Stories indexed with the term ‘soccer’

Washtenaw Board Debates Budget Issues

Washtenaw County board of commissioners meeting (Nov. 17, 2010): Budget-related issues drove much of the discussion during Wednesday’s board meeting, as county commissioners wrangled over a resolution proposed by Leah Gunn to eliminate per diem, travel and mileage payments to commissioners.

Members of the Washtenaw County street soccer team

Members of the Washtenaw County street soccer team, which competed in Washington D.C. this summer at the Street Soccer USA Cup. David Altherr, far left, also was picked to play for the U.S. team at the 8th annual Homeless World Cup in Rio, Brazil in September. They were on hand to promote a Dec. 10-11 fundraiser. (Photos by the writer.)

At some points during the debate there was a fair amount of confusion. A vote to eliminate per diem payments initially passed, but commissioner Ronnie Peterson then indicated that he’d intended to vote the opposite way. Because he’d voted on the prevailing side, parliamentary rules allowed him to bring the issue back for another vote – he switched his vote to no, and the resolution failed to pass. Ultimately, none of the proposed cuts won enough support to enact.

A resolution to set the cost of a police services unit (PSU) received little discussion – aside from some public commentary from Ann Arbor Township supervisor Mike Moran, and a response by commissioner Jeff Irwin. A PSU is the term used for a sheriff’s deputy who is hired on a contract basis to serve local townships and other municipalities. The board gave initial approval to set the cost at $176,108 and is expected to take a final vote on the issue at their Dec. 1 meeting. They’ll wait until next year to tackle the more contentious question of how much the county will charge contracting municipalities per PSU – an amount that will likely be lower, offset by a county general fund contribution.

In other budget-related matters, a public hearing on revisions to the 2011 budget drew only three speakers – including two representatives from local nonprofits who urged commissioners to consider the impact of any cuts they might contemplate for human services. The board also authorized soliciting bids for an internal audit, and discussed holding a special meeting in December to start setting priorities for upcoming budget discussions.

As he had during the Nov. 8 administrative briefing, board chair Rolland Sizemore Jr. expressed frustration with the management of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, and said he wants the board to address that issue. There’s a vacancy on the road commission board, a group that’s appointed by the county board and that has oversight for the road commission operations. Other county commissioners said they’d like to hold public interviews for the job – seven people have applied.

Also on Wednesday, members of the county’s Street Soccer team, the SSPORT, came to the meeting to ask commissioners to participate in the 24-hour Soccerthon, a fundraiser to be held at WideWorld Sports Center starting on Friday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m. The team is part of the county’s homeless project outreach team (PORT), which provides mental health and other support services to the local homeless population. The players had participated in the third annual Street Soccer USA Cup this summer in Washington D.C., and one of the players, David Altherr, had been picked to play for the U.S. team at the 8th annual Homeless World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September.

During Wednesday’s meeting the board also passed a resolution declaring Nov. 14-20, 2010 as National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. Former county administrator Bob Guenzel, chair of the nonprofit Washtenaw Housing Alliance, was on hand and told the board to expect a re-energized effort related to the county’s Blueprint to End Homelessness. He announced that the WHA has hired a new executive director to lead that effort – Julie Steiner, who has served as executive director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County at Alpha House. [Full Story]

Column: Soccer Can’t Compete

John U. Bacon

John U. Bacon

The 2010 World Cup is in full swing – even if the U.S. was eliminated in the second round. I’ve played soccer, coached it and covered it, and there’s a lot to like about the sport.

First, soccer players are great athletes. The pros run about six miles a game. They can settle the ball down from any direction in a split second, play keep-away with it for days, and then blast it right on target, with either foot.

For TV viewers, it’s a pleasure to see the great expanse of green on your screen, with no TV timeouts interrupting play. And, unlike baseball’s World Series, the world is actually invited to play in the World Cup. It’s almost every nation’s favorite sport. And you can play it anywhere, with anything. [Full Story]