New Media Watch Section

A2: Transit Tax Forum

A video of a recent panel discussion on the May 6 transit millage has been posted on the Ann Arbor District Library’s website. Voters in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township will weigh in on a proposed 0.7 mill tax for expanded public transportation. Panelists at the April 7 forum included state Rep. Jeff Irwin, who supports the expansion; Gillian Ream Gainsley, a board member of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, which put the measure on the ballot; and former AATA board member Ted Annis and LuAnne Bullington, both of Better Transit Now, which opposes the tax. The event was moderated by the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, and held at the downtown library. [Source]

Region: Chamber Supports Transit Millage

On its website, the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber has endorsed the 0.7 transit millage that will appear on the May 6, 2014 ballot for voters in the city of Ann Arbor, the city of Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township. The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority board voted to place the millage on the ballot at its Feb. 20, 2014 meeting. From the statement of support: “AAATA’s plan is also sound because it offers a specific set of services for a specific amount of tax increase; a pay for what you get equation.” [Source]

A2: Rebekah Warren

On the website for her Congressional exploratory committee, Democrat Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor has announced that she does not plan to run for the 12th District seat held by Rep. John Dingell, who is not seeking re-election. Dingell’s wife, Debbie Dingell, announced in late February that she is running for that position. Warren writes: “I want you to know I was not bullied out of this race. I was never afraid of the fight. And I did not take a deal to walk away. That is simply not my style.” Warren plans to run for re-election to the District 18 seat in the Michigan Senate. [Source]

A2: TEDxYouth

Students from seven Ann Arbor high schools have organized the first local TEDxYouth event, on Saturday, March 22 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Skyline High. According to the event’s website, all speakers will be high school students, talking about their future: ”We believe in the efficacy of Youth Voice for powerful growth and change in Ann Arbor.” [Source]

A2: Library

Celeste Choate, an associate director at the Ann Arbor District Library, has been hired as executive director of the Urbana Free Library in Urbana, Illinois. She’ll start that position on April 1. From a press release issued by UFL: “When asked if she is ready to switch her allegiance from the University of Michigan Wolverines to the Illini, Choate laughed and said she is really looking forward to performances at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.” [Source]

A2: Community Foundation

The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation has announced that its CEO and president, Cheryl Elliott, will be retiring at the end of 2014. She has served in that position since 2001, and has worked for AAACF since 1992. According to a press release, the AAACF’s chair and vice chair – Bhushan Kulkarni and Michelle Crumm – will oversee the search for a new CEO, working with a search committee and search firm. The goal is to hire a replacement by this fall. [Source]

A2: Frita Batidos

A new blog – SLICE Ann Arbor – interviews chef Eve Aronoff of Frita Batidos about her interests, lessons learned, and advice for aspiring chefs. When asked what’s next, Aronoff replies: “Working hard on opening Frita Batidos in downtown Detroit (shhh).” [Source]

Ann Arbor: Free Speech

AOL Autos reports on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of two Michigan men – including Dave DeVarti of Ann Arbor. The lawsuit contends that the state of Michigan violated First Amendment rights when it rejected applications for vanity license plates. DeVarti wanted a plate that stated “WAR SUX.” [Source]

A2: Krazy Jim’s Blimpyburger

The owners of Krazy Jim’s Blimpyburger have started a fundraising campaign to raise $60,000 for moving and construction costs at a new location. From the post on Indiegogo.com: ”We’ve turned to crowdfunding to help raise a portion of the capital needed to secure our bank loan. In return we are offering some great rewards to our backers. Many people have reached out to us asking how they could help and this seemed like a perfect way for the many fans to show us some love and help us get back to grilling. You would be giving us more than money – our success in this campaign is a vote of support. For the price of a burger, you can get us … [Full Story]

A2: Davy Rothbart

Damn Arbor has published an interview with Davy Rothbart, creator of FOUND Magazine, about “Medora” – his new documentary focused on Medora, Indiana. Along with Andy Cohn, Rothbart is co-director and co-producer of the film, which follows the Medora Hornets varsity basketball team and the complexities of poverty and drug abuse in a small Midwestern town. From the interview, answering a query about Rothbart’s relationship with basketball: “I grew up in Ann Arbor and Ypsi and love playing basketball. We’d shovel off the court at Wheeler Park and play in the winter. We didn’t drink much in high school, so we played basketball. Eberwhite, Burns Park. We’d play at midnight or 4 a.m. We played constantly. We weren’t that good … [Full Story]

A2: Crosswalk Law

The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition has posted information on its website advocating against a pending change to the city of Ann Arbor’s crosswalk ordinance. The post includes a document with crash diagrams – extracted from official reports – of pedestrian accidents at non-signalized crosswalks over the last four years. [.pdf of crash diagrams] Instead of revising the ordinance, the WBWC wants to allow time for a recently established pedestrian safety task force to make a recommendation: “WBWC urges Council to utilize the newly formed Pedestrian Safety Task Force as a place to begin looking at all the crash data and prioritizing engineering, enforcement and educational measures that will enhance walkability in our community.” [Source]

UM: Faculty Petition

An online “open letter” from University of Michigan faculty to president Mary Sue Coleman and provost Martha Pollack asks that the proposed Administrative Services Transformation (AST) project – which aims to reduce costs by centralizing services – be terminated. As of early afternoon on Saturday, Nov. 23, the letter had received over 600 signatures. From the letter: “AST is a top-down program that eliminates the ability to retain corporate knowledge and leverage the unit-culture experiences of some 300 support staff while limiting their contributions to a series of transactional tasks in a call center.” [Source]

UM: Moving Arthur Miller House?

The University of Michigan’s Architecture, Engineering and Construction website now includes a notice seeking proposals for the “sale and removal of the house located at 439 S. Division, Ann Arbor, Michigan.” The house was once home to Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Arthur Miller. For anyone who’s interested in purchasing and moving the house to a different location, proposals are due Dec. 10, 2013. A tour will be offered of the site on Nov. 19, 2013, starting promptly at 4 p.m. [Source]

The moving of historically significant houses has relatively recent local precedent in the Albert Polhemus House, which was moved in 2006 from Washington Street in downtown Ann Arbor to a location on Pontiac Trail. The Albert Polhemus House now … [Full Story]

A2: Giant Pumpkins

On her blog Mae Travels, Mae Sander documents the delivery by forklift of a large pumpkin to a house in the Burns Park neighborhood. [Source]

A2: River Data Discontinued

The USGS stream gauge for the Huron River located near Wall Street has stopped reporting data like oxygen content and turbidity, although basic stream flow data is still available. The message on the USGS realtime reporting site indicates that the reduction in data reporting is due to federal sequestration: “The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will discontinue operation of a number of streamgages nationwide due to budget cuts as a result of sequestration. Additional streamgages may be affected if partners reduce their funding to support USGS streamgages. The USGS is working to identify which streamgages will be impacted and will post this information as it becomes available. … When budget fluctuations occur, the network is impacted.” [Source]

According to Huron River Watershed … [Full Story]

A2: Pillbug Designs

Local artist Missy Orge of Pillbug Designs is featured on the Martha Stewart Living website, with a Q&A and photos of her work – including “ornithologically correct” bird pants and bird socks: Orge describes her epiphany about becoming an artist: “…when complete strangers began buying my pieces, and the reaction in general was so overwhelmingly positive, I realized that art can be funny and cheerful and nonsensical. It doesn’t have to make a statement or break your heart or change your mind.” [Source]

A2: Road Repair Fund Raising

The Ann Arbor BicycleTouring Society has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the repaving of Huron River Drive between Foster Road and Barton Dam – a popular cycling route. According to AABTS, the money raised by its members would be matched by the Washtenaw County Road Commission. The society has a fundraising goal of $30,000. Checks made out to the Washtenaw County Road Commission can be sent to Road Repair Projects c/o Theodore Green, 2773 Holyoke Lane, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. [Source]

UM: $200M Donation

The University of Michigan announced it will name the athletic campus after developer Stephen M. Ross, following a new $200 million donation from Ross to the university. Of that amount, $100 million is designated for athletics and $100 million will fund the business school, which is already named after Ross because of a previous donation. [Source]

UM: Marching Band

A 9-minute video of the University of Michigan Marching Band performance at the Aug. 31, 2013 football game. The James Bond theme – “From Ann Arbor with Love” – features a jet-pack flight out of Michigan Stadium, and a cameo by UM president Mary Sue Coleman. [Source]

A2: Kerrytown BookFest

A post on the Kerrytown BookFest website highlights panel discussions and other features of the 11th annual event, held at the Ann Arbor farmers market on Sunday, Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. According to organizer Robin Agnew, president of the book festival and co-owner of Aunt Agatha’s mystery bookshop, this year’s theme is to celebrate Detroit and its writers. [Source]

UM: Alice Walker

Inside Higher Ed reports that Alice Walker, the author who recently was disinvited to speak at a University of Michigan event hosted by UM’s Center for the Education of Women, is now being invited back. The report cites an email from UM provost Martha Pollack, sent to faculty last week and posted on the CEW website: “Consistent with the university’s commitment to free speech, I am pleased to report that the CEW and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies are joining together to extend an invitation to Ms. Walker to speak in a public forum on campus.” It is not clear whether Walker has accepted. [Source]

A2: Blimpy Burger

A photo by Thomas Nighswander – featuring Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger owner Rich Magner and several employees – is posted on “The Last Supper” website, which provides details of an Aug. 17 fundraiser and final event at the current Blimpy location at Division and Packard. The event, which costs $100 per person, is described on the website as “a very personalized experience and a chance to meet others as Krazy about Blimpy as you are.” Blimpy’s will be open to the general public through Wednesday, Aug. 14. [Source]

A2: Arts & Culture

The Arts Alliance has released responses from Ann Arbor city council candidates to a questionnaire on arts and culture. The alliance received responses from only two of the four candidates in the Aug. 6, 2013 Democratic primary’s contested races – Julie Grand in Ward 3, and Jack Eaton in Ward 4. The incumbents in those races – Steve Kunselman (Ward 3) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) did not respond to the survey by the deadline. [Source]

A2: Downtown Zoning

An online survey about downtown zoning has been posted on A2 Open City Hall, as part of the current review of A2D2 (Ann Arbor Discovering Downtown) zoning. The survey closes at 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2. Survey results will be part of the input considered by the city’s planning commission as it makes recommendations to city council about possible zoning revisions. Public forums, focus groups and coffee hours are other strategies that the city is using to solicit feedback – more details on that are on the A2D2 website. [Link to A2 Open City Hall]

A2: Dog Park

The city of Ann Arbor is seeking input on a potential new dog park in Ann Arbor, via an online survey and two public meetings. The dog park subcommittee of the city’s park advisory commission will hold public meetings on Tuesday, Aug. 27 from 7-8:30 p.m. in the basement conference room of city hall at 301 E. Huron, and on Wednesday, Sept. 11 from 7-8:30 p.m. at Cobblestone Farm Barn at 2781 Packard Road. The online survey will be open through Aug. 12. [Source]

Washtenaw: Pam Byrnes

The Ballot Box blog for The Hill reports on Democrat Pam Byrnes’ decision to challenge Republican incumbent Tim Wahlberg in 2014 for the 7th District U.S. Congressional seat, which includes portions of western Washtenaw County. From The Hill: “The seat leans slightly Republican, giving Mitt Romney 51 percent of its vote in 2012, and is the type Democrats need to win to have a shot at taking back control of the House next year.” Byrnes, who lives in the Chelsea area, was a former Michigan state representative who served as speaker of the House. She lost a 2010 primary election for state senate to Rebekah Warren. [Source]

A2: Business

A post on Herman Miller’s Lifework blog features a Q&A with Lisa Waud of Ann Arbor-based Pot & Box, focused on her playlist at work. Here’s how Waud responds when asked what her work would be if it were a song or musician: “Wow. I guess I’d say my work would be the band Little Dragon: a strong female lead, can’t sit still when it’s underway, and like they describe their music, my work is very much a dreamy, rhythmical, shifting, moody rainbow.” [Source]