Archive for October, 2011

Halloween 2011: Main Street Spooks, Sprites

Editor’s note: Myra Klarman, a professional photographer based in Ann Arbor, has been documenting Halloween cuteness for The Chronicle since 2008, capturing images from the annual Main Street Halloween Treat Parade. [Take a look at her images from 20102009, and 2008 Halloween festivities as well.] We hope you enjoy these little spooks and sprites as much as we do – Happy Halloween!

Little cow

Who ever said, Halloween should be scary? It always includes, a serving of dairy.

[Full Story]

A2: Ghost Stories

The nonprofit 826michigan posts some ghost stories – and a poem – written by teens tutored in the Ann Arbor nonprofit’s “Most Terrifying Program: The Deadliest Drop-in Writing!” This excerpt is from “So Spooky”: “When I got home it was raining again. I asked my mom if we should go into the basement but she said we didn’t have a basement. But the car door was broken off so I had to sit with the door open. Then all of a sudden I fell out of the car. Then the monster came back and it was bigger than the big tree. It reached down, and it ate me.” [Source]

A2: Recycling

The city of Ann Arbor has launched an online survey to measure attitudes about recycling and RecycleBank’s coupon-incentive program. The city contracts with RecycleBank to administer and promote the coupon program. The survey closes Nov. 30, 2011. Take the survey here.

UM: Eric Cantor

The Detroit Free Press reports on the speech by U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the Republican House majority leader, delivered Monday afternoon at UM’s Michigan League. Cantor focused on themes of self-reliance and limited government, according to the report. The talk was given against a backdrop of protestors: ”About two dozen stood up with their backs to Cantor during the question-and-answer time. They repeatedly interrupted Cantor with shouts, including heckling him on gay marriage and health care. Supportive members of the audience repeatedly applauded to cover the protesters. The crowd of protesters started outside. They were loud enough that their chants could be heard inside during Cantor’s speech.” [Source]

AAPS Board Tackles Procedural Issues

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (October 26, 2011): The board spent the better portion of its meeting discussing a large set of changes to the procedures it uses to conduct its business.

Stemming directly from discussions held at the board’s Oct. 14 retreat, the changes covered the board meeting agenda structure and its committee structure.

Deb Mexicotte Susan Baskette AAPS mission

AAPS board president Deb Mexicotte (left) and Trustee Susan Baskett discuss linking the AAPS strategic plan to board discussion. Baskett is holding a copy of the plan's mission and goals. (Photo by the writer.)

The proposed changes were initially presented as special briefing items, meaning they could have been approved by board action that night. But in the end, the board approved just two of the changes at their Oct. 26 meeting – linking all agenda items directly to the strategic plan, and adding a section to the agenda to clarify facts related to public commentary. The board put off making two other decisions – one that would officially change the board’s committee structure, and another adding time limits to meetings.

The most substantive change – meeting monthly as a “committee of the whole” instead of maintaining two standing committees of three trustees each– was examined in light of the 21 board policies that such a change would affect. A large part of the policy discussion centered on how items are put on the board agenda, and how changing the committee structure could affect that process.

Responding to some trustees who said that they would like more time to let the proposed policy amendments “marinate” before committing to them, board president Deb Mexicotte led the board to treat the proposed changes as first briefing items. Issues typically come before the board as a first briefing and are then voted on at a subsequent meeting as a second briefing item.  Mexicotte later moved, and the board agreed, to meet as a committee of the whole on Nov. 2. The board will then vote on the policy changes necessary to enact the committee structure changes at the next regular meeting on Nov. 16.

The final suggested change – adding time limits to agenda items and meetings – was discussed in some detail, but not acted upon officially at Wednesday’s meeting. Board president Deb Mexicotte said she would present a summary of the discussion regarding time limits at the Nov. 2 committee meeting.

Also at Wednesday’s meeting, the board heard public commentary on the upcoming NAACP freedom fund dinner, class sizes, transparency, transportation, and special needs services. Trustees also approved a series of policy updates as part of a short consent agenda. [Full Story]

UM: MacArthur Fellow

The Detroit Free Press profiles Tiya Miles, one of three University of Michigan recipients of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” award this year. Each award comes with a $500,000 no-strings-attached grant. The article quotes Miles, chairwoman of UM’s Afroamerican and African Studies Department, describing her reaction: “This incredible gift that falls out of the sky. I haven’t had much time to think what I could do. It’s such a massive amount of money. I never imagined. …” [Source]

Washtenaw Transit Talk in “Flux”

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Oct. 20, 2011): Over the last two weeks, several significant developments in transportation planning have unfolded in and around Ann Arbor, not all of them at the most recent meeting of the AATA board.

Michael Ford

AATA CEO Michael Ford adjusts the microphone for board member Charles Griffith at the board’s Oct. 20 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

At an Oct. 10 Ann Arbor city council work session, the council received an update on the high capacity connector study for a geographic area that broadly connects the boomerang-shaped swath from Plymouth Road and US-23 down through Ann Arbor to South State Street.

Most significantly, the swath connects the University of Michigan’s north, central and medical campuses. The basic conclusion of that study was delivered to the AATA board several months ago: Sufficient ridership exists in the core of that area to support some kind of high-capacity “fixed guideway” system like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), light rail, or elevated guideway.

What’s new are the steps that are now being taken to secure funding for the next phase of the connector study: An analysis that will yield the “preferred alternative.” That alternative will include selection of a specific transportation technology, as well as proposed routes and station locations.

Funding for part of that alternatives analysis was announced on Oct. 13 by the U.S. Dept. of Transportation – $1.2 million has been awarded to the AATA. However, that funding won’t cover the cost of the environmental study component of the project.

Related to that project, on Oct. 19 the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) policy board voted to add the alternatives analysis to its Unified Planning Work Program. Next up will be formal action by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Michigan Dept. of Transportation that will facilitate funding applications to the Federal Highway Administration by the spring of 2012. Work on the study might begin before complete federal funding is in place.

The high-capacity connector study is taking place in the context of AATA’s countywide transportation master plan, which the board approved earlier this year, after more than a year of development. On Oct. 20, a day after the WATS policy board vote, the first meeting of a group was held that could become the board of a new countywide transportation authority. That new authority could be formed under Michigan’s Act 196 of 1986 – the current group is called the U196 board, short for “unincorporated Act 196.” Their first meeting was relatively informal, but members determined to schedule meetings for November and December instead of waiting until January 2012.

The following week, on Oct. 26, Gov. Rick Snyder gave a speech outlining key components of a sketch for improved transportation infrastructure in the state. The speech included a call for the formation of a regional transit authority in southeast Michigan that could include Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties.

Two days later, on Oct. 28, the content of the governor’s speech was part of the focus of conversation for a transportation financial planning group, led by former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel and McKinley Inc. CEO Albert Berriz. The group convened its second of four meetings that it expects to hold before the end of the year. In early 2012, the group is expected to deliver a white paper to the U196 board with recommendations on funding options for countywide transit.

At that meeting, the group heard from Dennis Schornack, a special advisor to Snyder on transportation. Schornack sketched out the contents of a still “somewhat secret” three-bill package that would establish a regional transit authority (RTA), including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties. Reaction of the financial planning group to the RTA seemed sanguine. The idea of possibly funding transit through vehicle registration fees (enacted on an ad valorem basis), as an alternative to floating a countywide transit millage, appeared to be the most attractive aspect of the possible RTA.

Berriz concluded that Schornack’s presentation had thrown the group’s conversation into a state of flux.

Amid that activity, the AATA board did its part to keep the existing buses running, by convening its regular monthly meeting on Oct. 20. Of its action items, the most significant was a resolution authorizing its CEO to begin negotiations with Michigan Flyer to contract for bus service between downtown Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro airport.

Given the possibility that an RTA could be in Ann Arbor’s future, Schornack’s advice on the Detroit-Ann Arbor airport contract was this: Keep it short-term. [Full Story]

General Election 2011: City Council Money

For nine candidates in Ann Arbor city council races this year, Oct. 28 was the pre-election campaign filing deadline.

Overridge Drive

Magenta dots indicate addresses of donors to the campaign of Ward 2 independent Jane Lumm. Overridge Drive is Lumm's home street, located near Huron Hills golf course, visible to the north in this image.

In an uncontested Ward 1 race, documents filed with the Washtenaw county clerk’s office show Democratic incumbent Sabra Briere raised $3,640 from 48 donors since the primary election (which for her was also uncontested).

In the contested Ward 3 race, Democratic incumbent Stephen Kunselman raised an additional $20 from one donor, bringing his total to $4,045 for this year’s election cycle. Kunselman prevailed in a three-way primary in August. Kunselman’s Republican challenger David Parker filed a waiver request – which is allowed if a candidate expects to spend less than $1,000.

In Ward 4, Democratic incumbent Marcia Higgins raised $1,075 from seven donors, compared with no contributions raised by her Republican opponent Eric Scheie. Scheie filed a negative balance (–$1,173.73), which earned him a notice of error from the county clerk’s office – the source of funds used to pay for expenditures must be given, even if it is a loan by the candidate to the campaign.

In Ward 5, Democratic incumbent Mike Anglin, who also had a contested primary, raised an additional $185 from three donors to bring his total this year to $7,405. Anglin’s Republican challenger Stuart Berry filed a waiver request.

In Ward 2, filing documents for Stephen Rapundalo show he raised an additional $4,420 since the primary, which was a contested race for him, bringing the total indicated on his paperwork for this year’s campaign to $8,505. [The Chronicle's arithmetic calculates $4,380, not $4,420, for this filing period.]

Independent challenger Jane Lumm, who of course did not participate in a partisan primary, outpaced all other candidates’ combined totals since the primaries by raising $18,950 from 193 donors.

After the jump we break down the Ward 2 contributions with charts and maps. [Full Story]

DIA Outdoor Art Likely for Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Oct. 26, 2011): Commissioners were briefed on two possible public art projects at their monthly meeting: a partnership with the Detroit Institute of Arts, and the potential for incorporating public art into a rain garden on property the city is buying at First & Kingsley.

Connie Pulcipher

Connie Pulcipher of the city's systems planning staff led the public art commissioners in a discussion to prep for a November working session with the city council. (Photos by the writer.)

But most of their 2.5-hour meeting was spent prepping for a Nov. 14 working session with Ann Arbor city council, focusing on the city’s Percent for Art program.

The council working session was prompted in large part by a resolution proposed by councilmember Sabra Briere, which she brought forward at the council’s Sept. 19 meeting. The resolution would revise the city’s public art ordinance explicitly to exclude sidewalk and street repair from projects that could be tapped to fund public art. It would also require that any money allocated for public art under the program be spent within three years, or be returned to its fund of origin. The council ultimately postponed action on the resolution until its Nov. 21 meeting, with a working session scheduled in the interim to focus on the Percent for Art ordinance.

The timing of the proposed ordinance change is related to two proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot: (1) renewal of a 2.0 mill tax to fund street repair; and (2) imposing a 0.125 mill tax to fund the repair of sidewalks – which is currently the responsibility of adjacent property owners.

At AAPAC’s Wednesday meeting, Connie Pulcipher of the city’s systems planning unit led commissioners in a discussion to organize their thoughts before the council work session. She asked them to identify the program’s biggest challenges, from the community’s perspective, as well as the primary causes and possible solutions to those challenges.

Commissioners cited a range of issues, including: (1) a lack of public awareness about the program, its constraints, funding sources, and AAPAC’s role; (2) the perception that not enough art is coming out of the program, and that the process is too slow; (3) the complaint that local artists aren’t given preference; and (4) the sense that in this difficult economy, city funds shouldn’t be spent on public art.

In addition to offering ways to address these challenges, commissioners also discussed their own workload. They noted that AAPAC is still relatively new and is one of the few city commissions that hasn’t enjoyed consistent staff support over the years. Although a new part-time public art administrator was hired this summer, the program had no dedicated staff person for about a year.

Wednesday’s meeting began with two presentations. Larry Baranski of the DIA talked about how Ann Arbor might participate in the museum’s Inside|Out project, which involves installing framed reproductions from the DIA’s collection at outdoor locations on building facades or in parks. Also, Patrick Judd of Conservation Design Forum and Jerry Hancock, Ann Arbor’s stormwater and floodplain programs coordinator, floated ideas for possible public art in a rain garden that’s being designed for property at the corner of Kingsley and First, located in a floodplain. Commissioners were generally receptive to both ideas, but plan to discuss them in more depth at their monthly meeting in November. [Full Story]

DDA Announces Parking Rate Hearing

In a document that began circulation in the community on Oct. 27, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority has detailed proposed parking rate increases, most of which would be implemented starting in September 2012.

Highlights of the proposed changes include predominantly $.10/hour increases: hourly structure parking rates would increase from $1.10/hour to $1.20/hour; hourly parking lot rates would increase from $1.30 ($1.50 after 3 hours) to $1.40 ($1.60 after 3 hours;) hourly parking meter rates would increase from $1.40/hour to $1.50/hour; monthly parking permit rates would increase from $140/month to $145/month.

No extensions of enforcement hours are a part of the proposal.

At its Nov. 2, 2011 meeting, the DDA board will formally announce its intent and open a public hearing on the … [Full Story]

Ypsi: Housing

The Detroit News reports that a federal judge has harshly criticized the U.S. Justice Department’s handling of a fair housing case filed against landlords in Ypsilanti. From the report: “U.S. District Judge Lawrence Zatkoff accused federal agents of lying and trying to entrap a husband and wife who own a 13-unit apartment complex and who were accused of discriminating against renters with children. The couple has repeatedly said they don’t rent to people with children because the complex lacks a play area and it is dangerous to play in an adjacent parking lot. Zatkoff rejected a consent order reached between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and apartment complex owners Gerald and Shirley Brown. The consent order would have resolved the civil … [Full Story]

Thompson & Liberty

Traffic is crazy busy downtown, with backups at nearly every intersection. The Maynard/Thompson parking structure is full, and cars are circling around looking for alternatives. Must be homecoming weekend.

A2/Ypsi Reads

“Born On A Blue Day: Inside The Extraordinary Mind Of An Autistic Savant” by Daniel Tammet has been selected for Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2012, a community-wide program to promote reading and community dialogue center around a common book. “Born On A Blue Day” is a New York Times best-selling autobiography that describes the author’s experiences in leading a life with autism. Tammet is scheduled for a reading on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012 at Washtenaw Community College, starting at 7:30 p.m. Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads is co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti district libraries. [Source]

Column: Taking Stock of “Three and Out”

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

In the summer of 2008, Rich Rodriguez granted me unfettered access to the Michigan football program so I could write a book. Three years later the book is finished, and like just about everybody else connected to Michigan football the past three years, I had no idea what I was getting into.

During my three years following the Michigan football team, the working title of the book changed from “All or Nothing,” to “All In,” to “Third and Long,” before Rodriguez’s last season, and after he was fired, to “Three and Out.”

At first, I thought I was watching the football version of “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” Then, maybe “Shawshank Redemption.” Guy gets dumped on, but comes through. Then, I finally realized I was watching “Titanic.” The unsinkable ship goes down. The hottest coach in America takes over the winningest program in the nation – and the marriage seemingly made in heaven ends in an ugly divorce. [Full Story]

Liberty & Ashley

Not just at this intersection but along Liberty from the west side into downtown: distinct odor of something like airplane glue or epoxy. Open manhole cover at Main. Initial report from city staff is that the odor is likely from sewer lining project. There’s a resin used in the process.

Fifth Ave. & William

Trees on City Place development site getting cut. [photo] At the corner of Fifth & William, a completely coincidental crossing of paths of planning commissioner Kirk Westphal, local developer and greenbelt advisory commissioner Peter Allen, former environmental commissioner and mayoral candidate Steve Bean.

Column: City Council as a Historic Body

By now, most Chronicle readers are likely weary of reading about the controversy involving Heritage Row versus City Place – two proposed developments for Fifth Avenue south of William Street. For my part, I am certainly weary of writing about it. [timeline]

By way of brief recap, Heritage Row was a planned unit development for the site, which would have preserved a row of seven houses to historic district standards (in the version presented to the city council in summer 2010) and constructed three apartment buildings behind them. City Place is a “matter-of-right” project that will likely start construction in the next few weeks. [Most recent Chronicle coverage: "Chapter Added to Fifth Ave. Historic Saga"]

Why will we likely see the demolition of those seven houses instead of their preservation in some form? At the city council’s Oct. 24 meeting, Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) called it a failure by the city council to reach a compromise – on something that was less than ideal, but still reasonable.

The functioning of the city council as a body is an issue that has emerged as part of the Ward 2 city council race this year, which is being contested between independent Jane Lumm and Democratic incumbent Stephen Rapundalo. Lumm served on the council in the mid-1990s and has faced criticism from Rapundalo for being part of a group that he contends was characterized by brinksmanship and an inability to work constructively despite disagreements.

The functioning of the city council as a body is one of the themes of a email message written earlier today to members of the city council by Larry Kestenbaum. As far as I’m aware, Kestenbaum is not involved in the campaign of either Ward 2 candidate – that’s not his home ward, and he is not listed as a supporter on either of the candidates’ websites. In any case, the specific point of his email message was about the demolition of the seven houses on Fifth Avenue.

Kestenbaum is known to many in the community as the Washtenaw County clerk, an elected position. But he was not writing to the council as the clerk. He’s also an attorney who has a degree in land use and historic preservation from Cornell University. He served on Ann Arbor’s historic district commission in the 1990s. Also in that decade, he taught a course in historic preservation law at Eastern Michigan University. He lives in Ann Arbor.

Though his message to the council comes now, after the decisions on the South Fifth Avenue development seem to have finally been made, Kestenbaum did not exactly come late to the party as far as expressing his views on that area of the city. Writing on the now defunct ArborUpdate in August 2008, Kestenbaum stated: “I’d redesignate all of the former individual historic properties that were left unprotected after that bad court decision on 9/11/2001. And I think the area immediately south of William Street, along Fifth and Hamilton for example, should be a [historic] district.”

I think Kestenbaum’s recent email is unlikely to persuade any member of the council to take the action he suggests. But in my view, it’s a particularly well-written exposition of the idea that a city council is fairly judged by what it accomplishes as a body, not by the individual actions of its members. I think it’s important to preserve that exposition in The Chronicle’s archives.

It’s also important to preserve in the archives if it turns out that Kestenbaum’s message does manage to convince the council to set a process in motion to establish a historic district for the area.

And that’s why we’re sharing it with readers. Kestenbaum’s message begins after the jump. [Full Story]

Washtenaw: Transit

An editorial in the Detroit Free Press supports Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to create a regional transit authority that would oversee a 110-mile rapid transit bus system, funded by an increase in local vehicle registration fees. “The option of raising vehicle registration fees would be available to all counties or regional authorities seeking more money for transportation investments. Now it’s up to the leaders of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw Counties to drive this plan home, while moving forward with a planned light rail line on Woodward and – perhaps most important – fixing the service crisis facing bus riders in Detroit and its suburbs.” [Source]

A2: Film

The Metro Times publishes a Q&A with actors Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, who were in Ann Arbor recently to promote their new film, “The Way.” From the intro: “Pulling up in Ann Arbor, at the tail end of their trip, the father and son are … well … bubbly. Sheen has a big, throaty laugh that fills the room and it doesn’t take much to get him going. Emilio is cheerful but low-key. Both are incredibly gracious, asking as many questions as they answer. And though father and son have spent nearly two months on a bus together, they are clearly having a great time, offering up stories about people they’ve met on the road and finishing each others’ … [Full Story]

Liberty & Division

City councilmember Sabra Briere on her way to eat lunch with folks at the Occupy Ann Arbor tent encampment at Liberty Plaza.

Chapter Added to Fifth Ave. Historic Saga

Ann Arbor city council meeting (Oct. 24, 2011): Monday’s meeting was added to the council’s calendar specifically for the purpose of taking a second and final vote on the Heritage Row planned unit development (PUD). The project would have rehabbed or reconstructed a row of seven existing houses on Fifth Avenue, south of William Street, and built three new apartment buildings behind them.

Carsten Hohnke Mike Anglin Ann Arbor City Council

In the foreground is Carsten Hohnke (Ward 5) as his council colleague Mike Anglin (Ward 5) explained the reasons why he wanted to appoint a historic district study committee for the area south of William Street along Fourth and Fifth avenues.

Heritage Row had been considered and rejected more than once before by the council, with a history in front of Ann Arbor’s legislative body dating back well over a year. The project had been brought back for reconsideration because the demolition of the seven houses was apparently imminent – as part of the construction of City Place. City Place is a different, already-approved project on the same Fifth Avenue site by the same developer.

But by the Friday before Monday’s meeting, all four agenda items related to Heritage Row (site plan, zoning ordinance and their respective public hearings) had been deleted from the agenda. The developer had withdrawn the Heritage Row project.

With the construction of City Place a virtual certainty – along with demolition of the houses – on Monday afternoon Mike Anglin (Ward 5) placed a proposal on the agenda that would have started a procedure to establish a historic district in the area. The related moratorium on demolition in the study area would have, at least temporarily, blocked the City Place development.

But in the end, the council was in no mood to repeat the same exercise it had gone through two years ago. At that time, the council had appointed a historic district study committee, then subsequently rejected the committee’s recommendation that a historic district be established in the neighborhood. Arguing against the establishment of a historic district study committee this time around, Tony Derezinski (Ward 2) said he didn’t want the council to become a joke. Later during deliberations Margie Teall (Ward 4) ventured that already, “We’ve become a bit of a joke.”

Also on Monday afternoon, two other items – which asked the council to reconsider votes it had taken at the Oct. 17 meeting about the City Place project – were placed on the agenda by Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3). Kunselman was not interested in getting the votes reversed, but had questions he wanted answered. While other councilmembers agreed to reconsider the items, the council then dispatched them with unanimous votes after Kunselman’s questions.

That left one item on the agenda – added on Friday after the agenda’s Wednesday publication – that actually resulted in a vote that might change the course of events in the city. The resolution directed city staff to make recommendations on improvements to crosswalks throughout the city. Councilmembers expressed some interest in tweaking a new pedestrian ordinance that it approved on July 19, 2010.

Also at the meeting, the council went into closed session to discuss the city attorney’s performance evaluation. It resulted in no change to city attorney Stephen Postema’s salary, but allowed him to cash out 250 hours of accrued time before Dec. 31, 2011. [Full Story]

Washington & Mulholland

City tree trimming crew working with cute chainsaws with super-long extension poles.

Head Start Advocates Make Emotional Plea

Washtenaw County board of commissioners working session (Oct. 20, 2011): The fate of Washtenaw Head Start was the focus of the county board’s most recent working session, as advocates for the preschool program filled the boardroom and lobbied for continued support. A proposal to relinquish control of Head Start, which the county has administered and helped fund for 46 years, is part of the 2012-2013 budget.

Head Start supporters

Washtenaw Head Start supporters filled the county boardroom on Oct. 20 at a working session of the board of commissioners. (Photo by the writer.)

Eighteen people spoke during public commentary, many of them staff or parents of children in Head Start – and many with their children in tow. They described how transformative the preschool program has been in their lives, and made passionate appeals for the county to keep administering it.

The county administration first made a formal proposal to the board at a July 21 working session, when county administrator Verna McDaniel and her staff laid out details of a transition. McDaniel noted that the county isn’t in the business of education, and that it made sense to consider moving the program to another grantee – especially in light of a projected $17.5 million general fund deficit that the county was facing in 2012-2013.

If approved by the board, the county would notify the federal Head Start program of its intent to relinquish its grantee status. County support would continue through 2012 – a line item of $528,000 for 2012 is in the proposed general fund budget, part of Head Start’s total $4.8 million budget. But the county would hand off the local Head Start to federal administrators at the start of 2013. Federal officials would then be responsible for selecting another agency to take over the program.

Pat Horne McGee – Washtenaw Head Start’s executive director – received a standing ovation from the audience at the start of her presentation to commissioners. She noted that October is national Head Start awareness month, and that usually she’s there to accept a board resolution of appreciation. Horne McGee then reviewed a 9-page document she had originally distributed to the board this summer, which highlighted the program’s achievements and economic impact, and which proposed alternatives that would allow the county to continue administering the program.

Several commissioners stated their support for Head Start, but noted that the county wasn’t best-suited to administer it. However, Ronnie Peterson protested bitterly over how the process was being handled, accusing others – but not naming anyone specifically – of holding backroom talks with Washtenaw Intermediate School District officials about taking over the program. [The county could have input on the choice, but would not be empowered to decide which agency is selected. The possibility of WISD being the next grantee was discussed at the July 21 working session – Peterson attended that meeting and expressed similar concerns.]

It’s likely that commissioners will continue to discuss the future of Head Start, as part of their ongoing budget deliberations. They have until the end of the year to approve the budget, but only three more regular meetings are scheduled before then.

The Oct. 20 working session also included a very brief presentation about the county’s contracts for outside professional services. This report focuses on the topic of Head Start. [Full Story]

Washington & Thayer

Rackham Auditorium. With flawless technology, Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to a nearly full house via pre-recorded video and then was Skyped live to answer questions read by University of Michigan students. She received the Wallenberg medal in abstentia as she would be unable to leave Burma and return safely. [The Wallenberg medal awarded by UM to outstanding humanitarians. It's named for Raoul Wallenberg who rescued thousands of Jews in Budapest as World War II came to an end. ] Lovely and inspiring evening. [photo]