Archive for April, 2010

A2: Immigration Rally

La Prensa reports on plans for a May 1 rally for immigration reform to be held at Frisinger Park in Ann Arbor, in conjunction with President Obama’s attendance at UM’s commencement. Buses to Ann Arbor for the rally will be coming from Detroit, Ypsilanti, Pontiac and East Lansing: “We need to remind President Obama: Friends keep their promises! Our community needs immigration reform now. We must stand together against Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB 1070, and we need President Obama to stand with us. Wear white. Please bring US Flags. The rally will be peaceful, and safe for all.” [Source]

UM: Crime

The Detroit News reports that UM’s debate program director, Joshua Blake Hoe of Ypsilanti, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly trying to solicit minors for sex through the Internet. From the report: “[Attorney General Mike] Cox encouraged parents to check their children’s ‘buddy lists’ for the screen name ‘okape40.’ If they believe their child has communicated with Hoe or other suspected Internet sex predators, parents should call (313) 456-0180.” [Source]

Main & Liberty

Photographer Mercy Whitney shoots tiny wedding figurines perched on a fire hydrant to take advantage of the blue background texture. It’s for a fine art project, not for her wedding photography business. Kudos to readers who can guess the downtown store where the figurines were purchased.  [photo]

Washtenaw Assessed Property Values Drop

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (April 21, 2010): The economy was a theme throughout much of last week’s county board meeting, whether commissioners were hearing that this year’s tax revenues have fallen – but not as much as expected – or debating the virtues of a drug discount plan for residents. And concerns over the ability to pay additional road commissioners was one reason cited for tabling a motion to expand that group. The board also got an update on the Detroit Aerotropolis project, which is viewed by some as a way to boost economic development on the county’s east side.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners authorized the issuance of up to $405,000 in bonds for a porous pavement project on Sylvan Avenue in Ann Arbor – the Ann Arbor city council had approved a construction contract for the project at their April 19 meeting. The city is working with the county’s water resources commissioner on this effort. If successful, it could pave the way for more porous resurfacing of local roads.

In the category of the local agricultural economy, the board honored the Horning family of Manchester for their work as progressive dairy farmers – Earl Horning in turn invited the public to a June 26 “Breakfast on the Farm” event. “We’d like our city friends to come and visit us,” Horning told commissioners. [Full Story]

Chelsea: B&B

A post in the Michigan 1001 Daily Photo blog highlights Chelsea House Victorian Bed & Breakfast: “Its location directly behind the Purple Rose Theatre makes it the perfect spot to spend a few nights when taking in the lovely town of Chelsea. The beds are heavenly, the breakfast is sumptuous and the innkeepers, Jim and Kim Myles, are very knowledgeable and friendly.” [Source]

Percentage Incorrect

A projected $200,000 shortfall for the Ann Arbor District Library’s 2010-11 budget represents 2.8% of the district’s current fund balance. A report on the April 19, 2010 meeting of the AADL board incorrectly stated that percentage. Also, the article incorrectly stated that an IRS audit prompted changes to two AADL policies. The suggestion for changes came via the library’s regular annual audit, not an IRS audit. We note the errors here, and have corrected the original article.

Fifth & Liberty

Downtown post office loading dock: Stacks of the Ann Arbor Observer’s May issue waiting to be delivered.

UM: Architects

Model D reports on the work of five UM architecture fellows, who purchased a foreclosed house in Detroit for their work. From the report: “From the outside it doesn’t look like much, just another neglected house, but once inside, it comes to life. It hasn’t been rehabbed for humans. In fact, it hasn’t been rehabbed at all. It’s more of a vehicle to hold their projects.” [Source]

A2: Fundraiser

The “green thumb black dog” blog – by Lisa Waud of Pot & Box – invites readers to a “cinco de circa” fundraiser to benefit the nonprofit Growing Hope. The May 5 event features Margaret and David Bell from Circa Estate Winery, Mary Campbell of Everyday Wines and chef Scott MacInnis of Tranche de Vie. [Source]

AAHC Appointee: Womble

In a recent report on a city council meeting, we misspelled the name of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission board’s newest member. Her name is Sasha Womble. We note the mistake here and have corrected the spelling in the meeting report.

UM: C.K. Prahalad

InformationWeek’s Global CIO blog includes a tribute by UM professor MS Krishnan to his former colleague C.K. Prahalad, who died earlier this month. Writes Krishnan: “A contrarian, CK was exceptional in his foresight for next big ideas. CK had plans for at least three next big ideas even during his last days. CK truly believed in improving the world through his contributions. He had a vision for marrying sustainability and business innovation. … However, on April 16th, 2010, we lost a brilliant thinker, a wonderful friend and an evangelist of new business concepts. While mourning his demise, we also need to cherish our memories of CK and his work.” [Source]

In the Archives: The Male Suffragette

Editor’s Note: With primary election season starting to warm up, and an exhibit on suffrage planned for this coming winter at Ann Arbor’s Museum on Main Street, local history columnist Laura Bien takes a look back at the history of the local suffrage movement.

“Baby suffrage” is what one Detroit newspaper proposed in 1874. In that year, Michigan voted on whether to remove the word “male” from a part of its Constitution related to voting. The paper sneered that infants voting in polling booths would be the next step if women were given the vote.

Pattison chose as his bold motto  Free to Do Right: To Do Wrong, Never.

Charles Rich Pattison chose as his bold motto for The Commercial "Free to Do Right: To Do Wrong, Never."

Newspapers of that era often served as explicit vehicles for their editors’ opinions and prejudices. As they did with the Temperance issue, papers across Michigan chose a side in the suffrage question in the key year of 1874.

Their pro- and anti-suffrage positions reflected the divided opinions not just on the national level, but, as in Ypsilanti, on a municipal level.

Edited by Charles Woodruff, the Ypsilanti Sentinel was against suffrage for women. It regularly published editorials that disparaged the idea and disparaged the Sentinel’s competing paper, The Commercial, which was led by arguably the most outspoken editor in Ypsilanti history. [Full Story]

WCC: Earth Day

The Eastern Echo – Eastern Michigan University’s student newspaper – publishes a report on Sunday’s Earth Day Festival held at Washtenaw Community College. The event featured music, exhibits and an “All Species” parade. The article quotes several exhibitors, including Lisa Bashert of the Ypsilanti Food Co-op: “The Food Co-op is doing a beekeeping project this summer where we’re having five hives. The goal of the beekeeping is that we’re going to train beekeepers to have their own small holdings. Hopefully they’ll sell their honey back to the Food Co-op so we’ll have a source of local honey.” [Source]

Washtenaw: E.coli

The Columbus Dispatch reports on an outbreak of the E. coli infection which public health officials in Ohio think might be linked to similar cases in Washtenaw County. The article states that two of the five cases in Columbus, which include some Ohio State University students, have “genetic fingerprints” connecting them to cases in Washtenaw. [Source]

UM Credit Union Eyes Former News Building

The University of Michigan Credit Union is real-estate shopping and is looking at the now-vacant Ann Arbor News building on the southwest corner of Huron and Division streets.

The former Ann Arbor News building

The building that formerly housed The Ann Arbor News, at the southwest corner of Huron and Division.

However, the three-story News building is only one of several properties being considered as a potential home for the credit union’s administrative offices, says Jeff Schillag, the institution’s vice president of marketing and community relations.

Not all the potential sites are downtown, Schillag says. And any acquired space would replace leased office space.

Opened in 1936, the Albert Kahn-designed News building was shuttered last July when Advance Publications closed the daily newspaper. [Full Story]

Washington & Fletcher

Line for students getting Obama tickets from the Alumni Association runs across the plaza and past Hill Auditorium!

Library Board Addresses Budget Shortfall

Ann Arbor District Library board meeting (April 19, 2010): Facing a projected $200,000 shortfall for the 2010-11 fiscal year, the Ann Arbor District Library board discussed tapping its fund balance to cover the gap, rather than raising its millage or making additional cuts. The district is anticipating a decrease in tax revenues for the fiscal year beginning July 1, based on a drop in local property values. AADL director Josie Parker told the board that her staff had already identified $700,000 in expense cuts, but didn’t feel they could do more without service cuts or layoffs.

The board is expected to vote on its budget for the coming fiscal year at its May 17 meeting. [Full Story]

Third & Liberty

Three Ann Arbor police units parked haphazardly and a couple of officers walking around.

Liberty near Mulholland

Bits of robin blue egg in pieces on the sidewalk. Fallen or hatched? Aftermath uncertain and unknown, with recent rain obscuring additional evidence. Scanning the tree above gave no insight.

Main Street

Window display at Peaceable Kingdom features an army of Barack Obama figures. [photo]

Investments: Housing, Bridges, Transit

Ann Arbor City Council meeting (April 19, 2010) Part 2: In Part 1 of this meeting report, we focused on the city’s budget process, parking issues and the University of Michigan commencement exercises.

In Part 2, we wrap up other topics of the meeting. One common theme was capital investments in the community’s physical infrastructure of various kinds.

Michael Nearing city of Ann Arbor engineer

Michael Nearing, city of Ann Arbor engineer, was available for any city council questions on the East Stadium bridge project. (Photo by the writer.)

The council allocated a total of $313,000 for three different permanent affordable housing projects in Ann Arbor.

The city’s East Stadium bridge replacement project received discussion in the form of a resolution that authorized the city to go after state funding for the third time in the last three years. The anticipated construction start for fall of this year has been postponed until spring 2011 – the earlier date had been tied to the city’s application for federal funding, which was rejected this February.

The ongoing construction of the police/courts building, directly adjacent to city hall (the Larcom Building), received some tangential discussion in the form of an explanation from Roger Fraser about the recent closure of city hall due to elevated carbon monoxide levels. The police/courts building was also the subject of public commentary that prompted some extended remarks from the mayor – which were covered in Part 1 of this report.

Another construction project that will likely factor into the upcoming primary election campaigns is Fuller Road Station. The city-university collaboration to build a combined parking deck and bus station, which might eventually serve as a commuter rail station, was taken up during the council’s communications time. Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) and mayor John Hieftje both responded to some cautionary remarks made by Mike Anglin (Ward 5), which he made based on a recent park advisory commission meeting.

In business related to ethics and rules, the council voted on two occasions to excuse the participation of Taylor in a vote, because of a conflict of interest posed by his employment with the law firm Butzel Long. They also satisfied the requirement of a recent lawsuit settlement that they formally consider a rule about their use of government email accounts – by voting to remand consideration of the issue to council’s rules committee. [Full Story]

UM: Obama

The Detroit Free Press interviews UM students, asking what they’d like to hear from President Obama when he delivers the May 1 commencement address. Says Jonathan Slemrod of Ann Arbor: “Inspiration and advice from a man with quite the story to tell. … U-M grads have every right to be anxious about what the future holds, and how this administration’s decisions will affect our generation. For example, they might wonder how looming tax increases will help them find a job, how the overbearing regulatory climate in Washington will encourage our university’s entrepreneurial spirit, or how our generation is going to pay for the promises of today, tomorrow.” [Source]

Washtenaw: Art

On her blog Painting with Fire, local artist Leslie Sobel posts photos of her work on display at the Mercy Gallery’s “Waxing Lyrical” exhibition. The gallery is located at The Loomis Chaffee School in Windsor, Conn. [Source]

A2: Boats

The Royal Oak Daily Tribune publishes a feature on the website The article quotes Roger LeLievre, an Ann Arbor resident and vice president of Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online Inc., a nonprofit formed to support the website: “It’s gotten huge. We get people from all over the world but primarily the United States and Canada. The website contains everything you ever wanted to know about Great Lakes and Seaway shipping from information about the ships themselves to a news page that is updated every day. There are port arrivals and departures to links to live cameras that show shipping scenes around the world.” [Source]

Pioneer High School

People getting rid of old/broken electronics by properly recycling at Pioneer High School till noon 2 p.m. today (no charge) [photo]

Mailboxes of Ann Arbor

Store flyer from Hiller’s shows that someone’s a literary wise guy. Question regarding the dog: Will he agree to play football for the Methodists? [photo]

Column: Book Fare

The Ann Arbor Book Festival returns May 14-15 with its chief draw, a daylong Writer’s Conference, as the centerpiece of an event that has been streamlined to conform to some – you guessed it – sobering financial realities.

Ann Arbor Book Festival board

An Ann Arbor Book Festival board meeting at the offices of the Ann Arbor State Bank (from left): Peter Schork, Kathy Robenalt, Jeff Kass, Evans Young, Bill Gosling, John Knott.

The starkest of those is the absence of Shaman Drum Bookshop, which closed its doors last summer. The bookstore had been a key sponsor since its owner, Karl Pohrt, took a key role in launching the festival in 2003. The void, for the festival as well as the community, has been deeply felt.

Pohrt’s staff “was extremely helpful in attracting some of our main guest authors,” said festival executive director Kathy Robenalt, “so that was a loss we had to work with.” And the woes of the wider industry have hit home, too: publisher-paid author tours are far from routine anymore, meaning fewer authors who might be able to appear at the festival on, say, HarperCollins’ dime.

Pohrt remains on the 18-member festival board, along with Bill Zirinsky, who owns returning sponsor Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room with his wife, Ruth Schekter. [Full Story]