Stories indexed with the term ‘appointments’

County Makes WCHO Appointments

Dennis McDougal and Jeanette Spencer have been appointed to the Washtenaw Community Health Organization (WCHO) board for terms ending March 31, 2016. The county board of commissioners made the appointments in a unanimous vote at their March 6, 2013 meeting.

The Washtenaw Community Health Organization (WCHO) is a partnership between Washtenaw County and the University of Michigan Health System. Each institution appoints six members to the board. The partnership focuses on providing services to children and adults with mental or emotional health disorders, substance abuse problems or developmental disabilities.

The organization is in transition following the sudden death of Patrick Barrie, the former WCHO executive director who died in late 2012. WCHO also recently relocated its offices to the county-owned 705 … [Full Story]

Art Commission Updated on Program Revamp

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Feb. 27, 2013): Much of this month’s public art commission meeting was spent discussing the work of a city council committee that’s developing recommendations for changes to Ann Arbor’s public art program.

Marsha Chamberlin, Deb Gosselin, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Marsha Chamberlin, chair of the Ann Arbor public art commission, and Deb Gosselin, who handles the city’s capital improvements plan (CIP). Gosselin attended AAPAC’s Feb. 27 meeting to talk about the CIP process, which the commission is using as a planning tool for future public art projects. (Photos by the writer.)

Sabra Briere, who’s one of five city councilmembers on the committee, updated AAPAC on possible revisions to the city’s public art ordinance, as well as more general recommendations that are being prepared for the full council. Those proposed changes are likely to include eliminating the Percent for Art funding mechanism, creating a structure to solicit private donations and grants to support public art, directing staff to “bake in” artwork and architectural enhancements as part of overall city capital projects, and providing more administrative support – perhaps by contracting out those services.

AAPAC members had questions about the possible new approach, including questions about the commission’s own role. Briere advised them to continue working on existing projects that are funded through the Percent for Art approach, but noted that they should focus on future opportunities that don’t rely on Percent for Art funds.

The council committee continues to meet, and will eventually deliver recommendations and draft ordinance changes to the full council. This Chronicle report includes highlights from the committee’s most recent meeting on March 1. The committee next meets on March 15, before the council’s March 18 meeting. A moratorium on spending unallocated Percent for Art dollars expires on April 1.

In other action at AAPAC’s February meeting, commissioners heard from Jason Frenzel, stewardship coordinator for the Huron River Watershed Council, about a project that would raise awareness of how the city’s stormdrain system connects to the river. The project is proposed in two stages, starting with a chalk art contest at the June 14 Green Fair, during which artists would draw images and messaging around stormdrains on Main Street.

Commissioners also discussed how to move forward with a proposed memorial to Coleman Jewett – a bronze Adirondack chair at the Ann Arbor farmers market. A private donor has already committed $5,000 to the memorial, but details are still being worked out about how to manage the project. AAPAC chair Marsha Chamberlin indicated that she might call a special meeting in early March for commissioners to act on the proposal, which hasn’t formally been accepted by AAPAC. Update: The special meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, March 7 at 4:30 p.m. in the fifth-floor conference room at city hall, 301 E. Huron.

Other project updates were made via a written report from Aaron Seagraves, the city’s public art administrator. The report stated that a task force has selected four artists as finalists for artwork on the East Stadium bridges, and they have been invited to an April 1 site visit/open house. The finalists are: Volkan Alkanoglu, based in Atlanta, Georgia; Sheila Klein of Bow, Washington; Rebar Group of San Francisco; and Catherine Widgery of Cambridge, Mass. The project has a budget of $400,000.

Only four commissioners attended the Feb. 27 meeting, and when one commissioner left early, the meeting was adjourned for lack of a quorum – before all agenda items were addressed. In part because of attendance issues, officer elections – which AAPAC bylaws state should happen in January – have not yet occurred. Ballots were mailed to commissioners last week, and results will be announced at AAPAC’s March 27 meeting. It’s expected that vice chair Malverne Winborne will be elected chair.

And although it was not discussed at the meeting, Cathy Gendron resigned from AAPAC in late February. She had been reappointed to AAPAC at the city council’s Jan. 7, 2013 meeting for a term through Jan. 20, 2016, but had not attended the commission’s January or February meetings.

Responding to a Chronicle query, Gendron stated in an email that she had agreed to stay on the commission through March, but would be unable to attend AAPAC meetings and decided to resign. ”It’s time for someone else to take my place.” There are now three vacancies on the nine-member commission. [Full Story]

County Board Continues Labor Strategy Talks

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Feb. 20, 2013): In a meeting with few new action items, the board gave final approval to a resolution protesting the state’s right-to-work law, and spent more than an hour in executive closed session to discuss collective bargaining strategies.

Diane Heidt, Greg Dill, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Diane Heidt, the county’s human resources and labor relations director, talks with Greg Dill, director of infrastructure management. (Photos by the writer.)

The resolution taking a stance against the state law was approved on a 6-2 vote, with dissent from the board’s two Republican commissioners – Dan Smith (District 2) and Alicia Ping (District 3). Felicia Brabec (D-District 4) was absent. Though Smith had stated his objections on Feb. 6, when an initial vote had been taken, there was no discussion on the item at the Feb. 20 meeting.

The resolution directed the administration to negotiate new four-year contracts “to protect and extend each bargaining unit’s union security provisions.” Current contracts with most of the 17 unions representing county employees expire at the end of 2013. New contracts, if completed before the right-to-work law takes effect in March, would not be required to comply with the new law, which makes it illegal to require employees to support unions financially as a condition of their employment.

Negotiations with the unions began earlier this month.

In other action at the Feb. 20 meeting, the board appointed Dan Smith to the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission – the third county commissioner to be appointed to that 10-member board. Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6) raised concerns about having too many commissioners serve on that entity, noting that Smith was filling a slot designated for the general public.

Yousef Rabhi, who as board chair made the nomination, responded to Peterson’s comments, saying that he and Smith had discussed this issue – because Smith had the same concerns as Peterson. Rabhi assured Peterson that the commission will continue to provide opportunities for citizens to serve, and that the slot filled by Smith would remain designated as one for the general public for future appointments. Five members of the general public currently serve on the parks & rec commission.

In communications to the board, Rabhi noted that he planned to form a task force to explore establishing a county land bank. A land bank is a mechanism for the county to take temporary ownership of tax- or mortgage-foreclosed land while working to put it back into productive use. The board had previously voted to establish a land bank at its Sept. 1, 2010 meeting, but never took the next step of funding it or getting approval from the state. Only three commissioners from that period – Ronnie Peterson, Rolland Sizemore Jr. and Conan Smith – still currently serve on the board.

Among the other items handled at the Feb. 20 meeting included: Resolutions of appreciation for two Chelsea organizations – Purple Rose Theatre and Chelsea Lanes; a final vote to authorize borrowing up to $40 million against the amount of delinquent property taxes in all Washtenaw County jurisdictions; and final approval to add the Detroit Region Aerotropolis board to the list of boards, committees and commissions that are eligible for commissioners to receive stipend payments.

The Feb. 20 meeting was attended by several students, including nursing students from the University of Michigan who were observing the proceedings as part of a psychiatric nursing course. [Full Story]

UM Regents Appoint Provost, Law Dean

The University of Michigan’s board of regents has formally appointed Martha E. Pollack as the university’s new provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. Also appointed was Mark West as the new dean of UM’s Law School. The appointments were made at the board’s Feb. 21, 2013 meeting, as part of several appointments in the meeting’s consent agenda.

Pollack, who currently serves as vice provost, will replace Phil Hanlon, who was named president of Dartmouth College late last year and will begin his tenure there in July of 2013. [.pdf of memo recommending Pollack for provost] Her term runs from May 6, 2013 through June 30, 2015.

West now serves as associate dean for academic affairs … [Full Story]

County Board Makes 2 Appointments

Appointments to the Washtenaw County parks & recreation commission and the Area Agency on Aging 1B were confirmed at the Feb. 20, 2013 meeting of the county board of commissioners.

Dan Smith, a Republican county commissioner representing District 2, was appointed to the county parks & recreation commission for the remainder of a three-year term, ending Dec. 31, 2014. He had previously served two years on that commission, through Dec. 31, 2012. He was not reappointed in the initial round of appointments to WCPARC that were made earlier this year. Other commissioners appointed to WCPARC at the county board’s Jan. 16, 2013 meeting were Conan Smith of Ann Arbor (D-District 9) and Rolland Sizemore Jr. … [Full Story]

Greenbelt Group Praises Year-End Efforts

Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission meeting (Feb. 7, 2013): At their first meeting of 2013 – because the January session had been canceled – commissioners formally thanked individuals who’d made an extra effort on end-of-year land deals for the greenbelt program.

Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commission, Laura Rubin, Archer Christian, Ginny Trocchio, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Ann Arbor greenbelt advisory commissioners Laura Rubin and Archer Christian, and Ginny Trocchio (standing) of The Conservation Fund, who provides staff support for the greenbelt program. (Photos by the writer.)

A resolution of recognition was presented to Mary Fales, senior assistant attorney for the city of Ann Arbor; Matt Keir, vice president of Liberty Title; Rosanne Bloomer, a lending officer for Greenstone Farm Credit Services – and wife of GAC commissioner Tom Bloomer; and Ginny Trocchio of The Conservation Fund, who provides staff support for the greenbelt program.

GAC chair Dan Ezekiel praised their work, noting that certain factors – including a change in tax law – had added pressure to complete the deals before Dec. 31. The transactions protected a total of about 320 acres in Webster, Salem and Superior townships.

Trocchio also reported that the purchase of development rights for part of the Donald Drake farm – 124 acres of farmland in Lodi Township – had closed earlier this year, making it the first deal of 2013. More than 4,200 acres have now been protected under the greenbelt program, she noted.

Another topic highlighted at the Feb. 7 meeting was the need to recruit new members for the commission. Liz Rother resigned earlier this year, though her term runs through June 30, 2014. Ezekiel also pointed out that he and two other commissioners – Laura Rubin and Tom Bloomer – will be leaving the commission this summer, when their terms expire. All three are term-limited. He urged members of the public to consider applying.

The meeting ended with commissioners voting to approve recommendations for additional land preservation deals. Two of those items – seeking approval to apply for grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP) – are now on the agenda for the Ann Arbor city council’s Feb. 19, 2013 meeting. The properties are both in Lodi Township: (1) another part of the Drake farm – 72 acres along Waters Road; and (2) the Carol Schumacher farm – about 100 acres along Pleasant Lake Road. [Full Story]

County Board Amends List of Stipends

The Washtenaw County commissioner who is appointed to the Detroit Region Aerotropolis board will now be eligible to receive stipend payments. At the county board’s Feb. 6, 2013 meeting, commissioners voted to add the aerotropolis board to a list of groups for which stipends are paid.

Commissioner Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5) was appointed to serve on the aerotropolis at the county board’s Jan. 16, 2013 meeting. He’ll receive an annual stipend of $100 for that work. Sizemore’s appointment on Jan. 16 came in the context of the annual county commissioner appointments made at the start of each year. [.pdf of 2013 appointments listing]

The original list of eligible boards, committees and commissions for which stipends are … [Full Story]

Graham Gets Environmental Reappointment

Christopher Graham has been reappointed to serve on the city of Ann Arbor’s environmental commission. The vote by the city council came at the council’s Jan. 22, 2013 meeting.

Graham was initially appointed in 2006 and has served two three-year terms on the commission. Graham is also a member of the executive committee of the Michigan Environmental Council.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]

City Council Acts on Wind Power, Park Items

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Jan. 7, 2013): Most of the council’s first regular meeting of the year was taken up with discussion of a U.S. Department of Energy grant of nearly $1 million for construction of two wind turbines, likely to be constructed on Ann Arbor Public Schools property.

This apple on a city council desk reflects the fact that part of the meeting was devoted to core priorities.

This apple on a councilmember’s desk could reflect the fact that part of the meeting was devoted to core priorities. (Photo by the writer.)

Councilmembers established a concern about the possible financial risks associated with the project, and a desire that public input be solicited on the ultimate decision for a site. But the vote was unanimous to accept the grant, which includes an obligation to provide roughly $480,000 in matching funds. That match is expected to be provided by Wind Products Inc., a company located in Brooklyn, New York.

At a meeting of the city’s energy commission held the following night, commissioners expressed their dissatisfaction that the proposal had not been brought to that body for review.

Some of the council’s deliberations on the wind turbines included the question of whether the effort was consistent with the council’s priorities for the next two years – ones that were formally adopted at the Jan. 7 meeting. The priorities, which had been identified in a Dec. 10 planning session, included the basic areas of: fiscal responsibility, public safety, infrastructure, economic development and affordable housing.

The council had three parks-related voting items on its agenda, neither of which prompted extended deliberations. One was approval of a design for the new skatepark in the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park, which is expected to start construction in the spring and be completed in the fall. A second voting item was the approval of another contract with the Conservation Fund, which helps manage operations for the city’s greenbelt and parkland acquisition programs.

A third parks-related voting item was authorization of a contract to replace roofs on two buildings at Cobblestone Farm.

Another agenda item – related to parks, but not requiring a vote – was a presentation from the council-appointed task force that’s been asked to make recommendations for a future vision of the North Main Street corridor, extending to the Huron River, including the MichCon property. They focused their presentation on the 721 N. Main property, for which the council had authorized two grant applications at its Dec. 17, 2012 meeting. The group has a summer 2013 deadline to make recommendations for the whole area.

Also on the topic of parks, the council heard from representatives of New Hope Baptist Church during public commentary, regarding a planned new dog park. Members of the congregation oppose the location of the dog park inside West Park, because it’s immediately adjacent to the church on Chapin Street. Also during public commentary, the council again heard calls for the top of the Library Lane parking garage to be designated as a park.

Some other items on the agenda could be grouped under land use and planning. The council gave approval to changes to the site plan for Packard Square, a proposed redevelopment of the former Georgetown Mall. The council had postponed the item from its Dec. 3, 2012 agenda.

And the council gave initial approval to a zoning request in connection with the proposed Summit Townhomes project site, just east of Stone School Road. The land was recently annexed into the city from Pittsfield Township.

Also as a result of council action, Ann Arbor residents could have some additional flexibility for parking cars on their front lawns – beyond just the occasions of University of Michigan football games.

In other business, the council approved the appointment of Carrie Leahy to the board of the local development finance authority (LDFA). The LDFA is a tax-increment finance (TIF)-funded entity that comprises the geographic area of the city of Ann Arbor’s downtown development authority, as well as the city of Ypsilanti’s DDA.

Other public commentary heard at the meeting included remarks opposing continued investment in companies that provide military hardware to Israel.

One hour immediately preceding the regular meeting was a special session of the council. Its agenda consisted only of a closed session, to discuss labor negotiations – which is an allowable topic for a closed session under the Michigan Open Meetings Act. [Full Story]

Gerber, Murphy Named to Transit Board

Liz Gerber and Richard “Murph” Murphy have been appointed to represent Washtenaw County on the new southeast Michigan regional transit authority board. Gerber lives in Ann Arbor and is a professor at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. Murphy is an Ypsilanti resident and programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance.

The appointments were made by Conan Smith, chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners – who also serves as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. Smith announced his decision in a Dec. 31 email time-stamped 4:45 p.m.

Dec. 31 is the final day of Smith’s term as chair of the county board, and as such is the last day that he would be able to … [Full Story]

Five Finalists To Be Interviewed for RTA Board

Five candidates will be interviewed on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 for two board positions to represent Washtenaw County on a new southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA). The finalists are: (1) David Nacht, a Scio Township resident, local attorney and board member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; (2) Richard “Murph” Murphy, an Ypsilanti resident and programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance; (3) John Waterman, a Saline resident and founder of the nonprofit Programs to Educate All Cyclists (PEAC); (4) Liz Gerber, an Ann Arbor resident and professor at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy; and (5) Wendy Woods, current Ann Arbor planning commissioner and former Ann Arbor city councilmember.

Seventeen people had submitted applications by the … [Full Story]

Regional Transit Authority Board: 17 Apply

Seventeen people have applied for two board positions to represent Washtenaw County on a new southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA). The deadline to apply was Dec. 21. The legislation enacting the RTA was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 19.

The Regional Transit Authority board will have two appointees from each of four counties, and one from the city of Detroit.

The Regional Transit Authority board will have two appointees from each of four counties, and one from the city of Detroit.

The authority – intended to coordinate regional public transportation initiatives – covers the city of Detroit and counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw. The governing board will consist of two appointees from each county, one appointee from Detroit, and one non-voting member appointed by the governor. The Washtenaw County board members are required to be residents and registered electors of the county. County employees, elected officials or employees of a public transportation provider – like the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority – are not eligible.

Several high-profile community members have applied for the new board positions, including Republican legislator Rick Olson – who co-sponsored the RTA legislation in the state House – and David Nacht, a current Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board member. Also applying is Richard “Murph” Murphy, programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, an organization led by Conan Smith.

Smith will be making the RTA appointments. The legislation states that the county executive – or county board chair, in counties like Washtenaw where the executive is not an elected position – is authorized to make appointments to the RTA board. Smith, a Democrat representing one of the county commissioner districts in Ann Arbor, has served as chair for the past two years. It’s the county board’s custom to rotate that position, and elections will be held on Jan. 2, 2013 for the next board chair. There is no stipulation that the RTA appointments must be made in 2012, only that they be made within 90 days of the RTA’s creation. However, the county sent out a press release on Dec. 14 indicating Smith’s intent to make the appointments before his term ends. [Full Story]

County Seeks Applications for RTA Board

Washtenaw County issued a press release on Friday, Dec. 14 announcing the intent of Conan Smith, chair of the county board of commissioners, to appoint two representatives to a new 10-member regional transit authority (RTA) board. State legislation creating the RTA was passed earlier this month in a flurry of activity during the lame duck session, but has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. That action is anticipated to happen next week.

The authority would cover the city of Detroit and counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw. The governing board would consist of two appointees from each county, one appointee from Detroit, and one non-voting member appointed by the governor. The move to engage in an … [Full Story]

UM Regents OK Key Reappointments

Three key reappointments were highlighted during the Dec. 13, 2012 meeting of the University of Michigan board of regents. They were among several personnel actions approved by regents in one vote. [.pdf of all personnel actions]

Jerry May, UM’s vice president for development, was reappointed to a third five-year term from Feb. 1, 2013 through Jan. 31, 2018. At the Dec. 13 meeting, president Mary Sue Coleman praised May’s work, saying he has met or exceeded expectations for every single task. In her letter of support for his reappointment, Coleman cited his leadership of the most successful capital campaign in UM’s history. Called the “Michigan Difference,” the campaign surpassed $3 billion in donations. UM is gearing up for another major … [Full Story]

County Faces Tension Over Veterans Group

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Dec. 5, 2012): More than 20 veterans attended the county board’s final meeting of 2012, hoping to sway commissioners on three appointments to the county’s dept. of veterans affairs committee.

Michael Smith, Ira Brownridge, Washtenaw County veterans affairs, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

From left: Michael Smith, director of the Washtenaw County dept. of veterans affairs, and Ira Brownridge, a veteran of the conflict in Iraq who was appointed to the county’s veterans affairs committee – the first veteran from that conflict to serve on the committee. (Photos by the writer.)

The board ultimately voted to appoint Gregg Weaver, Robert Fletcher and Ira Brownridge. Weaver and Fletcher are reappointments. Brownridge – who was appointed to a vacancy following the death of World War II veteran Eddie Steele – is the first veteran from the conflict in Iraq to be appointed to the committee. The majority of commissioners supported the continuity of reappointments, and the chance to appoint someone to represent the next generation of veterans.

The vote on these appointments was 9-2, with dissent from Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Wes Prater (D-District 4). Prater and Smith wanted the board to respect the recommendations from the veterans posts in the county, which had supported the appointments of three different men: John Kinzinger, David “Doc” Martinez, and Elmer White – all veterans of the Vietnam war, and active in the Washtenaw County chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Kinzinger, White and other veterans spoke during public commentary, urging the board to appoint the most qualified applicants and those who have long been involved in helping veterans in this community. They also addressed what some referred to as a dysfunctional department, and felt that it needed more oversight.

In other action at the meeting, the board gave a one-time salary adjustment to 940 of the county’s 1,321 employees – people who had taken unpaid “banked leave” days in 2012. The payment will equal 1.5% of their salaries, or an average of about $800. Several commissioners praised employees for making sacrifices in the past to help balance the county’s budget. The vote on the pay adjustment was 10-1, with dissent from Dan Smith (R-District 2).

The commissioners also gave themselves a pay increase, bumping up their base pay from $15,500 to $15,750 annually and replacing per diem payments with stipends, effective Jan. 1, 2013. In addition, four officers of the board will be getting compensation beyond their base pay. Dan Smith was the only commissioner to vote against these increases.

Commissioners gave final approval to the 2013 general fund budget of $102.84 million, with a net increase of one full-time position. [.pdf of 2013 Washtenaw County budget] The largest expenditures relate to personnel, which accounts for 66% of general fund expenses. The 2013 budget shows a $4.7 million increase in that category, compared to the original 2013 budget that commissioners approved in late 2011.

The Dec. 5 meeting also included farewells to four outgoing commissioners – Barbara Bergman, Leah Gunn, Wes Prater and Rob Turner – as well as to Janis Bobrin, the county’s water resources commissioner, who did not seek re-election. Commissioners and staff also had a moment of silence to honor Patrick Barrie, executive director of the Washtenaw Community Health Organization, died suddenly this month. Bergman, a long-time WCHO board member, called his death is a great loss for people who use WCHO services. “They have lost a champion,” she said, “and I have lost the dearest of friends.” [Full Story]

County Debates Appointments to Veterans Committee

More than 20 veterans attended the Dec. 5, 2012 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, watching as the board debated and ultimately approved three appointments to the county’s dept. of veterans affairs committee: Gregg Weaver, Robert Fletcher and Ira Brownridge. Weaver and Fletcher are reappointments. Brownridge – who was appointed to a vacancy following the death of Ed Steele – is the first veteran from the conflict in Iraq to be appointed to the committee.

The vote on these appointments was 9-2, with dissent from Dan Smith (R-District 2) and Wes Prater (D-District 4). Prater and Smith wanted the board to respect the recommendations from the veterans posts in the county, which all supported the appointments of three … [Full Story]

Smith to Serve on Environmental Group

Patti Smith’s nomination to serve on Ann Arbor’s environmental commission for a three-year term was confirmed by the city council at its Dec. 3, 2012 meeting.

Sabra Briere (Ward 1), the current Ann Arbor city council appointee to the commission, nominated Smith during the council’s Nov. 19, 2012 meeting. Smith’s educational background is as an attorney, and she now works in the field of special education.

The commission provides advice to the city council on “environmental policy, environmental issues and environmental implications of all City programs and proposals on the air, water, land and public health.”

Unlike the majority of nominations to city commissions and boards, which are made by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, the environmental commission … [Full Story]

Smith Nominated to Environmental Group

Patti Smith has been nominated as a replacement for John Koupal on Ann Arbor’s environmental commission – for a three-year term. Sabra Briere (Ward 1), the current Ann Arbor city council appointee to the commission, nominated Smith during the council’s Nov. 19, 2012 meeting. The commission provides advice to the city council on “environmental policy, environmental issues and environmental implications of all City programs and proposals on the air, water, land and public health.”

Unlike the majority of nominations to city commissions and boards, which are made by the mayor and confirmed by the city council, the environmental commission nominations are made by the council. The vote on Smith’s appointment will come at the council’s next meeting, on Dec. 3.

This … [Full Story]

Transit Withdrawal Before Council Transition

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Nov. 8, 2012): The post-election meeting of the council – moved from its usual Monday slot to Thursday – featured one high-profile piece of business watched by many throughout the county. That was a vote on withdrawal by the city of Ann Arbor from a new transit authority – called The Washtenaw Ride – which was incorporated on Oct. 3, 2012. The vote to opt out was 10-0. Sandi Smith (Ward 1) was absent.

Margie Teall

Margie Teall (Ward 4) raises her hand asking to be recognized so she can speak at the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 8 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Smith had said her farewell from the council at the previous meeting, on Oct. 15. She had decided not to seek re-election to her seat. At the Nov. 8 meeting, two other councilmembers attended their final meeting – Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) who, like Smith, did not seek re-election, and Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) who did not prevail in his August Democratic primary. New councilmembers – Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2) and Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) – will be ceremonially sworn in at the start of the council’s next meeting on Nov. 19.

A transitional theme emerged, as discussion of some agenda items straddled the Nov. 8 and Nov. 19 meetings – including the transit authority opt-out vote. Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) had been planning to bring a similar item forward on Nov. 19, when he felt he’d have a six-vote majority on the question. But that move was preempted by the Nov. 8 item, which included the sponsorship of Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and mayor John Hieftje – who had previously been key figures in supporting the city’s role in the planned authority.

Discussion of a living wage waiver for the nonprofit Community Action Network (CAN) also included mention of the Nov. 19 meeting. That’s when a proposal will be brought forward that would change the living wage ordinance itself. The preference of Hieftje and Hohnke to wait and consider the ordinance revision for all nonprofits – instead of granting a waiver to CAN – was strong enough that they voted against the waiver. But the eight votes it received were enough to ensure that for the next three years, CAN does not need to abide by the living wage ordinance – which would otherwise require it to pay all its workers $13.57/hour.

A resolution that transferred $90,000 from the general fund reserve to the affordable housing trust fund was part of the transitional theme – because it had Sandi Smith’s name attached as a sponsor, even though she could not attend the meeting. The dollar amount was keyed to the price of a strip of land belonging to the former YMCA lot, which the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority recently purchased from the city. The transfer of funds was made in the spirit, if not the letter, of a policy enacted by the council at Smith’s urging at her final council meeting. That policy called for net proceeds of the sale of the Y lot to be deposited in the affordable housing trust fund.

The council’s agenda for Nov. 19 was partially previewed when both Briere and Jane Lumm (Ward 2) announced they’d be bringing forward proposals to revise the city’s Percent for Art ordinance – in the wake of a failed public art millage proposal at the polls on Nov. 6. Briere’s proposal would alter the definition of projects that qualify, while Lumm’s would eliminate the program. The Percent for Art ordinance requires that 1% of the budgets for all capital projects be set aside for public art.

And although he’ll be leaving the council, Derezinski will serve out the remainder of Evan Pratt’s term on the city planning commission. Pratt is leaving that role after being elected Washtenaw County water resources commissioner. At the Nov. 8 meeting, council confirmed Derezinski’s planning commission nomination, which had come at the council’s previous meeting. The council also decided to expand a task force on planning for the North Main corridor to make room for outgoing councilmember Sandi Smith, and appointed her to that group as a citizen member. She’s been serving as the council’s representative.

In other business, a resolution that would have moved toward converting the city’s retirement system to a defined contribution plan – instead of a defined benefit plan – was withdrawn. The council also approved increasing the staffing level of the fire department from 85 to 86 firefighters. And the city’s sign board of appeals (SBA) was dissolved by the council, with responsibilities transferred to the zoning board of appeals (ZBA). The council also voted to give city attorney Stephen Postema a 2.4% raise, his first in five years. [Full Story]

UM Regents OK Lynch as General Counsel

Timothy G. Lynch’s appointment as University of Michigan vice president and general counsel was approved by regents as part of their consent agenda. The vote came during the board’s Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. His appointment was announced by the university earlier this week. He replaces Suellyn Scarnecchia, who resigned earlier this year. Since June 1, Debra Kowich has served as interim general counsel.

Most recently Lynch has served as the acting general counsel and deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement with the U.S. Department of Energy. Other previous experience includes serving as an assistant chief litigation counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and as an assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of … [Full Story]

Derezinski Stays on Planning Commission

Tony Derezinski will stay on the Ann Arbor planning commission at least through June of 2013 as a result of his confirmation by the city council at its Nov. 8, 2012 meeting. Derezinski’s last meeting as a city councilmember was Nov. 8, and up to that point he had served by annual appointment as the council’s representative to the planning commission. But because he did not prevail in his August Democratic primary race in Ward 2, he could not continue to serve on the planning commission in that capacity. Instead, it’s expected that Sabra Briere (Ward 1) will serve in that role. The confirmation by the council came over the dissent of Jane Lumm (Ward 2), who did not feel … [Full Story]

North Main Task Force Gets New Member

A task force that’s looking at future planning for the North Main Street and Huron River corridor has been expanded so that it eventually can include outgoing councilmember Sandi Smith (Ward 1). She was appointed to represent the council on the group, but did not seek re-election to her council seat. The vote to expand the task force came at the council’s Nov. 8, 2012 meeting. Smith was also nominated and confirmed in a one-step process serve as an additional citizen member.

Mayor John Hieftje had indicated at the council’s Oct. 15, 2012 meeting that he would be moving to expand the task force in this way. The resolution was sponsored by Smith’s Ward 1 cohort, Sabra Briere. At the meeting, Briere … [Full Story]

County Board Debates, OKs Act 88 Tax Hike

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Oct. 3, 2012): A sometimes heated debate over whether to raise a tax for economic development resulted in narrow approval by the board. It was a 6-5 vote on the increase to 0.06 mills, up from 0.05 mills. As an example, the 20% hike means that taxes for economic development will increase from $5 to $6 for each $100,000 of a property’s taxable value. The issue had been previously discussed at the board’s Sept. 19 meeting, but postponed until Oct. 3.

Janis Bobrin

Janis Bobrin, Washtenaw County’s water resources commissioner, attended the Oct. 3, 2012 county board meeting to present environmental excellence awards. She received a standing ovation from commissioners. She is not running for re-election, and will leave office later this year after more than two decades in that position. (Photos by the writer.)

The board is authorized to levy the tax under Act 88 of 1913 – and it does not require a voter referendum. Voting against the increase were commissioners Ronnie Peterson, Alicia Ping, Wes Prater, Dan Smith and Rob Turner. They cited several objections, including the timing of a tax increase while many taxpayers are struggling because of the economy, and the unlikelihood that the tax will be lowered in the future, when economic conditions improve. Peterson also felt that the Act 88 funds aren’t being used for their original purpose – to leverage matching dollars for economic development – and instead are being diverted to support county operations.” It was never meant to be a piggy bank for county government,” he said.

The final vote to levy the increased tax passed 8-3, with Ronnie Peterson, Wes Prater and Dan Smith voting against it. Alicia Ping has in the past also voted against the Act 88 tax, but supported it this time – though she voted against the amendment to increase the rate. She hoped commissioners would consider reallocating some funding for the western side of the county, pointing out that there are economic development needs there too, including a lack of decent Internet access.

Far less contentious was an initial vote to move control over administering the county’s 5% accommodation tax from the county treasurer’s office to the finance director. Two members of the Washtenaw County Hotel/Motel Association spoke in support of changing the accommodation ordinance in this way. The vote by commissioners was unanimous, though Dan Smith noted that this is the second time this year that the ordinance has been revised, and he hoped it would be the last. He also expressed some concern that all hoteliers aren’t being treated equitably. A final vote and public hearing on the change is set for Oct. 17.

Commissioners also approved a set of recommendations to guide county administrator Verna McDaniel in her negotiations with the Humane Society of Huron Valley for animal control services. The current contract with HSHV ends on Dec. 31. An accompanying report from a policy task force was discussed only briefly – in part because the final version had been sent to commissioners only that day and there had been little time to digest it, and in part because some commissioners wanted to adjourn so that they could watch the first presidential debate, which began at 9 p.m. The board plans to continue discussion of the issue at a future date.

During the meeting, board chair Conan Smith told commissioners that a caucus would be held immediately prior to the next board meeting – on Nov. 7, at 5:30 p.m. – to discuss appointments to various county boards, commissions and committees. Such appointment caucuses are open to the public. [A listing of all vacancies is found on this website. An online application to apply for an opening can be found here.] The news prompted Ronnie Peterson to criticize the process, which he felt was not sufficiently transparent. [Full Story]

County Food Council Appointment OK’d

One appointment was made by Washtenaw County commissioners at their Sept. 5, 2012 meeting. Sharon Sheldon of the Washtenaw County Public Health department was appointed to replace Jenna Bacolor on the Washtenaw County Food Policy Council. The slot is designated for someone in the public health sector. Sheldon also serves on the Food System Economic Partnership (FSEP) board and is a former board member of Growing Hope. She currently works as a program administrator in the county public health department’s health promotion/disease prevention division.

Two appointments to fill vacancies on the Washtenaw County Historic District Commission had originally been on the Sept. 5 agenda but were pulled by board chair Conan Smith. Both slots had been for members of the general … [Full Story]

Petersen Nominated for Disabilities Commission

Among the nominations for boards and commissions made by mayor John Hieftje at the city council’s Aug. 9 meeting was Sally Petersen to fill a vacancy on the city’s commission on disability issues. Petersen will likely be joining the Ann Arbor city council itself in November, having received more votes than incumbent Tony Derezinski in the Aug. 7 Ward 2 Democratic primary. No other candidate will be on the ballot for Ward 2 on Nov. 6.

The commission on disability issues dates back to 1969, but has undergone several name changes since that time, including various forms of the word “handicap.” The commission was established to “promote and advocate for equal opportunities for all individuals with physical, mental and/or emotional disabilities.”

The city … [Full Story]

DDA Nominations: Smith, Hewitt, Orr

Nominated for reappointment to the board of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority are Sandi Smith, Roger Hewitt and Keith Orr. Those nominations were placed before the city council by mayor John Hieftje at the council’s Aug. 9, 2012 meeting.

This year’s DDA board officer elections, held  two months ago at the July 2, 2012 annual meeting, again featured abstention on some votes by board member Newcombe Clark – because the future composition of the board was not yet clear. Hieftje’s custom for many re-appointments to city boards and commissions has been to provide no public indication of his intentions on those nominations.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Taxicab Board Can’t Meet

On July 24, 2012, the Ann Arbor city clerk announced in a regular email notification that all future city of Ann Arbor taxicab board meetings have been canceled, pending the appointment of new members. The announcement noted that Tim Hull has resigned from the board effective July 31 – so the board no longer has a quorum of members.

With Hull’s resignation, the seven-member body is reduced to four members – city councilmember Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3),  Tom Oldakowski, Tom Crawford (a non-voting ex officio member, as the city’s CFO) and Bill Clock (a non-voting ex officio member, as representative of the Ann Arbor police department). With only two out of five of its voting member positions filled, the board does not have … [Full Story]

Environmental, Planning, Greenbelt Appts. OK’d

Four nominations to three different commissions were confirmed by the Ann Arbor city council at its July 2, 2012 meeting. Ken Clein and Kirk Westphal were confirmed for the city planning commission. John German was confirmed for the city’s environmental commission. And Archer Christian was confirmed for the greenbelt advisory commission. All appointments were made on unanimous votes by the council, which is typical.

The nominations for all four appointments were made at the council’s previous meeting, on June 21, 2012. The city planning commission nominations are made by the mayor, which is the case for the vast majority of board and commission appointments. Nominations to the environmental commission and the greenbelt advisory commission are made by the council as … [Full Story]

Clein Nominated for Planning Commission

At its June 18, 2012 meeting, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje announced his nomination to replace Erica Briggs on the city planning commission: Ken Clein, a principal with Quinn Evans Architects. Briggs did not seek re-appointment.

Among the architectural projects Clein has worked on locally are the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium renovation, the new Ann Arbor municipal center, and the Zingerman’s Deli expansion.

It was also announced that Kirk Westphal is nominated for re-appointment to the planning commission.

The city council will vote on the appointments of Clein and Westphal at its July 2 meeting. City planning commissioners serve three-year terms.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. … [Full Story]

German Re-Nominated for Environmental Group

At its June 18, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council received a nomination to re-appoint formally John German to the city’s environmental commission. German’s term expired in August 2011, but he has continued to serve. The council will be asked at its next meeting to re-appoint him retroactively for a three-year term ending on Aug. 7, 2014.

German’s background includes work with Chrysler, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Honda, and the International Council for Clean Transportation.

Ann Arbor’s environmental commission was established 12 years ago through a city ordinance, with the charge to “advise and make recommendations to the city council and city administrator on environmental policy, environmental issues and environmental implications of all city programs and proposals on the air, water, land and public health.”

This brief … [Full Story]