McWilliams Confirmed to DDA Board: 6-5

On a 6-5 vote of the Ann Arbor city council, the appointment of Al McWilliams to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority board has been confirmed.

The action came after his nomination had been withdrawn by mayor John Hieftje in the middle of deliberations at the council’s previous meeting, on Sept 3, 2013. At that meeting, the nomination appeared to be in doubt, as two councilmembers were absent – Jane Lumm (Ward 2) and Marcia Higgins (Ward 4). The vote from Higgins was one of the six that was in favor of McWilliams at the Sept. 16, 2013 meeting.

Voting against the appointment of McWilliams were Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1), Sally Petersen (Ward 2), Jane Lumm (Ward 2), Stephen Kunselman (Ward 3) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5). In addition to Higgins, those voting for his confirmation were mayor John Hieftje, Sabra Briere (Ward 1), Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Margie Teall (Ward 4) and Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5).

The deliberations on Sept 16 focused on whether McWilliams had sufficient maturity to hold the public office of DDA board member. Kunselman said he’d met with McWilliams and had found him to be “not ready for prime time,” citing blog posts and Tweets that he thought were not appropriate for a public official. Kailasapathy said she found McWilliams’ attitudes toward women to be degrading. In perusing some of McWilliams’ online work, Petersen remarked that there was a photo of Miley Cyrus’ rear end.

Hieftje was sarcastic in responding to the objections about profanity, saying he was “shocked” that someone had used profanity on the Internet.

Deliberations on Sept. 16 had a different focus from those at the previous meeting, when Hieftje withdrew the nomination mid-deliberation. At that Sept. 3 session, councilmembers who were opposed to the nomination expressed a concern about a potential conflict of interest for McWilliams in votes he might take on DDA funding for the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority’s getDowntown program. His firm, Quack!Media, is an ad agency located in downtown Ann Arbor. Quack!Media lists the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority on its website as one of its clients.

This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]