Archive for August, 2009

UM: Football

USA Today sports columnist Mike Lopresti weighs in on the Michigan football/NCAA rules allegations, in a column headlined “Rodriguez’s Dream Job at Michigan Now a Nightmare.” He writes: “Rodriguez didn’t look much like a man living his dream job Monday, fighting tears at the podium, as he asked the public for understanding and the media to please leave his program alone. Get invited to Michigan, and a coach must feel as if the world is his bagel. But following this guy the past 20 months has been like turning pages in a Stephen King horror story.” [Source]

Washtenaw: Tuition

Michigan Radio reports that state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith, a Democrat from Washtenaw County’s Salem Township who’s running for governor, has introduced legislation to guarantee free tuition for in-state students attending public universities and community colleges. According to the report, “Smith would pay for the program by increasing the state income tax. She acknowledges that will be a tough sell to her fellow lawmakers, especially during a recession.” [Source]

County Board to Consider Settlement Deal

A proposed $1.375 million settlement in two lawsuits against Washtenaw County could close another chapter in a 2006 incident that occurred in the Ypsilanti Township neighborhood of West Willow. Clifton Lee died after a struggle with sheriff’s deputies there; his brother, Bruce Lee, was injured. Bruce Lee and his mother, Beatrice McKeown, both sued – Washtenaw County commissioners will vote on a proposed settlement agreement on the lawsuits at their Wednesday, Sept. 2 board meeting.

The county had previously settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the heirs of Clifton Lee. For that $4 million settlement, the county paid $250,000 and insurance covered $3.75 million. Insurance will cover all but $125,000 for the current proposed settlement. The county plans to cover that remaining $125,000 out of attorney reimbursement funds from its insurer.

At the commissioners’ Aug. 26 administrative briefing, the county’s attorney, Curtis Hedger, said the settlement proposal was along the lines of what had been discussed with commissioners in a closed executive session they’d had about the pending litigation. [Full Story]

A2: Library

On her director’s blog, Josie Parker of the Ann Arbor District Library writes about the library’s opposition to Gov. Granholm’s executive order abolishing the Department of History, Arts and Libraries: “It is an irony that in a time when all are calling for efficiency, resource-sharing, consolidation of services, and collaborations to save and find money, a state institution that has led statewide programs that work for the benefit of all Michigan citizens, and which help to provide the critical tools needed for our workforce to reinvent itself, is threatened because someone has the very uncool and uninformed notion that libraries are obsolete.” [Source]


Kozmo Deli closed for the day due to plumbing, electrical, and personnel issues. [photo]

Virginia Park

New sign at Virginia Park basketball court explaining restoration delay after filming of the movie “Flipped”– “Basketball court restoration update. The replacement pole has been ordered and will be installed upon arrival …” [photo]

UM: Great Lakes

An article in the Detroit News looks at how federal dollars might be spent for cleanup in the Great Lakes. The article quotes Don Scavia, UM professor of natural resources, about the impact of fertilizers and other runoff: “It’s very distributed – street runoff, farm fields, lawns. And almost no regulatory programs are in place to control non-point sources, unlike pollution from plants. So it’s harder to manage and control.” [Source]

Ypsi: State Fair

The Detroit News profiles “Farmer John” Forshee, an Ypsilanti resident who’s performing with animals at the Michigan State Fair. Says Forshee: “I love working with kids, educating them about the animals. It’s a great way to make a living. It beats a 9-to-5 job.” [Source]

Names Spelled Wrong

In our article about the recount of the vote in the Ward 3 Democratic primary election, we misspelled Letitia Kunselman’s name throughout the piece. We also misspelled Tim Colenback’s name. We note the errors here, and have corrected the mistakes in the original article. We also note that Carsten Hohnke’s name was misspelled and corrected in that article.

UM: Football

The story about allegations of NCAA rules violations in UM’s football program gets more national attention, this time on the New York Times’ college sports blog, The Quad: “Dennis Dodd of writes that this report adds to the pressure that has been building on [UM coach Rich] Rodriguez. (Dodd also drops in this great tidbit: Mike Barwis, the Michigan strength and conditioning coach who is mentioned prominently in the Free Press story, used to have pet wolves.)” [Source] And the Associated Press reports that UM athletic director Bill Martin has launched an internal investigation into the allegations. [Source]

Washtenaw: Budget

Crain’s Detroit Business does a roundup of budgets from five counties in southeastern Michigan, including Washtenaw. Everyone is in the same boat, to varying degrees, and it isn’t pretty: “Taxable property values in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw and Livingston counties all declined in 2009, most of them for the first time in decades. All five counties project those losses will accelerate next year, and they want concessions from employees to help balance next year’s budget.” [Source]

UM: Football

Channel 7 Action News, Detroit’s ABC affiliate, came to Ann Arbor on Sunday for reaction to the Free Press report on alleged NCAA rules violations regarding UM football practice times. One fan, a UM alum who was moving her daughter back to campus, told the reporter in a video interview: “I’m appalled, and I’m disgusted,” adding that coach Rich Rodriguez “doesn’t deserve to have a job here.” Another fan, pointing to last season’s dismal performance, says the team clearly needs the additional practice. [Source]

Main & Liberty

Saxophonist busking.  Older gentleman recognizes jazz tune, sings along with bah-dah-dah-duh-dee-duhs. [photo]

Ann Arbor MiniMaker Faire Draws 1,000+

MiniMaker Faire Ann Arbor 2009

Andros Lee with his Vortex Doomsday Cannon at the Ann Arbor 2009 MiniMaker Faire. (Photo by the writer.)

Two-wheeling it southward down Ann Arbor-Saline road early Saturday afternoon, The Chronicle was passed by a car with a “Biodiesel” logo.

The sort of person who drives a car fueled with biodiesel, we figured, would be the same sort who’d be interested in robots, lasers, air cannons, and all manner of other gadgetry. So we figured a little ways down the road, that driver would be turning left into the Washtenaw Farm Council Grounds for the MiniMaker Faire.

Anyway, that’s where The Chronicle was headed – and on arrival at the parking lot, we confirmed it: Our biodiesel driver was at the MiniMaker Faire.

The “mini” in the title of the event did not refer to Andros Lee’s giant vortex cannon or Matt Switlik’s standable brush bot – more on those in a bit. Rather, it reflected the scale of the event as compared to the non-mini Maker Faires, which began in San Mateo, Calif. in 2006. That led to the second Maker Faire in Austin, which attracted 20,000 visitors in 2007. Returning to San Mateo earlier this year, Maker Faire numbers grew to an estimated 80,000 people.

As an exhibitor – even at the smaller Ann Arbor MiniMaker Faire on Saturday – standing out in a crowd of over 1,000 people can be a challenge. But Yitah Wu met that challenge by taking dead aim at folks in that crowd, including The Chronicle, with a pistol-style vortex cannon.  [Full Story]

UM: Move-In

UM students are coming back to town, with official campus move-in dates from Sept. 1-4. University Housing has posted a list of street changes and UM parking lot closures during that period. Streets affected include parts of Thompson, East Madison, East Ann and Observatory. Some AATA and UM bus routes will also be affected – changes for AATA are listed here. [Source]

UM: Football

ESPN picks up on Saturday’s Detroit Free Press report about alleged NCAA rules violations during UM’s football training under coach Rich Rodriguez – allegations that Rodriguez and UM officials deny. Players told both the Freep Press and ESPN that “the amount of time they spend on football activities during the season and in the offseason greatly exceeds the [NCAA] limits. The players spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions from coaches.” [Source]

A2: Governor’s Race

Ron Dzwonkowski, associate editor of the Detroit Free Press, writes about Rick Snyder’s campaign for governor, and says the though the Republican businessman from Ann Arbor doesn’t have political experience, he “comes instead from solid success in business and ideas – both of which Michigan can use in greater supply. But whether he’s got the chops to cut it on the campaign trail remains to be seen.” [Source]


Three-dog fight right on the sidewalk. Screams and barks; dogs pulled apart; all was resolved without bloodshed.

Main & Catherine

Panhandler asks for spare change. When I say I’ve got no cash, he responds cheerfully: “I’ll take credit or debit!”

A2: Food

The Monroe Evening News reports on a recent forum for food-related businesses, hosted by the Food System Economic Partnership, an Ann Arbor nonprofit. The article quotes Jane Bush, a business development specialist for the partnership: “Opportunities do exist here in southeast Michigan for locally grown food. People are really looking at food in a different way. We could use more growers to meet” the demand. [Source]

Recount Confirms: Kunselman Wins

Greden Kunselman recount Ward 3 city of Ann Arbor city council election

Matt Yankee, deputy clerk with Washtenaw County, marks ticks in columns as candidate names are read aloud during the recount of the Aug. 4 Democratic primary election for the Ward 3 city council seat. (Photo by the writer.)

Friday morning in the lower level of the county building at 200 N. Main, Letitia Kunselman held her cell phone out in the general direction of Melodie Gable, chair of Washtenaw County’s board of canvassers. Gable was wrapping up about 90 minutes of ballot recounting from the Ward 3 Democratic primary for Ann Arbor city council. By that time, her official announcement stated an outcome that everyone in the room already knew.

We’d followed the hand recount of paper ballots table-by-table, as one precinct after the other confirmed individual vote totals from the initial Aug. 4 results.

What Gable reported was exactly the news that Letitia Kunselman’s husband Stephen – on the other end of the cell phone line – wanted to hear: his own 511 votes compared to Leigh Greden’s 505 had been confirmed, leaving Kunselman the winner of the primary. The third candidate, LuAnne Bullington, picked up one vote in the recount in precincts 3-4 and 3-7 (these precincts shared a single polling location on election day), bringing her total to 382.

We include in our report the vote totals, some anecdotal bits from the morning recount, but more importantly, a brief look at the impact that Greden’s departure will have on council’s committee composition. [Full Story]

Saline: Gay Rights

A post on PrideSource, originally published in Between The Lines News, reports that the Human Rights Campaign, along with the Michigan Democratic Party’s LGBT Caucus, is organizing meetings with certain lawmakers in Michigan to promote gay rights legislation. On Saturday morning, Aug. 29, they’ll meet with Rep. Mark Schauer at his Saline office, according to the post. [Source]

Column: What’s to Fear in Healthcare Reform?

Editor’s note: The author will be part of a group of residents who’ll be rallying at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning near the Ann Arbor Farmers Market to show support for President Obama’s proposed healthcare reform plan, including its public insurance option. 

As a primary care physician, I believe strongly that we need meaningful healthcare reform. In practicing for over 25 years, I have witnessed how impossible it is to get healthcare without insurance. And in the last 10 years I have seen an increasing number of my patients lose their insurance.

It saddens me that I can’t provide adequate care for them. It also has been alarming to me to see how easy it is to lose healthcare coverage, especially in these difficult economic times. It will only get worse without substantial reform. If nothing is done to reform healthcare, the nonprofit Commonwealth Fund predicts that over one-fifth of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) will be spent on healthcare by the year 2020. And it won’t mean that more Americans are covered: that year, the number of uninsured is expected to rise to 61 million. [Full Story]