Archive for November, 2012

Column: A Tradition of Unity

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

On Veterans Day, we generally honor our Veterans. It’s a good idea, for lots of reasons: they served our country, often in unpleasant places, and in great danger, to keep the worst of the world away from our homeland.

My grandfather was a New York dentist who volunteered at age 39 to hop on a ship in the Pacific during World War II. My dad graduated from medical school, then enlisted in the U.S. Army, which sent him and his new bride to Fulda, Germany, to guard the border. It was an unconventional decision, but he’s always said it was one of his best.

“I earned more money than I ever had,” he often jokes, though that wasn’t hard to do for a recent medical school graduate. “People had to do what I said. And I never got shot at.” My parents also made lifelong friends, and still travel every year to see them at reunions.

I grew up hearing Dad say things like, “Smart to be seen in Army green!” And “Three meals a day, and –” well, I’m stopping there. (If you know that one, you know why.)

On Veterans Day, I’ve gotten into the habit of calling my old man to thank him for his service. But this year, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League spent Veterans Day telling its 183 member high school teams to stop performing the national anthem before their games.

The league commissioner, Ed Sam, was quick to explain, “It’s not that we’re not patriotic. That’s the furthest from the truth.”

I actually believe him. They’re not unpatriotic. They’re amazingly stupid. [Full Story]

AATA: Increased Service on Route #5

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s Route #5 will be getting increased service starting at the end of January 2013, based on a vote taken by the AATA board at its Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. The resolution took the form of a re-programming of funds from the AATA’s AirRide service, which is covering its costs and generating more passenger revenue than forecast. AirRide service will not be affected by the board’s move.

Route #5 has two branches – between downtown Ann Arbor and downtown Ypsilanti, and between downtown Ann Arbor and the Carpenter Road Meijer. The current service level runs buses every 15 minutes on the main trunk of the two branches. The board’s vote will result in an increase in … [Full Story]

UM: Affirmative Action

USA Today reports on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion, issued on Nov. 15, declaring that Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in university admissions is unconstitutional. The ban, approved by voters in a 2006 ballot initiative, had been championed by Jennifer Gratz, who had sued the University of Michigan after being denied admission. From the report: “U-M has a high stake in today’s ruling. Nearly 10 years ago, the university was involved in a landmark Supreme Court ruling governing race and universities. The high court upheld the U-M law school’s use of race as a consideration in admissions, as long as there were no quotas attached, but threw out the undergraduate admissions system that awarded extra points to … [Full Story]

AATA OKs Vehicle Purchase for Vanpool

The purchase of about two dozen 2013 Dodge Caravans at $21,356 apiece – as part of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s vanpool program – was authorized by the board of the AATA board at its Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. The funds used for the 25 vans come from federal and state sources.

At the board’s Jan. 19, 2012 meeting, the AATA board had previously authorized the purchase of seven Dodge Caravans (model year 2012) for $21,272 each (total = $148,904), with an option to purchase up to a total of 25 vans (total = $531,800). That vehicle purchase was preceded by an authorization given over a year ago, on Sept. 15, 2011, to contract with VPSI Inc. to administer the AATA’s … [Full Story]

UM Regents OK Lynch as General Counsel

Timothy G. Lynch’s appointment as University of Michigan vice president and general counsel was approved by regents as part of their consent agenda. The vote came during the board’s Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. His appointment was announced by the university earlier this week. He replaces Suellyn Scarnecchia, who resigned earlier this year. Since June 1, Debra Kowich has served as interim general counsel.

Most recently Lynch has served as the acting general counsel and deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement with the U.S. Department of Energy. Other previous experience includes serving as an assistant chief litigation counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and as an assistant attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of … [Full Story]

Ongoing UM Tunnel Renovations Underway

Continuing an upgrade of the University of Michigan’s tunnel infrastructure on the Ann Arbor campus, regents approved a $3.2 million project to replace 100 feet of concrete tunnel along South University Avenue. The approval came during the board’s Nov. 15, 2012 meeting.

According to a staff memo, the work includes “replacing a portion of the low pressure steam line and condensate return line in the tunnel, maintaining operation of the affected utilities during construction, and repairing paving and landscaping disturbed by the project.” The project has been designed by Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber Inc., and is expected to provide about 13 on-site construction jobs. The work is set to be finished by the fall of 2013.

This report was filed from … [Full Story]

UM Regents OK 10 Conflict-of-Interest Items

Ten items disclosed under the state’s conflict-of-interest statute were authorized by the University of Michigan board of regents at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. The law requires that regents vote on potential conflict-of-interest disclosures related to university staff, faculty or students.

The items often involve technology licensing agreements or leases. This month, all items were approved unanimously and without discussion. They related to the following businesses and organizations: ImBio LLC, BHJ Tech Inc., Newline Builders, Arborlight LLC, Arbor Ultrasound Technologies LLC, HiperNap LLC, Inmatech Inc., the Institute for Social and Environmental Research Nepal, PsiKick Inc., and Lycera Inc.

By way of example, the Lycera disclosure is required because four people who have an ownership stake in the company – Gary Glick, Anthony Opipari, … [Full Story]

Paint Job at Michigan Stadium Gets OK

The University of Michigan athletic department plans to spend $6 million on a project to repaint the top and underside of the Michigan Stadium bowl. UM regents signed off on the project at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting.

The work will entail removing existing paint, removing or replacing corroded steel, and repainting with a corrosion-resistant paint to protect the metal. Because much of the existing painted surface contains lead-based paint, the project will also include lead-mitigation work, according to a staff memo.

Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc. will design the project, which is expected to provide about 15 on-site construction jobs. The job is expected to be finished in the the summer of 2014 and will be funded from athletic department resources.

This … [Full Story]

$17.5M Renovation Planned at UM’s NCRC

A major renovation at the University of Michigan’s North Campus Research Complex – costing an estimated $17.5 million – was approved by regents at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. The project will cover about 68,000-square-feet in the east wing of Building 20, which was originally constructed in 1956. The site is within the former Pfizer campus, purchased by UM in 2009. Tim Slottow, the university’s chief financial officer, told regents that this work had been anticipated when the university acquired the complex.

As described in a staff memo, the renovation will upgrade the area to be used for interdisciplinary biomedical research. The project will be funded with UM Medical School resources and designed by SmithGroupJJR. It’s estimated that about 40 … [Full Story]

Renovation Set for UM Pharmacy College

A $2.6 million renovation of the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy building will add more offices and cubicles to the basement and first floor, and create a small lobby entrance. The project, approved by UM regents at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting, will cover about 12,000-square-feet in the building, located at 428 Church St. in Ann Arbor.

The design will be handled by the architectural firm SHW Group, with about nine on-site construction jobs provided during the work.

This report was filed from the Anderson Room at the Michigan Union on UM’s central campus in Ann Arbor, where the regents held their November meeting.

UM Clements Library Renovation Approved

A $16.8 million renovation of the University of Michigan’s William L. Clements Library – including an 8,500-square-foot underground addition to house portions of the library’s collection and mechanical equipment – was approved by UM regents at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. The library, built in 1923 and located at 909 S. University Ave., specializes in American history and culture from the 15th to the 19th century. The changes will make the collection more accessible, according to university staff.

As described in a staff memo, the project will make upgrades to the building’s infrastructure “in a manner that utilizes historic preservation techniques.” The project will include exterior restoration as well as interior renovations to heating and air-conditioning, fire-suppression, security systems and … [Full Story]

UM Music School Addition Named for Brehms

A $23.27 million addition and renovation at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance will be named in honor of Bill and Dee Brehm. Approvals for the project and renaming of the Earl V. Moore Building were approved in separate votes by UM regents at their Nov. 15, 2012 meeting.

The project includes a 21,000-square-foot addition to house a new rehearsal hall, lecture hall, classrooms, practice rooms and studios, and storage space. The structure will be located to the south of the existing building, which on UM’s north campus. The project will also include renovation of the first floor north wing to increase the number of practice rooms, and the west side of the second floor … [Full Story]

A2: Schools Legislation

A post on the Ann Arbor Schools Musings blog highlights legislation moving through the Michigan legislature that could have a significant impact on local school districts. The post directs readers to two other sources, including the blog of Christine Stead, an Ann Arbor Public Schools board member. Stead writes: “Republicans are pushing through two more major changes to public education in lame duck sessions: the kinds of changes that a reasonable person might want to do a bit of thinking about and research on before slamming through more massive changes with very little concern and understanding of the consequences. They both risk decimating public education…” [Source]

Report on County Budget Vote Inaccurate

An article on the Nov. 7, 2012 meeting of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners inaccurately reported the initial vote to reaffirm the county’s 2013 budget. The vote was 7-3, with dissent from Wes Prater, Dan Smith and Rolland Sizemore Jr. We note the error here, and have corrected the original article.

Washtenaw Housing Alliance Reports 2011 Data

The Washtenaw Housing Alliance has released an annual report on homelessness in the county, finding that more than 4,000 people were homeless in 2011 – including about 1,000 children. [.pdf of full WHA report]

The report stated that nearly 56% of the homeless adults last year were employed, with most of them reporting an income of less than $500 a month. The number of homeless in Washtenaw County decreased about 7% between 2009-2011, a change that’s attributed in part to a $1.3 million federal grant to fund the two-year Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program. Funding for that program has ended.

The report found that 52% of homeless people in Washtenaw County are African-American. The most frequent … [Full Story]

UM: Student Regent

An editorial in the Michigan Daily argues that the University of Michigan regents should amend their bylaws to create a de facto, non-voting student regent position on the board: ”Newly elected regents Mark Bernstein and Shauna Ryder Diggs won on a platform of open mindedness and consensus building, so it seems an opportune time to implement this change. Nearly every governor-appointed regency has either a voting or non-voting student regent position. Though the fact that our regents are chosen by general election may hinder the speedy implementation of an official, voting student regent position, a de facto student regent is the logical first step.” [Source]

2013 County Budget Includes Board Pay Bump

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 7, 2012): A long post-election meeting included several debates with an impact on county finances.

Barbara Bergman, Yousef Rabhi, Washtenaw County board of commissioners, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Washtenaw County commissioners Barbara Bergman and Yousef Rabhi at the Nov. 7 county board meeting. Rabhi usually wears his hair tied back, but he let it down at the beginning of the meeting to announce a plan to raise money for local shelters – he’s collecting pledges for each inch he cuts off. (Photos by the writer.)

Taking another step toward addressing a year-long controversy over how much to pay for animal control services, the board authorized contracting with the Humane Society of Huron Valley for $500,000 annually. The action enables the administration to negotiate a contract with HSHV for up to four years, with the option of adjusting the amount based on changes to the taxable value of property in the county. Voting against the resolution were Dan Smith, Wes Prater and Rolland Sizemore Jr. Ronnie Peterson was absent.

The county would not likely pay that entire amount. There are preliminary commitments from five municipalities with their own animal control ordinances, to help the offset the cost of the HSHV contract. Those entities are the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township, and Superior Township.

Several commissioners expressed concern that the county is essentially in the same position as it was when this process began. Wes Prater objected to the fact that the county’s procurement policy wasn’t being followed, because a request for proposals (RFP) wasn’t issued.  Ultimately, a sufficient number of commissioners agreed to back the resolution, giving it final approval. The contract itself will not require authorization by the board.

In another move related to animal control services, the board gave final approval to a civil infractions ordinance, giving the county more flexibility to designate violations of other county ordinances as a civil infraction, rather than a criminal misdemeanor. [.pdf of proposed ordinance] In the context of animal control, enforcement of the county’s dog licensing ordinance is low because the current penalty – a criminal misdemeanor of 90 days in jail or a $500 fine – is relatively harsh. The idea is that enforcement would improve if a lesser civil infraction could be used.

Commissioners also debated options for changing their own compensation, ultimately giving initial approval to boost their base salaries from $15,500 to $15,750 annually and replacing per diem payments with stipends, effective Jan. 1, 2013. An amendment by Yousef Rabhi also increased the pay for chairs of the ways & means committee and the working session – bringing them to the same level as the board chair, at $3,000 more annually than the base salary of other commissioners. Voting against the changes as amended were Dan Smith and Rolland Sizemore Jr. A final vote is expected at the board’s Dec. 5 meeting, when a final vote on the overall 2013 budget will also occur.

In non-budget items, Dan Smith brought forward a resolution to rescind the board’s previous support for a regional transit authority (RTA) that’s being proposed in Lansing. The RTA would include the city of Detroit and the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb. Conan Smith has been an advocate for that effort, both as chair of the county board and in his role as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. During deliberations on the item, some commissioners criticized Conan Smith for acting on behalf of the board and not keeping them fully informed. Wes Prater felt Conan Smith’s actions reflected disrespect for other commissioners – but Smith said he meant no disrespect.

A sense of disrespect was also felt by a resident who attended the Nov. 7 meeting to advocate for the county’s help in establishing a daytime warming center for the homeless. Alexandra Hoffman chastised the board because no commissioner responded to commentary about a warming center, and instead the remarks by advocates for the center had been followed by “disturbingly lighthearted talk about haircuts.”

Hoffman was referring to an announcement earlier in the meeting by Yousef Rabhi, whose hair is longer than any other commissioner, male or female. He hopes to get donations of $500 for every inch he cuts, to raise money for three local nonprofits: Shelter Association of Washtenaw County, Interfaith Hospitality Network, and SafeHouse Center. Rabhi told Hoffman that he was simply trying to raise awareness and money for the same issues that the warming center advocates supported.

The meeting fell the day after the Nov. 6 general election, which had resulted in the defeat of two of the nine commissioners who were running for re-election: Republican Rob Turner and Democrat Wes Prater. In District 1, Turner was outpolled by Democrat Kent Martinez-Kratz, decreasing the number of Republicans on the future nine-member board from three to two. Republican Alicia Ping won the District 3 seat over Prater – as the two incumbents faced each other due to redistricting that took effect with this election cycle. The last meeting for Turner and Prater – as well as for Democrats Leah Gunn and Barbara Bergman, who did not seek re-election – will be on Dec. 5.

It’s likely that the new board, which takes office in January, will eventually deal with a controversial topic that was raised during an appointments caucus on Nov. 7: Possible consolidation of the Washtenaw County road commission with county operations. During the caucus, held immediately prior to the regular meeting, Conan Smith suggested not yet reappointing the one road commissioner, Doug Fuller, whose term is expiring – though Fuller will continue to serve. Smith wanted to give the new county board some flexibility in discussing the future of the road commission. Some of the other issues emerging during the appointments caucus related to the role of the county’s historic district commission, economic development corporation, and the criminal justice community collaborative. [Full Story]

Stadium Bridges

An accompanying murmuration of birds above makes the drive across the just opened Stadium Bridge seem even more expansive than it already is. It feels more like a bridge than ever. Traffic was already getting a little heavy for rush hour, even though it had been open just over an hour.

Stadium & State

First trip (EB) across the new bridges. Bicycle lane made me feel like I was supposed to be there. Streetlights on the south side of the bridge were not lit up like the north side. Quick query as I pedaled past to crew of three guys who were engaged with some kind of electrical box yielded an estimate of five minutes until full illumination.

Farmers Market

Discussion among very cold-looking vendors about how many layers of clothing they were wearing. The “winner” had five layers. And yes, the Wednesday Ann Arbor farmers market is still happening.

Proposal for Scio Church Sidewalk on Agenda

Based on the preliminary online agenda for its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council might authorize a $15,000 budget at that meeting to study alternatives to filling a gap in the city’s sidewalk system along Scio Church Road. The area of study would extend from Maple Road to Delaware Drive. [.pdf of map showing area to be studied]

Around 75 residents submitted a petition to the city in August requesting that the lack of sidewalks along the stretch be addressed. Margie Teall (Ward 4), in whose ward the stretch is located, mentioned the lack of sidewalks along Scio Church during deliberations at the council’s Sept. 17, 2012 meeting. At that meeting the council considered, but rejected, a … [Full Story]

Towing Ordinance Change on Council Agenda

According to the preliminary online agenda for the Ann Arbor city council’s Nov. 19, 2012 meeting, initial consideration will be given at that meeting to a change to the city’s towing ordinance. The change is meant to address the problem of inoperable vehicles being stored on city streets.

The city’s current strategy of placing notices on cars that give owners 48 hours to move their vehicles appears to be thwarted by people who simply push their vehicles a few feet. The proposed change in the ordinance would address directly the issue of whether a vehicle is operable, in part by adding the following language: “If a vehicle appears to be inoperative based on outward appearance or otherwise appears to not have … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor to Consider Noise Ordinance Revision

Based on the preliminary online agenda, the Ann Arbor city council will give initial consideration to a revision to the city’s noise ordinance at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting.

The amendment to the ordinance, sponsored by Ward 3 councilmember Christopher Taylor, is related to the now-completed construction of The Landmark at 601 S. Forest, an apartment building located in Ward 3. Construction noise was one of several aspects of the construction activity, which came under sharp criticism at the council’s Oct. 1, 2012 meeting from nearby resident Eleanor Linn.

The proposed revision would add language to the text of the ordinance to make clear that the ordinance can be enforced against those in a supervisory capacity – people who are causing … [Full Story]

Column: Mapping Ann Arbor’s 2012 Elections

With the 2012 general elections well behind us, it’s time for politicians to put on their very serious faces and make very serious pronouncements like, “The voters have spoken.”

I prefer to make a funny face and ask: How is a judicial candidate like the city park system? Or for a question that sounds less like the set-up to a punch line: What’s the deal with downtown Ann Arbor and its connection to the art millage and the library bond proposal?

Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor District Library, The Ann Arbor Chronicle, public art

Voting results from two Nov. 6, 2012 proposals on the Ann Arbor ballot: The Ann Arbor District Library bond proposal and the public art millage. Maps do not include the portion of the library district outside the city boundary. Maps show only in-person votes, not including absentee voters. Shades of green through white indicate a majority voting yes. Shades of lavender through purple indicate a majority voting no. (Maps by The Chronicle.)

Of course, politicians are at least partly right when they say that the voters have spoken. But what did the voters actually say? It’s easy to make true statements about voter sentiment – if you stick to the text of the ballot.

For example, in the non-incumbent race for judge of the 22nd Circuit Court, more voters preferred to have Carol Kuhnke decide future Washtenaw County court cases than to have Jim Fink decide them. You can tell that just from the ballot and from the results. But it’s possible to make a stronger claim: More voters preferred the kind of person Kuhnke is – a candidate endorsed by the city of Ann Arbor Democratic Party. And to support that claim, we’d need to look at other results, like those from the presidential election.

Or by way of another example, the election results indicate that a majority of Ann Arbor voters said they do not want the city to levy an 0.1 mill tax to pay for art in public places. That’s all you can tell from the ballot question and the results. To make stronger claims – related, for example, to what (if anything) voters were trying to say about the existing Percent for Art program – you’d need to find some other way to explore the content of voters’ minds.

The same goes for the Ann Arbor District Library bond proposal and the parks maintenance and capital improvements millage renewal. “Do not tax us to make the bond payments for a new downtown library building, but please continue to tax us to pay for city park needs.” That’s all voters said. They didn’t say anything about their favorite books, or which city park is the best. (By the way, it’s West Park, located in Ward 5, which is indisputably the highest-numbered ward in the city.)

Yet we’d like to divine something more from the results than just the results.

This column, which is heavy on impressionistic conclusions based on maps, and light on rigorous statistical analysis, begins with mapped illustrations of some basics. For example, mostly Democrats live in the eastern portion of Washtenaw County. And in Ann Arbor, Wards 2 and 4 are the strongest city wards for Republicans – even though those wards also lean Democratic. That’s still true 20 years after Ann Arbor’s ward boundaries were drawn to achieve that effect.

The column concludes by illustrating a possible geographic connection between the failed public art millage and the failed downtown library bond proposal – namely, downtown Ann Arbor.  [Full Story]

A2: Cranksgiving

Received by email is an announcement that Cranksgiving 2012 will take place this Saturday. From the press release: “Cranksgiving is a food drive by bike benefiting Food Gatherers of Washtenaw County. The event will be held Nov. 17 from 12-2 p.m. starting at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Riders will be given a shopping list and a map to local grocers. Participants are allowed as many runs as they want within the two hours. A weigh-in and will determine who hauled the most. Prizes and support provided by Two Wheel Tango, SIC Transit, Great Lakes Cycle and Fitness, Common Cycle, Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Bring a bike, yourself, a bag, and a lock.”

A2: Judicial Award

Michigan Lawyers Weekly highlights news that the American Judges Association has established the annual Judge Elizabeth Hines Award, recognizing “judges who have made special contributions to reduce domestic violence and establish innovative approaches to achieve that goal.” Hines, who is the first to receive this award, serves on the 15th District Court in Ann Arbor. According to an AJA press release, she handles a specialized court docket of domestic violence cases and “an innovative Street Outreach Court docket emphasizing rehabilitative services for homeless, chronic, nonviolent low-level offenders.” [Source]

Post-Election DDA: Routine Reports, Retreat

Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board meeting (Nov. 7, 2012): The board’s first-Wednesday monthly noon meeting often falls the day after Election Day, as it did this year. That left executive director of the DDA Susan Pollay with less sleep than others – as she did not conclude her duties on one of the city’s 11 absent voter count boards until around 3 a.m.

DDA board chair Leah Gunn checks her smart phone before the start of the Nov. 7 meeting.

DDA board chair Leah Gunn checks her cell phone before the start of the Nov. 7 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

But the DDA board’s agenda was relatively light. It did not include any voting items, and consisted of a series of reports and commentary – some of it in preparation for the board’s upcoming annual retreat on Nov. 16.

Sketching out the retreat for the board, Pollay told them that for the first time in the nearly 17 years she’s served as executive director, there is no “next big project.”

A big project the DDA is just completing is the construction of the Library Lane underground parking garage on South Fifth Avenue. The construction bills for that project were included in last year’s (FY 2012) budget, but not all of them came in by year’s end. So as board member Roger Hewitt reported, the first quarter financial statements for this year include bills that were originally budgeted for last year. When all the construction bills are paid, a budget adjustment will be made, he said. In any case, he characterized the DDA’s financial position as strong.

The board was also briefed on the public parking system, which the DDA manages under a contract with the city of Ann Arbor. Chronicle coverage of the parking report came earlier in a preview article.

The board got an update on two projects recently proposed for the downtown, which have now undergone review by the city’s design review board, and for which citizen participation meetings have been held: 624 Church Street, next to Pizza House; and 413 E. Huron at Division Street. The next formal step for both of those projects will be submission to the Ann Arbor planning commission.

At the meeting it was reported that the developer of the 413 E. Huron project also has a possible interest in the city-owned properties that are included in the scope of the Connecting William Street (CWS) planning project, which the DDA is overseeing. The board got an update on CWS – the process is expected to result in a recommendation made to the city council before the end of the year.

The board also got an update on the review of an issue that mayor John Hieftje has pushed the DDA to address for the last three years: bicycle riding on downtown sidewalks. For now it looks like the DDA is not likely to move forward on that issue, until the problem is more clearly defined. [Full Story]

AAPS Board Starts 2013-14 Budget Discussion

Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education regular meeting (Nov. 7, 2012): The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) board of education’s Nov. 7 meeting contained significant discussion of the district’s finances, straddling three fiscal years – past, present, and future.

AAPS superintendent Patricia Green and deputy superintendent for operations Robert Allen.

AAPS superintendent Patricia Green and deputy superintendent for operations Robert Allen.

Before receiving an “unqualified opinion” on the district’s 2011-12 audit and reviewing the first quarter financials from 2012-13, the board took a first pass at framing the discussion surrounding the development of the district’s budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year – a step the board has not typically taken as early as November.

Also at the meeting, the board approved the renaming of two facilities at Pioneer High School – the tennis courts and the planetarium. The tennis courts are being renamed for long-time tennis coach Tom “Brick” Pullen. And the planetarium is being co-named in regnition of a $100,000 gift from the IMRA America company.

The board also recognized Huron High School cross-country runner Allie Cell, for an extraordinary display of sportsmanship during a recent meet.  [Full Story]

A2: Restaurant Survey

A2GastroBoy posts the blog’s annual Ann Arbor area restaurant survey, with eight questions including how much do you normally spend when dining out, and what factors most often determine your choice of restaurants. You’ll also be asked to rate more than two dozen local restaurants. The results will be posted in January. The January 2012 A2GastroBoy Restaurant of the Year winner was Mani Osteria. [Source]