Market Commission Preps Vendor Meeting

Finances, vendor application and inspection forms discussed

Ann Arbor Public Market Advisory Commission (Feb. 2, 2010): Much of the discussion on Tuesday evening focused on an upcoming meeting with market vendors. Finances were on the agenda, too, with a quarterly report from the market manager and some comments from the public about expense and revenue trends, and the impact of new, higher stall fees.

Diane Black, a member of the public market advisory commission, also teaches kindergarten at Rudolf Steiner School. She points out a painting by one of her students, Fionnuala, whose father Rob MacKercher, is a vendor at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market.

Diane Black, a member of the Public Market Advisory Commission, also teaches kindergarten at Rudolf Steiner School. She points out a painting by one of her students, Fionnuala, whose father is Rob MacKercher, a vendor at the Ann Arbor Farmers Market. Art by Rudolf Steiner students is on display at the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown building. (Photos by the writer.)

The meeting with vendors, set for March 8, is part of an effort to engage farmers and others who sell products and produce at the public market. Commissioners hope to get feedback on a range of topics, from drafts of new vendor application and inspection forms to ideas for promoting the market.

Some of Tuesday’s meeting was spent reviewing drafts of the vendor application and inspection forms, which include revisions aimed at getting more detailed information about what the vendors are selling, and how the products are made.

Market Finances

Two speakers during public commentary – Glenn Thompson and Karen Sidney – both spoke about the public market finances, and expressed concern about the market’s financial trajectory.

Thompson gave commissioners a handout showing bar charts of market operating expenses and income from 1995 through 2009. For operating expenses, he said he’d extracted one-time items such as payments to contractors, and calculated only the market’s regular, recurring expenses. The trend, he noted, is consistently upward, starting in the year 2000 – about the time that the market was put under the direction of the city’s parks and recreation unit, he said.

At the same time, income levels are going down, Thompson said, noting that his calculations did not include income from parking. There was a fairly large jump in income from FY 2003 to FY 2004 – reflecting the last time that vendor fees were increased – but since then, income has been declining, he said. Vendor fees are slated to go up again this year, and he wondered if it would be followed by yet another decline in income, after an initial upward spike. “It’s an ominous trend, if it repeats itself,” he said.

Karen Sidney also spoke about the market’s finances during public commentary. She said she had reviewed the market’s audited financial statements. When parking revenue is extracted, the market’s income is declining, she said. Sidney added that commissioners need to look at whether an increase in vendor fees is actually driving away vendors. She feared that the market was headed toward a deficit, and thinks that raising fees will only make things worse.

During Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners alluded to the vendor fee increase, but didn’t discuss it in detail. By way of background, last year the city proposed an increase of stall fees from $250 to $300 per year – a 20% increase. Jeff Straw, deputy parks manager, gave an update to commissioners about the fee increases at an April 21, 2009 meeting of the public market advisory commission.

According to minutes of that meeting, Straw said that fixed costs – including benefits, utilities and the city’s IT charge to the market – had all increased. [Until fiscal 2006, the city's IT charge was part of the municipal service charge that every unit within the city government is assessed. Starting in fiscal 2006, an IT charge has been assessed separately, in addition to the municipal service charge.] Straw said the proposed stall fee increases would raise about $12,000 in revenue and would take effect during the 2010 market season.

Peter Pollack, chair of the market commission, attended a May 17, 2009 Sunday caucus meeting of the Ann Arbor city council, where he relayed the commission’s lack of support for a fee increase, which they had expressed in the form of a unanimous resolution. From The Chronicle’s coverage of that caucus:

Pollack explained that the commission’s lack of support was based on a substantial bank account of the farmers market and the timing of the decision – neither the public nor vendors had had sufficient time to contemplate the fee increase. They’d had to do so within a month.

The resolution states that the commission does not support the fee increases at this time and requests a quarterly financial report of expenses and revenues to be accompanied by an annual review with a cost adjustment up or down based on that review. The idea is to minimize the percentage of any proposed change in any one period. Another goal of the commission is to achieve equity between the farmer stall fees and the rental rates charged to others who use the facility – for example, as a wedding venue. [Councilmember] Sabra Briere asked Pollack to clarify when the fees would go into effect – she had met with Molly Notarianni, the market manager, and had understood that the fee increases would not take effect until next year. Pollack confirmed that bills had been sent out for the 2009-10 season with the existing rates.

The new rate would appear on the next market bill, he said. Pollack said that the commission’s point was that the data did not yet exist to support the proposed fee increase. [Mayor John] Hieftje asked Pollack what kind of data he was looking for. Pollack clarified that the additional dollars to be generated through the new fee increases are attached to the full-time position of market manager and a part-time allocation of an assistant manager, so Pollack wanted to see those numbers as they related to the revenues and expenses of the market. “We need to track it,” he said. “We assume staff made the analysis,” he said, “but we haven’t seen it.”

It’s within this context that the commission had previously asked market manager Molly Notarianni to devise a summarized quarterly financial report, so that they could better track revenues and expenses, and analyze the impact of a fee increase, among other things. She delivered her first quarterly report at the commission’s November 2009 meeting. Still a work in progress, the most recent report, she said, reflects the commission’s directive to separate out revenues and expenses specifically for the farmers market – as opposed to other activities that take place in the public market space.

Notarianni noted that year-to-date revenues are up, with the largest portion of revenues coming from vendor fees. [Annual stall fees have not yet been assessed. Those fees are paid in the latter part of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.]

Much of the discussion centered around breaking out expenses between the farmers market and the rest of the activities in the public market, such as the Sunday Artisan Market. Commissioner Diane Black wondered whether they should assign a third of the utilities expense, for example, to the artisan market. During the prime market season, the farmers market is held two days a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, while the artisan market is held only on Sunday. [From January through March, however, neither the artisan market nor the Wednesday farmers market are held.]

After further discussion, commissioner Shannon Brines suggested checking if the parks and recreation managers had a formula for separating out expenses. Peter Pollack said the ultimate goal was to make sure the rentals were equitable between the farmers market and all other uses of the public market, based on expenses. He suggested that Notarianni discuss the issue with Colin Smith, the city’s parks and recreation manager, and that she also go over the financial data that Glenn Thompson had provided. He said the draft of the quarterly financial report was a step in the right direction.

Market Manager Updates

Market manager Molly Notarianni said she’d received two applications for new vendors: 1) a food cart vendor who wanted to sell German sausages and fresh-squeezed lemonade, and 2) a former vendor who proposed selling mushrooms and mushroom kits.

Commissioner Dave Barkman asked whether the market was at its limit for food carts – they had set a limit of four. Notarianni said that Pilar’s Tamales was the only food cart currently at the market, though there might be another one coming on board.

Notarianni also reported that there were more vendors at the market in January than in the past – between 30-35  on most Saturdays, during what’s usually the slowest month of the year. She also reported that new signs were being made, at Barkman’s suggestion, to identify vendors who are selling certified organic products. They’ll be given to vendors who have paperwork showing proof of certification.

Vendor Meeting, Revisions to Forms

Several items will be on the agenda for the March 8 meeting with vendors, which will run from 6-8 p.m. at Cobblestone Farm: 1) an overview of the upcoming season’s schedule for the farmers market and public market, 2) updates on renovation work, including plans for improvements by the Downtown Development Authority in the Kerrytown area, and 3) discussion of advertising, promotion and special events for the market, and enlistment of volunteers for the commission’s outreach committee.

Molly Notarianni, the city of Ann Arbor's market manager, makes a presentation on revised vendor application form at the Feb. 2 meeting of the Public Market Advisory Commission.

Molly Notarianni, the city of Ann Arbor's market manager, at the Feb. 2 meeting of the Public Market Advisory Commission.

Another item for the meeting’s agenda is to get feedback on an idea that Notarianni floated: Collecting gross sales information from vendors. The point is to measure how well vendors are actually doing at the market. For example, if there’s a special promotional event that brings more people to the market, does that translate into additional sales for vendors? If not, are such events worth doing? Having sales data would help answer those questions, Notarianni said. She suggested that vendors be given the option of participating, and said the information would be kept anonymous.

Dave Barkman said it might be difficult for some vendors to tell how much they make at the Ann Arbor market. Farmers might go to several markets, he said, and use the same till for all, without separating out the sales. Diane Black suggested finding a dozen or so vendors who’d be willing to participate, and use them as a way to gauge sales more generally. Genia Service proposed putting the item on the agenda for the March 8 meeting, to see what vendors thought.

Also on the March 8 agenda will be a review of revisions to the vendor application and inspection forms, and a chance for vendors to give feedback on the proposed changes. At Tuesday’s meeting, Notarianni went over the changes that are being proposed by the commission’s policies and procedures committee. She said the goal is to collect more information, to be able to evaluate the vendor better.

For the application, a new category – “Source of materials” or “Source of ingredients” – has been added, to make it more clear how products are being grown or produced. The application also includes an additional sentence: “The products should meet MDA [Michigan Department of Agriculture], Washtenaw County Health Department, and USDA regulations, and good food safety practices.” This emphasizes the importance of food safety, Barkman said.

In the section for prepared food, one sentence has been underlined to emphasize that vendors must have “combined or assembled” their product, from ingredients that they’re required to list. Barkman said the intent is to address some of the problems that have been raised about vendors selling pre-made items. [.pdf file of draft vendor application]

As for the inspection form, it didn’t change dramatically, Notarianni said. [.pdf file of draft inspection form] A section for livestock has been added, reflecting the fact that they’ve added vendors who are selling meat. For the prepared foods section, the form asks vendors to describe their preparation process and source of ingredients. Pollack said that vendors should be asked to describe their facilities as well.

Pollack suggested that the revisions be highlighted in color, and that a cover memo should be included to indicate what has been changed. The drafts should be posted on the market’s website prior to the March 8 meeting, he said.

Pollack also observed that while the inspector’s role was to make observations about the operation of a vendor, it was the market manager’s job to make evaluations based on those observations. He suggested that a category be added with the inspection form: a place for the market manager to indicate whether the vendor complies, requires modifications, or doesn’t comply with market rules. Barkman – who also owns TJ Farms in Chelsea and is a vendor at the market – agreed that it’s important for vendors to know where they stand. It would also eliminate the possibility for a vendor to claim he didn’t understand whether or not he complied, Barkman said – it would be clear.

Pollack said that was the intent – to add clarity to the system.

During public commentary, Luis Vazquez suggested some additional revisions to the forms. It’s not that products should meet MDA and other safety regulations, he said, they must. He wondered who would ensure that proper licensing is in place for vendors. For the inspection form, he said the section on prepared foods needed work, especially as it related to baked goods.

Misc. Updates

Commissioner Shannon Brines highlighted several upcoming food-related events, including the Homegrown Local Food Summit 2010, set for March 2 at the University of Michigan’s Dana Building. The day-long event is a follow-up to last year’s summit, and will include skill-building workshops and discussion of developing a countywide local food campaign. [See Chronicle coverage of the 2009 summit: "Local Food for Thought"]

Brines also mentioned a Feb. 19 urban farming conference to be held on the UM-Dearborn campus, with Robert Kenner – maker of the documentary film Food Inc. – as keynote speaker. And on Feb. 25, the Michigan Good Food Summit will be held in Lansing, he said, with the aim of developing a statewide sustainable food system.

Public Commentary

In addition to the public commentary reported above, Luis Vazquez spoke on several additional topics. He requested information in light of Jayne Miller’s upcoming departure. [Miller, as community services director, is the top city official who oversees the public market operations. She's taken a job as head of the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority – her last day will be Feb. 11.] Vazquez wanted to know whether Miller will be replaced, who the market manager will be reporting to now, and what Miller’s departure means for the commission. [Peter Pollack, the commission's chair, later clarified that market manager Molly Notarianni reports directly to Colin Smith, the city's parks and recreation manager. Smith, in turn, reports to Miller.]

Vazquez also pointed out that two farmers market vendors – Renaissance Acres and Pilar’s Tamales – were featured in the winter 2010 edition of the Edible Wow magazine. It was great to see local vendors highlighted, especially organic producers like Renaissance Acres, he said, and he suggested that the publication be linked to from the market’s website. He also noted that another organic farmer, Peter Stark, would be offering a cooking class at Kerrytown Market & Shops.

Present: Commissioners Dave Barkman, Diane Black, Shannon Brines, Peter Pollack, and Genia Service. Also: Molly Notarianni, market manager.

Next meeting: The commission’s next regular meeting is on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 5:30 p.m. in the fourth floor of the Ann Arbor District Library’s downtown building, 343 S. Fifth Ave., Ann Arbor. [confirm date]


  1. February 5, 2010 at 9:42 am | permalink

    Let me get this straight…there’s a full-time Market Manager, a part-time Asst Manager, and a five person commission. Does anyone else think this seems excessive?

  2. By Glenn Thompson
    February 5, 2010 at 10:03 am | permalink

    The Commissioners are not paid. However, there is an additional paid market inspector.

  3. By Dan Ryan
    February 5, 2010 at 12:39 pm | permalink

    Excessive? The market commission is not paid and is theoretically a good idea. Having a commission gets citizen input into the broad oversight of the market concept, though I know there’s a lot of difference of opinion here among some people. It’s a practice in other municipalities with markets.

    I don’t know if having both a manager and assistant manager is excessive. It’s easy to say so, but without knowing the job descriptions and pay scales it’s difficult to say.

  4. By David
    February 5, 2010 at 12:48 pm | permalink

    I’m a homeowner right down the street from the market. Its one of the reasons I purchased in the neighborhood. Each year there seem to be less and less good value purchases to be had. Its driving me to other markets (Ypsi and the one by the Roadhouse) where the identical produce, etc…, can be had relatively cheaper. Raising the stall rates might not decrease willing vendors, but it will drive prices up further, cutting traffic, driving up prices, and on and on.

  5. By m
    February 5, 2010 at 1:01 pm | permalink

    Every time I read about administration of the AA Farmers’ Market I find obsession with the topic of pre-made bakery goods. Has anyone thought of making such goods legal (as long as they are clearly labeled) and then letting the buyers decide if they want to purchase them? Then the other much more important issues — especially of keeping the market a going, vibrant, reality — could be addressed.

  6. By Glenn Thompson
    February 5, 2010 at 4:07 pm | permalink

    I posted the revenue/expense bar charts I presented at the Commission meeting on

    The Market cannot continue the present trends without having the same problems as Mack Pool and the Senior Center. The City must stop loading the facilities with expenses, both in terms of IT and Municipal charges and excess personnel.

    I agree. The vendor in question does not claim his product is made from ‘scratch’ He uses commercial looking packaging very similar to that you might find in a supermarket. I do not think there is any deception.

    If his products are removed from the Market the diversity of baked goods will decrease and the average cost of baked goods will increase.

  7. February 5, 2010 at 4:38 pm | permalink

    (off-topic, sorry: I think that display of the kids’ paintings is beautiful – great photo!)

  8. By David
    February 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm | permalink

    It is fun to walk through this market on a summer morning. However, I never buy anything as the prices are too high and this will only make it worse. One of my good friends says it is a “botique market” and not a “farmer’s market”. There are cheaper alternatives mentioned above that I patronize.

  9. By Glenn Thompson
    February 5, 2010 at 7:06 pm | permalink

    I would disagree with the implication that the prices are universally high. The presence of some expensive items can give the impression that everything is expensive. Prices vary a lot by vendor and season. The first vendor to bring a given product to the market often demands a high premium.

    The prices on Wednesday are often less than those on Saturday. Some of the vendors at the Westside Market are the same as those at the AA Farmers Market. I have not noticed a difference in their prices based on location for the weekday markets.

    I agree, under the current administration, the market is becoming more of a ’boutique’ market. That is a good description of the current issue. One of the real farmer vendors supplements his income, primarily in winter, by selling items he bakes from some stage of commercial preparation. He has done this for many years, but the current Market Commission does not think this is appropriate any longer.

  10. By David
    February 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm | permalink

    I also don’t understand this “purity” stance by the Market Commission. I go to markets to buy fresh, tasty and healthy food at a reasonable price. I am on a budget and always search for the best value. I really don’t care if a baked good is partly or completely prepared by a commercial operation. Commercial approaches can be very efficient without affecting other important food qualities.

    I guess this market is only for the elite.

  11. By wordtothewise
    February 6, 2010 at 5:04 am | permalink

    Most if not all producer-only markets (as Ann Arbor claims its market to be), does not allow baked goods from commercial mixes or pre-made freeze and bake, period.ALL baked goods must be made using the made from scratch method only.
    No exceptions.
    The reason being is as follows: An excerpt from the Nov.2009 Current magazine article…”KNOW WHAT YOUR GETTING” by David Erik Nelson

    During an early fall visit to the Kapnick Orchards table at our Farmer’s Market, a pretty young table worker indicated that “most” of their baked goods were homemade. When pressed on which ones weren’t, she grimaced and explained that, of the dozens of items piled high on the folding table, their fudge and rolls were homemade, but the remainder did have “special things” added prior to baking.

    Mr. Thompson is mistaken when he stated this vendor never claimed their products were homemade (made from scratch). This article and consumers(not the vendor) provided the truth. Is the vendor in this instance trying to confuse the consumer or lie to the consumer?
    Currently there are several baked goods artisans at the market. The removal of this type of product will affect only one vendor, as all others use the made from scratch method and are considered artisans,(in the baking world) as baking is a craft. Removal would not ruin the baked good diversity at the market as there are plenty of quality baked goods. The management can find another vendor to fullfill the need if necessary,or the vendor can be given the chance to provide market customers with baked goods using the made from scratch method. Was any method other than the made from scratch method “officially” ever allowed at this producer-only market?

  12. By David
    February 6, 2010 at 8:23 am | permalink

    Please help me understand some what made from scratch means through the following questions. Make each item one at a time? Prepare your own flour or is purchase of Spartan brand from Busch’s acceptable? Grow pie filling material (e.g. apples) on your own property of purchase it from someone else: how is this someone else defined (e.g., the orchard down the street or Meijers who could also be purchasing from the same orchard)? What if two people collobrated on a product whereby I prepared pie crusts in my kitchen, froze them and then transported them to someone else’s kitchen for prepartion of the final product?

  13. February 6, 2010 at 9:44 am | permalink

    I don’t see how the market administration can be blamed for high prices, or even if this a problem. My biggest complaint with the Saturday market isn’t the cost, it’s that it’s so packed in the summer that I can’t easily navigate it. Sounds like high prices are a case of supply and demand to me.

  14. By Cosmonican
    February 6, 2010 at 10:27 am | permalink

    Regarding the crowds in the summer: Why not expand the market? Once school is out, open up the parking lots at the high schools, one day each per week. Let the market operate downtown and in these satellite locations so those of us who cannot find parking or walk, or find time for the bus, can enjoy the market too.

    They’ll need water and toilets, which is easily done, vendors who need electricity will have to have generators.

    I know I’ll go, where I can never get to the market now.

  15. By scott newell
    February 6, 2010 at 11:00 am | permalink

    for the record
    scott robertello of kapnick orchards has been selling thaw and bake pies and other baked goods for many years in clear violation of the market rules. this means that he buys a frozen item such as pie or coffee cake and lets it thaw and sells it. as a result of numerous complaints from vendors and market commissioners, rather than demand kapnick to stop re-selling these items (he’s the ONLY one who does this of all the bakers at the market), the city and market manager at the time changed the rules and and allowed the violation to continue. why? i have no idea. it is mind boggling.
    i will partially list the reasons why it is wrong for kapnick to re-sell items they did not make or bake themselves at the market:
    1)it taints the very reason for the markets existence which is to buy directly from farmers and artists goods that THEY ACTUALLY PRODUCE.
    2)it is cheating for profit at the expense of everyone else because it costs A LOT more to make things yourself
    3)it will make people question WHY they are going to the market and paying higher prices for the crap you can get at kroger for cheaper
    4) it will eventually diminish the integrity of the market
    5) it is cheating for profit at the expense of everyone else
    6) people go to the market for QUALITY FIRST
    7) EVERYONE one else at the market makes what they sell EXCEPT kapnick
    8) it is cheating for profit at the expense of everyone else
    should i be allowed to bring apples to the market that i bought in washington and sell them as if i grew them?
    should i be allowed to bring eggs to the market that i bought from a factory and sell them as if i grew them?
    should i be allowed to buy jewelry from china and sell it at the market as if i made it?
    should i be allowed to bring pies and coffee cake i bought from pillsbury and sell it at the market as if i made it?
    kapnick makes BIG money selling stuff he didnt make and the city and the market commission should man up and stop this clear cut no-brainer issue before the multi-year taint of this controversy destroys the market.
    a note to glenn thompson:
    you have been a wonderful and vigilant advocate and citizen voice of the market and other civic projects for so long-why don’t you get this when it comes to scott robertello and kapnick orchards?
    what is it between you and scott?

  16. By scott newell
    February 6, 2010 at 11:10 am | permalink

    re: david
    regarding scratch criteria. from scratch can mean different things to different people. but for the market i would argue that scratch should AT LEAST require opening a can of goop and putting it into a frozen pieshell and baking it yourself. thawing frozen product and adding a pinch of sugar on top DOES NOT mean from scratch. the state of michigan allows you to buy honey or jam in a big vat and put it into small jars and label and re-sell it as your own. should that be allowed at the market just because the state allows it? i know a honey guy at the market who actually makes his own honey. how can he compete? that point aside, shouldn’t YOU know the difference?

  17. By Luis Vazquez
    February 6, 2010 at 11:42 am | permalink

    If one looks at the local blog Arbor Market Watch one will see the following included in the most recent post:

    Chapter 31 of City Code states the following:
    2:94. Persons who may use.
    The Public Market may be occupied by persons who are offering for sale articles of their own raising or production.

    Market Operating Rules state the following:
    1. Vendor Operations
    A. Vendors shall use the Market in strict accordance with the Market Rules, and Chapter 31 of Ann Arbor City Code.
    B. All food and products offered for sale at the Market must be grown or made by the vendor who offers the product for sale.
    G. Vendors shall not misrepresent the quantity, quality, type or origin of food or products in any way.
    H. All food and products offered for sale at the Market must be grown by the vendor, or made by the vendor in Michigan, Ohio, or Indiana.

    Furthermore, if one scrolls down on the same post, a set of proposed baked goods rules is available for reading and consideration, and which provides more precise definitions. Many markets around the country have incorporated similar rules regarding baked goods.

    I am uncertain as to why Mr Thompson persists in supporting Kapnick’s Orchards baked goods (I contend they are “faked goods”) knowing that they are not made from scratch. The practices used by Scott Robertello at Kapnick’s do not conform with Market Operating Rules, and I believe this is BAD FOR BUSINESS. It is a corrosion of confidence, and damages the credibility of what Ann Arbor bills as a “producer only” market. The other legitimate baked goods vendors whom I have spoken with have a difficult time competing with Kapnick’s. It is corruption to allow one single vendor to bypass the rules that supposedly apply to all at our Public Market. As a consumer of goods from the Public Market, I am not happy that one vendor is allowed to purchase pies wholesale from Hill & Valley, or Maplehurst bakery, or whichever other baked goods wholesaler sells through Lipari, sprinkle a little sugar on top, bake it in their convenience store oven, place a “Kapnick’s Orchards” label on them and sell them at our market. How is this NOT deceptive? Is this FAIR to the public, and to other vendors? How is this in the best interest of the market?

  18. By [Name]
    February 7, 2010 at 11:19 am | permalink

    Editor’s note: This comment has been deleted, because it was in significant part speculative and seemed more designed to cast aspersions on an individual than it was to add information and perspective on this article.

  19. February 7, 2010 at 1:24 pm | permalink

    I heard at one point that there was some sort of (informal) rule that sellers couldn’t undercut each other in price. Does anyone know if this is true?

    Years ago I used to buy a peck of cucumbers to make pickles, for example, but later I found that they were selling them only in little pint containers at much higher prices. I agree that they need to sell at retail prices instead of wholesale in order to make farming remunerative, but this does take away much of the traditional motivation in visiting a farmers’ market. I mostly visit the market through nostalgia and to buy certain items, and as an entertainment. It is still one of our treasures and I love to patronize the West Side Market. Arbor Farms also sells local produce in season, which helps assuage my conscience, since I can no longer shop at Fresh Seasons.

  20. By Glenn Thompson
    February 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm | permalink

    Mr. Newell Commented: “ You (Glenn Thompson) have been a wonderful and vigilant advocate and citizen voice of the market and other civic projects for so long-why don’t you get this when it comes to Scott Robertello . . .”

    I appreciate Mr Newell’s recognition of my support of the market. But this is why we disagree on this issue. I support the Market, and correct, rule making procedures that follow legal precedent. I do not have a position for, or against, Mr. Robertello.

    In November, a quorum of the Market Commissioners met in the Market office to discuss “policy and procedures”. The Michigan Open Meetings Act (OMA) requires all meetings of public bodies when a quorum is present to maintain minutes and to make these available within 8 days of the meeting. When I asked for a copy of the minutes under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) I was told the minutes of the meeting were not available.

    The November meeting was illegal and unnecessary since the regular Commission Meetings were typically less than one hour. A major part of my objection is that the Commission activity was not been conducted in the public, cablecast, meetings of the Commission. This is clearly in opposition the intent and spirit of open, transparent, deliberation and decision by government as required by OMA and supported by Ann Arbor Council resolution. The meetings have continued, although at the February meeting of the Market Commission the chairperson, Mr Pollack was careful not to disclose the number of Commissioners present at the last meeting.

    Even now the material presented at the February meeting of the Market Commission is still being withheld from the public. Note that the link in this article to the proposed revised Market application does not work. When a Market vendor asked for a copy this past Saturday he was told he could not have it. This is simply wrong.

    Consider the legal structure of the US. Our system is based on written law and court precedent. Mr. Pollack has stated that the Commission is not changing the rules. So the Commission is not changing the ‘law’. Mr. Robertello has decades of precedent from Market Managers, Market Inspectors, and even the City Attorney’s Office that whatever he is doing is consistent with the ‘law’. Under the framework of our legal system the ‘law’ and precedent strongly support Mr Roberttello.

    This does not mean the Commission cannot start the process to change the rules, if that is their intent. But it should be done by the procedure that was approved by the Ann Arbor City Council, not by a backroom deal. The discussions should be if the change is good for the Market, not whether it is good for one vendor or not.

  21. By Dave Askins
    February 7, 2010 at 5:45 pm | permalink

    Re: [20] and:

    Even now the material presented at the February meeting of the Market Commission is still being withheld from the public. Note that the link in this article to the proposed revised Market application does not work. When a Market vendor asked for a copy this past Saturday he was told he could not have it. This is simply wrong.

    The link failure can be chalked up to The Chronicle, not the city — ideally we try to host documents on our own website, instead of relying on third parties to maintain the same URL forever. And it was The Chronicle who dropped the ball that. [When a link doesn't work, the URL window should indicate the address where it was trying to fetch the file from].

    In any case, I’ve filled in the missing domain name prefix, and it should now work: [link]

  22. February 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm | permalink

    19: Vivienne, some farmers will sell things by the peck, others have people who are there who don’t even know what a peck is. I’ve certainly gotten deals by offering to buy a large quantity of something from someone who has bushels and bushels of produce behind them, but that’s usually only in the peak of the season.

  23. By Rod Johnson
    February 8, 2010 at 11:11 pm | permalink

    So it’s peak pecks only.

  24. February 9, 2010 at 7:47 am | permalink

    Now I just need to pick the peak for a peck to pickle.

  25. By Rod Johnson
    February 9, 2010 at 12:08 pm | permalink

    I knew it was only a matter of time before pickles made their ‘ppearance.

  26. By jcp2
    February 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm | permalink

    I would be more impressed if peppers were the subject vegetable, rather than cucumbers.

  27. By Rici
    March 8, 2010 at 1:06 am | permalink

    Comment 16: i know a honey guy at the market who actually makes his own honey.

    Wow – now that’s a biological miracle! How does he do this?