Column: Debate on Watches, Authenticity

Ann Arbor council candidates meet with downtown merchants

About 20 years ago, after a stint in graduate school, I found myself faced with the challenge of learning some basic Chinese to prepare for a teaching appointment at the English Language Institute of Xi’an Medical University. So I drew on my previous experience learning a foreign language – German.


Chinese characters produced by Google Translate for "clock" and "watch" – useful for debates on the merits of timepiece size when traveling in the Middle Kingdom.

For eighth grade German class, I had memorized a conversation between two old friends, Hans Köhler and Walter Fischer, who accidentally bumped into each other in Berlin. Here’s how it started: “Ach, du, Walter! Du bist in Berlin?!” “Ja, ich bin zur Messe hier.” “Und deine Frau?” “Sie ist in Hamburg.”

Loosely translated: “Dude! It’s you, Walter!” “Yeah, I’m in town for a convention.” “What about your wife?” “She’s in Hamburg.” Hilarity ensued as the architect Hans Köhler and the businessman Walter Fischer regaled each other with tales of derring-do. The whole thing concluded with Hans showing off his car to Walter: “Dort ist mein Wagen!” [There is my car!]

So I found a book of Chinese dialogues, with the same expectations of success I’d had with German. My favorite one was called: “A Debate on Clocks and Watches.” To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much of it  – there were no compelling characters like Hans and Walter. And the “debate” wasn’t really much of a debate. The controversy, as best I recall, involved opinions about the size of watches – are big watches or small watches better? And the two parties to the debate weren’t really committed to their positions. As best I recall the concluding line was: “Da biao, xiao biao – dou hau!” “Big watches and small watches – they’re both good.”

That’s not a conclusion to an authentic “debate” in any reasonable sense. I bring up these foreign language dialogues from my distant past, because I was reminded of them last Thursday morning at the regular meeting of the Main Street Area Association, which took place at Conor O’Neill’s. The MSAA gave all five city council candidates an opportunity to introduce themselves and take questions from the assembled Main Street merchants.

Attending for Ward 2 were: Tony Derezinski, the Democratic incumbent, and Emily Salvette, who is the Libertarian challenger. Attending for Ward 5 were independent Newcombe Clark, Republican John Floyd and Democratic incumbent Carsten Hohnke.

Now, no one recited a Chinese or German dialogue at the MSAA meeting. But before diving into that connection, it’s worth summarizing what each of the five candidates had to say in the five minutes they were each allotted. Had the candidates been addressing a group of Chinese or German speakers, they may well have tried out a phrase of Chinese or German on the group – along the lines of John Kennedy’s famous “Ich bin ein Berliner.” ["I'm a Berliner." He was in Berlin at the time, 1963, and was expressing solidarity with the citizens of Berlin just after the Berlin Wall was built.] Carsten Hohnke came closest to that when he identified himself as the owner of a downtown business who understood the challenges of running one. But it’s fair to say that all candidates tried their best to speak in language that would appeal to a downtown merchant.

Candidates were sorted first by ward number, so Ward 2 went first.

Ward 2: Derezinski and Salvette

The candidates within each ward were sorted alphabetically. So Derezinski went first.

Tony Derezinski: Three Ps – Provider, Planning, Proactive

Derezinski introduced himself as having come back to politics at the local level two years ago after a 30-year “lapse” –  he was state senator representing District 33 from 1975-78. He said he wanted to make three points – the three Ps.

The first P is that cities, first and last, should always be a “provider” of services – fire, police, all the downtown services to support the downtown that merchants needed. He also noted that there are alternatives to providing services, in the form of the newly created Main Street Business Improvement Zone. He described the challenge of balancing the budget in tough times when most of the costs are human costs. He mentioned that the mayor had asked him to do some legal research on panhandling ordinances – Ann Arbor’s approach is consistent with the doctrine of freedom of speech, he said.

Tony Derezinski

Tony Derezinski addressed the gathering of the Main Street Area Association, without notes, on the three Ps.

The second P is “planning.” Derezinski pointed out that he was the city council’s representative to the planning commission and was an alternate appointment to the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS). He noted that transportation is critical – acknowledging the presence of Jesse Bernstein at the meeting, who is chair of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board. Derezinski said that as we plan, we need to consider the surrounding areas, something that the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) helped to do. He also mentioned the work the city is doing in looking at the zoning code – in particular, possible revisions to the way that R4C zoning (multi-family dwelling) is handled.

The third P is “proactive.” The city needs to engage issues, not just on a reactive basis. The key to that, Derezinski said, was for various groups to collaborate – neighborhood associations, merchant associations, other municipal entities. He cited the current study of the Washtenaw Avenue corridor as a example where four different municipalities are cooperating – Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, Ypsilanti Township, and Ypsilanti. They’re taking a look at how the corridor could be redeveloped.

Derezinski concluded by saying that he wanted to continue to work together, but that they needed more time to accomplish what they wanted to accomplish.

Emily Salvette: Provide What People Want

Derezinski’s remarks could fairly be described as smooth and polished, delivered without notes – polished enough that Emily Salvette began by saying she’d be using notes. [Except for Derezinski, all the candidates used some form of notes.] She characterized herself as an administrator, not a politician. As a Libertarian, she said, she believes in limited government – government doesn’t always have the best answer. She said the way that private companies work is to provide services that people actually want. By way of contrast, government typically asks what it wants people to do and then tries to design ways to get them to comply.

Emily Salvette

Emily Salvette told the downtown merchants that government is not always the answer.

Government, Salvette, said, should be open, fair and honest. Government should provide just basic services – it’s gotten too big and expensive, she said. She rejected the idea of a city income tax, calling it a “bad tax.” [Derezinski, later during the question time, said he supported looking at the idea of a city income tax, having worked in two communities where he did not live, but still had paid the income tax where he worked.] Salvette described a city income tax as punishing people who work in Ann Arbor, but who can’t afford to live here.

Salvette also stated that it’s not good to have one-party rule – for five years all members of the city council have been Democrats. “It’s time to shake it up a little bit,” she said. She concluded by giving some biographical information – she attended Huron High School and had returned to Ann Arbor in 1990 with her husband to raise a family. She has  a BA in economics and an MA in telecommunication arts. She’s now an administrator at the University of Michigan.

Ward 5: Clark, Floyd and Hohnke

Sorted alphabetically, the candidates shook out: Newcombe Clark, John Floyd, Carsten Hohnke.

Newcombe Clark: 50 Meetings, Beat Cops, More Art, No Evening Parking Enforcement

Clark began by saying that he missed sitting at the table – he’s former president of the Main Street Area Association. He said he would try quickly to make his points to leave as much time for questions as possible.

Clark stated that if elected he would serve only one 2-year term – 50 council meetings – so that the city would get two years of work from him, not a few months of work and the rest of the time a campaign for the next election. He stated that he would be donating his salary as a councilmember [currently just under $16,000 a year] to charity. The reason he was donating his salary – to a fund to be set up through the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation to support art in $2,000 grants – is that he thought it was difficult to conduct labor negotiations when city councilmembers were collecting a “single dime” for something they should be doing on a volunteer basis.

Newcombe Clark

Newcombe Clark tried to make his remarks quickly to leave time for questions.

He then told Susan Pollay, executive director of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, that she should close her ears. He weighed in against enforcing downtown parking meters until 9 p.m. He said it would be “disastrous,” and would need to be balanced out with other measures to mitigate the negative effect.

He called for better bus service between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and more funding for art, not less. He said that Michigan ranks last in the country for arts funding, while neighboring Ohio, with the same economy, ranks third. He allowed there were problems with the city’s public funding of art, but cited the importance of art in economic development. He stressed the importance of development of downtown city surface parking lots as a way to relieve pressure on the surrounding neighborhoods.

On the need for downtown police patrols, he cited an attempted rape near Slauson Middle School, and two recent armed robberies on Main Street. Clark also pointed out that the daughter of Maura Thomson, executive director of the Main Street Area Association, had recently discovered a dead body in a planter downtown. [Thomson reported this at a previous public meeting: "DDA-City Development Ideas"] The elimination of downtown police beat patrols, he said, was “an experiment with public safety.”

John Floyd: Authenticity Is Downtown Ann Arbor’s Advantage

Floyd began by saying that in the course of the campaign and various candidate forums, he’d become “pretty bored” talking about himself, so he wanted to talk about the audience – downtown merchants.

He told them that anyone – in the age of the internet and L.L. Bean catalogs – who could still make a go of it selling stuff in a bricks-and-mortar retail setting is a hero. He described downtown Ann Arbor as essentially an outdoor lifestyle mall, that had required nothing short of “artistry” to create – a combination of skills in merchandising and advertising and business acumen that is comparable to the expertise of painters and sculptors.

But Floyd pointed out that indoor lifestyle malls, with their accommodations that mitigate weather and offer unlimited parking – have an advantage over downtown Ann Arbor. “What do you have that they don’t?” he asked. Floyd’s answer: Authenticity.

John Floyd

John Floyd escaped the camera during his prepared remarks, but paused to mug for The Chronicle after the meeting.

Downtown Ann Arbor, Floyd said, is a “real place.” It’s an authentic place because it bears the imprint of a human hand, he said. That imprint, he continued, “that’s your edge.” The imprint of a human hand, he said, could be found in three ways: in the built environment – the old buildings that bear the imprint of the bricklayers and craftsmen who constructed them; in the artistry and personality of the downtown business owners; and the “locals” who frequent downtown establishments. He described how visitors to a city typically enjoy being able to “go where the locals go,” and downtown Ann Arbor still offers places where the locals go.

He then talked about the idea of trying to attract and cater to the 20-something crowd, or recent “dormitory refugees.” We want them, he said, but they are the “hot sauce, the zing, the zest” in the recipe. The “meat and potatoes,” he continued, are the parents and the grandparents – people raising families. A good test of whether we’re succeeding or failing, Floyd said, is whether people who have options want to stay here and raise their families. That’s why retaining the old walking neighborhoods around downtown is crucial, he said – those neighborhoods are the third leg of authenticity: genuine locals.

Carsten Hohnke: Communication, Infrastructure, Quality of Life

Hohnke began by saying that as a downtown business owner, he understands the challenges of running a downtown business. Sometimes the city feels like a partner, he said, but at other times it can feel like a hindrance. He said that a strong downtown is vital. He said when he walked door-to-door, people indicated a strong desire for a lively downtown. He described the downtown as the “center of gravity” of the city – it requires sufficient parking and transportation options.

He organized his subsequent remarks around three themes: communication, infrastructure, and quality of life. He said the downtown needs to be involved in the community conversation in a meaningful way. He said he had worked hard by talking to the downtown merchants and tried to provide solutions. He contended he’d led the effort to allow downtown merchants to use sandwich sign boards downtown. He said he’d helped find a way to continue the operation of loading zones downtown without a permitting system. He’d been against the use restrictions that originally been a part of the A2D2 zoning recommendations. [Use restrictions in certain areas would have required "active use" of street level space.]

Carsten Hohnke

Carsten Hohnke organized his remarks around communication, infrastructure, and quality of life.

Regarding infrastructure, he noted that the underground parking garage currently under construction along Fifth Avenue is replacing parking that has been lost – putting it underground is good land use, he said. Regarding the density of downtown, he said downtown needs diverse housing options. Village Green’s City Apartments project and Zaragon Place II, plus hopefully a return of Kingsley Lane, were signs of progress in the last two years, he said. [The city council recently authorized an extension of the purchase option agreement with Village Green for the First and Washington parcel. A site plan was recently approved for Zaragon Place II, at Thompson and William. And the developer of Kingsley Lane, Peter Allen, has recently talked informally about the possibility of bringing back a newly redesigned Kingsley Lane.]

In concluding, Hohnke said that quality of life is really important in Ann Arbor and he stressed the importance of arts and culture within that.

Downtown Business Questions for Candidates

I think that John Floyd’s notion of “authenticity” of the downtown – introduced during his prepared remarks – can be applied to the actual verbal performances of all the candidates. And here I think it’s fair to draw a parallel between the candidates’ respective 5-minute introductions and the recitation of memorized scripts that was a popular foreign language teaching methodology when I was in eighth grade. So back to Hans, Walter, and the debate on watches.

Even if the Hans and Walter dialogue is acted out perfectly by two students of German, no reasonable person would say to those students: “Wow, you speak excellent German!” We’re more likely to say: “Wow, you turned yourself into a German text-to-speech machine – ausgezeichnet!”

Generally speaking, I think we’re a little more generous with politicians. We give them some credit for political fluency, when they’re simply able to take five minutes and fill it with their talking points – with something that approaches complete sentences and paragraphs. Because that does, after all, count for something.

But prepared remarks are vastly different from an authentic conversation. It’s one thing to recite an academic debate on watches and clocks, but it’s quite another to engage in authentic conversation, especially when there’s actually something at stake. When I was living in China – an experience for which the dialogue about the great watch and clock debate had been excellent preparation – the downstairs neighbor in our apartment block knocked on the door one evening. He was not happy. Water from a flooded sink in our apartment was dripping down into his apartment. He did not seem to be in a mood to discuss the merits of big versus small timepieces.

The key phrase that helped diffuse the situation came when I managed to produce: “Wo buyao mafan ni.” [I don't want to bother you.] He responded first with the Chinese equivalent of, “But you are bothering me!” But dogged repetition on my part, apparently, won the day. Or at least it made him go away. So in the crucible of authentic conversation, my Chinese skills were a little scorched to be sure, but ultimately stood the test. In any case that was an authentic conversation.

What about the conversations between downtown merchants and city council candidates? Did they achieve authenticity?

Questions: Library Lot – What’s on Top?

The questions asked by the merchants certainly bore the hallmarks of authentic conversation – when they didn’t hear a satisfactory answer, there was immediate follow-up. That was illustrated perhaps most dramatically by an interaction that began with a question from Chris DeRuyver of Affinity Wealth, directed at incumbent Ward 5 councilmember Carsten Hohnke: What’s going on top of the underground parking garage that’s under construction on the Library Lot?

Hohnke indicated it was an “open question” as to what will be put on top of the city-owned Library Lot. That’s consistent with the position he took at a Ward 5 primary election candidate forum held at the home of Tamara Real, where he called for restarting the conversation about what goes on top with a clean slate, with no preconceptions. At the Main Street Area Association meeting, Hohnke said that from his perspective it does not make a whole lot of sense to create primarily open space at that location, as some members of the community have talked about. DeRuyver interrupted, saying, “You guys have been hemming and hawing,” and that there was a proposal from “a guy who owns a hotel” [Dennis Dahlmann] to put a park with a skating rink there, as well as other proposals. “Why can’t you guys make a decision?”

It’s worth noting that in the audience that morning, sitting in the same row of chairs against the wall as DeRuyver, was Stephen Rapundalo. He’s the Ward 2 councilmember who is actually chairing the committee charged with reviewing the proposals that were elicited by the RFP issued by the city of Ann Arbor in the fall of 2009. It was not, however, Rapundalo’s place – given the format of the occasion – to chime in by giving a more detailed update on the current status of that process.

In a purely authentic conversational setting, Rapundalo would have been free to have clarified – saying something like: Look, the urgency to review the proposals and select one passed in the early spring, because at that point certain aspects of the construction of the foundations had to be dialed in and finalized. Up to that point if we’d selected one of the six proposals, there may have been an opportunity to tweak the foundations to accommodate a particular design for what goes on top. We’ve now hired a consultant, The Roxbury Group, and we’re in the process of doing due diligence on the final two proposals with the help of the consultant – we should have something to report in a few weeks. And I, for one, will assure you that we are committed to completing the review process in good faith, just as it was begun in good faith, even if that means that ultimately none of the proposals are recommended to the city council for selection.

Hohnke did his best to describe the RFP review process, which led to another interruption from DeRuyver: “We heard this same conversation a year ago!” DeRuyver pointed out that construction was already well under way: “You’re digging a hole!” It only makes sense to know what is going to go on top, he said. Hohnke pointed out that the foundations were being designed to be flexible, to support up to something around a 14-story building, he thought. Responded DeRuyver: That’s a waste of time and money, if you’re going to put a park there.

Questions: Decision-Making Without Unanimity

Attorney Scott Munzel directed a question to Tony Derezinski. He asked him to comment on the idea that in Ann Arbor, we seemed to require “buy in” and consensus to the point of requiring near unanimity in the community before proceeding with some decisions. Whether the topic is land use or budgeting, said Munzel, the decision-making process in the community can sometimes be so long and drawn out that we achieve a certain level of paralysis. How do we get beyond the idea that we need unanimity? wondered Munzel. [The theme of consensus versus near unanimity was one that had also emerged at a recent DDA retreat in late September.]

Derezinski characterized what Munzel was describing as “kicking the can down the road.” Breaking that pattern, he said, requires “political will and the guts to make decisions that make people unhappy.”

Questions: Downtown Police Beats

One of the downtown merchants wanted to know if anyone had any plans to bring back downtown police patrols. Newcombe Clark, for his part, indicated that he’d attempted to bring the idea forward and had identified funding. [Clark, as a DDA board member, has advocated for either earmarking some of the $2 million annual "rent" payment to the city by the DDA to fund downtown police patrols, or using DDA monies previously earmarked to support the WALLY commuter rail project to fund those patrols.]

Tony Derezinski said he’d love to see downtown patrols, but questioned where the money would come from. Carsten Hohnke said he felt the more safety services the city could offer, the better. But he cautioned that it’s only reasonable to recognize that the economy has undergone the biggest contraction in anyone’s memory – the city of Jackson had just cut their police force almost in half, he said. John Floyd pointed out that Ann Arbor had also reduced its police force by almost half – over time, using attrition and early retirement incentives.

Questions: Revenues

All the candidates were asked to respond to a question about how to increase revenues. What would they advocate – a city income tax, an event tax, a toll booth at the entrance to Ann Arbor, increased parking rates?

[It was a revelation to some in the room that the city did not have the option of applying an event tax – for example, to University of Michigan football tickets. Local municipalities are allowed under state statute to levy property taxes and an income tax, but no other kinds of taxes.]

Newcombe Clark noted that he’d suggested several ideas: making the city assessor’s office more efficient; selling city lots to the DDA; not stopping development.

Emily Salvette said she is against a revenue increase – we’ve got plenty of money, she said. Where we should look to save money, she said, is in employee contracts.

John Floyd noted that the acquisition of property by the University of Michigan had a negative impact on the tax base and in light of that, a conversation about payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) needed to start with the university. Floyd also posed the question of why surrounding townships feared the expansion of city boundaries – if the bundle of services city residents get for their taxes is a good bargain, he asked, why don’t township residents want it?

Tony Derezinski suggested collaboration with other municipal units as a way to save costs. He also said he would look at an income tax – stressing that Ann Arbor’s charter requires that if the city implements an income tax, the general operating millage levied by the city would disappear. He noted that 40% of the city’s land is not on the tax rolls – a large portion of that is owned by the University of Michigan. He noted that he’d worked in two communities where he didn’t live, but had paid an income tax – Lansing and Muskegon. He said he felt he’d gotten his money’s worth of services during the time he worked there.

Carsten Hohnke said there are ways to become more efficient on the cost side. The city also needs to look at pension and health benefits, he said. Regarding an income tax, Hohnke said that implementing such a tax is not up to the city council – the council would merely put it on the ballot. Hohnke said he was open to the idea of placing an income tax on the ballot.

Questions: Hey, Wait a Minute – I’m Meat and Potatoes, Too!

Throughout the questioning, there was plenty of authenticity on the side of the questioners. Responses could be fairly described as mostly meeting standard expectations of political candidates trying to make their talking points and establish their positions – authentic political talk, but not an authentic conversation.

John Floyd Tony Lupo

John Floyd (left) and Tony Lupo (right) followed up their public conversation with a private one after the meeting.

One interaction was different from the rest. It played as pure, genuine, authentic conversation. It came as a reaction from Tony Lupo to John Floyd’s description of the authenticity of downtown Ann Arbor as its edge or advantage over other retail settings.

By way of background, Lupo is director of sales and marketing for Salon Vox on West Liberty, between Main and Ashley. And Salon Vox isn’t your average small-town salon – it was featured as one of the “Top 100 Salons” in the country in ELLE magazine’s August 2010 issue. Lupo is on the board of the Main Street Area Association. He first appeared on The Chronicle’s radar when he spoke at a historic district commission meeting with a request to replace the front door of Salon Vox – but that is a different story. [The door is now replaced.]

Lupo told Floyd that he liked what Floyd had to say about the authenticity of downtown – he agreed with much of it, as a member of the marketing committee of the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber of Commerce. The part that Lupo liked, repeated here for readability:

Downtown Ann Arbor, Floyd said, is a “real place.” It’s an authentic place because it bears the  imprint of a human hand, he said. That imprint, he continued, “that’s your edge.” The imprint of a human hand, he said, could be found in three ways: in the built environment – the old buildings that bear the imprint of the bricklayers and craftsmen who constructed them; in the artistry and personality of the downtown business owners; and the “locals” who frequent downtown establishments. He described how visitors to a city typically enjoy being able to “go where the locals go,” and downtown Ann Arbor still offers places where the locals go.

But Lupo told Floyd that he didn’t like Floyd’s characterization of people in his age demographic as “hot sauce” – he said that he wanted to contribute and did contribute to the community. He felt sometimes that the political process excludes them – he didn’t like what he’d heard. The part Lupo didn’t care for:

[Floyd] then talked about the idea of trying to attract and cater to the 20-something crowd, or recent “dormitory refugees.” We want them, he said, but they are the “hot sauce, the zing, the zest” in the recipe. The “meat and potatoes,” he continued, are the parents and the grandparents – people raising families. A good test of whether we’re succeeding or failing, Floyd said, is whether people who have options want to stay here and raise their families. That’s why retaining the old walking neighborhoods around downtown is crucial, he said – those neighborhoods are the third leg of authenticity: genuine locals.

Floyd told Lupo he hadn’t meant to offend or exclude. He continued by saying that there’s an “unsettledness” to many people in their 20s – they’re “here for now,” until they find their calling, he said, but they’re not necessarily here for the longer term.

Lupo responded by sharing his own history – he’d gone to school at UM and had gone to New York City, working for Estee Lauder [Bumble and bumble] and had chosen to return to Ann Arbor. He said he wanted to challenge Floyd to think about him and his age group as “people who can make a long-term contribution.”

Lupo and Floyd’s authentic conversation about meat and potatoes and hot sauce meant that an hour of my Thursday morning last week – whether you measure that hour with a small watch or a big watch – was well spent.


  1. By Rod Johnson
    October 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm | permalink

    The text that you don’t quite attribute to Rapundalo… is that a clever way of quoting something he actually said in some other context, or something you’re actually suggesting he might have said? If it’s the latter, then it doesn’t seem wholly appropriate here (even though, yes, I know it’s a column), because I can’t tell whether the (controversial) imputation of good faith is your opinion or just what you think Rapundalo wants us to think. I know that’s convoluted, but… it’s a confusing little bit of rhetoric you got going there.

  2. By Dave Askins
    October 14, 2010 at 10:01 pm | permalink

    Re: [1] “… is that a clever way of quoting something he actually said in some other context?” No, this is not a direct quote of something Rapundalo has said in some other context.

    Re: [1] “I can’t tell whether the (controversial) imputation of good faith is your opinion or just what you think Rapundalo wants us to think.” I did not mean to express an opinion about whether the process was begun and will be finished in good faith, nor did I mean to suggest that it’s merely what Rapundalo wants people to think.

    I was offering that italicized text as a reasonable approximation of what Rapundalo would have said that morning at Conor O’Neils, if, for example, someone had solicited his input, or if the context had been an authentic conversation, not a candidate forum. That passage was meant to achieve a lot of rhetorical goals, which included at least the following: (i) to point out that Rapundalo attended (ii) to highlight that of all the people in the room, he really is the guy who could have shed the most light on the status of the Library Lot process (iii) to write something that I thought would ring as authentically Rapundalo to anyone who’s familiar with him and the facts of the Library Lot (iv) to write it in a way that’s consistent with authentic “recited” political talk so that it tied into one of the conceits of the piece (v) to introduce to readers the actual facts of the Library Lot situation. Based on your [Rod's] response as a reader, it’s worth mulling over whether I was asking that passage to do too much work.

    I did weigh various alternatives to meeting those goals, including dropping the “creative writing” challenge inherent in the passage. For example, a different approach would have been to simply quote a recent Chronicle meeting report where Rapundalo’s update on the RFP review committee’s activity was given. In the end, what I settled on is what you see published.

  3. By Rod Johnson
    October 15, 2010 at 8:37 am | permalink

    Thanks! I hope you can understand where my confusion came from. Since it’s that good faith claim that some people find dubious, it seemed strange to put something in here that seems to support it even though no one actually said it. I appreciate what you were trying to do, but it may have just been *too* clever. I appreciate you working through it more slowly for us easily confused people.

  4. By suswhit
    October 15, 2010 at 8:52 am | permalink

    I’m with Rod on this one. Seemed like campaigning on behalf of a councilmember. Especially the “good faith” bit … and on an issue of such dubious integrity no less.

  5. By John Floyd
    October 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm | permalink

    For a variety of reasons, this 4-minute address was one of the more satisfying pieces I have written in the last year or so. I’ld like to “chronicle” my favorite paragraph for those who were not there:

    “You guys are the ones who transformed Main Street from dying old-line retail into the present out-door life-style mall that it is. This transformation has required an artistry every bit as skilled and creative as any studio artist. You work in different mediums than a studio artist – merchandizing, presentation, marketing, – and you need business skills instead of, say, refined drawing technique, but you must be every bit as much an observer of people and the world, every bit as insightful about what you see, and just as imaginative in your responses, as portrait painters or sculptures. ”

    John Floyd
    Republican for Council
    5th Ward

  6. By John Floyd
    October 18, 2010 at 11:17 am | permalink

    An example of the world’s “hunger”for authenticity: The New Yorker, Oct 20, 2010

    Column, “Tables for Two”, by Andrea Thompson

    “Hecho en Dumbo

    354 Bowery (212937-4245) – if this restaurant’s name is no longer quite accurate (it means “made in Dumbo”, a playful adaptation of “Hecho en Mexico”), it offers up both a sense of authenticity and an homage to its origins.”

    If the New Yorker claims “a SENSE of authenticity” is among the reasons to eat at this restaurant – one of its main draws – imagine the impact of ACTUAL, full-up authenticity (?) as a marketing tool for our city, and our downtown in particular.

    As to Dave’s point that much political speech is inauthentic, people in public life are sound-bitten into staying on-message. It was Mr. Lupo’s willingness to engage with me, rather than “punish” me, that made the “authentic” moment possible. Note Rick Snyder attracted bike protestors over his observations of the expensive of the bike/pedestrian bridge over US 23 near Geddes (which replaces the existing sidewalks on the now-auto bridge as the bike/pedestrian path over US 23). Lesson: if you say what you really think, you will be punished for it. The protestor’s over-wrought conclusion, that Snyder must not like bicycles because he questioned that particular project, is exactly why we have almost no authentic public discourse: when push comes to shove, people don’t actually want it.

    In other forums, I have been chastised for sharing my perception that The Charm Zone is in grave danger from our City Parents, and for expressing how that shapes my view of Heritage Row. For that matter, sound-bit my support for Heritage Row’s planned investment in The Seven Houses into an apparent endorsement of’s goal of bulldozing the entire Charm Zone. In our current public life, “No authentic deed goes unpunished”. Wonder if that’s among the reasons that council seems to do so much in apparent secrecy (I appreciate that there may be others).

    This is part of what makes The Chron so refreshing – its readers, authors, Editor, and Publisher seem to actually want authentic dialogue. Rare indeed.

    John Floyd
    Republican for Council
    5th Ward