Stories indexed with the term ‘interviews’

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]

Search Concluding for Ann Arbor City Admin

The two Ann Arbor city administrator finalists – Ellie Oppenheim and Steve Powers – wrapped up their two days of interviews in Ann Arbor with a Wednesday morning session that included presentations by both candidates and questions from city councilmembers.

Sabra Briere, Stephen Rapundalo, Marcia Higgins

From left: Ann Arbor city councilmembers Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) at the July 13 interviews with two finalists for the city administrator job. Higgins is chair of the council search committee.

For their 10-minute presentations, Oppenheim and Powers had been asked to talk about what they’d try to accomplish in their first 90 days on the job. They covered much of the same ground that they’d discussed during Tuesday’s round-robin interviews with councilmembers and senior staff, talking about how they’d familiarize themselves with the organization and the community of Ann Arbor. [See detailed Chronicle coverage of those Tuesday sessions for Powers and Oppenheim.]

When asked during the Q&A to describe the most challenging part of their presentation, both joked that it was handling PowerPoint – Oppenheim had difficulty advancing the slides and eventually enlisted the aid of a city staffer, and Powers’ presentation included a blank slide, because he couldn’t figure out how to insert the image he wanted to use. Powers also noted that it was difficult to know how much of his sense of humor to show in this context – his wife, for example, had advised him to delete some slides that he’d included.

Seven of the 11 councilmembers were on hand for the presentations and follow-up questions: Mayor John Hieftje, Mike Anglin (Ward 5), Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Steve Kunselman (Ward 3), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) and Sabra Briere (Ward 1). The other four councilmembers are expected to watch a video of the session prior to Monday’s council meeting. There will be a resolution on the July 18 agenda to nominate a candidate, but no name will be added to the resolution until the evening of the meeting.

Higgins, who’s chair of the search committee, told her council colleagues that on Monday a candidate will be nominated, a discussion of that nomination will take place, and hopefully the council will arrive at a consensus, she said. Or it’s possible that councilmembers will decide they don’t yet have an acceptable candidate, she added, and the process will continue.

However, based on a nearly hour-long discussion on Wednesday among councilmembers, it seems that a consensus is coalescing in favor of Powers – though both finalists were praised. Powers’ management style and familiarity with Michigan’s economy and governance structure were among the reasons cited by those councilmembers who are leaning toward hiring him.

This report briefly summarizes the presentations of Powers and Oppenheim, as well as the questions they were asked on Wednesday morning. The discussion among councilmembers at the end of the session is reported in detail. [Full Story]

City Admin Finalist: Ellie Oppenheim

On Tuesday morning, the two finalists for the Ann Arbor city administrator’s position – Ellie Oppenheim and Steve Powers – interviewed with city councilmembers and senior staff in a round-robin format, cycling through three small groups to answer questions about their experience, abilities and approach to the job. A third finalist, Harry Black, had withdrawn his name from consideration last weekend.

Ellie Oppenheim

Ellie Oppenheim, one of two finalists for the Ann Arbor city administrator job, during an interview with city councilmembers on July 12.

Conducting the interviews were councilmembers Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), mayor John Hieftje, city attorney Stephen Postema and Barnett Jones, head of safety services. Each had been given briefing books prepared by the city’s human resources staff and consultants with Affion Public, a search firm hired by the city. The three panels consisted of (1) Briere, Rapundalo and Postema; (2) Hieftje, Higgins and Kunselman; and (3) Anglin, Derezinski and Jones.

Questions were essentially read aloud as scripts from these prepared materials to ensure uniformity of the interviewing experience. One or two questions were fairly general, for example: What do you think makes a good leader? But the majority were behavioral: Tell us about a time when your leadership skills were put to the test and what the outcome was.

The interviews were part of a two-day process, and included a lunch on Tuesday with staff and a public reception on Tuesday evening at the new municipal center, which featured five-minute presentations from each candidate, as well as time for informal conversations. On Wednesday, the finalists will be interviewed in city council chambers from 8 a.m. to noon. That session, which is open to the public, will also be videotaped and broadcast live on Channel 16 to allow viewing of the interviews by councilmembers and the public who are not able to attend.

It’s possible that a resolution making the appointment could be on the council’s July 18 agenda.

The Chronicle sat in on all interviews held Tuesday morning. This article reports on the responses by Oppenheim; a separate article describes how Powers responded to the interview questions. Because candidates often offered similar examples as answers to different sets of questions, their responses are summarized thematically. [Full Story]

Ann Arbor City Admin Candidate Withdraws

One of the three finalist candidates for Ann Arbor’s city administrator job – Harry Black – has withdrawn his name from consideration, according to Lisa Wondrash, communications manager for the city.

Black currently serves as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Global Commerce Solutions (GCS) Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based government services firm that provides program and project management support services to the public sector. From 2005-2008 he worked as the deputy chief administrative officer/chief financial officer for the city of Richmond, Virginia.

Wondrash was not able to provide any details at this time about the reason for Black’s withdrawal.

Black’s withdrawal leaves two remaining finalists: Ellen Oppenheim and Steve Powers. Interviews for those candidates start on Tuesday, July 12, and are open to the public. [Full Story]

Authorship in News, Science, Totter Riding


[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

Gareth Morgan on a teeter totter.

Gareth Morgan is a scientist working on problems of protein folding and stability.

The Dec. 11, 2009 edition of the scientific journal Molecular Cell includes an article called “Optimizing Protein Stability In Vivo.” It’s a paper co-authored by nine people. The first two names on the list of nine authors are Linda Foit and Gareth Morgan. The paper combines expertise in genetics and chemistry, reflected in the specific strengths of Foit and Morgan, who are two young scientists working in James Bardwell’s lab at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Michigan.

Foit’s name might already be familiar to Ann Arbor Chronicle readers in connection with what might be called a “unsuccessful physics experiment” near downtown Ann Arbor – an attempt to achieve greater residential density with a project called The Moravian. Foit addressed the city council in support of the project.

Morgan’s name is certainly familiar to our readers, but he’s no relation to the publisher of The Chronicle, Mary Morgan. Gareth Morgan was visiting Ann Arbor from England for a two-week span recently and will return to Michigan in October for around a month to continue his collaboration with the Bardwell lab.

The fact that Gareth and Linda’s contribution to the paper was equal is made clear through the last of seven footnotes on the author line:

7 These authors contributed equally to this work.

The collaborative nature of modern science was one of the topics that Gareth and I talked about on the teeter totter last Saturday afternoon, just before the University of Michigan football team started its season against the University of Connecticut Huskies.

We also touched on the issue of health and safety culture in U.S. labs compared to British facilities, and the role that game-playing might play in the future of science. For details, read all of Gareth’s Talk. By way of preparation, it might be worth thinking about where it’s easier to drink a cup of coffee – a U.S. lab or a British lab.

I took the occasion of Gareth’s explanation of the credit conventions for a scientific paper as a chance to reflect very briefly on how the allocation of credit is indicated in other lines of work, including journalism. [Full Story]

From the Teeter Totter to Traverse City


[Editor's Note: HD, a.k.a. Dave Askins, editor of The Ann Arbor Chronicle, is also publisher of an online series of interviews on a teeter totter. Introductions to new Teeter Talks appear on The Chronicle.]

Longtime Ann Arbor resident Metta Lansdale was recently hired as director of the Traverse Area District Library in Traverse City. Her first day on the job is today, Nov. 2. I talked to her on the teeter totter just before her move north. [Full Story]

An Interview with David Alan Grier

The actor/comedian David Alan Grier, who attended the University of Michigan in the '70s, is coming to Ann Arbor on Sunday to promote this new book. (Photo courtesy of David Alan Grier)

The actor/comedian David Alan Grier, who attended the University of Michigan in the '70s, will be in Ann Arbor on Sunday to promote his new book, "Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth." (Photo courtesy of David Alan Grier)

David Alan Grier is an actor and comedian who became famous as a member of the cast of the groundbreaking TV series “In Living Color” from 1990-1994, and went on to land roles in a range of movies and TV shows. Born in Detroit in 1955, he started acting while attending the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the mid-1970s.

Grier has another Ann Arbor connection, too. In 2007, he hosted an NBC improv show, “Thank God You’re Here” – a cast member of that show, Nyima Funk, grew up in Ann Arbor and is the daughter of former city councilmember Wendy Woods.

Grier recently authored the book “Barack Like Me: The Chocolate-Covered Truth,” which he will be promoting at two appearances in Ann Arbor on Sunday, Oct. 18. From 10 a.m. to noon he’s scheduled to appear at the Arthur Miller Theatre in the Walgreen Drama Center on UM’s North Campus. From 2-3:30 p.m. he’ll be speaking and signing books at the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown branch.

In a phone interview earlier this week, Grier talked about his experiences in Detroit and Ann Arbor, and reveals – among many things – which local icon inspired one of his “In Living Color” characters. [Full Story]