners gave initial approval to the proposed four-year general fund budget, for the years 2014-2017. The 7-2 vote came over the dissent of Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), who cited concerns over a budget cycle extending for four years rather than two.
Much of the budget discussion focused on the sheriff’s operations. No layoffs are proposed, but 8.47 FTE positions would be kept unfilled. Most of those are in the sheriff’s office, which has a targeted budget reduction of $1.34 million. Sheriff Jerry Clayton, an elected official, attended the Nov. 6 meeting and addressed the board, telling commissioners that his office can’t continue to absorb budget cuts without affecting services. “For me not to tell you what I believe the impact on public safety is, if you make those cuts, would be negligent in my responsibility as the county sheriff.”
Board chair Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) countered that every department head could make arguments against budget cuts. Noting that more revenues are needed, Rabhi said he hoped commissioners would support putting a countywide public safety millage on the ballot.
During public commentary after the budget debate, county prosecuting attorney Brian Mackie told commissioners that they had a difficult job, but that they were making it harder than it needed to be. He suggested looking for guidance in the state constitution, and relying on the experience of county administrator Verna McDaniel. Mackie also questioned whether commissioners were truly committed to public safety as a priority. He praised Clayton, noting that the sheriff is a respected figure with a national reputation. “He might know more about safety and criminal justice than you do,” Mackie said.
The budget must be given final approval by the end of the year, and only two more board meetings scheduled: On Nov. 20 and Dec. 4. The board will also hold a second public hearing on the budget on Nov. 20.
Several other agenda items related directly or indirectly to the county’s budget. On a 7-1 vote, the board gave final approval to an increase in the levy of the economic development and agricultural tax, known as Act 88 of 1913. The increase to the Act 88 millage is from 0.06 mills to 0.07 mills. Dan Smith (R-District 2) dissented and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) had left the meeting by the time the vote occurred, just after midnight. Smith questioned the constitutionality of the county levying this tax, as well as the legality of how the revenues are spent.
During public commentary, the board also heard from two people who objected to the tax levy, including Bill McMaster of Taxpayers United. McMaster, who helped lead the statewide campaign that resulted in passage of the Headlee Amendment in 1978, noted during public commentary that there’s a provision in the law allowing for legal action if taxes are raised without voter approval. It’s an action “which we will pursue,” he said.
The board also unanimously approved a tax-sharing agreement to allow a portion of county taxes to be captured by Pittsfield Township’s State Street corridor improvement authority (CIA). Pittsfield Township supervisor Mandy Grewal addressed commissioners during public commentary, thanking them for their support of the CIA. One opponent to the CIA – former township official Christina Lirones – spoke during two opportunities for public commentary, urging the board to opt out of the CIA.
Other items handled during the Nov. 6 meeting included (1) final approval to extend the coordinated funding approach for human services, as well as to authorize some changes in that funding model; (2) appointment of an advisory committee to propose options for county property on Platt Road; (3) final approval of a brownfield plan for Chelsea Milling Co. (Jiffy Mix); and (4) appointment of Ellen Rabinowitz as temporary health officer to replace Dick Fleece, who’s retiring at the end of 2013.
Communications during the meeting included public commentary from supporters of the Delonis Center homeless shelter in Ann Arbor, and concerns about state standards for permissible levels of 1,4-dioxane.
Power still out (since yesterday) at Stadium post office.
A change to Ann Arbor’s ordinance (Chapter 7) regulating the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance capture and its board governance has been given final approval by the city council. The action came at the council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting on a 9-2 vote. Dissent came from Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and Margie Teall (Ward 4).
The version of the Chapter 7 ordinance change given final approval by the council would allow for several million dollars in additional TIF capture by the DDA, compared to a different version that had been tabled. The version in front of the council on Nov. 18 set a cap on DDA TIF revenue that will not apply at all until FY 2017 and …
The Ann Arbor city council has approved the sale of city-owned property downtown – a parcel north of William Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues – to Dennis Dahlmann for $5.25 million. Council action approving the sale came at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting at about 1:20 a.m.
A nine-person pedestrian safety task force has been established by the Ann Arbor city council, with a charge of delivering a report with recommendations by February 2015. Action came at the council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting with a unanimous vote that occurred after 1 a.m.
The item had been postponed from the council’s Nov. 7 meeting amid concerns about the funding needed to support the task force’s work. Public services area administrator Craig Hupy had described the staff and other support for the task force as costing on the order of $100,000, depending on the level of support and activities required. [.pdf of Nov. 7 memo on pedestrian safety]
At the Nov. 18 meeting, a substitute resolution was put forward by …
An educational effort for local officials on conflict-of-interest and ethics issues has been given unanimous approval by the Ann Arbor city council. Action on the topic came at the council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting.
The resolution directs an educational effort on Public Act 317 of 1968, which is the state’s conflict-of-interest statute.
A final “resolved” clause directs the council’s rules committee to draft standards of conduct for local officials based on Public Act 196 of 1973, which applies to state employees of the executive branch and appointees of the governor. The final resolved clause – if the council adopts a standard that’s recommended by the council rules committee and it’s strictly followed – would end any unauthorized leaks of information …
An update to the city of Ann Arbor’s non-motorized transportation plan has been adopted by the city council in action taken at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. The vote was unanimous.
A repeal of the city’s crosswalk ordinance has been given initial approval by the Ann Arbor city council. Action came at the council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting on an 8-3 vote. Dissenting were Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and mayor John Hieftje. The council will need to vote at a subsequent meeting to give the change final approval.
The city’s ordinance, enacted in 2010 and then revised in 2011, differs from the state’s Uniform Traffic Code (UTC) in two respects: (1) requiring motorists to stop for pedestrians, not just to slow as to yield; and (2) requiring motorists explicitly to take action to accommodate pedestrians standing at the curb at a crosswalk, not just those pedestrians who have …
Ypsilanti Township is now a member of Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, as a result of Ann Arbor city council action taken on Nov. 18, 2013. The change to the articles of incorporation of the AAATA increases the board membership from 9 to 10 members so that the township can appoint a member. The council had postponed the decision at its Oct. 21, 2013 meeting.
Charitable distribution of goods for basic human needs can now be conducted in Ann Arbor city parks without incurring a fee for park use. The proposal is not restricted to downtown parks, but the idea originated from an issue that emerged in connection with Liberty Plaza, a downtown park.
Final approval for the ordinance change to allow this fee waiver came during the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. The council had given initial approval to the ordinance change on Nov. 7. The final vote followed a public hearing on the issue that drew about a dozen people speaking in support of the waiver, including several associated with Camp Take Notice. Several dozen others attended the meeting to …
Margie Teall (Ward 4) was selected mayor pro tem by the majority of her Ann Arbor city council colleagues at their Nov. 18, 2013 meeting. That was the first meeting of the council with its post-election composition, when it’s required to select a mayor pro tem and an order of succession.
The order of succession to mayor John Hieftje, after Teall, is first by seniority, then alphabetically: Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Sally (Hart) Petersen (Ward 2), Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Jack Eaton (Ward 4).
Teall’s selection as mayor pro tem came over dissent from Kailasapathy, Lumm, Kunselman, Eaton and Anglin. Those …
Two events scheduled for New Year’s have received approval for their associated street closings from the Ann Arbor city council: The Puck Drops Here and the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic Game. Council action came at its Nov. 18, 2013 meeting.
In connection with the NHL Winter Classic Game to be played on New Year’s Day, the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is hosting a New Year’s Eve event called The Puck Drops Here, which will mimic the dropping of the lighted ball in Times Square, but with a 6-foot diameter lighted “puck” that is being fabricated by METAL.
Don Juan restaurant full of patrons wearing coats. Shopping center mostly closed early evening because of brownout.
Editor’s note: This “Live Updates” coverage of the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 18, 2013 meeting includes all the material from an earlier preview article. We think that will facilitate easier navigation from live-update material to background material already in the file.
The Nov. 18, 2013 meeting of the Ann Arbor city council is the first one with the new post-election composition of the 11-member council. The one new member of the council is Jack Eaton (Ward 4), who prevailed in the August Democratic primary contested with Marcia Higgins. She concluded 14 years of council service at her final meeting on Nov. 7.
The Nov. 18 meeting will include ceremonial swearing in of all councilmembers who won election on Nov. 5 – including Eaton, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5).
Three other items internal to the council organizational configuration appear on the agenda: approval of the 2014 city council rules; appointment of the 2014 city council committees; and election of mayor pro tem, as well as establishing the order of succession for acting mayor.
In recent years, the rules and the committee appointments have been put off until the first meeting in December, with only the election of mayor pro tem taking place at the second meeting in November. Higgins had served as mayor pro tem since 2008.
Speculation among some council sources indicate that Lumm could have sufficient support on the council to win election as mayor pro tem. Mayor pro tem fulfills the duties of mayor when the mayor is out of town or unable to perform those duties. The mayor pro tem’s salary is the same as other councilmembers, which is $15,913. Customarily, the order of mayoral succession has followed seniority on the council, with councilmembers who were elected in the same year sorted alphabetically.
A substantial portion of the council’s Nov. 18 agenda consists of items the council has seen at least once before – some through postponement and others by the nature of the standard approval process. In the standard-process category, the council will be asked to confirm a handful of appointments to boards and commissions that were nominated on Nov. 7.
The council will also consider giving final approval to two ordinance revisions that received initial approval at the council’s Nov. 7 meeting. One of those ordinance revisions involves changing the permitting requirements for use of public parks – so that fees would be waived for organizations that use parks to distribute goods to meet basic human needs.
A second ordinance revision that will be up for final approval on Nov. 18 is a change to the ordinance regulating the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s tax increment finance capture and board governance.
Although it’s not yet on the online agenda, the council would expect to see a sales agreement for the former Y lot presented for consideration. The council had directed the city administrator to negotiate with Dennis Dahlmann for the sale of the land, based on his $5.25 million offer, and to present a sales agreement for approval on Nov. 18. [See 4:17 p.m. update below]
Several items on the Nov. 18 agenda were postponed from previous meetings. One of those was first seen on Nov. 7 – a resolution sponsored by Sally Petersen (Ward 2), which would direct an educational effort for local officials and the public on conflict of interest and ethics issues.
Several other items postponed from previous meetings are tied together by a transportation theme. The city council will be considering for a second time a revision to the articles of incorporation of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority to admit Ypsilanti Township as a member and to increase the board membership from 9 to 10 members so that the township can appoint a member.
Postponed at the Nov. 7 meeting was the adoption of an update to the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, so the council will have a second look at that plan on Nov. 18.
Also postponed at the Nov. 7 meeting was a resolution to establish a pedestrian safety task force. It’s unclear if that task force will have sufficient traction to be appointed – because it was postponed amid concerns about the budget needed to support the task force’s work. The task force sponsors, Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1), have indicated their intent is not to make the task force an alternative to repealing the city’s mid-block crosswalk ordinance. [See 3:45 p.m. update below]
The repeal of language in the crosswalk ordinance will get its first reading at the council’s Nov. 18 meeting. The ordinance could be altered so that slowing (not necessarily stopping) would be a legal way to yield to pedestrians within crosswalks. The ordinance would be further changed so that only pedestrians within crosswalks (not those standing at the curb) would need to be accommodated by motorists.
Also related to streets are two resolutions authorizing the closing of streets in connection with New Year’s celebrations – on New Year’s Eve for the Puck Drops Here in downtown Ann Arbor, and on New Year’s Day for the NHL’s Winter Classic hockey game at Michigan Stadium.
The agenda features a few separate resolutions on standard easements and some rezoning requests. One of those rezoning requests is not standard – and was recommended by the planning commission for denial. That’s a request for rezoning a parcel on Packard Road from single-family to two-family.
The council will also be asked to authorize the city’s participation in the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Redevelopment Ready Communities Certification Program.
This article includes a more detailed preview of many of these agenda items. More details on other meeting agenda items are available on the city’s online Legistar system. Readers can also follow the live meeting proceedings Monday evening on Channel 16, streamed online by Community Television Network.
The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article below the preview material. Click here to skip the preview section and go directly to the live updates. The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Near miss – a gravel truck making a right turn into the 413 E. Huron construction site almost clips a bicyclist riding next to the truck in the righthand lane. Quick acceleration on the part of the cyclist averts crash.