Archive for October, 2010

A2: Business

The New York Times reports on the status of a lawsuit filed by Ann Arbor-based Gene Codes that accuses the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office of stealing the firm’s technology used to identify remains of 9/11 victims. The city has countersued, alleging that Gene Codes didn’t live up to its contract, according to the report. [Source]

A2: Blimpy Burger

A post on the blog A Hamburger Today reviews Ann Arbor’s Blimpy Burger: “Burgers are cooked in what I refer to as the ‘super-smash’ style. The 1 1/2-ounce balls of chuck (ground in-house daily) are not just pressed into the griddle once – they are smashed and smashed and smashed until you can literally see holes in them. What this does is absolutely maximize the surface area browning, giving you far more crispy bits per bite than your average burger – doubly so because each sandwich comes standard with two patties.” [Source]

Photo Essay: Halloween 2010 on Main Street

Editor’s note: This is the third year that Myra Klarman, a professional photographer based in Ann Arbor, has graced The Chronicle with her charming photographs of the annual Main Street Halloween Treat Parade, when merchants pass out goodies to pint-sized princesses and puppies, ghouls and goblins. [Take a look at her images from 2009 and 2008 Halloween parades as well.] After seeing Myra’s photographs last year, one of our readers commented: “This makes me like our town.” We agree. Happy Halloween!

Blue Ghoul Princess with face painted white, out along Main Street causing a fright.

[Full Story]

Column: Book Fare

“Walking Papers,” a collection of poetry by Thomas Lynch, arrived in the mail a few weeks ago.

Cover of Thomas Lynch's "Walking Papers"

Lucky me. Lucky us.

Lynch is a writer who chooses to call things by their proper names. Death is death. An ass is an ass. Love is bliss, except when it is something else entirely.

And when he puts his intelligence and honesty and lurking wit to observations of human-scale profundities, he finds solace in even the harshest truths.

“Oh Say Grim Death” muses on the most inexplicable of blows: A child is killed. We learn of it – he died in a fire, on a Thursday morning – from what is cut into a 18th-century headstone, and follow the search in that New Hampshire town as certain as it would be anywhere, for a reason to have “faith / In God’s vast purposes. As if the boy / Long buried here was killed to show how God / Makes all things work together toward some good.” [Full Story]

National Mall

Huge, geeky friendly crowd on the national mall for Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity. My sign: “I heart facts.”

Main & Hoover

Main Street closed to through traffic due to accident. Emergency vehicles on the scene.

Farmers Market

Pumpkin carvers and face painters look chilly as they do their work. Kids having fun, despite the cold.

Michigan Union

National guard, Jerry Clayton photo op, glee club group photo outside union. Not sure if it’s glee club. Football team?

State & Liberty

Locked up bicycle to hoop; ate dinner; returned to find a toothpicked American flag planted in my saddle. Not sure whether to count that as vandalism, or patriotism.  [photo]

UM: Chris Armstrong

The Detroit Free Press reports that UM student leader Chris Armstrong has filed a misconduct complaint with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission against Andrew Shirvell, the assistant attorney general who has targeted Armstrong in his blog, Chris Armstrong Watch. According to the report, Armstrong – an openly gay president of the Michigan Student Assembly – is seeking an investigation, discipline and Shirvell’s possible disbarment. In a statement, Armstrong said: “I felt that I could not stand by and let Mr. Shirvell continue his reckless, bullying behavior.” [Source]

Chapin & Huron

Prep work for high intensity activated crosswalk (HAWK) installation. [photo] At its next meeting, on Nov. 4, the city council will receive a presentation from Kari Martin of MDOT planning on HAWK signals.

Liberty & Division

Ragstock appears to be doing a brisk business in Halloween costumes. Based on the window display, costumes still available include an ape suit in your choice of fur colors – pink, purple, lime green.

Ward 5 City Council: List Making

About 30 people gathered in the cafeteria/auditorium of Wines Elementary School on Oct. 21 for The Ann Arbor Chronicle’s Ward 5 city council candidate forum. Two of the three candidates participated: Republican John Floyd and Newcombe Clark, who’s running as an independent. Carsten Hohnke, the incumbent Democrat, chose not to participate.

 John Floyd (left) and Newcombe Clark (right) during the Ward 5 candidate forum held at Wines Elementary School.

John Floyd (seated) and Newcombe Clark (standing) during the Oct. 21 Ward 5 candidate forum held at Wines Elementary School.

Rather than a standard Q&A, candidates were given 10 specific topic areas in advance, and advised that on the night of the event, they’d be presented with list-making tasks on some of these topics that they’d be expected to complete collaboratively. The Chronicle offers a separate opinion piece about the format of the event and candidates’ participation in it.

In this article, we report the interaction of Floyd and Clark as they worked their way through the tasks, which began with a warm-up: Winnow down the 10 topics to four, to be tackled in 10-minute chunks. They settled on these topics: (1) development of downtown city-owned surface lots, (2) economic development, (3) appointments to boards and commissions, and (4) quality of life.

The two men arrived at a strategy for the winnowing task that persisted through the roughly one-hour event: Each proposed some list items relatively uncontested by the other, followed by a consensus check. In each case, the list-making per se was dispatched relatively easily by the candidates. Then with a list of items written on the white board, they used it as a starting point for a related conversation. [Full Story]

Column: Why Ward 5, Lists, But No Dem?

On Oct. 21 at Wines Elementary School, The Ann Arbor Chronicle hosted a forum for city council candidates in Ward 5. Two of the three candidates participated: John Floyd, a Republican, and Newcombe Clark, who is running as an independent. Choosing not to participate was the Democratic incumbent, Carsten Hohnke.

John Floyd Newcombe Clark Ward 5 Candidate Forum

John Floyd (left) and Newcombe Clark (right) settle in for the Ward 5 city council forum sponsored by The Chronicle at Wines Elementary School.

The format of the event was a departure from familiar question-and-answer schemes. Candidates were provided with 10 specific topic areas in advance, and advised that on the night of the event, they’d be presented with a list-making task they’d be expected to complete collaboratively for each topic area.

To give a flavor of the chemistry between the candidates at the forum, after the event one attendee wrote about John Floyd: “… the city would be lucky to have his service … but I’m still not voting for him.” That attendee was Newcombe Clark. Also during the event, the two candidates were able to find an effective strategy for working through the tasks. We’re reporting how they completed those tasks in a separate article.

In this column, we discuss why The Chronicle would invest its limited time and resources in the effort to stage a candidate forum for Ward 5 city council candidates, and why we would opt for a somewhat unusual task-based format. [Full Story]

Liberty & Main

Sidewalks filled with penguins, tigers, firemen, astronauts, pumpkins, fairies and the like.

William & Fourth

Crazy contraption on the roof of Muehlig Funeral – art on a stick gone wild. Have I just never noticed it? [Editor's note: Here's two photos: photo 1 and photo 2.]

Column: A Rat By Any Other Name

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

Michigan towns invest a lot in their high schools – and they should, because those schools represent them. That’s why you see those signs at the city limits boasting about their Class B state baseball champs or Class D volleyball team – from 1994. I’ve always thought that’s pretty cool – and even cooler for the state champs who get to see it every time they come home.

A town’s pride often carries over to the team’s mascots, like the Midland Chemics, the Calumet Copper Kings, or the Bad Axe Hatchets – great names, every one of them. When you pull those jerseys over your head, you know you’re wearing a piece of your home, your history, your very identity.

But if you play for the Panthers or the Wildcats or – heaven forbid – the Eagles, you’re one of a hundred. Actually, you’re one of 103. That’s how many high schools have those names in Michigan alone.

Ann Arbor’s newest high school is among the unfortunate. [Full Story]

Bach Elementary

Mayoral and Ward 5 city council candidate forum. Pre-forum, independent candidate Newcombe Clark hands out campaign door hangers. Color scheme is described by one attendee as “Pottery Barn maize and blue.”

West Side

Rob Steele campaign signs by the dozens are planted in public right-of-ways and parks on the far west side.  Illegal.

UM: Business School

Bloomberg Businessweek publishes a Q&A with Soojin Kwon Koh, admissions director for UM’s Ross School of Business, who describes what the school is looking for in its applicants. She also talks about some of the school’s recruiting challenges: “One of the challenges for some people may be that it is in the Midwest [and] they think they will be disconnected from large metropolitan areas, that they won’t have the access to recruiters that you would get if you went to school on one of the coasts. That’s one of the misconceptions that I wanted to dispel. [After graduating], a quarter to a third of our students go to the East Coast, about a quarter go to the West Coast, primarily … [Full Story]

UM: State of the University

University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman gave her annual State of the University speech on Wednesday, in which she highlighted the need to continue investing in the institution: “For nearly a decade now, our state has faced difficult fiscal circumstances. That has resulted in a decline in state support for its public universities of almost 14 percent. For our state to be prosperous and successful, higher education must flourish. Our institutions provide the talented graduates, the discoveries and technologies, and the creativity and innovation that will be essential to our collective future.” [Transcript of speech]

UM: Climate Change

The New York Times reports on UM professor Andrew Hoffman’s position on climate change – he argues that we need to put more emphasis on societal and cultural aspects in order to truly begin combating climate change. Hoffman compares this to similar shifts in attitudes against slavery and smoking: “Just as few people saw a moral problem with slavery in the 18th century, few people in the 21st century see a moral problem with the burning of fossil fuels. Will people in 100 years look at us with the same incomprehension we feel toward 18th-century defenders of slavery?” [Source]

#4 AATA Bus

10:30 a.m. Four simultaneous cell phone conversations – AATA #4 bus to Ypsi.

A2: Books

Poets & Writers magazine published a profile of Ann Arbor-based Dzanc Books, a venture founded by Steve Gillis and Dan Wickett. Gillis is also founder of the nonprofit 826 Michigan: “There’s really no purpose in life except helping other people. That’s the bottom line. I mean, there really isn’t. That’s how I look at it. I don’t understand when people don’t think that way. You know, I got lucky early on with investments. I live in a comfortable house. I could live in a mansion, but I don’t. I save my pennies and I do charitable work instead.” [Source]

A2: Religion

The Detroit Free Press reports that a Catholic order of nuns in Ann Arbor has purchased the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. The order – The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist – was established in 1997 and once funded by Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan. According to the report, the purchase includes a 100,000-square-foot building on a 12-acre site. It includes two theatres, a rotunda, a chapel and a display of papal memorabilia. [Source]

Michigan: Voter Guide has made its usual online ballot information available. Type in your name, and the website generates the ballot information you’ll see when you go to the polls – all the candidates from governnor down to district judge and city council. For some state level candidates, there’s a link by candidate name to campaign finance information. For some candidates, there’s a link to a video of them answering questions. [Source]