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Sept 2, 2014: Council Live Updates

| The Ann Arbor city council's Sept. 2, 2014 agenda includes several items related to the Ann Arbor housing commission, including a $730,000 allocation from the city's affordable housing trust fund and two renovation projects. The agenda also includes Uber/Lyft operating agreements, taxicab rates, a proposed extension of the local development finance authority (LDFA), and rezoning for a Gift of Life Michigan expansion. [Full Story]

In It For The Money: Our Schools

| From David Erik Nelson's final column for The Chronicle about his son's elementary school class: "A whale. They made a whale, and then inflated it, and got inside it as a class, and made measurements so they could tape down 3x5 index cards labeling the locations at all the organs. ... This is what we destroy when we permit ourselves to obsesses about the less-than-meaningless minutia of testing tests – to better test the tests' capacity to test our kids' capacity to test well on future tests of their test taking skills." [Full Story]

Sunday Funnies: Bezonki (The End)

| In this final installment of the monthly Bezonki comic strip, our scaly green friend gets a cryptic message that may or may not hold a Great Secret. But Bezonki, as usual, gets distracted by a momentous turn of events. What happens next? Only Bezonki knows for sure. [Full Story]

New Wellness Center In The Works

| Action by Ann Arbor planning commissioners at their Aug. 19, 2014 meeting will allow two projects to move forward: a new "modern lifestyle health spa" on West Liberty, and a new location for the Community Music School of Ann Arbor. Commissioners granted special exception uses for both projects. They also recommended the annexation and zoning of 2115 Victoria Circle, a half-acre vacant site west of Newport and north of M-14. [Full Story]

Sept. 2, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview

| The Ann Arbor city council's Sept. 2 agenda is relatively light and is dominated by land use and development issues, many of them related to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission's extensive plan to renovate many of its existing projects. Separate from site plan and zoning issues, the council will also be considering transferring $729,879 from the  affordable housing trust fund to the Ann Arbor housing commission to support the "West Arbor" portion of the renovation plan. [Full Story]

Decision on Sanctions Shifts from Shelton

| At an Aug. 27, 2014 hearing, judge Donald Shelton refused to grant two of three motions by plaintiffs in the footing drain disconnection lawsuit that was filed in February of this year. On his last motion day before retirement, Shelton chose to deny a motion to disqualify the city attorney’s office in its representation of the city. Shelton also declined to rule on a motion to reassign the case away from judge Timothy Connors – who will be taking over all of Shelton’s civil cases after Shelton’s last day as judge on Aug. 29. Shelton indicated agreement with plaintiffs' contention that the city has misrepresented their position to the court, but adjourned the motion on sanctions until Sept. 18. [Full Story]

AAATA Preps to Shift Gears

| Much of the AAATA board's Aug. 21 meeting, preparations began for the departure of CEO Michael Ford. He's taking the job as CEO of the RTA in mid-October. The board approved a resolution to establish an ad hoc committee to conduct a search. In other business, the board approved a procurement contract for up to 60 new buses over the next five years, some of which will eventually support the expanded services, which started Aug. 24. A decision on the choice of drivetrain – clean diesel versus hybrid electric technology – for 27 buses the AAATA is ordering was left until as late as the board's November meeting. [Full Story]

Oxford: Pipeline Protest

| MICATS (Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands) is reporting that two of its protesters have been arrested for locking their necks with bicycle U-locks to pipeline construction trucks being used for the Enbridge Line 6B pipeline expansion. [Source] [Full Story]

Push to Program Liberty Plaza, Library Lane

| Liberty Plaza was the focus of two items that appeared on the Aug. 19, 2014 agenda for the Ann Arbor park advisory commission: (1) extension of a fee waiver for events held at Liberty Plaza; and (2) feedback in response to city council action, which addressed Liberty Plaza and the potential park atop the Library Lane underground parking structure. PAC voted to form a subcommittee to study these issues based on increased programming at those sites, and to report back to city council by October 2015. [Full Story]

Shelton to Hear Motions in FDD Case

| The footing drain disconnection lawsuit filed against the city of Ann Arbor in late February 2014 has taken several procedural turns over the last six months, with virtually no issues on the merits of the case yet decided. The latest procedural issues now appear set to be decided on Aug. 27, 2014 – judge Donald Shelton's final motion day before his retirement. The procedural issues include: (1) a motion to disqualify the city attorney's office from representing the city due to conflicts; (2) a motion to sanction the city attorneys for filing documents with statements that have no factual foundation; and (3) a motion to reassign the case to a judge other than Timothy Connors. [Full Story]

Column: On Taking Time to Hear

| From Chronicle editor Dave Askins' column: "So the real contrast on display at the Aug. 18 Ann Arbor city council meeting was not deer versus people. It was corporations versus people. What I observed on Monday was a council that was – at least on that occasion – more interested in hearing from a corporation than it was from a person who lives here." [Full Story]

The 2014 Bezonki Awards: A Celebration

| Continuing a tradition that began in 2011, The Ann Arbor Chronicle recognizes remarkable people and organizations in this community with the 4th annual Bezonki awards. The 2014 Bezonki winners were honored at an Aug. 15 reception: Ryan Burns, Linh and Dug Song, the Finding Your Political Voice program, Mary Jo Callan, Tom Fitzsimmons, and Jeannine Palms. [Full Story]

New Citizen Participation Tools Reviewed

| At their Aug. 12, 2014 working session, Ann Arbor planning commissioners gave feedback on new guides that staff have developed for residents and developers, aimed at improving communication about proposed development projects. The "Citizens' Guide to Effective Communication" and "Developers' Guide to Leading Effective Citizen Participation Meetings" were drafted by planning staff, based in part on suggestions from the planning commission's citizen outreach committee. [Full Story]

Aug. 18, 2014: Council Live Updates

| Land use and development is set up to be a dominant theme of the Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, as it frequently is for many of the council's meetings. An additional highlight will be initial consideration of a change to the city's taxicab ordinance – in response to the entry of services like Uber and Lyft into Ann Arbor's market. Projects to be considered by the council include the State Street Village project, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission's North Maple Estates proposal and the 121 Kingsley West project. [Full Story]

County Explores Offering New ID Card

| A proposal to establish a county-issued ID card program is being reviewed by the board of commissioners, who were briefed on the recommendations of a task force at their Aug. 7, 2014 working session. A county identification card would allow residents who don’t have a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID to access services that require that kind of identification, like renting an apartment or opening a bank account. [Full Story]

Aug. 18, 2014: City Council Meeting Preview

| Land use and development is set up to be a dominant theme of the Aug. 18, 2014 meeting, as it frequently is for many of the council's meetings. An additional highlight will be initial consideration of a change to the city's taxicab ordinance – in response to the entry of services like Uber and Lyft into Ann Arbor's market. Projects to be considered by the council include the State Street Village project, the Ann Arbor Housing Commission's North Maple Estates proposal and the 121 Kingsley West project. [Full Story]

Column: Parking Oversight, Please

| What if on-street metered rates were raised a dime, and rates across other parts of the parking system were also raised by an equivalent percentage? In this column, Chronicle editor Dave Askins encourages the Ann Arbor city council to use its Sept. 8 joint work session with the Downtown Development Authority to ask The contractually stipulated work session would be a good opportunity for councilmembers to ask for metrics on Ann Arbor's public parking system. Requested information should include stats that indicate how well Ann Arbor’s public parking system supports three different key user groups: (1) downtown employees; (2) retail/transactional customers and visitors; and (3) downtown residents. [Full Story]

County Takes Action on Budget, Tax Levies

| At their Aug. 6, 2014 meeting, Washtenaw County commissioners took initial votes to levy two taxes that would generate revenues for economic development, agricultural projects, and support of indigent veterans. They also approved allocations for six projects using $87,760 in Act 88 revenues. The board received a second-quarter budget update, with projections showing a general fund surplus of $211,920 for the year. [Full Story]

Platt Road Housing Project Partially Delayed

| Ann Arbor city planning commissioners took mixed action on a proposed Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC) property.They sent the rezoning request for the 3451 Platt Rd. property – R1C (single-family dwelling district) and R2A (two-family dwelling district) to R4B (multi-family dwelling district) – to the city council with a recommendation of approval. However, commissioners postponed consideration of the site plan for the five-building, 32-unit project, amid concerns about the site's location in the floodplain and stormwater management.The commission approved a change to its bylaws that would stipulate that speakers who have already spoken at a public hearing can speak at a continuation of that public hearing only at the discretion of the planning commission chair [Full Story]

Ending It: 6 of 1, Half-Dozen of The Chronicle

| On Sept. 2, 2014, The Ann Arbor Chronicle will observe the sixth anniversary of its launch. That's also the last day on which we'll publish regular new reports.The website will remain live, with its archives freely accessible at least until the end of 2014, possibly longer. There may be a special project or two that we will wrap up and eventually insert into the archives.The event listings will remain live, and it's our intent to maintain them into the future. [Full Story]

Aug. 7, 2014: Council Live Updates

| The Ann Arbor city council's election-week meeting is being held on Thursday, Aug. 7, instead of Monday. The agenda is relatively light, with many of the items dealing with land-use and zoning matters – which have an associated public hearing. The consent agenda is packed with renewals of contracts for various software packages and computer maintenance. Among the land development items are the Delta Chi project and The Mark condominiums. [Full Story]

How Ann Arbor Council Races Were Won

| This article includes the final unofficial results for the city council races, including maps and charts. In Ward 1 Sumi Kailasapathy received 1,113 (56.8%) votes compared to 840 (42.8%) for Don Adams. In the Ward 2 city council race, Kirk Westphal received 1,819 (59%) votes to Nancy Kaplan's 1,261 (41%). In the three-way Ward 3 race, Julie Grand received 1,516 (51.1%) votes compared to Bob Dascola's 794 (26.8%), and Samuel McMullen's 616 (20.8%). [Full Story]

By Precinct: How Taylor Won Ann Arbor

| Final unofficial results from the Washtenaw County clerk's office have confirmed the results of early, informal reports directly from the Aug. 5, 2014 polls: Christopher Taylor has won the Democratic nomination for mayor of Ann Arbor. Some observers felt the four-way race could be won with as little as 35% of the vote. Taylor achieved a near majority, but fell a couple of percentage points short of 50% city-wide. Taylor received 7,070 votes (47.6%) compared to Sabra Briere's 2,967 (20%), Stephen Kunselman's 2,447 (16.5%) and Sally Petersen's 2,364 (15.9%). [Full Story]

Judicial Races Winnow Choices for Fall

| Julia Owdziej and Tracy Van den Bergh will advance to the Nov. 4 election for Washtenaw County probate judge, following the outcome of a five-way race in the nonpartisan Aug. 5 primary. And in the 22nd circuit court race, Patrick Conlin and Veronique Liem prevailed over Michael Woodyard to advance to the Nov. 4 election. [Full Story]

Alea Iacta Est: Election Results (Aug. 5, 2014)

| This article provides early, informally reported results from the individual precincts for the Aug. 5, 2014 Democratic primary elections for city of Ann Arbor mayor and city councilmember. These results include tallies for the mayoral primary, contested by Sabra Briere, Sally Petersen, Christopher Taylor and Stephen Kunselman. Ward 1 results are for the race between Sumi Kailasapathy and Don Adams. Ward 2 results are for the race between Nancy Kaplan and Kirk Westphal. And Ward 3 results are for the three-way race between Julie Grand, Bob Dascola and Samuel McMullen. [Full Story]

Primary Election Day: Aug. 5, 2014

| As we have for the past few years, The Chronicle will be touring Ann Arbor polling stations on Election Day and providing updates throughout the day. Polls are open today from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. This article includes reports from the field on observations made from some of the 48 different precincts throughout the city. [Full Story]

Column: Help Collect Early Election Results

| Unofficial results for Tuesday's local primary election races will be available on the Washtenaw County clerk's election results page. Polls close at 8 p.m. so the earliest results will start showing up on the clerk's website a couple hours after that. The Chronicle would like to improve on that "delay." We're asking regular folks throughout the city to visit a precinct after the polls close at 8 p.m. – and report the numbers from the publicly posted paper results tape. [Full Story]

Aug. 5 Primary: Procrastinator’s Guide

| Leading up to the Aug. 5, 2014 primary election, this article provides a roundup of Chronicle election coverage, for anyone who's still studying up on the candidates. It includes links to reports and recordings of candidate forums, campaign finance data, analysis and other information. Links are also provided to candidate websites and League of Women Voters candidate profiles. [Full Story]

Parks Group Weighs Fuller Parking Lease

| The main action item at the July 15, 2014 meeting of the Ann Arbor park advisory commission related to renewal of a lease for parking at a Fuller Park surface lot. PAC recommended that the city renew the lease for two years, with an additional two-year option for renewal beyond that. The agenda also included two items related to Liberty Plaza, which were deferred to a later date because three commissioners were absent. [Full Story]