Archive for May, 2009

Knight’s Market

A customer expresses surprise that Knight’s is open on the holiday weekend. Sherry Knight Bedolla tells him that her father, Ray Knight, doesn’t believe in vacations: “He’d say we’re off every Sunday – that’s 52 days a year, or more than 7 weeks a year.” That said, they will be closed on Monday.

Made in America

Ernie Perich and his Cadillac CTS.

This photo of Ernie Perich and his Cadillac CTS is posted on his website, (Image links to closeup of the T-shirt design.)

In 1976, when Ernie Perich was a feckless youth, he and two buddies from college decided to travel to art fairs around Michigan selling “I Love America” T-shirts, tapping into the nation’s bicentennial celebration. More than 30 years later, Perich – now with the trappings of adulthood, including his own Ann Arbor ad agency and a bank directorship – is back in the T-shirt game.

Perich says that over the years he’s owned “every one of the fancy Ann Arbor German cars,” but about a year and a half ago he got a Cadillac CTS and loves it. He’s tired of hearing people dis the U.S. auto industry – plus, General Motors is one of his firm’s clients. He wanted a way to celebrate American cars and generate a little buzz, so he spent about $2,000 on T-shirts intended to do just that.

The T-shirts say  ”I ♥ My (American Car)” with the last two words rendered in Japanese characters. The idea, Perich says, is to get people to wonder what the heck those Japanese words mean. A website address – – is printed on the sleeve. On that site, you can upload photos of yourself with your car, or buy the T-shirt for $17.76 – get it? [Full Story]

A2: Ginger Ale

Writing in The New York Times, Micheline Maynard describes the ginger ale at Ann Arbor’s Sweetwaters “The Fizz is the latest variation on the ginger-lemon tea, available hot or cold, that Sweetwaters has sold since its original branch in downtown Ann Arbor opened 15 years ago, said Lisa Bee, a co-owner. Both the tea and the ale start with a base of ginger, honey, lemon, water and an ingredient that Ms. Bee declined to identify.”  Otherwise put: a secret ingredient.  The word “secret” makes it taste that much better. [Source]

Ashley & Liberty

Sign on Old Town says the restaurant will be closed on Sunday and Monday for the Memorial Day holiday.

UM: Credit Cards

BusinessWeek reports on how colleges credit card deals will be affected by recent legislation signed into law last week. The article states that the new law “does little to address affinity-card contracts, which encourage colleges and universities to sell students’ contact information to credit-card companies….Students at the University of Michigan, for example, probably aren’t aware that their e-mail addresses and contact information are worth a whopping $25.5 million. That’s how much Bank of America is paying the Michigan Alumni Assn. over an 11-year affinity-card contract to market school-branded plastic to students, alums, and sports fans.” [Source]

DDA Retreat: Who’s on The Committee?

organ in foreground stage of Michigan Theater in background with people sitting on it

When Russ Collins, executive director of the Michigan Theater and a DDA board member, described downtown areas as "organic beings – they're either growing or dying," this is not what he meant by organ-ic.

During the most recent regular monthly meeting of the Downtown Development Authority board, its treasurer, Rene Greff had asked Mayor John Hieftje, “When are you seating the committee?” At that regular board meeting, a clear answer was not forthcoming.

But at the board’s mid-year retreat, held on Wednesday morning from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Michigan Theater stage, Hieftje was more candid about why city council has not yet formed a committee.

What committee were Greff and Hieftje talking about?

The committee in question is a city council ad hoc committee that would  begin discussions with its already-formed counterpart from the DDA board. The discussions between the two bodies would focus on establishing “a mutually beneficial” financial arrangement – one that is already reflected in the DDA’s recently adopted budget as a $2 million contingency.

The DDA board voted to place that contingency in its budget in response to a city of Ann Arbor FY 2011 budget plan that assumes a $2 million payment from the DDA to the city – a payment that the DDA is not (yet) contractually obligated to make.

In the course of the retreat, Hieftje explained that the city council’s delay in seating a committee of its own was partly related to pending litigation – a topic addressed during a nearly 50-minute long closed session that began the board’s retreat.   [Full Story]

Ypsi: Music

The Cousins Vinyl blog posts an audio clip of “Ypsilanti’s own John Ford, with the totally long-lost and obscure 1984 dance-funk boogie masterpiece ‘I Just Wanna Dance.’” [Source]

Fourth & William

8:30 p.m. A couple hanging out on the top level of the parking garage, facing east. Woman waves to passers-by on the street below.

Washtenaw: Kennels

The Freep reports that a raid of Ackley Kennels in Northfield Township resulted in “the seizure of 33 dogs from feces-encrusted kennels.” The article quotes Tanya Hilgendorf, executive director of the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Ann Arbor, which is caring for all but six of the dogs (six were returned to their owners): ”As everybody should, this is a warning and a reminder to everyone who owns an animal, if you are going to board an animal – or buy an animal from a breeder – you need to see the facility. Do your homework always.” [Source]

Washington & Division

Driver of car with out-of-state plates, confused by construction barricades on Washington, turns the wrong way on Division despite frantic signalling by onlookers.

No Consensus on Expense Cuts

Wes Prater and Kristin Judge

County commissioners Wes Prater and Kristin Judge during the May 20 board meeting. Judge introduced one of two resolutions regarding cuts to commissioners' expenses. Neither Judge's resolution nor one proposed by commissioner Leah Gunn got enough votes for approval.

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners (May 20, 2009): Commissioners failed to reach consensus on two different attempts to cut their own line-item expenses in the 2010-11 budget, and though action was tabled until July, it’s likely commissioners will have another go at cuts at their June 3 meeting.

At the board’s Wednesday meeting, Conan Smith – who chairs the Ways & Means Committee,  which discussed the resolutions – noted that this was the first of what will be numerous attempts to deal with the 2010-11 budget, and would set the stage for future discussions. The county faces a projected $26 million deficit over the next two years, and plans to make cuts in light of a decline in tax revenues. The administration is expected to bring a general fund budget proposal to the table at the board’s June 3, 2009 meeting. [Full Story]

A2: Borders

Publishers Weekly runs an article by Ann Arbor freelance writer Vickie Elmer, who attended the recent Borders Group annual meeting and reports on the bookstore chain’s outlook. The article quotes CEO Ron Marshall, who said: ”We dug a pretty big hole for ourselves in the last couple of years. And we have to dig ourselves out of the hole in an unbelievably difficult economic time.” [Source]

Ashley & Liberty

Parking lot attendant reading “Curtain” by Agatha Christie, in paperback.

Main & Liberty

Construction workers stop to wave at schoolbus full of small children.

Chelsea: Jeff Daniels

In the New York Times, actor Jeff Daniels responds to emailed questions from readers. Asked if being nominated for the Tony will influence him to do more on Broadway or elsewhere on the stage, Daniels responds: “Nomination or not, more theater was on my To-Do List. Kathleen and I left New York and moved back home to Michigan in 1986 to raise our family in a place we understood. While there, however, I missed the theater life, so I created the Purple Rose Theater Company. With my kids now in college and beyond, I can see doing more stage acting. Broadway. The Purple Rose. Frankly, I like being known as an actor who can do both film and stage. New … [Full Story]

Skies Overhead

Dozens of bats are flitting and feeding high above downtown Ann Arbor at dusk.

A2: Discrimination

The Detroit News reports that a federal appeals court ruled today that a black couple unable to book their wedding reception at the Kensington Court Hotel in Ann Arbor can move ahead with their racial discrimination lawsuit. A statement from the court said, “The plaintiffs made numerous attempts to enter into a contract with the hotel to host their wedding reception. It is possible to construe the hotel’s complete failure to consummate this transaction as ‘contrary to (its) financial interests’ and ‘outside of widely accepted business norms.’ ” [Source]

Concerns Raised over Dioxane Cleanup

A section from a map showing the Pall Life Sciences 1,4 dioxane plume. The red dots indicate monitoring wells.

A section from a map showing the Pall Life Sciences 1,4 dioxane plume. The red dots indicate monitoring wells. (Image links to a .PDF file of the full map.)

An effort to change the cleanup of contaminated groundwater has come under fire by local residents and government officials who’ve been keeping an eye on the issue for more than 20 years.

At Wednesday’s annual meeting of the Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane, residents said that requested changes filed by Pall Life Sciences earlier this month with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would allow higher amounts of the contaminant, 1,4-dioxane, in the groundwater. As a result, they said, the 1,4-dioxane, a presumed carcinogen, could flow northward and reach Ann Arbor’s primary drinking water supply at Barton Pond. [Full Story]

A2: Dascola Barbers

Bob Dascola put together a video celebrating the 70 years of his family’s barbering in Ann Arbor, set to the music of opera star Cecilia Bartoli – one of Dascola’s many fans – singing Chant D’Amour. [Source]

Spring & Miller

Large kiddy pool being filled up with water from a garden hose – yep, summer’s here.

UM: Art

The New York Times reviews the work of abstract painter Zao Wou-ki, calling him “arguably China’s most important living artist.” The article quotes UM art historian Joan Kee: ”Zao is part of a coterie of Chinese artists that came of aesthetic age in the 1950s, an intriguing period of time that saw a wide range of Chinese artists practicing in the most diverse circumstance imaginable.” [Source]

Planning Commission Draws Line Differently

woman sitting at desk with projected image behind her of a map

Bonnie Bona, chair of the Ann Arbor planning commission, leads the commission through discussion of the 322 E. Kingsley property. On the map projected behind her, that's the light blue sliver to the east of the thick dashed line. The dashed line is the DDA boundary.

At its Tuesday meeting, Ann Arbor’s planning commission voted to adopt a downtown plan that was different in significant ways from the one they’d previously adopted just three months ago. A small D2 (interface) in the South University area has been carved out, when none previously existed on the planning commission’s map. And  a one-parcel-wide expansion of the D2 area has been undertaken to include a property owned by Zingerman’s Deli.

Why was the commission considering the changes? Since the plan’s previous adoption, the city council had undertaken revisions to the proposed city zoning ordinances that had rendered the downtown plan inconsistent with those ordinances.

While the city council has final say over the ordinances, the council and planning commission must agree on the adoption of the same downtown plan. [See previous Chronicle coverage of the commission-council relationship on this issue.]

The planning commission’s action taken Tuesday night does bring its adopted downtown plan closer to consistency with the city council’s proposal for Ann Arbor’s new downtown zoning, but a significant incompatibility in the South University area remains. Before planning commission met, the revised downtown plan was scheduled to be presented for action by council at its June 15, 2009 meeting, with consideration of the final vote on the zoning package on July 6, 2009.  Now that time frame could change, depending on the path taken by council. More on possible outcomes after the break. [Full Story]

Park Advisory Commission: Argo Dam Stays

After hearing residents passionately argue both sides of the issue at its Tuesday meeting, the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission voted 5 to 4 to recommend keeping Argo Dam in place.

The question of whether to remove or repair the dam has been debated for more than three years, with several hearings and public meetings. Now, the issue could be decided within the next month or so. The city’s Environmental Commission is expected to vote on its own recommendation at its May 28 meeting, with Ann Arbor’s city council ultimately deciding the issue, perhaps as early as June. [Full Story]

Healthcare, Tourism, Food and Online News

David Canter, former head of Pfizers Ann Arbor research campus

David Canter, former head of Pfizer's Ann Arbor research campus, is now director of healthcare research at UM's William Davidson Institute.

An eclectic mix of speakers at Wednesday’s Morning Edition breakfast talked about healthcare in developing countries, commercials promoting tourism in Michigan, computer security, the upcoming Ann Arbor Restaurant Week and an update on the venture that will replace the Ann Arbor News.

Russ Collins, the event’s emcee and executive director of the Michigan Theater, also noted that they were now installing a state-of-the-art 3D projector, just in time for the May 29 opening of Disney-Pixar’s animated film “Up” – which features, he noted, “a hyperactive nine-year-old named Russell.”

David Canter, former head of Pfizer’s Ann Arbor research campus, kicked things off with comments about the University of Michigan’s acquisition of that site. [Full Story]

UM: Google

CNet News reports that UM is the first university to sign up for Google’s book-scanning project under terms of a settlement reached earlier this year with library groups. “Google and UM have been working together since 2004 on digitizing the university’s library collection, but the Google Book Search settlement would allow Michigan to offer its books online as part of a subscription, or in some cases for free. The settlement has drawn reported attention from the government as well as library groups worried over the costs associated with access to such a large digital library amassed by a single company. In exchange for participating in the project, however, Google plans to subsidize the cost of the university’s subscription to the digital library. Michigan was also able to negotiate the … [Full Story]

Ashley & Washington

Construction worker stares at orange sign with merge symbol. Thinks a moment then turns sign upside-down.

UM: Fossil

The LA Times writes about the discovery of a 47-million-year-old primate fossil, which researchers are enthused about because it’s the most complete primate specimen ever obtained. The article quotes UM anthropologist B. Holly Smith, who notes that with a CT scan, “we see an amazing host of developing teeth. She was caught at a remarkable time when we can see something of every single tooth she would have in her entire life. . . . It’s very much like what you would see in a human child between ages 6 and 9.” [Source]


Tony Dearing, chief content director for, posts slides from his Wednesday presentation to LA2M. The slides provide some details about staffing levels, coverage and the company’s twice-a-week print edition. [Source]