AATA Calls Special Board Meeting for Nov. 29

A special meeting of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board has been called for Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 starting at 4 p.m. at the AATA headquarters, 2700 S. Industrial Highway. The meeting, which was announced via email on Nov. 21, did not have an agenda set until Nov. 28. The agenda includes a closed session and an item that would revise the AATA’s advertising policy. [.pdf of board packet, including revised advertising policy]

The board’s meeting comes in the context of a legal case that’s pending against the AATA for refusing to run an advertisement on the sides of its buses that states, “Boycott ‘Israel.’” The initial substantive ruling in the case went against the AATA, when the judge granted a motion for injunctive relief. But the nature of that relief – which could include forcing the AATA to run the ad – has not yet been determined.

After the initial ruling, the court asked both parties to file briefs with arguments on the nature of the injunctive relief. The AATA’s position is that it should be allowed to develop an advertising policy that’s constitutional in the opinion of the court and apply that policy to the ad – which was proposed by plaintiff Blaine Coleman. The ACLU, which is representing Coleman in the case, has argued that the injunctive relief should force the AATA to run the ad. A status conference with the court and the two parties is scheduled to take place on Dec. 6.

The AATA board’s apparent strategy will be to have a revised advertising policy in place for the Dec. 6 status conference, so that it’s in a position to argue the constitutional merits of that already-enacted policy. One significant part of the revision to the advertising policy that the board will be asked to vote on is the deletion of a clause that refers to poor taste: “All advertising must be in considered in good taste and shall uphold the aesthetic standards as determined by AATA.” The clause factors crucially in the court’s initial determination that the AATA’s advertising policy is likely not constitutional.

Updated: The Chronicle’s report on the Nov. 29 meeting of the AATA board is available here: [link]