Beyond Pot: Development, Liquor, Parks

Also: LED streetlights; PACE program; "complete streets"

Ann Arbor city council meeting (March 7, 2011) Part 1: The city council’s Monday meeting lasted nearly until midnight, with most of the five hours devoted to discussion of a proposed medical marijuana ordinance, which the council ultimately elected to postpone. The meeting included other significant business as well, and Part 1 of this meeting report is devoted to just those non-marijuana-related business items.

Tony Derezinski Ann Arbor city council

At the March 7, 2011 city council meeting, Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) was appointed as a hearing officer to consider appeals of recommendations to revoke liquor licenses. To Derezinski's right are Margie Teall (Ward 4), Sandi Smith (Ward 1) and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). (Photos by the writer.)

Also postponed – until the council’s first meeting in April – was a resolution that would outline a way for the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority to lead the process of transforming surface parking lots currently owned by the city of Ann Arbor to alternate uses.

The resolution, which articulates the so-called “parcel-by-parcel plan,” had already been postponed once before. In explaining the rationale for the postponement, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) cited the desire of the DDA to ensconce the parcel-by-parcel plan in a contractually binding agreement, which he said had not been previously indicated.

Not postponed was a vote on appointing a hearing officer for appeals of recommendations that liquor licenses not be renewed. The original resolution was to appoint the members of the council’s liquor license review committee to a hearing board, but it was amended at the table – to the surprise of some councilmembers – to allow for appointment of just one hearing officer: Tony Derezinski (Ward 2). Derezinski also serves on the liquor license review committee. Voting against the amendment, as well as the final appointment, were three councilmembers, including Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2). Rapundalo chairs the council’s liquor license committee and has served on it since it became a permanent council committee in 2008, as well as before that, when it was an ad-hoc committee.

The council also approved the city’s Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan – an inventory, needs assessment and action plan for the city’s parks system, which is required by the state for certain grant applications. The deadline faced by the council to renew the five-year plan was April 1, 2011.

In other non-marijuana business, the council approved a “complete streets” policy, authorized a stormwater study in the Swift Run drain system, established a loan loss fund for the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, and authorized the purchase of LED streetlight fixtures.

The council also heard its usual range of public commentary and communications from its own members. A public hearing was held on the establishment of a Washtenaw Avenue corridor improvement authority (CIA), during which Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber spoke. The Chronicle will cover the mayor’s comments as part of a future report on a CIA public meeting conducted by city planning staff.

Liquor License Non-Renewals

By way of background, the city has in the past faced certain legal hurdles to revoking liquor licenses when a licensed establishment has, in the view of city officials, become a problem. The lack of a due process for making recommendations to the state liquor control board to revoke a license was a barrier to the city to act on problem cases. For example, two years ago the city was faced with a situation where one licensed establishment, Studio 4, had accumulated 20 citations for liquor law violations over a seven-year period. From an Ann Arbor News report by Tom Gantert, published on March 9, 2009 [emphasis added]:

Police say they’ve been called to Studio 4 numerous times in the past two years for incidents ranging from brawls to underage drinking.

From 2001 to 2008, Studio 4 was cited for 20 liquor law violations that were forwarded to the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.

“That is excessive,” said Ken Wozniak, a spokesman for the state liquor board.

The nightclub on South Fourth Avenue also is among a handful of businesses the city went after in 2006 for failure to pay property taxes. City Attorney Stephen Postema said Studio 4 didn’t pay its taxes for about five years, racking up a bill of $41,500, but eventually it was paid.

The City Council is in the process of changing its liquor ordinance, and council members say they want to add provisions that would allow them to revoke liquor licenses from problem bars, while still allowing the bar owners due process.

The current ordinance doesn’t have the language for due process, Council Member Stephen Rapundalo said. Wozniak said the state liquor commission couldn’t interfere with a city’s decision to pull liquor licenses.

The city’s mechanism to address the due-process issue grew out of a slightly different dilemma: What establishment  should receive the extra license that had been granted to the city to award at its discretion? On Feb. 20, 2007 the council had appointed an ad hoc committee to help determine which establishment should receive that license – its members were Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2), Bob Johnson (Ward 1) and Ron Suarez (Ward 1). [Johnson and Suarez no longer serve on the council.] The city council, amid some controversy, eventually awarded the license to the city itself, to be used at Leslie Park Golf Course.

The ad hoc committee had begun to address various issues related to liquor licenses that the council felt were important to continue to address, among them the question of how to deal with problem establishments. And on May 5, 2008, the ad hoc committee was established as a permanent committee of the council, with Suarez, Rapundalo and Mike Anglin (Ward 5) as members.

By May 18, 2009, the city council was ready to approve an overhaul to its liquor ordinance. The Chronicle’s report from that meeting gave the revision only a glancing mention. [On the same night, the council approved the city's budget for the year.] The key passage in the new ordinance, relevant to Monday night’s deliberations, is the following [emphasis added]:

Prior to filing an objection with the [State of Michigan's] liquor control commission to renew a liquor license, the City Council shall do the following:
(a) Serve written notice on the licensee, which shall include:
i. Notice of the proposed action and the reasons for the action.
ii. Date, time and location of hearing on the matter and a statement that at the hearing licensee may present evidence and arguments on its behalf, confront witnesses and may be represented by a licensed attorney.
(b) Hold a hearing no earlier than 10 days after service of the written notice on the licensee. The hearing may be conducted by Council as a whole or by a Hearing Officer or Hearing Board appointed by Council for such purposes. If a Hearing Officer or Board is appointed, it shall be the Officer/Board responsibility to make a recommendation to City Council for the Council final review and decision.
(c) City Council shall make a written resolution as to its findings and determination and mail same to licensee and the Liquor Control Commission.

The original resolution before the council would have appointed, as a general principle, all members of the city’s liquor license review committee to a hearing board to make recommendations to the city council on decisions not to renew liquor licenses. The current three-member committee consists of Rapundalo, Anglin and Tony Derezinski (Ward 2).

The need to appoint a hearing officer or board was prompted by a Feb. 25, 2011 meeting of the council’s liquor license review committee, when the members recommended non-renewal of annual licenses for some on-premise liquor-licensed businesses. According to the city clerk’s office, those establishments are The Arena and Studio Four for tax issues, and the Fifth Quarter for being a public nuisance. If taxes are paid, the hearings for The Arena and Studio Four will be canceled. Live at PJs had been on the list, but they have since paid.

At the Sunday night council caucus the evening before, attended by Anglin, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), and Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3), Anglin mentioned the liquor license item to his council colleagues. He did not indicate that the proposal would change the following night to one where the liquor license committee could decide to appoint one of its members to serve as a hearing officer, or that he and Derezinski had apparently decided – at a meeting of the liquor license review committee not attended by Rapundalo – that Deresinski would serve as the hearing officer.

Liquor License Hearing Board/Officer: Council Deliberations

Anglin and Derezinski introduced the background to the resolution. Derezinski said the council would need to take action in April, based on the state’s process.

After Anglin indicated that Derezinski would be appointed as the hearing officer, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) questioned whether his characterization of the resolution had been accurate. After comments from mayor John Hieftje and Derezinski, it emerged that Anglin had intended to make an amendment to the resolution. Higgins got clarification that the intent of the amendment was for Derezinski to serve as the sole hearing officer for the appeals.

Higgins said she had a problem with just one person serving as the hearing officer. She’d served “way back when” on a review committee, and said that the city attorney’s office at the time had recommended that the full committee review it. They’d wound up having a two-day “mini-trial” and that all three members had listened to it. She stated she was not in favor of having just one person hear the appeal. Higgins said she hadn’t heard a compelling argument for it.

Anglin added that the committee meeting where the issue had been discussed had been attended by the city clerk, the police department and the treasurer’s office.

Rapundalo said he had not attended the last committee meeting, and that he was puzzled by the idea that the hearings would be adjudicated by just a single hearing officer. He suggested that the more minds that are present, the better it would be. He said he thought the system they had in place was pretty effective, and that it had taken care of the more routine violations. For the more flagrant violations, however, Rapundalo felt that it would best serve the appellant to have as many people listening as possible, so they could come to a consensus or at least a majority view. He said he would not support the amendment.

At Hieftje’s request, city clerk Jackie Beaudry clarified that the outcome of the hearing would be a recommendation to the city council, and that the city council would make a final recommendation.

Derezinski argued that having just a single hearing officer would prevent deadlocks. At the last meeting, Derezinski said, Rapundalo had not attended – what would happen if the two members who were present could not agree? Derezinski contended that in administrative law, having one single hearing officer is a very common pattern. He also said that it’s a matter of administrative efficiency to have just one officer. He reiterated Beaudry’s point that the ultimate decision would come before the whole city council. Derezinski argued for the minimum due process that is required.

Rapundalo indicated that he could appreciate the issue of possibly deadlocking, but said it was far worse to have just a single hearing officer. He also questioned the efficiency argument, pointing out that the hearing would be part of the regularly scheduled meeting of the liquor license review committee on Friday.

Outcome on the amendment: The council voted 7-4 to amend the resolution to provide for a single hearing officer. Dissenting were Rapundalo, Higgins, Briere and Kunselman.

In light of the successful amendment, Higgins wanted to know if the hearing officer would be reporting back to the liquor license review committee so that the recommendation to the city council came from the committee. Derezinski told Higgins that the recommendation to the council would be coming from him sitting as the hearing officer. Higgins said the idea that the recommendation would be coming from a single councilmember gave her “great pause.”

Anglin asked for clarification about whether the hearing officer’s recommendation would be final. City attorney Stephen Postema told Anglin that the recommendation from the hearing officer would still have to come to the council.

Higgins asked if Derezinski was going to be providing all the information to the city council on which he’d based his recommendation, stressing again that it would be just the recommendation by one person. She felt she’d need to review the information in greater detail than she would if the recommendation were coming from the entire committee. She told Derezinski that she’d want all that information to be provided, because he’d be having the final say on something.

Derezinski responded, “It’s a final recommendation, and I’ll take that under advisement.”

Outcome on the resolution: The council voted 8-3 to provide for a single hearing officer to hear appeals on recommendations for non-renewal. Dissenting were Rapundalo, Higgins, and Briere.

DDA-Led Development

Before the council was a resolution that would have authorized the city’s Downtown Development Authority to create a parcel-by-parcel plan for the development of downtown city-owned surface parking lots. [.pdf of the resolution with the parcel-by-parcel plan] The council had also considered but postponed a vote on the proposal at its Jan. 18, 2011 meeting. At that meeting, objections to the proposal included “resolved” clauses in the resolution that would (1) require placement of items on the city council’s agenda; and (2) under some circumstances require the city to reimburse the DDA for its expenses.

At its Jan. 5 board meeting, the Ann Arbor DDA board had approved a resolution urging passage of the council resolution, which had been circulated as early as the city council’s Dec. 20, 2010 meeting, when Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) had attached a copy of the the draft resolution to the council’s meeting agenda, and alerted his council colleagues to it at that meeting.

DDA-Led Development: Parking Contract Background

By way of background, the development process for downtown city-owned surface lots is one of two main issues on which the council has been negotiating with the DDA board since June 2010. The other issue is a revision to the current contract between the DDA and the city under which the DDA manages the city’s public parking system.

Under the current contract – which runs from 2005 to 2015, with provisions for extending that term – the DDA owed the city a total of $10 million in “rent” of the public parking facilities for the 10-year period. The DDA fulfilled the $10 million obligation in the course of the first five years of the contract. Last year, the DDA unilaterally revised the contract to pay the city an additional $2 million. The “rent” payment is roughly two-thirds of the total amount of parking-related payments made annually by the DDA to the city. In the DDA’s FY 2012 budget, authorized last week by the DDA board, there is roughly $1 million allocated for payments to the city’s street repair fund and for the revenues derived from two surface parking lots not covered under the current parking contract.

During his communications time, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) – who serves on the council’s “mutually beneficial” committee, which is charged with negotiating with its DDA board “mutually beneficial” counterpart – stated that “We have met most recently this morning …” [Neither Taylor nor fellow committee member Margie Teal (Ward 4) attended the meeting; Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5), the council's third committee member, arrived 40 minutes after the meeting's start. A meeting scheduled for a week prior had been canceled when councilmembers indicated they could not attend.]

At Monday’s council meeting, Taylor indicated that a draft of a new parking agreement had been received and reviewed. He described the discussions between the two committees as “frank” and “fruitful.” Taylor described how the two committees had been working towards an arrangement whereby the parking-related payments by the DDA to the city would be combined into a single sum, expressed as a percentage of the gross revenues to the parking system.

The percentage of gross that would reflect something close to what the DDA had been paying to the city over the last six years would be around 17.2%. In light of the immediate financial burden on the DDA that’s caused by its construction of the new underground parking structure, the city had proposed that the payment start off at around 16% for the first two years of the new contract, and then be increased to 17.5% after that. Taylor described that as the city taking a $300,000 “hit” over the first two years of the agreement. [The currently estimated gross parking revenues for the parking system are around $14 million.]

What was in the draft contract as the DDA’s counter proposal, Taylor said, was a payment of 14% for the first two years and 15% after that, which was an additional diminution of the payment to the city.

The 14-14-15 position on the DDA’s part and the 16-16-17.5 position on the city’s part had been fairly rigid for some time, Taylor reported. He said he was “daylighting” the circumstances in order that some flexibility be built into the budget planning that the city administrator would be doing in preparing a budget proposal in April. The council will vote on the budget in May.

[The status of the negotiations was reported by The Chronicle two months ago: "Parking Money for City Budget Still Unclear." Also previously reported by The Chronicle was city CFO Tom Crawford's stated strategy for handling a DDA payment that might fall short of the city's expectations – namely, to tap the city's general fund reserve. Crawford feels that the shortfall would not persist past the first two years of the contract: "Engaging the FY 2012 Budget."]

DDA-Led Development: Council Deliberations

In his opening remarks about the resolution, Taylor noted that the DDA appeared to be interested in creating a contractual, binding relationship – instead of working based on city council and DDA board resolutions – and in light of that he wanted to postpone the issue until the council’s first meeting in April. A draft of that contract has been provided to the council’s mutually beneficial committee.

The resolution before the council was not written to have contractual precision, said Taylor, and was not intended to place obligations on a party or give rights to another party. So he asked his colleagues to postpone the issue for four weeks, until the council’s first meeting in April. He said he was still in favor of the DDA performing the useful tasks as described in the resolution, but with the introduction of a contractual context, there needed to be additional time for consideration.

Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) noted that during the council’s Jan. 18 meeting, she’d argued forcibly about the DDA taking the responsibility as outlined in the resolution. She said she didn’t see any revisions that had been made to the document to accommodate her recommendations. She wanted to see a revised document. Taylor assured Higgins that her concerns had been noted by the committee.

Outcome: The council voted, with dissent by Sandi Smith (Ward 1), who also serves on the DDA board, to postpone their vote on the parcel-by-parcel DDA-led development plan until April 4, 2011.

Parks and Recreation Open Space (PROS) Plan

The council was asked to consider approval of the Park and Recreation Open Space (PROS) plan for the city. The plan provides an inventory, needs assessment and action plan for the city’s parks system, and is updated every five years – this version of the planning document covers 2011 through 2015. The updated document is required by the state in order for the city to be eligible to apply for certain grants. The deadline faced by the city council for approving the plan, to make the city eligible for state grant applications, is April 1.

The city’s park advisory commission recommended approval of the plan at its Feb. 15, 2011 meeting. The city’s planning commission also recommended approval at its Feb. 15, 2011 meeting. Several members of the public had weighed in on the plan at the meetings of those bodies as they considered the PROS plan. However, no one spoke at the formal public hearing before the city council on Monday night.

PROS Plan: Council Deliberations

Sandi Smith (Ward 1) had concerns over the justification for the way that land value is calculated in the plan, in the context of parkland donations.

By way of background, the city has a strategy in place to encourage parkland donation to the city by developers when new residential developments are planned – the city’s policy is to allow developers to calculate density of their development as if the donation of parkland had not taken place. The strategy serves the goal of maintaining the city’s ratio of parkland acres to residents.

Because some sites are so small that a donation of part of the site to the city as parkland isn’t feasible, the city offers a payment-in-lieu-of-donation program. From the PROS plan:

The average over the past five years has been approximately $12,000 per acre for greenbelt purchases, and for in-City parkland has been $200,000 per acre. If combined, the average cost for parkland purchase is $55,000. This number is used to calculate contributions in lieu of land.

Smith noted that the inclusion of land costs outside the city lowered the cost rather dramatically. She asked what the rationale was for that. She said she was hesitant to be a stickler about it and force the plan to be reconsidered by the planning commission. [This would likely have had the result of causing the state's deadline of April 1 to be missed.] Tony Derezinski (Ward 2), who serves as the city council’s representative to the planning commission, told Smith this had not come up during the planning commission’s discussions. He stressed that the commission had discussed the plan thoroughly – at least an hour and a half.

Amy Kuras, the city’s park plannner who oversaw the PROS update, noted that there is another place in the plan where she intended to update it after submission to the state – related to precise, current census data, which is not yet available. So the formula for calculating the payment-in-lieu costs could also be updated.

Derezinski thanked Kuras for her hard work on leading the plan’s five-year revision.

Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) wanted to know what state grants the city was applying for. Kuras told him there were three: (1) Gallup canoe liveries; (2) a skatepark; (3) boat launches at Argo and Gallup.

Smith noted that the plan distinguishes plazas and smaller open spaces in the downtown area in the city’s inventory of parks – she was happy to see that included. Kuras noted that the issue had arisen in the Downtown Development Authority focus group – Smith serves on the DDA board. Kuras said that people downtown are not looking for soccer fields – for those who are looking for more suburban-style parks, there are some on the near periphery to downtown, Kuras concluded.

Mike Anglin (Ward 5) weighed in saying that he was 95% in favor of the plan but had some problems with it that would lead him to vote against it. He then read aloud a statement with objections, including issues with the proposed Fuller Road Station and public-private partnerships in the parks.

Mayor John Hieftje praised the work that had gone into developing the plan.

Outcome: The council voted to approve the PROS plan, over dissent from Anglin.

Complete Streets

Before the council was a resolution expressing its commitment to the concept of “complete streets” – the idea that streets should be constructed to accommodate a full range of users, from pedestrians, to bicyclists, to public transit vehicles, to privately owned automobiles.

The impetus for the city’s proclamation comes from the state of Michigan’s enactment in 2010 of Public Act 134 and 135, which amended the state’s planning enabling statute and the transportation funding law. The resolution is meant to make sure that Ann Arbor continues to qualify for state transportation funding.

In the resolution approved by the Ann Arbor city council, the city’s complete streets policy is described as including the city’s transportation master plan, the city’s non-motorized transportation plan, a city council resolution setting aside a percentage of Ann Arbor’s Act 51 funds for non-motorized transportation, and a policy that includes construction of non-motorized elements as part of each road construction project and requirements in the city’s public services standards.

At its March 1, 2011 meeting, the city’s planning commission briefly discussed the resolution that would be coming before the city council. Planning commissioner Erica Briggs had expressed some disappointment that the city wasn’t taking additional steps beyond what’s set by the state.

Complete Streets: Council Deliberations

Mayor John Hieftje said that the state legislature had used Ann Arbor’s local policies as a model for its state act, but that Ann Arbor still needed to convey formally its commitment to complete streets.

Outcome: The council voted unanimously to approve the resolution on complete streets.

Swift Run Stormwater Study

The council was asked to approve a $88,250 contract with J.F. New to conduct a study of the Swift Run drain system near the city’s composting facility. The study is prompted by a 2009 Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) inspection. The inspection determined that a small pond near the northern compost pad required maintenance.

At that time, the MDNRE also requested improvements to the stormwater management system at the compost facility to reduce the impact of nutrient loading on the Swift Run drain. In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for biota in the Swift Run drain.

The concept behind the study is to examine the various interconnected ponds and ditches as a unified system, so that the MDNRE’s concerns can be satisfied. J.F. New was selected from seven engineering firms that responded to the city’s request for proposals.

Swift Run Stormwater: Council Deliberations

Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) wanted to know why the project budget was $120,000 when the contract with J.F. New was only for $88,250. Craig Hupy, who heads the systems planning unit for the city, explained that city staff time would also be used for the project.

Outcome: The council voted unanimously to approve the contract with J.F. New for a stormwater study.

PACE Loan Loss Fund

Before the council was a proposal to set up a $432,800 loan loss reserve fund to support the city’s planned Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program. The money for the fund comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) awarded to the city by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Through its PACE program, which is still under development by the city, Ann Arbor will help property owners finance energy improvements through voluntary special assessments. By establishing a loan loss pool, the city can reduce interest rates for participating property owners by covering a portion of delinquent or defaulted payments. [Some previous Chronicle coverage of PACE: "Special District Might Fund Energy Program"]

PACE: Council Deliberations

Mayor John Hieftje noted that Ann Arbor would be moving faster than other communities on this kind of program and he would be happy to see it when it is in place.

Outcome: The council unanimously approved the creation of the PACE loan loss fund.

LED Streetlights

The council acted on a resolution to purchase 500 LED cobra head streetlight fixtures from Lumecon for $315,968. The city owns roughly 1,800 streetlights citywide – 1,000 downtown and 800 elsewhere in the city. [In the city, DTE owns roughly 5,200 of the streetlights.] The city has embarked on a program to replace the streetlights it owns with LED fixtures, which consume less energy and require less frequent bulb changes, thereby saving on maintenance costs. The purchase of the 500 LED fixtures would allow the city to complete the LED conversion of city-owned lights.

LED Streetlights: Council Deliberations

Sabra Briere (Ward 1) got clarification that the purchase was being paid for by a grant – from the U. S. Department of Energy. Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) got clarification that it’s just the heads, not the poles that will be replaced.

Outcome: The council unanimously approved the purchase of LED streetlight fixtures.

Communications and Comment

There are multiple slots on every agenda for city councilmembers and the city administrator to give updates or make announcements about important issues that are coming before the city council. And every meeting typically includes public commentary on subjects not necessarily on the agenda.

Comm/Comm: Fire Department

In his communications, Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) – who chairs the council’s labor committee – asked the city attorney to explore the legalities involved with a recent move by Allen Park, Mich. – that community had decided to send layoff notices to nearly its entire fire department.

In the city of Ann Arbor, the council had approved an expenditure to complete a fire protections services study at its Feb. 7, 2011 meeting after discussing the possibility at its budget retreats and work sessions of transitioning the department to a combined full-time/paid-on-call type department.

Comm/Comm: Library Lot

During public commentary reserved time, Alan Haber addressed the council on the topic of the future use of the city-owned Library Lot – the space that will sit on top of the Fifth Avenue parking structure that’s now under construction. He told the council he he hoped they were convinced that Valiant’s proposal for a hotel/conference center was not a good idea. He said that if Vivienne Armentrout’s analysis had not convinced them, then Chuck Skelton’s report should have. He said that while mayor John Hieftje had called West Park Ann Arbor’s Central Park West, what Ann Arbor needs is a Central Park Central.

Later in the meeting, city administrator Roger Fraser noted that the Library Lot RFP review committee would be meeting the following day. Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) also made note of the meeting on the following day.

[At that March 8 meeting, the committee voted unanimously to recommend to the city council to proceed with a letter of intent with Valiant, the developer of a proposal recommended by The Roxbury Group, a consultant hired by the city to evaluate responses to the city's RFP. There is now a city council work session on the letter of intent scheduled for Monday, March 14, starting at 7 p.m. at the Community Television Network (CTN) studios on South Industrial.]

Comm/Comm: Roger Fraser’s Replacement

At the conclusion of the meeting, mayor John Hieftje noted that Roger Fraser had previously announced his departure from the city to take a job with the state treasurer’s office. Hieftje said he wished Fraser the best. He said he’d met with mayor pro tem Marcia Higgins to discuss a transition process for moving ahead and that this recommendation would come before the council at its next meeting, on March 21.

Comm/Comm: Access to Basics

Thomas Partridge addressed the council twice during public commentary periods – at the beginning and the end of Monday’s meeting. He contended that the civil rights issues from the 1960s have still not been completely addressed and he called for greater access to affordable housing, transportation and education.

Comm/Comm: Palestine

Sol Metz told the council he’d been working a long time against the genocide of the Palestinian people, which he said began in 1948. He allowed that here locally, it’s difficult to have an impact on the issue. However, he noted that the mayor and councilmembers often attend an annual fundraiser held by the Jewish Federation, which he said helps fund the continued genocide of the Palestinian people.

He also noted that he was a member of an organization that had been the subject of a city council resolution that had condemned that organization’s activities. [The group to which Metz was referring demonstrates every Saturday outside a local synagogue, holding signs that typically call for actions like divestment of U.S. funds from Israel.]

When members of his group had addressed the council, councilmembers did not listen, he said, but instead worked on their computers. On one occasion, a councilmember had turned their back on the speaker. [The councilmember Metz meant was Joan Lowenstein, who no longer serves on the council. She had swiveled her chair around during the public commentary.] His group had asked for the city’s human rights commission to pass a resolution, but subsequently, that commission had been reorganized, he said.

Metz concluded by inviting the mayor and the council to attend a presentation on March 29, at 7 p.m. at the Malletts Creek Library.

Present: Stephen Rapundalo, Mike Anglin, Margie Teall, Sabra Briere, Sandi Smith, Tony Derezinski, Stephen Kunselman, Marcia Higgins, John Hieftje, Christopher Taylor, Carsten Hohnke.

Next council meeting: Monday, March 21, 2011 at 7 p.m. in the Washtenaw County administration building, 220 N. Main St., Ann Arbor. [confirm date]


  1. By Trevor Staples
    March 11, 2011 at 10:47 pm | permalink

    Can you elaborate on Anglin’s “issues with the proposed Fuller Road Station and public-private partnerships in the parks.” Was he saying he’s against public-private partnerships?

  2. March 12, 2011 at 5:50 pm | permalink

    Re: [1] “Was [Anglin] saying he’s against public-private partnerships?”

    In a forced choice for-against, I’d conclude based on Anglin’s remarks a the council meeting, as well as at a recent park advisory (PAC) commission meeting, that he’d be against using public-private partnerships in the parks system. A more nuanced version of his position would be something more along the lines of: We need to be very careful and thoughtful before embarking on a relationship with a private entity in connection with the parks system. The conversation at the Feb. 15, 2011 PAC meeting included a discussion of an RFP that the city will be issuing for the operation of concessions (snacks, drinks, etc.) at recreation facilities, something the parks staff has heard from facility users that they’d like to have available.

  3. March 19, 2011 at 11:33 am | permalink

    Where is Part 2 of the report of this Council meeting – the part about medical marijuana? I can’t find it.

  4. March 19, 2011 at 11:43 am | permalink

    Re: [3] It’s not finished yet.

  5. March 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm | permalink

    Well, the City Council will be taking up the proposed medical marijuana ordinance tomorrow (Monday) evening. It would really be great to have the Chronicle’s authoritative word on what happened, amendment by amendment, on March 7, before then.

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  6. March 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm | permalink

    Oop! Tomorrow is only Sunday, not Monday.

  7. March 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm | permalink

    Re: Having Part 2 of the report on what happened on March 7, amendment by amendment, before the next meeting, on March 21, when the council is taking up the issue again.

    That’s a fair enough point, and I’m working towards that end.

  8. By John Floyd
    March 21, 2011 at 10:34 pm | permalink

    Sounds like Dave is not working hard enough. Better get him off his Askins.