Archive for March, 2009

A2: Ann Arbor News

Writing on Corante, Ben Compaine talks about the national media landscape in the wake of the planned closing of The Ann Arbor News: “My take… is that I suspect new players will see it as an opportunity to pick up the slack. They will enter with a different expense base. Maybe no single one will totally replace today’s version of the newspaper, but in aggregate they will cover whatever territory for which there is a demand, e.g., an entertainment paper – probably ad supported. More local stuff online. More stuff you can view on iPhone-like devices or Kindle-like. We’re in a period of fits and starts, but if there is a market there will be big guys or entrepreneurs who will fill … [Full Story]

Fletcher & Washington

Man hit by car on Fletcher Street near the corner of Washington. Man was crossing in the cross walk and hit. One of many accidents in this high pedestrian and car traffic area. Possible head injury.

Column: Fifth & Madison Movie Production

traffic control cone

Pedestrian traffic control cone, movie-set style.

The movie “Betty Anne Waters” has widely been reported to tell the true story of a woman who puts herself through law school to prove the innocence of her brother, who’s been wrongly convicted of murder – hence the name of the local company formed to produce the move, Innocence Productions.

But based on the one scene The Chronicle saw filmed Thursday morning, this movie might just be about football. The evidence, which I humbly submit for our readers’ consideration, is a shot in which a young boy stands in the front yard of a house, waves towards it and says, “Mom, let’s go, we’re going to miss the kickoff!” [Full Story]

A2: Ice Dancing

The Los Angeles Times reports on an ice dancing competition in LA, noting that Americans Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, the 2008 world junior champions, are 12th in their first senior world championships. The pair received a standing ovation after their swing dance performance on Thursday. Says Bates, an Ann Arbor resident: “The crowd’s response was absolutely incredible. That’s our first standing ovation and that’s worth more than any score we could possibly get.” [Source]

4th & Kingsley

Kerrytown Concert Hall. Tamara Real from Art Alliance presented the six strategic areas from the Washtenaw County Cultural Plan, followed by group discussion. Next forum April 7, 6:30-8pm A2 Area Convention & Visitor Bureau.

Liberty near State

8:00 p.m. A young couple has come up with a new approach: instead of outright panhandling, they are selling roses for $2.

UM: Museum of Art

The Detroit News’ Michael Hodges, an Ann Arbor resident, writes a preview of this weekend’s opening of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, which just completed a $42 million expansion. The article includes floor plans and a list of six must-see pieces of art, with audio descriptions by UMMA director James Steward. [Source]

How the E. Stadium Bridge Gets Monitored

E. Stadium Bridge, Ann Arbor

Michael Nearing, an engineer with the city of Ann Arbor, wields a hammer. The hammer was used for two different purposes: "sounding" the concrete for structural integrity and clearing away de-laminated concrete so that it would not fall on cars below.

Since late February, the East Stadium Boulevard bridge over State Street has funneled vehicles across the span in just two of the available four lanes. The lane reduction is a strategy to protect the fifth – counting from the southern edge of the bridge – of the 16 beams in the structure. That fifth beam is “sagging” 7/8 of an inch lower than other beams in the bridge. So traffic is currently restricted to the northern lanes. [Previous Chronicle coverage of the bridge provides additional background.]

In her update to city council in early March, Sue McCormick, the city’s director of public services, indicated that the bridge was being closely monitored in order to verify the safety of the bridge. Here at The Chronicle, we wondered what “monitoring” entailed. [Full Story]

AATA Interviews Two; Re-Interview to Follow

Michael Ford AATA Ann Arbor interview

Michael Ford's interview by the full AATA board. From left to right: Ted Annis, Charles Griffith, Jesse Bernstein, Michael Ford, David Nacht, Paul Ajegba, Sue McCormick, Rich Robben.

The board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority met at AATA headquarters on South Industrial Wednesday morning to conduct public interviews of the two finalists for the executive directorship of the organization. The field had been narrowed down to two candidates after interviews of five finalists two weeks ago: Carl Jackson, currently general manager and CEO of the Macon Transit Authority in Macon, Georgia; and Michael Ford, currently with MG Ford Consulting in Camas, Washington, and formerly assistant general manager and COO of the San Joaquin Regional Transit District.

No decision has been made to make an offer based on the interviews. Ford is to be re-interviewed either in Ann Arbor,  by video conference, or some other means with a timetable as yet undetermined.

The Chronicle was able to observe the hour-long session with Ford, which started around 8 a.m., but due to other commitments could not stay for Jackson’s interview. Touching base with board member Jesse Bernstein later in the day, he said the questions put to both candidates were the same. Various follow-up questions asked of Ford may not necessarily have been asked of Jackson. In all cases, the phrasing of the questions reflects a paraphrase by The Chronicle, not necessarily an exact quote. The questioning proceeded from right-to-left (audience perspective) around the board table: [Full Story]

Miller at M-14

Near UM Park & Ride, Miller at M-14: a coyote trotted across Miller and
disappeared into the roadside vegetation.

A2: Borders Group

The Freep previews next week’s fourth-quarter earnings report by Ann Arbor-based Borders Group, noting that analysts don’t expect the news to be good. Says Jim McTevia, managing partner of the turnaround firm McTevia and Associates: ”Depending on their ability to get debtor-in-possession financing, they could easily file for Chapter 11. It is much easier to facilitate the sale of a troubled company under bankruptcy protection.” [Source]

A2: Ann Arbor News

Writing on the Random Camera blog, Mark O’Brien shares his thoughts about the announced closing of The Ann Arbor News: “It’s a sad commentary that a city the size of Ann Arbor cannot support a daily newspaper. I know that things have been tough on newspapers all over the country. But I wonder is it truly symptomatic of declining advertising revenues because of the web that some papers are going under, or is it the result of larger syndicates and big corporations that have only the shareholder’s interest, and not that of the people that they serve?” [Source]

Citizen Survey from The Chronicle Still Open

Ann Arbor Survey

Citizen Survey from The Ann Arbor Chronicle. Take it.

Two weeks ago, we made available an online survey asking for perspectives from people on a variety of topics. We’d like to encourage readers who have not done so already to take this survey.

We encourage readers who have already taken the survey to share the link with others. To that end, we’ve added a widget at the top of the survey itself to facilitate the flinging of the survey through various online communities. [Full Story]

Wiki Wednesday: Boards and Commissions

Arbor Wiki

It’s Wiki Wednesday again, an occasional series in which The Chronicle reminds readers of the online encyclopedia, ArborWiki, to which they can contribute their knowledge of the community. On Wiki Wednesdays we try to offer a clear path for contribution to ArborWiki.

This week we focus on city boards and commissions.

A standard criticism sometimes heard about Ann Arbor’s city government is that it does not include adequate input from citizens. A standard response to that criticism is to point towards the more than two dozen boards and commissions in the city’s organization on which over 200 citizens serve. But who are the people who serve on those boards and commissions? How long have they served? When do their appointments expire? What boards and commissions exist? For a given person on a given board, on which other boards, if any, do they serve? [Full Story]

Column: Liking LunaFest

It was Friday the 13th, and walking into the University of Michigan’s East Hall, I wondered whether the allegedly cursed day would doom LunaFest from the beginning. It didn’t – and as I awaited the start of this philanthropic film festival, I could tell I was not alone in my anticipation for the films we were to see.

[Full Story]


The Wall Street Journal reports that the unit of AIG receiving controversial bonuses is coming under scrutiny by the IRS for tax deals it structured. The article quotes Reuven S. Avi-Yonah, a former corporate tax attorney and director of the UM law school’s international tax program: ”If people are going to get taxpayer money, then there definitely should be a measure of corporate social responsibility, to put it bluntly.” [Source]

A2: Ann Arbor News

On his blog Paper Tiger No More, former Ann Arbor News sports columnist Jim Carty posts a transcript of remarks made by Matt Kraner and Tony Dearing to the News staff on Monday afternoon. Kraner and Dearing are leading a new business,, that’s being formed by owners of the News and will replace the newspaper when it ceases publication in July. Carty also reports on an interview he conducted with Dearing on Monday. [Source]

A2D2 Zoning in the Home Stretch

Huron Street Sketch looking east.

Sketch looking east of a possible result of the A2D2 zoning as it currently stands. Division Street, running north-south, is in the foreground. Ann Street (on the left) runs east-west, as does Huron Street (right). The currently proposed D1 zoning along Huron Street is to be mitigated by requirements that push buildings towards the street.

City council convened Monday night to hear public commentary on the downtown plan and A2D2 zoning revisions for the downtown area, which were approved by planning commission earlier this month, and which council had already begun contemplating at a working session two weeks ago. Nothing else was on the agenda.

About 30 residents took their 3-minute speaking turns on Monday, which did not preclude their participation at the public hearings when the amendments to the zoning ordinance are heard formally. The zoning ordinance’s first reading is planned for April 6 with a second reading on May 4. The  downtown plan will be heard April 20.

By 8:30 p.m. the Monday meeting had concluded, with many of the speakers and councilmembers mingling afterwards. [Full Story]

Is DDA District a Disproportionate Burden?

Six-million-dollar oval.

The bottom line according to a 2005 city of Ann arbor analysis of DDA costs versus payments. (The circle means "negative") The DDA sees it differently.

On Monday evening, March 23, several Ann Arbor residents took advantage of an entire city council session devoted to public comment on the recent A2D2 zoning revisions. The  zoning revisions apply to an area that  coincides almost exactly with the Downtown Development Authority district. We thus take the opportunity to focus on this district, and how taxes are collected in this geographic area, in light of recent community discussion on the topic.

The Chronicle has previously reported a remark by made by Mayor John Hieftje at a recent Sunday night caucus, in which he stated that the parking agreement between the DDA and the city was renegotiated in 2005 due in part to the fact that the DDA area represented a disproportionately greater burden on city services. Also previously reported, Kyle Mazurek, vice president of government affairs for the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, posed several questions to the DDA board at its meeting on March 4, including one about the possibility of disproportionate use of city services in the DDA district: [Full Story]

Column: Why We Grieve The Ann Arbor News

Mary Morgan, Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher

Mary Morgan, Ann Arbor Chronicle publisher

It’s Monday afternoon and I’m sitting in a terminal at Detroit Metro airport, waiting for a flight to Texas to be with my father and sister.

News of my mother’s death and the planned closing of The Ann Arbor News came inside a 12-hour span. The two events are orders of magnitude apart in their emotional impact on me, but in an odd way I find myself processing both and finding a metaphor for one in the other.

My mother was ill for a long time. Once a woman who loved to sing, she became unable to articulate the simplest concept. She grew to be fearful of even the shortest trips outside her home, though once she’d been eager to travel – so much so that all our family vacations when I was young were camping trips, far before it was popular. Piling us into a station wagon hauling a pop-up camper was the only way my parents could afford to see the country.

By the time she died, my mom was a shadow of her former self. And for the people who knew her only in the final months of her life, I’m sure it’s hard for them to imagine the woman I knew, and loved.

All of this was on my mind when word came about the decision to close The Ann Arbor News. And what I’ve heard from people in the aftermath of that decision looks very much like grief. [Full Story]

Totter Guest: Ecology Center Canvasser


[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.]

How does someone like Ariane Carr come to be a guest on my backyard teeter totter?

I live in a neighborhood that is frequently targeted by canvassers for various causes. In my youth, I knocked on doors selling subscriptions to the morning newspaper that I delivered (the Courier-Journal out of Louisville, Kentucky had a circulation area that reached as far north as Columbus, Indiana), and I have no fond memories of that experience. So I do not envy the task of these mostly 20-something folks wielding clipboards. For several years I’ve had a long-standing strategy of telling them right up front, I’m not handing over any money, but I’m happy to sign stuff and write stuff. I don’t want to waste their time if money is the only way they can use my help. [Full Story]

UM Art Museum

Hundreds of confused lilies in full flower perfume the open-air back courtyard/entryway of the UM Art Museum.

Farewell, Ann Arbor News

Yesterday's Sunday edition of The Ann Arbor News

Sunday's edition of The Ann Arbor News.

Ann Arbor News publisher Laurel Champion, visibly emotional, told newspaper employees this morning that the paper would cease publication sometime in July, to be replaced by a different company and online publication.

The news shocked employees, who had anticipated cutbacks but not the decision to fold the company.

Champion told employees that the new entity – – will be separate from, though details are still being worked out. According to an article about the changes posted on the Ann Arbor News section of MLive, the company will be led by Matt Kraner, former Cleveland Plain Dealer chief marketing officer. Champion will serve as executive vice president. Tony Dearing, who served as head of the News’ Ypsilanti bureau in the 1990s, will be “chief content leader” – the equivalent of the entity’s top editor. [Full Story]

A2: Fundraising

The Freep reports that Knut Hill of Ann Arbor has completed a cross-country ski trip from Oscoda to Empire on the state’s west side to raise money to help pay for his mother-in-law’s bone marrow transplant. “This is by far the biggest challenge our family has faced before. We are asking people to help us either with donations or simply with their prayers.” [Source]

UM: University Press

Inside Higher Ed reports that the University of Michigan Press will announce today that its scholarly press will become primarily a digital operation.”Within two years, press officials expect well over 50 of the 60-plus monographs that the press publishes each year – currently in book form – to be released only in digital editions. Readers will still be able to use print-on-demand systems to produce versions that can be held in their hands, but the press will consider the digital monograph the norm. Many university presses are experimenting with digital publishing, but the Michigan announcement may be the most dramatic to date by a major university press.” [Source]

Main & William

On March 22, at 1 p.m., the 2009 Youth Art Walk, sponsored by, kicked off with a short celebration at Palio’s. Todd Roberts (AAPS Superintendent) gave recognition to the young artists of Ann Arbor.