Archive for December, 2012

Gerber, Murphy Named to Transit Board

Liz Gerber and Richard “Murph” Murphy have been appointed to represent Washtenaw County on the new southeast Michigan regional transit authority board. Gerber lives in Ann Arbor and is a professor at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. Murphy is an Ypsilanti resident and programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance.

The appointments were made by Conan Smith, chair of the Washtenaw County board of commissioners – who also serves as executive director of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. Smith announced his decision in a Dec. 31 email time-stamped 4:45 p.m.

Dec. 31 is the final day of Smith’s term as chair of the county board, and as such is the last day that he would be able to … [Full Story]

Liberty near Division

Young man with a Mohawk hair style perusing a crate full of vinyl records set on the sidewalk on a cold afternoon. You don’t see vinyl out in public like that everyday.

Art Commission Contends with Limbo Status

Ann Arbor public art commission meeting (Dec. 19, 2012): Just over two weeks after the Ann Arbor city council voted to halt spending on the Percent for Art program, public art commissioners held their regular monthly meeting and discussed implications of that council decision. The moratorium on spending lasts until April 1, 2013.

John Kotarski, Ann Arbor public art commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ann Arbor public art commissioner John Kotarski at the group’s Dec. 19, 2012 meeting.

Marsha Chamberlin, AAPAC’s chair, briefed commissioners on a Dec. 11 meeting of the city council committee that will be making recommendations on the future of Ann Arbor’s public art program. The committee’s work comes in the wake of a failed public art millage that voters rejected on Nov. 6. That committee includes councilmember Sabra Briere, who attended AAPAC’s Dec. 19 meeting as well.

At the meeting, Briere participated in a discussion with commissioners about the source of funding for a hanging sculpture to be installed in the lobby of the Justice Center. AAPAC and city councilmembers have been under the impression that the $150,000 project – called “Radius,” by Ed Carpenter – was part of the city’s Percent for Art budget. However, it now seems that’s not the case, based on communications from the city’s chief financial officer. The news stunned commissioners, who noted that the project appears in the budget summaries they regularly receive – including one provided in the Dec. 19 meeting packet – as a line item, under “Court/PD Facility.” [.pdf of December 2012 budget summary]

By way of background, during the May 7, 2012 city council meeting when the Radius project was ultimately approved, councilmembers debated the issue for about an hour. Specifically, Jane Lumm (Ward 2) had proposed an amendment that would have canceled Carpenter’s project and appropriated the art project funds to investments in the city hall building. Her amendment failed, with several councilmembers – and assistant city attorney Mary Fales – arguing that the public art ordinance prohibits the transfer of public art funds to other funds.

A new, different understanding that seems to have emerged is the following: The money for public art in the Justice Center building budget was not set aside as an application of the public art ordinance, but rather was set aside administratively – in February 2009, well after the building fund had been established. The building fund had been established prior to 2007, when the public art ordinance was enacted. So the 2009 set-aside was made in the spirit of the 2007 public art ordinance, applied in some sense retroactively. In a phone interview, Briere told The Chronicle that this is the understanding she has of the situation. And in response to an emailed query from The Chronicle, Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) – who also serves on the council’s public art review committee – confirmed he had the same understanding. That understanding has implications for use of the balance of the $250,000 that was set aside for Justice Center art.

In other action at the Dec. 19 meeting, commissioner John Kotarski expressed concern about AAPAC’s task force process, after attending a recent session for the East Stadium bridges project. He didn’t feel the task force is getting sufficient administrative support as it works to select up to five finalists from a set of 36 submissions. To help, he proposed allocating $5,000 to hire a consultant who would serve as a curator to conduct an initial vetting of the artists. The suggestion did not gain much traction among other commissioners, at least for this project, though the idea of a facilitator seemed well-received.

Kotarski updated commissioners on a course that Roland Graf, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Art & Design, will be teaching this coming semester called “Public Art and Urban Intervention.” Graf intends to make assignments related to public art in Ann Arbor and on the UM campus, and it’s expected that students will eventually make presentations of their projects to AAPAC.

Kotarski also was the catalyst for a review of AAPAC’s long-term strategic plan for fiscal 2013-2016, prompting commissioners to identify the status of each objective. Several objectives are on hold, pending the outcome of the city council’s review of the overall Percent for Art program.

The council’s pending action also has resulted in some uncertainty regarding AAPAC appointments. Terms for Cathy Gendron and Connie Brown expire on Dec. 31, 2012. They’ve agreed to continue serving until the council makes a decision about the Percent for Art program. The vacancy left by the resignation of Theresa Reid in November remains unfilled. Nominations to AAPAC are made by the mayor and confirmed by city council. [Full Story]

Sky over Ann Arbor

Full moon tonight. Makes the new snow glow at 10 p.m. like a December noon.

Two Residential Projects Get Go-Ahead

Ann Arbor planning commission meeting (Dec. 18, 2012): Winning praise for its design, the site plan for a proposed three-story “flatiron-style” building at 544 Detroit received a recommendation of approval from planning commissioners at their most recent meeting.

544 Detroit, Rueter Associates Architects, Ann Arbor planning commission, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

A rendering that shows the proposed design for 544 Detroit St., at the corner of Detroit and North Division.

The project is located at the triangle tip of Detroit and North Division, just southwest east of the Broadway bridge – the site of a long-abandoned gas station. The new building would include offices on the first floor and residences on the upper two floors.

It was one of two residential projects that will now move to the Ann Arbor city council for consideration. The other one – Blue Heron Pond – is a townhome development located at the northwest corner of West Liberty and South Maple. A previous project at that location had languished under a different owner after one building was constructed in 2006. The new project includes nine buildings with a mix of two- and three-bedroom rental units.

In other action, rezoning requests for two other projects did not get recommendations for approval. A rezoning request and area plan waiver for 2271 S. State St. – which would allow for auto sales on the site, where Pilar’s Tamales restaurant had been located – was postponed. Planning commissioners wanted to hold off until a South State Street corridor study is completed. That’s expected to happen by the spring of 2013.

And receiving a technical denial was a rezoning request for 490 Huron Parkway from R3 (townhouse district) to R1B (single-family dwelling). Of the six commissioners at the Dec. 18 meeting, only five supported the request. It needed six votes for a recommendation of approval. Bonnie Bona voted against it, saying she supported more dense development in that area, which is located near Huron High School along a bus line. No construction is proposed at this point.

Commissioners also approved the city’s proposed capital improvements plan (CIP). The plan covers the fiscal years 2014-2019, and includes a list of major capital projects, both those that are funded and those for which funding hasn’t yet been identified. [.pdf of CIP for FY 2014-2019] [Full Story]

Carpenter & Washtenaw

Orange construction barrels and caution tape are set up on the northeast corner of Carpenter Road and Washtenaw Avenue. So where exactly are pedestrians supposed to walk when crossing the street? [photo]

AATA Board Calls Special Meeting

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board will hold a special meeting on Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013 at 4 p.m. at the AATA headquarters at 2700 S. Industrial Highway.

The purpose of the special meeting is related to a pending lawsuit against the AATA – for refusing to allow an anti-Israeli advertisement to be placed on the sides of its buses. Based on the timeline set forth in a recent court order, the board’s meeting will likely include a closed session to evaluate the previously rejected advertisement under the terms of a newly revised advertising policy. The board adopted the revised ad policy in late November. By Jan. 4, the day after the special meeting, the AATA must notify the plaintiff in … [Full Story]

A2: Mao

Bloomberg News profiles the family of a Chinese general who fought with Mao Zedong – including one of his daughters, Song Zhaozhao, who lives in Ann Arbor. From the report: “Song Zhaozhao has a practical haircut and a quiet demeanor. A nurse at the University of Michigan’s hospital, she earns about $82,000 a year. She shares the house with her American husband, Alan, who used to work for Ford Motor Co. Despite the trappings of middle-class America, she is anything but ordinary: She and her siblings are the closest thing China has to aristocracy.” [Source]

Plans for Dog Park, Skatepark Move Ahead

Ann Arbor park advisory commission meeting (Dec. 18, 2012): Actions related to two projects that have long been in the works – a new dog park and the city’s first skatepark – received recommendations of approval from Ann Arbor park advisory commissioners at their last meeting of 2012.

New Hope Baptist Church

Three of the leaders of the New Hope Baptist Church sign up for public commentary at the Ann Arbor park advisory commission’s Dec. 18, 2012 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Commissioners recommended that a site at West Park – next to the park’s entrance off Chapin Street – be designated as the city’s third dog park. Their action came after several members of the New Hope Baptist Church spoke during public commentary to oppose the location, which would be directly across the street from the church. Congregants cited concerns over safety, noise, “dog stink” and other issues. One speaker suggested the possibility of swapping the location with the existing Project Grow gardens, located in West Park but farther away from the road.

In response to New Hope concerns, PAC amended its original resolution to specify that parks staff and PAC would meet with church members to discuss a possibly temporary dog park at that location, and to review the status of the dog park a year after it’s in place, with particular attention to noise levels. The new dog park would need approval from the city council before being installed.

In another vote, commissioners recommended approval of the final concept design for the Ann Arbor skatepark, to be built at the northwest corner of Veterans Memorial Park, near the intersection of North Maple and Dexter Avenue. They were briefed on the design features by Wally Hollyday, a well-known California skatepark designer who had come to town specifically for the presentation. He had been hired earlier this year to do the design and oversee the project’s construction.

Two residents who live near Veterans Memorial Park spoke against the location during public commentary, concerned about noise, maintenance, safety and other issues that they felt hadn’t been adequately addressed.

Trevor Staples, chair of the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor Skatepark, also spoke to PAC and noted that the group would be holding a retreat later this winter to discuss their future mission. He indicated the group would be involved in ongoing support for the skatepark. Part of the memorandum of intent with the city stipulates that 10% of fundraising for the skatepark is being set aside for future maintenance.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2013, with a goal of completing the project by the fall.

Also at the Dec. 18 meeting, commissioners recommended awarding a $109,500 contract to Renaissance Restorations Inc. to replace roofs at Cobblestone Farm on the event barn and on the Tincknor-Campbell House. They also got an update from Colin Smith, who reported that the city has withdrawn its application for a state permit to build a whitewater section in the Huron River, near Argo Cascades. City staff are working with the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality to come up with a different design that would address concerns raised about the environmental impact of the whitewater feature.

At the end of the meeting commissioners bid farewell to John Lawter, whose term ends on Dec. 31. Lawter has been instrumental in moving forward plans for a new centrally located dog park. [Full Story]

Liberty & Second

Liberty Street is filled with snow. Bike lane area is unavailable. Cycled three blocks with car behind me following at safe distance, without trying to pass, without honking angrily. OMG, yet another cyclist-motorist interaction like dozens I have daily, that did not end in yelling and hurt feelings.

Five Finalists To Be Interviewed for RTA Board

Five candidates will be interviewed on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012 for two board positions to represent Washtenaw County on a new southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA). The finalists are: (1) David Nacht, a Scio Township resident, local attorney and board member of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; (2) Richard “Murph” Murphy, an Ypsilanti resident and programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance; (3) John Waterman, a Saline resident and founder of the nonprofit Programs to Educate All Cyclists (PEAC); (4) Liz Gerber, an Ann Arbor resident and professor at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy; and (5) Wendy Woods, current Ann Arbor planning commissioner and former Ann Arbor city councilmember.

Seventeen people had submitted applications by the … [Full Story]

Human Services Group Ponders Living Wage

The city of Ann Arbor’s living wage ordinance was the topic of a special session of the city’s housing and human services advisory board (HHSAB) held on Dec. 18. The current levels for Ann Arbor’s living wage are $12.17/hour for employers that offer benefits and $13.57/hour for those that don’t. It’s adjusted every year based on federal poverty guidelines.

Jim Mogensen, David Blanchard

Left to right: Jim Mogensen addressed the city’s housing and human services advisory board (HHSAB), including board chair David Blanchard, during its Dec. 18, 2012 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

HHSAB members as a group displayed little enthusiasm for a possible revision to the city’s living wage ordinance – a change that would exempt some nonprofits from compliance. The nonprofits that would not have to pay their workers a living wage are those that provide human services under contract with the city.

However, the group formed a consensus around the idea that their board was, in fact, an appropriate body to review the possible change to the ordinance. Some members felt their attitude toward the possible exemption depended in part on whether they construed the responsibility of the HHSAB narrowly, to focus exclusively on those who receive human services, or broadly, to include humans generally.

The HHSAB review of a possible change to the living wage ordinance will be informed in part by work done by a class of University of Michigan students, to be taught in the winter 2013 term by Ian Robinson, a lecturer in the department of sociology. Robinson attended the Dec. 18 meeting of the HHSAB, and sketched out the range of work he thought his students might be able to do to assist the board. The original timeline for the board to deliver a recommendation to the Ann Arbor city council was mid-February. But it appears now that will be pushed at least to March and possibly April.

The HHSAB is reviewing the living wage ordinance at the direction of the Ann Arbor city council, which had considered an ordinance revision at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting. The council postponed the matter until mid-February, pending advice from HHSAB.

But discussion of the city’s living wage ordinance had begun at meetings of the HHSAB two months before that. At its Sept. 13 meeting, HHSAB board members were addressed by Joan Doughty, executive director of Community Action Network (CAN), on the topic of the city’s living wage ordinance. She indicated that CAN hired many part-time work/study students for its after-school programs – and her organization had to pay them $13.57 an hour under the city’s living wage ordinance. That detracted from CAN’s ability to pay its full-time staff, who depend on wages paid by CAN to earn a livelihood. HHSAB discussed the idea of forming a subcommittee to study the issue.

City councilmembers Sandi Smith and Jane Lumm, who then served as council liaisons to HHSAB, had introduced a resolution at the council’s Sept. 17, 2012 meeting on the topic. Their resolution would have waived the living wage requirement for those nonprofits that provide human services under contract with the city – which include CAN, although CAN was not mentioned in the resolution or the council’s discussion. That resolution was withdrawn, because it amounted to an ordinance change, which can’t be accomplished with a simple resolution. Councilmembers were told to expect a proposal for an ordinance change in the future.

HHSAB discussed the living wage again at its Oct. 16 meeting, determining that additional study was needed before making a recommendation. But at the city council’s Nov. 8, 2012 meeting, Lumm introduced a resolution to grant a waiver to CAN. Her resolution invoked the ordinance provision that allows the council to grant such a waiver for a specific nonprofit. The council granted the waiver, but on just a 9-2 vote. That relieved some of the immediate pressure – because it meant that CAN could receive its grant under contract with the city. The city had been withholding CAN’s allocation, because CAN could not sign an attestation that it was complying with the living wage ordinance.

So when the city council subsequently considered the proposed change to the living wage ordinance, at its Nov. 19 meeting, it did so without the sense of urgency that came with the earlier context of CAN’s financial difficulties. [.pdf of marked up proposed changes to living wage ordinance] The council’s postponement included a referral to HHSAB for its input.

The well-attended special meeting of HHSAB on Dec. 18 included some who were involved in the push to establish Ann Arbor’s living wage ordinance back in 2001. It was clear from the discussion that the situation of nonprofits that deliver human services had been consciously considered when the local law was first enacted over a decade ago. And because of that previous consideration, it seems unlikely – based on the board’s conversations on Dec. 18 – that HHSAB would make a recommendation in support of an ordinance change.  [Full Story]

Liberty & Main

At about 3:30 p.m. the snow began falling in earnest and traffic dropped. Almost all the places I needed to go were closed. Lots of parking and more bicyclists out than you would likely imagine. [photo]

A2: Recipe

The Mother’s Kitchen blog shares a holiday tradition, along with a recipe for mustard roasted potatoes: “One of our favorite holiday traditions is to sneak out for a holiday cocktail together. I can remember when we first moved to Ann Arbor, we sat together in the famous hippy bar Del Rio (long closed) and enjoyed our Christmas cocktail while the snow fell in the twilight. We had to run into Dexter to pick up a last minute gift, and the town was pretty much empty, so we stopped at the pub for our cocktail this year.” [Source]

Parking As Residential Incentive: Where?

About 40 monthly parking permits in Ann Arbor’s public parking system – to be sold to a proposed project at 624 Church St. – have been the topic of discussion by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority in the last few months.

Location of 624 Church Street and public parking structures

The location of the 624 Church St. project is indicated with a red pushpin. Locations of structures in Ann Arbor’s public parking system are indicated with blue Ps.

Most recently, at the Dec. 19 meeting of the DDA’s operations committee, the discussion focused on location: For which of the six public parking structures would monthly permits be sold? The developer of the 624 Church St. project would prefer that the project be allowed to buy permits in the Forest parking structure.

The Forest facility, a joint venture of the DDA and the University of Michigan, is the structure closest to the proposed residential development. According to the developer’s Nov. 28 submittal to the city, the 13-story project would include more than 80,000 square feet of new floor area with the following configuration of apartments: 11 one-bedroom; 21 two-bedroom; 33 three-bedroom; and 11 four-bedroom units. That’s a total of 76 apartments, with 196 bedrooms.

The developer, Opus Development Corp., has already won approval from the DDA’s board to satisfy the project’s parking requirement without providing onsite spaces – by instead using the contribution in lieu (CIL) program. The CIL provides an option to purchase monthly permits, but the cost is at a rate 20% higher than standard pricing.

Discussion by the DDA operations committee on Dec. 19 centered around the issue of fairness: Would allowing the purchase of permits in the Forest structure give the developer of the 624 Church St. project an unfair competitive advantage in the South University area rental market? Raising the fairness issue was DDA board member Roger Hewitt, who owns Revive + Replenish, which is a tenant in the ground floor of the Zaragon Place on East University. Zaragon is a nine-story apartment building with almost 250 bedrooms, catering to the student rental market.

Other board members did not perceive the issue to be problematic, from the perspective of fairness to already-existing projects. And Susan Pollay, executive director of the DDA, pointed out that the decision to allow a project to purchase monthly parking permits is a tool that’s available to the DDA to help make a private development possible that otherwise would not be. In the case of 624 Church St., building parking spaces on that site isn’t feasible. Hewitt was concerned that the strategy – if the DDA allowed permits to be purchased at a structure very near to projects – might result in an incentive for developers in the future not to build any onsite parking.

The committee’s discussion was inconclusive, but committee members indicated they wanted to develop a formal policy on which parking structures would be chosen for monthly permits sold under the CIL program. The 624 Church St. project is due to come before the city planning commission on Jan. 15, so the developer would prefer to have the issue settled by then. But given the DDA’s desire first to establish a policy that would guide this and future decisions, it’s unlikely it will be finalized as early as mid-January.

Based on the committee’s discussion, capacity in the parking system does not appear currently to be a limiting factor on selling CIL permits. The committee also reviewed the latest monthly parking data, which shows continued increased usage of the new underground garage, Library Lane.

Revenues per space in the Library Lane structure are now beginning to approach those of on-street parking spaces, but are still the lowest of any facility in the system. That’s due in part to a discounted rate offered to induce holders of permits in other structures to move to Library Lane.

Also of interest at the operations committee meeting was a draft policy for holding events on top of the Library Lane structure, including the closure of the mid-block cut-through, Library Lane itself. [Full Story]

A2: Survey

The city of Ann Arbor is conducting a survey about the effectiveness of the city’s citizen participation ordinance. The ordinance is intended to make sure that residents are aware of plans by developers that seek approval for certain types of construction or rezoning projects. Questions include “What is the best way for you to get information about a proposed development located within the City of Ann Arbor?” and “What suggestions do you have for improving citizen opportunities to learn about, understand and comment on development proposals?” [Source]

Regional Transit Authority Board: 17 Apply

Seventeen people have applied for two board positions to represent Washtenaw County on a new southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA). The deadline to apply was Dec. 21. The legislation enacting the RTA was signed by Gov. Rick Snyder on Dec. 19.

The Regional Transit Authority board will have two appointees from each of four counties, and one from the city of Detroit.

The Regional Transit Authority board will have two appointees from each of four counties, and one from the city of Detroit.

The authority – intended to coordinate regional public transportation initiatives – covers the city of Detroit and counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw. The governing board will consist of two appointees from each county, one appointee from Detroit, and one non-voting member appointed by the governor. The Washtenaw County board members are required to be residents and registered electors of the county. County employees, elected officials or employees of a public transportation provider – like the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority – are not eligible.

Several high-profile community members have applied for the new board positions, including Republican legislator Rick Olson – who co-sponsored the RTA legislation in the state House – and David Nacht, a current Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board member. Also applying is Richard “Murph” Murphy, programs director for the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, an organization led by Conan Smith.

Smith will be making the RTA appointments. The legislation states that the county executive – or county board chair, in counties like Washtenaw where the executive is not an elected position – is authorized to make appointments to the RTA board. Smith, a Democrat representing one of the county commissioner districts in Ann Arbor, has served as chair for the past two years. It’s the county board’s custom to rotate that position, and elections will be held on Jan. 2, 2013 for the next board chair. There is no stipulation that the RTA appointments must be made in 2012, only that they be made within 90 days of the RTA’s creation. However, the county sent out a press release on Dec. 14 indicating Smith’s intent to make the appointments before his term ends. [Full Story]

AAPS Mulls Redistricting to Save Costs

Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (Dec. 19, 2012): The board opened its final meeting of 2012 with a reflection offered by board president Deb Mexicotte on the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut and a moment of silence to honor the families and community affected by that tragedy.

Robert Allen, deputy superintendent Ann Arbor Public Schools

Before the meeting started, Robert Allen, deputy superintendent Ann Arbor Public Schools, distributed spiral bound copies of the report from a transportation working group.

The board received two informational reports — one from a cross-governmental working group charged with assessing the viability of continuing to provide non-mandated school transportation, and another one on the district’s partnership with the University of Michigan Depression Center (UMDC).

The transportation report generated significant discussion, as the board examined the working group’s recommendations and considered the impact of making significant reductions to transportation. Even if the district were to eliminate all except mandated transportation for students, that would save only about $5.5 million of the roughly $17 million gap projected in next year’s budget.

A key element of the transportation discussion was a suggestion to consider redistricting – that is, reassigning some students to different school buildings based on where they live. Trustees discussed redistricting in the context of possible steps like eliminating some or all busing and closing schools.

The board directed administration to begin looking into a redistricting process. [Full Story]

Madison & Ashley

Steady stream of customers at Washtenaw Dairy, picking up orders of donuts for the holidays. Tables are full with regulars, including owner Doug Raab.

Michigan Stadium

One lone runner, doing repeats up and down the east flight of stairs leading to Michigan Stadium.

Column: Book Fare

A conversation with Ann Pearlman, who gave readers around the world “The Christmas Cookie Club,” seemed appropriate for a December books column. But, it turns out her 2009 novel isn’t about Christmas. It’s about commitment.

Ann Pearlman, book reviews, The Ann Arbor Chronicle

Ann Pearlman, in a photo taken earlier this month at Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee on Jackson Road, where she chatted with columnist Domenica Trevor about her work: “I’m just doing things that are fun.”

Which, coming from the Jewish author of a memoir entitled “Infidelity,” makes considerable sense.

The fictional cookie club is hosted by narrator Marnie, whose day begins with preparations for a dozen friends who will be arriving at her Ann Arbor home that evening with food, wine and a story to accompany the ritual exchange of imaginatively presented cookies – with frequent dance breaks. But she’s also anticipating important news that evening from her older daughter and her husband in San Diego and, in a month, a grandchild from her 18-year-old, whose boyfriend is “a black ex-convict and aspiring rap star.”

Pearlman belongs to a real Christmas cookie club here in Ann Arbor, and reading her bestseller had me fantasizing about how lovely it would be put something like that together with friends whose company I treasure all year round and don’t see as often as I’d like. But then I thought again about the generally sluggish crowd I hang with and how the kinder ones would simply laugh at me. Righto. What say we just meet for pink drinks in January, hmm?

Such a lame crew, I suspect, would mystify Pearlman. Among her commitments: She’s a writer (seven published books). She’s an artist. She’s an adventuresome cook (her latest effort extends to homemade liqueurs). By her own account, the boundary between her family and her friendships is often indistinct.  She has maintained a psychotherapy practice in Ann Arbor even as her writing career became firmly established. And the day we spoke, this mother of three and grandmother of four was looking forward to dancing the night away at the Necto’s Townie Party, despite a lingering cough from a bout of illness that put her off the cookies at this year’s meeting of the club. [Full Story]

UM: Patient Info

The Detroit Free Press reports that about 4,000 patients of the University of Michigan Health System will be notified that their health information might have been stolen. “UMHS vendor Omnicell alerted the health system Nov. 20 that electronic equipment storing patient information was stolen from the car of an Omnicell employee Nov. 14. … The information did not include addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers, credit card, debit card or bank account numbers.” [Source]

Barton Pond

The first day of winter, and the Huron River agrees and looks wintery. [photo 1] As I stood and pondered why no spillways (chases) were open, with so much water yesterday, two started opening. [photo 2] Cool.