Comments on: Poll: Clear Favorite for Ann Arbor Mayor it's like being there Tue, 16 Sep 2014 04:56:38 +0000 hourly 1 By: Rod Johnson Rod Johnson Fri, 01 Aug 2014 13:50:30 +0000 Dave does in fact refer to Postema as Postema three times in the very comment you cite, and refers to several others in that comment by last name only, not only you. The use of Postema’s full name a couple times seems merely a mildly emphatic stylistic quirk, and a strange thing to fixate on.

By: Stephen Lange Ranzini Stephen Lange Ranzini Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:01:59 +0000 I agree 100% with Kai (#43)! That discussion starting with #33 is fascinating! I think it is completely refreshing for a journalist to actually express a well informed and extremely educated opinion on a matter of major consequence to our town. I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to read and reflect on my comment (#29).

On #33, I am curious why you refer to me as Ranzini? You don’t refer to Stephen Postuma as Postuma, so why do you refer to me as Ranzini, the first and only time I am mentioned, instead of Stephen Ranzini, or better yet, by my full name, which is Stephen Lange Ranzini? I have used my full name my entire life because it expresses my full identity, half German (from my northern German Mother and her 100% northern German family named Lange), half Italian (from my northern Italian Father and his 100% northern Italian family named Ranzini). On this second point no response is required, thanks!

By: Kai Petainen Kai Petainen Fri, 01 Aug 2014 02:24:33 +0000 Dave… you should write an article just on what you wrote at the bottom. You raise some very interesting points.

By: Steve Bean Steve Bean Thu, 31 Jul 2014 20:55:46 +0000 Re: 38, “Because the city council lets the city attorney call the shots on how it exercises oversight of the DDA.”

“…the council … is instead meekly deferring to perceived or actual direction from the city attorney.”

I think the latter is a more accurate characterization. (It would be a description rather than a characterization if “meekly” were omitted.)

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Thu, 31 Jul 2014 19:15:12 +0000 Re: “I was not challenging your assessment of the last 10 years (or the last 24 hours).”


Re: “I am curious why you think having an attorney (any attorney, or just CM Taylor?) as mayor means that it will continue.”

Because you’ve forced me to sharpen up my thinking on that, I think the answer is that it’s not any attorney but rather an attorney like Taylor, who has a public record of deferring to the city attorney’s assessment of an open government issue – even when the other 10 members of council saw things differently. And I think that his deference is rooted partly in his own membership in the legal profession together with his own perceptions of what counts as well-mannered and polite behavior among fellow attorneys.

For example, Taylor was the the sole voice of dissent in a council vote on waiving attorney-client privilege on an outside bond counsel’s memo at the council’s March 17, 2014 meeting. It’s a sole dissenting vote that’s not recorded in Legistar as a roll call vote – so anyone who’s trying to compile voting records just by looking at roll calls would not see the breakdown of Taylor’s dissent and could miss it. Taylor didn’t insist on a roll call vote when asked by Hieftje if he wanted one. However, in this specific instance, it’s recorded in the Legistar note in the action text, even if not as a table of yes-no votes: “The question being the Resolution as originally presented, on a voice vote, the Mayor declared the motion carried with one no-vote made by Councilmember Taylor.”

The rationale offered by Postema for not simply waiving privilege on an existing memo was to contend – without any citation – that “best practice” for handling those situations was to ask counsel to rewrite the memo for public consumption. My own inquiries with multiple municipal attorneys after the meeting led me to conclude that this claim of “best practice” had no actual basis in fact, and was being used synonymously with “the way Postema would prefer to do it.”

Yet Taylor was willing to accept the city attorney’s representation about “best practice” without hesitation. To him it was “unprofessional” of the council to waive privilege on the existing memo – which I think can fairly be described as a fussy preoccupation on Taylor’s part with being perceived as respectable within the legal profession. The fact that it’s not being an attorney per se that led him to his dissenting vote is reflected in the fact that another attorney on the council, Jack Eaton, voted with the rest of the council on the question. And the privilege was consequently waived.

By: Sara Hathaway Sara Hathaway Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:52:14 +0000 #16 – For what it’s worth, I was a delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention with Sally Peterson’s dad, Sinclair D. Hart, so I know she was raised big-D Democratic in Williamstown, MA, which is a very “blue” town. She may not find it central to her campaign message in Ann Arbor, but I hope people don’t question her Democratic credentials.

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:27:57 +0000 Re (38) I was not challenging your assessment of the last 10 years (or the last 24 hours). I am curious why you think having an attorney (any attorney, or just CM Taylor?) as mayor means that it will continue.

The City Attorney answers to the full Council, not just the Mayor. I, of course, cannot disclose what goes on in closed session with the City Attorney, but I believe it is permissible for me to convey that there is not a consensus on Council about allowing the City Attorney to occupy the “actual seat of power.” The next mayor will be just one of the voices to speak to that topic.

By: Dave Askins Dave Askins Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:10:56 +0000 Re: “Perhaps we can get you to explore that idea sometime between the primary election and the general election.”

Why wait? Yesterday, the rules committee abdicated its own responsibility to the city attorney, allowing him to preside over the committee meeting. That’s a specific example of the real seat of power belonging to the city attorney’s office – with the council’s willing and enthusiastic participation.

Today, I received an email from city administrator, and DDA board member, Steve Powers indicating that “The City Attorney advises that City Council approval of the raise for the DDA Executive Director is not required. City Council has approved a salary and job classification plan for non-union positions, including the DDA Executive Director. The DDA Executive Director’s current salary is within the salary range for the position.”

That reply comes in the context of Open Meeting Act violations – with respect to salary increases awarded to the DDA executive director in FY 2013 and FY 2014 – and documented in a recent Chronicle column: [link]. That column includes the suggestion that the city council assert its proper oversight role by approving the salary increases awarded in FY 2013 and FY 2014 as well as this year – so that there’s no question that Pollay is legally entitled to the extra money she’s already received in FY 2013 and FY 2014.

Now that the city attorney has weighed in with an opinion that the city council doesn’t need to approve those increases, the council will, I predict, simply say: Well, the city attorney says we don’t need to do anything, and that means we shouldn’t do anything, so that’s good enough for us; because you know if we were to approve those increases that might create the impression that we were required to do so, which isn’t the case, and sure wouldn’t want to engage in soul-sucking micromanagement of the DDA’s affairs, and whew, so so so glad the city attorney has certified that there’s nothing we need to do here.

Instead, the council could say: Without regard to the city attorney’s advice, we’re going to approve the salary increases anyway, because the city attorney has not told us we’re not allowed to do that. And further we’re going to insist on an answer from the DDA with respect to its compliance with the OMA in FY 2013 and FY 2014 for salary increases awarded to the DDA executive director. Specifically, we – the city council of Ann Arbor – demand that the DDA submit minutes of the meetings at which executive director salary increases were approved in FY 2013 and FY 2014, as required under Michigan’s OMA.

But there’s nothing (yet) on the draft agenda for Aug. 7 that deals with this topic. Nor do I think there will be. Because the city council lets the city attorney call the shots on how it exercises oversight of the DDA.

Jack, I’d be delighted to be proven wrong in this instance.

Anyway, these are just top-of-mind examples. Yesterday was the rules committee. Today was news about likely continued lack of DDA oversight by the council. Tomorrow will be some other topic on which the council itself should acting in accordance with its own notion of good public policy, but is instead meekly deferring to perceived or actual direction from the city attorney.

With upcoming elections, your city attorney will be touring the polls in his guise as one of three city election commissioners. And if past pattern is indicative of future performance, he might introduce himself to pollworkers as “your boss.” One poll worker has told me that his response to Postema was: Erm, yeah, my “boss” is Jackie Beaudry. I wonder if the council would ever have the same temerity to explain to the city attorney who the boss is? (Spoiler alert: It’s supposed to be the council.)

By: Jack Eaton Jack Eaton Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:07:20 +0000 Re (33) You said: “I think that one effect of having an attorney as mayor is that the actual seat of power in Ann Arbor’s city hall will remain solidly where it has been for at least a decade – in the city attorney’s office.”

Wow! The thinking behind that statement deserves an entire column of its own. Perhaps we can get you to explore that idea sometime between the primary election and the general election.

By: DrData DrData Thu, 31 Jul 2014 16:13:49 +0000 Here’s the methodology that PPP uses (from its website): [link]

Can’t say for sure that’s what they did this time around, but if it is, it is likely to be based on landlines only as most cell phones are not listed.

Surprising to most is that 40% of households are cell-only households: [link]