Stories indexed with the term ‘veto’

Hieftje Files Veto of Crosswalk Law Repeal

At 3:41 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2013, Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje filed the veto of a revision to the city’s crosswalk ordinance that the city council had approved at its Dec. 2, 2013 meeting.

The council had approved the significant amendment to the existing law on a 6-4 vote. The amendment would have eliminated the requirement that motorists extend the right-of-way to pedestrians at the curb or curb line – in addition to those within a crosswalk. It would have left in place the requirement that motorists stop, not just yield to pedestrians within a crosswalk.

As a result of Hieftje’s veto, the law will continue to read as follows:
10:148. Pedestrians crossing streets

(a) When traffic-control signals are not … [Full Story]

Fifth & Huron

City clerk’s office. City clerk Jackie Beaudry shows me the card catalog of past mayoral veto messages. [photo 1] The most recent entry of April 23, 2001 predates the start of her service as city clerk by four years. That 2001 veto was tendered by John Hieftje. The reason given in his official message refers to a “technical issue” with the ordinance that was passed, citing support from the city attorney and city administrator. [photo 2] Occasion for the clerk to have the files handy: Hieftje’s recent announcement he’d be vetoing a change to the city’s crosswalk ordinance.

A2 Crosswalk Repeal: To Be Vetoed

After  a lengthy public hearing and considerable debate, the city of Ann Arbor crosswalk law was modified on a 6-4 vote by the Ann Arbor city council at its Dec. 2, 2013 meeting. But immediately after the vote, mayor John Hieftje indicated that he would be exercising his power of veto on the change. The veto would leave in place a crosswalk law that requires motorists to stop, not just yield to pedestrians. And it further requires that motorists extend the right-of-way not just to pedestrians within a crosswalk, but also to those waiting at the curb or curb line of a ramp leading to a crosswalk.

The council had given initial approval to a complete repeal of the ordinance at … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Wants Washtenaw Out of RTA

Ann Arbor city council special meeting (Dec. 10, 2012): On a unanimous vote, the council passed a resolution objecting to the inclusion of Washtenaw County in a regional transit authority (RTA), created with a bill passed by the state legislature on Dec. 6.

The counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw are included in a regional transit authority created by state legislation passed on Dec. 6. The Ann Arbor city council wants Washtenaw County removed from the authority.

The city of Detroit and counties of Wayne, Macomb, Oakland and Washtenaw are included in a regional transit authority created by state legislation passed on Dec. 6. The Ann Arbor city council wants Washtenaw County removed from the authority.

The language of the resolution was changed at the meeting to eliminate a request that Gov. Rick Snyder veto the legislation. Instead, the council substituted a request that the RTA legislation be amended to exclude Washtenaw County, where Ann Arbor is located.

However, the resolution retained other parts of its strong wording, including a reference to a provision about rail transportation – which calls the bill’s requirements for implementation of rail-based transportation “onerous and offensive.” It’s a clause in the legislation that requires a unanimous vote of the 9-member RTA board to “acquire, construct, operate, or maintain any form of rail passenger service within a public transit region.”

The RTA legislation specifically mentions “rolling rapid transit” – a system based on buses, not trains – as a possibility for four major new regional corridors: along Woodward, along Gratiot, from Pontiac to Mt. Clemens, and from Detroit to Ann Arbor. Supporters of the RTA with Washtenaw County’s current inclusion have claimed that a rail-based east-west commuter line between Ann Arbor and Detroit is still achievable, or even likely, despite the requirement of unanimous board support.

The council’s resolution reflected the fact that an east-west rail connection has been an aspiration of Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje and other local officials for several years – demonstrated in a current study being done with federal funds to determine a locally preferred alternative for the location of a new Amtrak station. But the “onerous and offensive” clause in the resolution was subjected to debate, as some councilmembers supported its removal for completely different reasons.

Councilmembers who’ve opposed Ann Arbor’s continued study of a new rail station seemed to perceive the clause to be an implicit endorsement of continued investments in that direction. But Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5), who could reasonably be described as the council’s strongest advocate for transit, argued also against the “onerous and offensive” clause. His argument was based on a belief that the legislation had a mechanism to allow the newly created RTA to implement rail-based services by creating yet another transit authority – thus circumventing the unanimous voting requirement. Ultimately, there were not sufficient votes on council to remove that clause.

Besides concern about the future of commuter rail, the council’s resolution indicates concern that the inclusion of Washtenaw County in the RTA would potentially risk the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s ability to continue its role to serve effectively as a transportation provider for Ann Arbor.

In the days leading up to the meeting, staffers with the Michigan Suburbs Alliance lobbied the council not to pass its resolution, in an effort that included a claim that the Ann Arbor city council’s resolution reflected a desire to determine unilaterally the county’s transportation future. In fact, the council’s action echoes the sentiments of a recent resolution approved by the Washtenaw County board. And a resolution of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board, approved in February 2012, supported the concept of an RTA, but conditioned that support on the coordination of new funding so that existing levels of transportation services provided by the AATA are maintained.

As of noon on Dec. 12, Snyder had not yet signed the legislation – it had not yet been presented to him for his signature, according to the governor’s office.

In this report, the council deliberations at its Dec. 10 special meeting are presented in detail. [Full Story]

Police-Courts Building: Politics of a Veto

Editor’s note: A quote from Leigh Greden in the July 2010 edition of The Ann Arbor Observer about the police-courts building struck The Chronicle as interesting enough to ask Jim Leonard, who wrote The Observer piece, to follow up. At issue is whether mayor John Hieftje was intimidated into not using his mayoral veto to block the police-courts project back in 2007.

Though the new $47 million police-courts building is on schedule to be completed in December, it’s still a major issue in Ann Arbor’s current mayoral campaign.

Challenger Patricia Lesko asserts the project is not just a waste of money; she claims the decision to build it is a prime example of what’s wrong with the current mayor and city council.

“Emails [between council members] came out that show [mayor John Hieftje] was possibly intimidated into withholding his veto by the majority on city council who composed an email saying if you veto this, we will make it so that you can’t get anything passed,” Lesko told The Ann Arbor Observer in a June interview. “It’s like blackmail, right? Extortion? Which is the word we’re using nowadays?”

Hieftje rejected the challenger’s accusation in an Ann Arbor Observer interview shortly afterward. “If you look at the email, you’ll see that it was never sent – at least not to me.”

Leigh Greden, the former councilmember who wrote the 2007 email in question, likewise denied Lesko’s charge that he blackmailed the mayor. “Absolutely not,” Greden wrote in an email to The Observer. “I drafted that email, but the email was never sent to the mayor. The mayor didn’t even know the email existed – and tellingly, it took about a year before the mayor decided to support the project.”

However, a look at the actual email makes it clear that the draft cited by Greden in his recent interview was not of text to be sent by email to the mayor. Instead, it was a draft of talking points for a meeting that Greden wrote should take place between councilmembers and the mayor: “Here’s what I propose. We schedule a mtng with him this week. We say the following: …” [Full Story]