Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Local Campaign Roundup

7. August 2006 • Dale Winling
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Mayoral candidates John Hieftje and Wendy Woods raised 95% and 92% of their 2006 campaign funds, respectively, from Ann Arborites. By contrast, Ann Arbor City Council candidates Chris Easthope, Alice Ralph and Ron Suarez each raised at least 30% of their campaign funds from outside Ann Arbor, campaign finance documents show.

In Ypsilanti, Steve Pierce and Paul Schreiber both raised 68% of their funds from donors with Ypsilanti addresses, while Lois Richardson brought in 83% of her war chest from Ypsilanti contributors.

Arbor Update mapped and analyzed contributions for the 2006 primary election cycle for candidates in the Ann Arbor mayoral and contested city council races, as well as the Ypsilanti mayoral race.

These documents show the geographic distribution of financial support for candidates, as well as the size of donations from individuals. These maps and charts were created by entering public campaign finance disclosures reported to the County Clerk and Secretary of State into a database and turned into maps using Geographic Information System (GIS) software.

We provide these maps in jpeg form for browsing, as well as a more thorough report in .pdf form.Finally, we have made our searchable, sortable database available for download in .xls format.

Campaign Donor Database

2006 Primary Campaigns Report

Images may be viewed in full size by right clicking (on a PC) or clicking and holding (on a Mac) and selecting “view image.”

Ann Arbor Mayor

Ypsilanti Mayor

-Note, Ypsilanti wards should be numbered with “1” as the southernmost ward, “2” westernmost, and “3” as the central/north ward.- UPDATE: map fixed.

Ann Arbor 1st Ward

Ann Arbor 3rd Ward

Note: Jeff Meyers filed a waiver and did not submit campaign finance information.

Ann Arbor 5th Ward

Note: Richard Ankli did not take any donations during the pre-election primary cycle.

UPDATE: Spreadsheet for Greden and Warren’s information now available, though incomplete (Warren’s info only contains Jan-Apr 06 due to technical problems). Many thanks to Murph and Juliew for their work on this project.

  1. (Dale, you had me doing data entry for the State Rep race – where’s the product of my labor?!)

       —Murph.    Aug. 7 '06 - 03:56PM    #
  2. State rep analysis will come out this afternoon, due to technical difficulties.

       —Dale    Aug. 7 '06 - 04:26PM    #
  3. Wow – this is great work, Dale!

    I see that Suarez has out-fundraised Roberts, and that Ralph has out-fundraised Kunselman.

    Also, I am intrigued that the AA Council members who have raised a lot of money have done so across the city, not just in their ward.

    Can you tell how much of the 30% out-of-AA money came from relatives?

       —David Cahill    Aug. 7 '06 - 04:51PM    #
  4. Divestment Platform – there are some quite active threads on the subject at present. See, for example, .
    And you’ve now asked the question multiple times here. Maybe you’ll get an answer in this venue, but I doubt it – few of the candidates are very visible online. I suggest you contact their campaigns directly.

       —Murph    Aug. 7 '06 - 04:57PM    #
  5. Most questions you can answer by downloading the Excel spreadsheet and searching or sorting. I’m not trying to evade the question, David, but anyone who has questions not answered in the maps or report can find the answers in the spreadsheet. That question can be answered clearly in the spreadsheet.

    In most cases, the largest contributor to each campaign is the candidate him or herself because of loans they give themselves.

    An interesting thing about the 3rd ward is that Ralph got a lot of support from the 5th ward and a lot from out of town, while Kunselman was much stronger within the ward and 100% of his funds were from Ann Arbor addresses.

       —Dale    Aug. 7 '06 - 05:12PM    #
  6. An interesting take on the contribution breakout is to correlate it to residents (i.e., voters). In that analysis, the Ypsilanti campaign by Pierce reports 68% of its contribution by non-residents (who cannot vote in the election). While you can have a vested interest in a municipal election, the vote is exclusively determined by those holding residential status.

       —John Gawlas    Aug. 7 '06 - 05:40PM    #
  7. Right, I did check the database with regard to relatives, etc.

    Your database and maps are unique achievements!

       —David Cahill    Aug. 7 '06 - 05:46PM    #
  8. I can’t open up the .xls files right now (my technical circumstance), so could someone comment on the apparent distinction between “donors with Ypsilanti addresses” in the original post, and Ypsilanti “residents”. Either there’s a semantic difference here I’m failing to appreciate, or else I think one of the reported conclusions from the data is mistaken [AU: 68% of Pierce’s funds raised from donors with Ypsi addresses; Gawlas: 68% of funds raised from non-residents]

    And as I typed that, I wonder: does the sematic difference here lie in contributions from entities that can’t actually vote (even if they have Ypsi addresses). So a union, for example, is described as a ‘non-resident’? If that’s the basis of the conclusion that 68% of Pierce’s money comes from non-residents, that strikes me as somewhat misleading. If the point is to observe that a lot of Pierce’s money came from some unions, there’s a straightforward way to say that: Pierce received a lot of money from unions.

    In any case, I’m left wondering, working from a balky machine that won’t open up .xls files.

       —HD    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:04PM    #
  9. Fantastic maps. Very impressive.

    John: My calculations establish that for contributions coming from outside zip codes 48197 and 48198, about 1/3 of Paul’s money came from outside Ypsi, and (setting aside the UAW contribution of $2,500 because I don’t know how many UAW members reside in Ypsi), that just about 1/5 of Steve’s contributions came from outside Ypsi. Even if you count the entire UAW contribution as non-Ypsi money, that only takes Steve’s percentage to about 2/5, not the 7/10 you’ve arrived at.

    Also, the map graphics don’t seem to visually portray your breakdown either.

    Are you breaking your analysis down differently? How did you come up with that?

       —Cameron Getto    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:10PM    #
  10. And, btw, the Ward numbers are, I believe, wrong on the Ypsi map.

       —Cameron Getto    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:15PM    #
  11. Beautiful maps. The wards in Ypsilanti are mislabeled, however. Rotate them clockwise one unit to get the proper i.d.

       —Eric 3.0    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:21PM    #
  12. In the interests of not cluttering the comments with explanations, let me refer you first to the report, which should answer some of your questions.

       —Dale    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:21PM    #
  13. Post office addresses and zip codes do NOT match political jurisdictions.

    Something like 2/3 of people with 48197/48198 addresses are NOT residents of the city of Ypsilanti. The majority of people with Ypsilanti addresses live in Ypsilanti Township and Superior Township.

    Roughly 1/2 of the people with Ann Arbor (4810*) addresses live outside the city of Ann Arbor.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:34PM    #
  14. “In most cases, the largest contributor to each campaign is the candidate him or herself because of loans they give themselves.”

    Really? If you’re a candidate with community support, you generally don’t have to self-finance your campaign as the contributions cover the costs of the campaign. It’s always good to see the candidate have money in the race but someone who is spending a lot of their own money is often lacking support in some way.

       —John Q.    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:35PM    #
  15. Thanks – that did clear it up. I see now that John had it backwards. Contrary to his comment, 68% of Pierce’s money came from inside Ypsi, which is closer to my calculations.

    Thanks again.

       —Cameron Getto    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:35PM    #
  16. I wasn’t trying to obliquely critique the UAW PAC money. Taking that amount out of the equation results in cash contributions from non-residents totalling 58.79%

    This was correlated to addresses within the city reported as “homestead” (Principal Residence Exemption is the current terminology). I also did not include the amounts contributed directly from the candidates themselves, nor any in-kind contributions…it was simply the cash portion.

       —John Gawlas    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:35PM    #
  17. What happened to Jeff Meyers, who is also running in the 3rd ward in Ann Arbor – no campaign finance documents?

    I actually think it is fine for some campaign contributions to come from out of town residents. It seems some of our potential city council members have never set foot outside of Ann Arbor, and it might do them some good to do so occasionally!

       —Lisa    Aug. 7 '06 - 06:43PM    #
  18. “What happened to Jeff Meyers, who is also running in the 3rd ward in Ann Arbor – no campaign finance documents?”

    I’m still here and going strong. I filed a waiver, which means I will keep my expenses and donations under $1000. Contributions have pretty much covered the entirety of what I’ve spent. I’ve just been very frugal.

    If I win the primary and need to change financial strategies, their are processes for doing so… or so my excellent treasurer tells me.

    My overall strategy was/is to walk the neighborhoods and go door-to-door. Old fashioned, I know. But to me, it seems like the most important aspect of running for office—meeting people face-to-face whenever & wherever you can. To date I’ve been to over 1000 homes. If they’re not there or don’t want to chat, I leave literature.

    My biggest expense has been sending letters to everyone in the ward who applied for an absentee ballot.

    Hope that clears up the mystery.

       —Jeff Meyers    Aug. 7 '06 - 07:26PM    #
  19. Lisa, if you read the full document, you will see that is says “Jeff Meyers is not included in this analysis because he filed a waiver, promising not to raise or spend more than $1000.00.”

    I am amazed that Easthope and Schmerl raised so much money. $20,000+ for a Ward primary for City Council seems way over the top to me. It is about as much as the Ann Arbor Mayoral candidates raised and about $15,000 more than any other Council race. Schmerl alone raised more than any other Council race and Easthope raised double what she did. What exactly are they spending this money on?

       —Juliew    Aug. 7 '06 - 07:34PM    #
  20. How many registered voters are there in each ward?

    Jeff – sounds like a good strategy. Unless a candidate is a total nut case, the one who knocks on the most doors, wins.

       —John Q.    Aug. 7 '06 - 08:15PM    #
  21. Divestment Platform, I’m guessing that no candidates have taken a stance on Divestment from Israel because it is too controversial of an issue, and this town has both large pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli constituencies. Unlike the Iraq war, which is likely overwhelmingly unpopular among local voters, there are surely large numbers of local voters who are either strong Zionists or even just enough so that they don’t dig the idea of divestment. It’s politics. I mean, really. It’s obvious. Answer your question?

       —Brandon    Aug. 7 '06 - 08:41PM    #
  22. John Q: Candidates (even those with community support) contribute substantial amounts to their own campaigns for a number of reasons.

    (1) Fundraising is time and energy consuming. Either you schedule and plan and put on an event, and do a mailing to publicize it, or you call people up and try to convince them to send contributions—and hope they follow through on their promises. Under time pressures, it’s a lot quicker and easier to just write the campaign a check.

    (2) As I have often observed, if you are running a serious campaign with a genuine chance of winning, you can raise enough money to put on a campaign. However, especially for a non-incumbent, that’s usually not enough to assuage the candidate’s own anxiety about the race. So the candidate puts in money to allow the campaign to do the additional things that help reassure the candidate.

    My own campaign for County Clerk in 2004 raised about $13,000 from donors, and I put in about an equal amount myself, for a total of about $25,000. In retrospect, I probably would have won without putting in my own money, but it really helped assuage my anxiety to get that countywide mailing out.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 7 '06 - 09:44PM    #
  23. Juliew, don’t despair about the seemingly large amounts raised/spent on a few Council races.

    Check out Chris Easthope’s or Leigh Greden’s campaign finance reports. You should see that most of their expenditures are for printing and mailing. They are mailing several times to each likely voter.

    In the First Ward in the 2002 Democratic primary, Kim Groome spent about $7,000.00. Almost none of it was her own money. She focused on going door to door. This year, in the First Ward primary, Ron Suarez has raised less than $4,000.00. Again, he is concentrating on door to door work.

    Each campaign has its own peculiar mix of printing/mailing and door to door. (Interestingly, there has been almost no advertising this election cycle in the AA News.)

    Looking ahead to your Fourth Ward race next year, if you spend most of your effort going door to door, you will need a lot less money than if you spend most of your effort on expensive lit.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 7 '06 - 10:00PM    #
  24. So far, they won’t even divest from Sudan, where conditions are far worse; so “”“good luck”“” with what you’re trying to do….

    By the way, I wish Rebekah Warren would “divest” her campaign photos from the UM account she is using for most of them and put the photos on some private account, see my post at Arblogger about it.

    (Off topic: Larry, why do you have to mail things to people when you could just blog? (heh))

       —David Boyle    Aug. 7 '06 - 10:35PM    #
  25. I don’t really think our city council members need to take a stand on international issues. And I wonder

    I’d just prefer they focus on local problems like affordable housing, green space, transparent government, smart development downtown, making sure our local taxes are well spent, etc. Easthope helped the process along for putting up better signs for a pedestrian crosswalk on Liberty used by kids going to Eberwhite. That’s what I want my councilmembers dealing with.

    As for divestment issues, I think I’d rather have Dingell, Levin, and Stabenow deal with those.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 7 '06 - 10:40PM    #
  26. I don’t mind AACC doing international stuff (just as Providence, Rhode Island recently divested from Sudan), but within limits, etc.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 7 '06 - 10:52PM    #
  27. I agree with YOWSIDER, is anybody in Washington listing when the city council does that stuff? And if you can’t prove they are, then why do it? Besides, it is just the city council speaking, not the same as it would be if it were a referendum of voters.

       —Dustin    Aug. 7 '06 - 11:03PM    #
  28. Small strokes fell great oaks; the more cities do something, the more it resonates, even in the legendary D.C. Beltway.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 7 '06 - 11:21PM    #
  29. “Small strokes fell great oaks”

    This is only true if you’re actually swinging an axe at the right damn tree.

    Asking City Council to divest from Israel is like storming into Burger King to complain that the Big Mac you purchased across the street was undercooked. Yeah, you can do it, but it’s not going to solve the problem, and you’re going to confuse the hell out of the Burger King workers.

    The first thing that I did when Israel started bombing Lebanon was contact my State Rep. in Washington, DC. You know: the place where foreign policy decisions are made? I spoke my piece about, you know, peace.

    It wasn’t hard, and it didn’t annoy anyone. And it did 1,000 times the good that petitioning the Ann Arbor City Council ever will.

       —todd    Aug. 7 '06 - 11:55PM    #
  30. I, like Todd, contacted a relevant elected official to state my opposition to the bombing (and, now, invasion) of Lebanon.

    But, hey, look what’s at the top of this page! Local campaign financing data!

       —Murph    Aug. 8 '06 - 12:16AM    #
  31. Nice investigative work, Boyle. I don’t exactly understand why you are trying to pick-apart Warren over something so silly. Are you working for Greden? Why is this such a major issue for you?

       —Brandon    Aug. 8 '06 - 12:23AM    #
  32. Blaine,

    That’s between me and my Rep., bub.

    Or more likely, my Rep’s intern, but why split hairs?

    But I will say this: if you actually stopped lecturing us, and actually read what other posters have written, you’d know that like Chuck W., I am against sending military hardware and knowhow to any foreign entity. I am for US military divestment from all nations. Either we should send our troops, or nothing at all.

    In short: I want peace everywhere.

    (cue the violins)

    Oh, and how about that: Murph and I actually did a small bit of work, and managed to find our Representative. And he actually has a say in US Foreign Policy! Neat!

    Blaine, Dingell is your man. He’s where you should focus all your efforts. Tell him I said hello.

       —todd    Aug. 8 '06 - 12:31AM    #
  33. An email from Rene and Matt Greff of Arbor Brewing Company that is going around:

    “Hi everyone,

    In case you ran across a mean-spirited and deceptive lit piece going around town, I thought I’d provide a little background information. The piece was authored by Doug Cowherd and is sadly being distributed in the 5th ward by people Matt and I thought were our friends from the old Dean for America now Democracy for America group. And I am sure that many of you who were founding members of DFA are going to be as saddened as I am to have our organization connected to this kind of activity.

    The gist of the piece is that incumbent 5th ward councilman Chris Easthope is in the pocket of downtown developers and the evidence for that is that he lined his pockets at a big fundraising event held by downtown property owners and developers who don’t even live in the city.

    So in case you were scratching you head trying to figure out which big, evil, most likely right-wing out-of-town developer it was that raised $8,000 for Chris’ campaign – it was me and Matt.

    Now first of all, I wish we were property owners in Ann Arbor (if we were maybe we’d have a car with air conditioning). And second, while it is true that we don’t live in the city, we live within easy biking distance (9 miles) and have certainly spent more time and money in Ann Arbor over the past 11 years than anywhere else. It’s not like we live in Santa Barbara and collect rent checks from the Arbor Brewing Company. We’re committed owner-operator-renters who are very involved with our business and our community.

    To imply that we are carpet-bagging developers only interested in maximizing our own profits at the expense of the city is unfair and, frankly depressing. Ours is a great community of activists and I certainly don’t mean to imply that our efforts are greater than anyone else’s, but like many local progressive business owners, we have spent many tens of thousands of dollars and hours using our business to support progressive causes and candidates like Michigan Peaceworks, Planned Parenthood, Ecology Center, Sierra Club, Alma Wheeler Smith, Liz Brater, Lynn Rivers, and of course Howard Dean to name but a few. We have always tried to give more back to Ann Arbor than we have taken, have readily agreed to serve on boards and task forces, have worked to expand commercial recycling and composting downtown, and have fought against spending tax dollars to support developers. And have hosted and supported DFA for over three years.

    Now since the smear flyer doesn’t mention us by name, this really isn’t about us, of course. To me, however, it is a frightening harbinger of things to come. I don’t know Chris’ opponent Sonia Schmerle personally but I have to assume she is a good and decent person who truly wants what’s best for her ward. But unfortunately, she was either unwilling or unable to stand up to Doug Cowherd and refuse to distribute his divisive and misleading message. It is so ironic to engage in republican-style dirty tricks to try and convince voters that you are the more progressive candidate. And I should also say that I was appalled to hear that the person distributing the flyers was also taking down Chris’ lit pieces. If this isn’t illegal, it is certainly not a shining example of our democratic process.

    The reason I supported Chris Easthope strongly enough to hold a fundraiser for him – even though he opposed the parking structure I fought for – is that he is a true progressive in the best sense of the word. True progressives are not knee-jerk ideologues doing the bidding of any group that we might label pro or anti-development or anything else. And true progressives don’t use republican style black and white rhetoric to bully voters. (That’s probably why we lose so often – we feel compelled to acknowledge that the issues are complicated and not easily encapsulated in 30 second sound bites.) Chris is smart, creative, compassionate, and honest. He is a strong leader and I have seen him stand up to the mayor and his colleagues on council many times. He has fought for affordable housing, living wage, and the rights of the disenfranchised in our community. He has also listened to the concerns of independent owner-operators like us and understands the careful balance between encouraging urban growth and protecting the charm and character that makes ours one of the best downtowns in the state. He is not afraid to be the lone voice –but he also doesn’t relish it. He has tremendous leadership and a depth and breadth of knowledge that the city needs now more than ever as it faces tough contract negotiations and difficult decisions about the future of our downtown.

    Just wanted to make sure that the truth isn’t the big loser in tomorrow’s election.

    Thanks for your time

    p.s. come celebrate our democracy at the Rebekah Warren election night party at Arbor Brewing or the Paul Schreiber election night party at the Corner Brewery.


    Rene & Matt”

       —Interesting    Aug. 8 '06 - 12:33AM    #
  34. Reason #824 that I love the Greffs.

       —todd    Aug. 8 '06 - 12:36AM    #
  35. And these would be reasons #174 and #175 why I don’t like Rene Greff (never really heard Matt speak so I can’t say anything about him).

    Now first of all, I wish we were property owners in Ann Arbor (if we were maybe we’d have a car with air conditioning).

    That particular line pisses me off to no end. Come on, they bought a house for $250,000 in Ypsi (3 years ago) and you can easily find one under that price in Ann Arbor now (and most people do), even right downtown. So acting like everyone in Ann Arbor is rich and she and Matt are these poor people who can’t even afford air conditioning in their car is more offensive to me than any perceived political highjinks.

    I don’t know Chris’ opponent Sonia Schmerle personally but I have to assume she is a good and decent person who truly wants what’s best for her ward.

    Um Rene, that would be SCHMERL, not Schmerle. At least you could get her name right if you are going to hold a fundraiser for her opponent.

       —Juliew    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:20AM    #
  36. (Like the Todd Leopold thread, a comment was deleted here. Assume that the same comment, if continually reposted, will continue to be removed. Sorry.)

       —Murph    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:21AM    #
  37. you can easily find one under that price in Ann Arbor now (and most people do), even right downtown

    False. The median home sale price in Ann Arbor for the last few years is over $250k, according to the Observer. Therefore, “most” people are not buying houses for less than that. Not even half are.

       —Murph    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:23AM    #
  38. Interesting:

    Thanks so much for posting that email from the Greffs. The council race is still one I’m a toss up on, and I see the positives and negatives of each candidate here in the 5th Ward. The lit from Easthope has been mostly positive, and there’s a somewhat angry tone to some of Schmerl’s lit. But I saw that piece this weekend and wondered who the out-of-towners were. Who knew they were progressive business owners who are great supporters of liberal causes?

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:24AM    #
  39. Thanks, Murph.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:28AM    #
  40. FYI Julie, I didn’t post the Greff’s letter. I would have used my own name.

    I hear what you’re saying about that passage, JulieW, but I think that she’s just sort of countering the Schmerl Greenway platform which assumes that you’ve got the $$ to live here and enjoy what will, no doubt, be a very expensive project.

    As I emailed you privately, I mistakenly made the same “wealthy downtown homeowner” charges when the subject of the 3 site plan came up, and you and Larry K. started posting home prices in your area. None of those homes were for sale, but point taken.

       —todd    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:36AM    #
  41. I just got this e-mail from Doug Cowherd:

    Quite a few people are asking me who I favor in Tuesday’s Ann Arbor elections. If this interests you, here’s a summary of my views for whatever value this might have to you.

    Whatever your views, I hope you vote on Tuesday, so the outcomes best represent the public’s true views. The polls are open from 7am to 8pm.

    If you’ve got further questions, or you’d like to offer a volunteer hour or two to work on any of these candidate campaigns before the polls close at 8PM on Tuesday, feel free to reply to this email.



    My views on local Ann Arbor elections are reflected nicely, though not identically, by the endorsements and articles in the newsletter of Progressives of Washtenaw (POW!), which you may have seen as it’s being dropped at local doors. The material in the newsletter can also be found as below on the web:

    For further information, the POW! web site has links to the web sites of their endorsed candidates (Warren, Schmerl, Ralph, Suarez—see below).

    I’ll be voting for Warren for State Rep in the 53rd District and Schmerl for City Council (Fifth Ward). I strongly support both.

    I support Ralph in the Third Ward and Suarez in the First Ward, though I can’t vote for them as I live in the Fifth.

    I think all four are clearly superior candidates. They represent my values quite well in terms of the policies I think would be best for the community, and the transparency and openness that I think we deserve from our government.

    I’ll also vote for Wendy Woods for mayor, as she’s the best of the two candidates and the one campaigning on a theme of transparency. But her track record while in office is not so much better than John Hieftje’s that I’ll endorse her. My understanding is that POW! shares this view, so check their website if you want a fuller perspective from a similar viewpoint.

    Woods has little chance to win the mayoral race, as she will be hugely out-spent by the developer-backed Hieftje, and her campaign themes don’t include a focus on being for moderate development that is balanced by parks, a real Greenway, public arts facilities,and other public amenities. I think this is what the public wants, and if she’s in favor of this approach she’s not communicating effectively on this topic.

    But Woods’ public focus on government transparency and openess during her campaign make a vote for her—at least—an effective “protest vote” against the insider clique that runs the town to the detriment of the public interest, and with disregard for truth and honesty. The latter is understandable—if they made their decisions in the light of day, saying what they believe, they would be quickly voted out of office. Secrecy, and big money from business and development interests, is all that keeps them in business.

    Each of the candidates I mention as people I support above are running against either an incumbent who is part of the radically pro-developer insider clique, or is backed by them (Third Ward). They all have a realistic chance to pull off what some would call an underdog win through running vigorous grassroots campaigns. I personally like some members of the insider group that I oppose in this election. To my regret, they’re doing things while in public office that in my view are bad for the community and violate fundamental ethical standards. Sadly, politics and self-interest can lead even good people astray.

    These are my personal views, not those of any organization. Feel free to share this email with anyone you like.

    Doug Cowherd

       —David Cahill    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:58AM    #
  42. Sorry, Murph, cut-and-paste error on my part. I originally had “most of my neighbors and friends have bought under $250,000” and then changed it around. Nonetheless, there are many, many houses available under $250,000 in Ann Arbor and they aren’t all crappy.

    I just looked at and 541 of the 1,979 total properties currently listed in Ann Arbor are under $250,000 (I put $100,000 as the minimum just to keep out anything that might be a lease rather than buy). Of those, 213 are single family. Plus add in the FSBOs, which tend toward the lower price-range. So not the majority, but certainly quite a few to choose from.

       —Juliew    Aug. 8 '06 - 01:58AM    #
  43. “My views on local Ann Arbor elections are reflected nicely, though not identically, by the endorsements and articles in the newsletter of Progressives of Washtenaw (POW!), which you may have seen as it’s being dropped at local doors.”

    Ha. I’m guessing he isn’t connected to that publication. At all. Just like he has nothing to do with Schmerl’s campaign. And I’m guessing that publication exists for a reason other than to endorse a certain “clique” of anti-urban faux-progressives.

    ”... part of the radically pro-developer insider clique”

    Oh, radically. Hell, they’re paving paradise and putting up a parking lot. Strip malls and McMansions everywhere. And 30-story skyscrapers. Think of the bunnies. It’s like Manhattan mixed with Levittown. The Man is totally taking over. We need a Real Greenway™.

    Nobody listens to you anymore, Cowherd. Give it up.

    In all seriousness, I predict Suarez is the only one of the “outsiders” who wins at council tomorrow, mainly because he is running against a really weak opponent. It’s hard to say who’ll win at state-rep. Hieftje has a shoe-in.

    I’m moving to New York in 3 weeks, FYI. I’m guessing one can get-away with some 15-story buildings there.

       —Brandon    Aug. 8 '06 - 02:09AM    #
  44. Brandon – Hey, I listen to Cowherd. (Candidates: take note.) Historically, I have often considered his opinion – as a black mark against any candidate who accepts an endorsement from him. Failing to reject a Cowherd endorsement is an indicator to me that a candidate may have a myopic view of things like “the environment”. (Actually, myopic isn’t the right word. What do you call, “Of course I care about the environment at a large scale! I’m not just opposed to infill development; I’m also opposed to drilling in ANWR!” Oh, right – that’s called “confused”.)

    That’s as much of an endorsement as I plan on making this election, in any race.

       —Murph.    Aug. 8 '06 - 02:29AM    #
  45. rene wrote: “Now first of all, I wish we were property owners in Ann Arbor (if we were maybe we’d have a car with air conditioning).”

    juliew reacted this way: “That particular line pisses me off to no end.”

    In the context Rene was writing, I took this to be an allusion to the fact that ABC does not own the building that houses it (it’s rented from Ed Shaffran). In any event, seemed to me like a harmless rhetorical flourish, even if parsed as a statement about why their home is located where it is. Obviously, though, reactions across reasonable people diverge.

       —HD    Aug. 8 '06 - 02:51AM    #
  46. Er, Brandon, I think “Hieftje has a shoe-in” should be “Hieftje has a shoo-in”. Shoo-in is a reference to shooing animals into a given area. Of course, I could be wrong. “Shoe-in” could be an obsure reference to the importance of door-to-door work…8-)

       —David Cahill    Aug. 8 '06 - 03:08AM    #
  47. David, Wikipedia says: it’s either

       —Brandon    Aug. 8 '06 - 03:11AM    #
  48. Todd, I was not supporting divestment from Israel here, though divestment from Sudan is a capital idea. Just as divestment from tobacco stocks, apartheid South Africa, etc., was a great idea.

    ...As for someone else: it is not “silly” to wonder why someone is drawing on public resources for her campaign, when her opponent is not doing so at all, to my knowledge. That’s a notable difference between candidates. Just as are other differences, e.g., Warren using far more negative attacks than her opponent. (See my latest Arblogger post, featuring Travis Radina’s statement on why he quit the Warren campaign, largely because of her tendency to “go negative” .) And I am not working for, donating to, or endorsing either candidate: I’m just trying to see what good or bad points each candidate has. Warren seems the clear winner on bad points, from what I can see.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 03:29AM    #
  49. David,

    Thanks for sharing Travis’ letter, but it sounds like sour grapes to me. The Warren campaign didn’t do the couch-in. So how can that be a negative attack? It didn’t happen, so it wasn’t an attack. And according to him it sounds like it was her staff planning it. So why’s he complaining? Oh, and he’s tarred and feathered her as the “abortion queen” who will worry about nothing else, too. That’s a stretch to say about someone—especially when that someone has been endorsed by so many who actually get out there and fight for the environment or against the anti-gay Proposal 2. I mean, the owners of the Aut Bar (who were very involved in working to defeat Prop 2) said she was the single most involved straight person in this state working to defeat it. That says a lot. She’s also been endorsed by lots of environmental groups and many, many gay rights groups. Leigh hasn’t.

    I’m concerned that the person running Leigh’s campaign apparently knowingly drew false connections between the deaths of local law enforcement officials and the need for a new and improved communications system right here on Arborupdate, or was it aaio . . . A planned but never put into action couch-in doesn’t even compare.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 8 '06 - 04:17AM    #
  50. First, my new Arblogger post shows John Roberts’ unattended campaign sign on UM property , though it may be removed by now…why not just hang a 100’ x 100’ banner from the Big House? That would be worse, but still, same basic principle…

    As for Warren etc.: sour grapes if Travis’d been kicked off the campaign, not resigned, maybe. (I don’t think he was kicked off) ...The “attack” was seriously planned (by Warren staff and/or Warren herself…though Warren knew about it, it seems), there was just some logistical difficulty in getting it to succeed, though.
    Warren has focused on stuff besides abortion, but maybe she’s expanded her emphasis (in public or private) since the time Radina was on her campaign. And, I don’t think the Greden campaign had a sinister plan to improve communications by claiming false deaths, but claim what you like!

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 04:49AM    #
  51. David,

    I’m not saying Greden’s campaign had anything to do with claiming that very real, though unrelated, deaths were reasons why we needed a new communications system. I’m saying his campaign manager apparently decided to do that. She was, I believe, acting more in her role as county commissioner.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 8 '06 - 05:06AM    #
  52. Was the Roberts sign outside the Michigan Union polling place David? It’s more than legal to put your yard signs outside the night before the election. I’m sure by the morning everyone’s signs will be out there.

    There will doubtless be signs outside Markley, the Coliseum, South Quad, and other polling sites on U of M property, hope it doesn’t cause too much stress.

       —Tom Jensen    Aug. 8 '06 - 05:19AM    #
  53. Well, Brandon, there is another hypothesis: “shoe-in” refers to an obscure foot fetish.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 8 '06 - 05:37AM    #
  54. It looks like it was on the side of the polling place (Michigan Union), and I do remember people putting their signs out, historically…though more on the front than on the side.—Isn’t there something about not putting the sign within 100 feet of the polling place, though? Or is that just ignored by people? (Or is the 100 feet measured from the actual polling tables, as opposed to the walls of the building enclosing the polling place? Just curious. I suspect it may be the latter, i.e., the doors/walls of the building, not the particular polling room…)

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 05:53AM    #
  55. David—
    The 100 feet is from the front door of the polling place, I believe. At least at Slauson that’s the way it seems to operate. The poll workers are always very aware of the 100 feet rule and put out a sign marking the place where people may stand or place signs.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:11AM    #
  56. Thanks! ...Fascinating. It would still be nice to see people avoiding using public property at ALL for their campaigns, but reality doesn’t always work that way…(heh) Nor do I claim John Roberts is worse than anyone else; but the whole “campaign signs on public property” question is interesting.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:30AM    #
  57. Sure thing. What I find interesting is how many people overestimate what a 100-foot distance looks like. I’ve stood outside polling places before (for the Dems in 2004, most recently) and had to inform folks that, yes, I was 100 feet from the polling place and there’s the sign showing that I’m legal.

    If we have polling places in public places, though, they should be able to put up their signs the day of the election. There haven’t been any signs placed at Slauson . . . or at least there weren’t any there as of 8pm tonight when I went by.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:37AM    #
  58. I’d be happy with a ban on such; I thought I saw something saying East Grand Rapids (to name one place) forbade political signs in public places, though am not completely sure.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:47AM    #
  59. How come no-one has addressed the issue as to Rebekah Warren for State Representative campaign violating the law regarding the Stephen Ranzini fundraiser, David Cahill what is your thought on this?

       —Eric    Aug. 8 '06 - 08:30AM    #
  60. What happened? ...Oh, Googling the names of the two players (the AU internal search function doesn’t work), I see this on Arbor Update from a couple days ago (with “Rebekah Warren” and “Stephen Ranzini” highlighted), here (and I haven’t seen this before!):
    I’ve been involved in local Democratic politics for a long time, and I am disgusted by the smear campaign being waged by Rebekah Warren’s campaign, including some posts here. I know both Rebekah and Leigh and I am neutral in this race because I no longer live in Ann Arbor, and I gave money to both campaigns. I had hoped to stay out of this, but feel compelled to speak up.

    This week I filed a complaint with the Secretary of State because I believe that Rebekah’s campaign violated State election laws in order to hide the fact that a big Republican donor raised several thousand dollars for her.

    On October 27, 2005, Rebekah held a kickoff fundraiser at Stephen Ranzini’s house at 101 N. Main at 5pm. Tickets cost $100 each. I have a paper copy of the invitation. Later that night, at 7pm, she held a free party at Arbor Brewing Company. There was an e-mail inviting people to both the Ranzini fundraiser for $100/ticket at 5pm and the free party at Arbor Brewing at 7pm. I copied a part of the e-mail below so you can see that the Ranzini event was a $100 fundraiser, but the Arbor Brewing event was free.

    State law 169.226 says a candidate must disclose on their campaign reports the name, address and other information for every fundraiser they hold. Rebekah’s January campaign finance report did not list her fundraiser at Stephen Ranzini’s house. Instead, she claimed the fundraiser was held at Arbor Brewing, even though both the invitations confirm that the fundraiser was at Ranzini’s house. Here is a link to Rebekah’s January campaign finance report showing that she listed the Arbor Brewing party as the fundraiser on October 27, but did not list the Ranzini event at all.

    Here’s the link showing that Ranzini and Lisa Schwartz, who I think is his wife or his girlfriend, each gave Rebekah $500 on the date of the fundraiser at his house.

    I believe that Rebekah may have tried to hide the Ranzini fundraiser, in possible violation of State law, because Ranzini gave thousands of dollars to conservative Republicans like George Bush, Spencer Abraham, Nick Smith, Brad Smith, Mike Rogers, and the Republican Committee. Here are two links showing his donations.

    When Rebekah’s campaign started accusing Leigh of ethical violations about his fundraising and started bad mouthing him for taking money from Republicans, I became very upset because that appears hypocritical to me, considering she may have violated State law to hide the fact that a conservative Republican not only gave her a lot of money, but held her kickoff fundraiser at his house.

    I am disappointed that Rebekah’s supporters made this campaign so negative and that one fellow Democrat would behave this way against another Democrat. But as I said before, I felt compelled to speak up because Rebekah’s campaign is waging a negative campaign.


    Support a Noble Cause! Send Campaign Contributions to Rebekah Warren
    for State Representative, 234 8th St., Ann Arbor, MI 48103

    Friends, neighbors, political leaders and activists invite you to join
    Rebekah Warren
    Democratic Candidate for 53rd District State Representative for her Campaign Kick-off

    Thursday, October 27th
    7:00 ? 9:00 p.m.
    Arbor Brewing Company
    114 East Washington Street Ann Arbor

    It’s a Halloween Celebration!
    Meet the candidate and enjoy fun Halloween games and treats.
    Kids welcomed and costumes encouraged!
    There is no cover for the event, but campaign contributions are gratefully accepted!

    Or, stop in for a drink and hors d’oeuvres with Rebekah before the Kick-off.

    Thursday, October 27th 5:00-7:00pm
    101 North Main Street #1004
    Ann Arbor
    Tickets for the pre kick-off reception are $100.

    [Image] For more information, please contact Sarah at (734) 717-2748 or or Rebekah at (734) 662-0268 or

    —Eric Aug 3, 06:49 AM # —-
       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 08:47AM    #
  61. Margie Teall asked me to forward this along in response to some anti-Leigh Greden mail that’s circulating, also from the Progressives of Washtenaw group.



    The e-mail being distributed regarding Leigh Greden’s so-called ethics problems is outrageous and filled with lies. Please allow me to elaborate.

    It is quite common for elected officials (particularly attorneys) to represent clients who have business before the elected body. In such cases, the elected official must disclose the relationship and then not vote on any matter regarding the client.

    · Leigh Greden has made clear from the day he joined his law firm that his firm represents the Broadway Village developers in some matters, and thus he has not voted on any Broadway Village matters, or participated in Council meetings or deliberations regarding the project.

    · Janis Bobrin, the County Drain Commissioner, told the Ann Arbor News that Leigh’s meeting with her and the Broadway Village developers was absolutely appropriate and routine. It’s important to note that Janis is an elected County official, not a City official, and thus it’s absurd for anyone to imply that a City Councilmember could exert influence on her. In other words, there is nothing unethical about the meeting with Janis Bobrin, and it’s absurd to imply otherwise.

    · The e-mail also chastises Leigh for receiving money from some individuals who have also given money to Republicans. The truth is that Rebekah Warren also takes money from Republicans – a lot of it. In fact, her kickoff fundraiser was held by a man who has donated thousands of dollars to conservative Republicans. But, Rebekah never filed a campaign finance statement disclosing her Republican fundraiser, as required by law. An individual who discovered this discrepancy has filed a complaint with the Secretary of State against her campaign. So, both candidates take money from Republicans; the difference is that Leigh followed the law by disclosing his contributions.

    I have been involved in local politics for many years. It has been disturbing to see such a disingenuous, negative campaign filled with lies and misinformation. This has the effect of being extremely divisive within a party that really needs to bring people together, and should stand for that principle. I hope that voters will carefully examine the records of the candidates rather than listening to rumors and innuendo.

    Thanks for listening.

    -Margie Teall, City Council and, for the sake of full disclosure, Campaign Manager: Leigh Greden for State Rep.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 8 '06 - 09:38AM    #
  62. The polls are now open. Be sure to VOTE TODAY!

       —David Cahill    Aug. 8 '06 - 04:00PM    #
  63. I would like to say that I fully agree with Margie Teall. Leigh has been open and honest throughout the entirety of his campaign. He has served Ann Arbor on City Council with dignity and respect.

    Now as he is looking forward in his political career, and ready to take the next step toward representing Ann Arbor residents, his name has been dragged through the mud. His opponents have misled voters, misrepresented his record, and have attacked the very principles that we should all be proud of.

    As Democrats we should support clean and issue-based primaries. In a time of Republican control, we should be uniting behind common goals and real platforms. Petty smear campaigns only serve to hurt the party and the potential candidates that we will be supporting in November. If Democrats are willing to trash one another for their own political gains, we will be a minority party for a long time, because every time we sling mud, every time we attack one another, we are helping Republican challengers gain ground, we are weakening our own candidates, and we are dividing our base.

    Leigh’s record speaks for itself. His campaign has focused on platform rather than politics. He is exactly the type of Democrat that we need more of. Going negative in a Democratic Primary will NEVER help our party.

    I support Leigh Greden for State Representative, because he has had enough respect for the voters of Ann Arbor to focus on the issues that matter!

    Please, remember to vote.

       —Travis Radina    Aug. 8 '06 - 04:04PM    #
  64. That Stephen Ranzini and Rebekah Warren article is what I posted a week ago. NO-One who supports Rebekah has answered as to how they feel about it. They are ducking the issue and turning around and bad-mouthing Leigh Greden. Why don’t some of Rebekah supporter’s address this issue.

       —Eric    Aug. 8 '06 - 04:27PM    #
  65. After Sabra and I voted, at 8:25 this morning, at Precinct 1-6 (Northside School), there had been nine votes cast. That is about 1.4 hours of voting.

    The polls opened at 7:00 a.m. and close at 8:00 p.m., so there are 13 polling hours. Voting in AA is steady throughout the day, without any morning or evening surges.

    Therefore, if present trends continue, there will be about (9/1.4) x 13 = 84 votes cast in our precinct today.

    This is extremely low turnout, even for a primary.

    So every vote counts.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 8 '06 - 04:51PM    #
  66. You are right David that is a very low turnout. I bet more people will vote and your precinct will get atleast 100.

       —Eric    Aug. 8 '06 - 05:11PM    #
  67. Cowherd is really blowing some smoke here. Most of Hieftje’s campaign money comes from environmentalists. Check out his finance report.

    Just about every other enviromental leader in the city/state is backing Hiefjte. Mike Garfield, Director of the Ecology Center is quoted in his Lit., he is also backing Easthope and working on his campaign. Lana Pollack, former State Senator and President of the Michigan Environmental Council, the major enviromental lobby in this state, is quoted in Hieftje’s lit.

    I got an invitation a while back to an “Environmentalists for Hieftje” fund raiser. Garfield and Pollack were hosting the event along with the Directors of the Huron River Watershed Council, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters and the Great Lakes Office of the National Wildlife Federation. Last week, Gwen Nysteun, local Sierra Club luminary, wrote a letter to the paper supporting Hieftje.

    Why doesn’t Cowherd just come out and say he hates any building anywhere, admit he will never forgive the council for not putting him on the greenbelt commission and be done with it.

       —Dustin    Aug. 8 '06 - 05:21PM    #
  68. Hey gang,

    I wish I had time to engage earlier on these things, but I’m not a very good blogger, tending toward verbosity. As you know, I like to provide LOTS of information, rather than delving into rhetoric. That said, I’d like to clear up a few things.

    First let me address the campaign finance issue.

    1)Rebekah has always reported every single contribution ever donated to her campaign. If it were otherwise, the Secretary of State would have issued an Error and Omissions letter, which they have not.

    2)The “missing” campaign finance statement that so irks Ms. Teall and Mr. Boyle, in fact was filed at the appropriate time in the manner prescribed by the Secretary of State. You can access all of Rebekah’s finance records at

    The “missing” form does not, as Ms. Teall suggests, disclose contributions. Rather, it provides exactly this information: date, attendance, type of activity, address, whether that is a private residence (for privacy purposes), total contributions less than $20 each, total contributions greater than $20 each, a subtotal, other receipts (such as in-kind contributions), gross receipts, and total cost of the event.

    Every contributor at the event is individually reported as a donor on separate forms. As Mr. Greden’s campaign manager, I’m sure Ms. Teall is aware of all of these facts.

    Rebekah reported all of this information as part of her annual filing for 2005, submitted this January 2006.

    Ms. Teall and Mr. Boyle raise the point that Stephen Ranzini’s pre-party, which preceded the kick off at Arbor Brewing Company was not listed in the report. The two venues were part and parcel of the same event, as noted in the email so kindly provided by Mr. Boyle above. The Secretary of State requires that state-level candidates use their electronic filing system to report events. That system allows only a single address to be reported. Since attendance at ABC was significantly larger than attendance at Mr. Ranzini’s home, we listed the brewpub address.

    I recognize that this is a lapse in the campaign finance reporting system previously unidentified, and I will communicate that problem to our county clerk and the Secretary of State.

    To clarify, there is no violation of state law here. Every contributor to Rebekah’s campaign has been reported and recorded by the state and is a part of the public record. This event was reported months ago, publicized almost a year ago, celebrated on plenty of electronic venues where it was obviously captured. There was no intent to deceive anyone, and complaints to the contrary are spurious.

    3)Regarding the partisan identity of Rebekah’s contributors, I urge you peruse the list of them at the Secretary of State’s website. There may be a Republican or independent among them, but the vast majority will be identifiable unabashed liberals. I will note that there is at least one, likely more, contribution from a pro-choice Republican who values Rebekah leadership on that issue. One of the great things that the State system allows is searches by contribution date (,1607,7-127-1633_8723_8751—-,00.html). If you are concerned that the Ranzini pre-party was a “Republican fundraiser” as Ms. Teall suggests, I encourage you to search for contributions on that date. Briefly, of the $4,900 raised, you’ll find that $1,600 right off the top came from elected Democrats (from precinct delegate to state representative). The balance is mostly from folk who regularly contribute to Democrats.

    4)On a personal note, I don’t actually know that Stephen Ranzini, a friend with whom I’ve enjoyed a very competitive game of Risk, is a Republican. I’ve never asked him; he’s never told! He is certainly a banker and a savvy lobbyist who has contributed significantly to elected officials on both sides of the aisle – particularly to members of Congress making decisions about banking issues, as far as I can tell. I will note a few things about Stephen: 1) he fought Right to Life to keep a pro-choice voice on his bank board; 2) he is actively recruiting an LGBT board member; 3) his VP is an African American; and 4) he crafted an innovative rent-to-own program that facilitates Muslims purchasing houses because, in accordance with their religious tradition, they may not take out loans
    He might be a Republican but he has a very strong civil rights ethic, which matters a great deal to both Rebekah and me.

    Last, I’d like to clarify the claims about Rebekah’s campaign engaging in “disingenuous, negative” tactics. Neither Rebekah, her staff, nor her core volunteers have advanced this important community discussion about Lowertown. In fact, when approached by the petitioners opposing the bond issue, Rebekah deliberately excluded herself and her campaign from the debate. The discussion here on Arbor Update will evidence that the whole thing was not connected to the state Representative campaign until it was covered by a Political Notebook column in the Ann Arbor News (

    The most interesting thing to me here is that this might not have been a campaign issue at all had not Mr. Greden’s campaign – presumably led by his treasurer Leah Gunn – chosen to attack Rebekah’s endorsement by the organization she has led with distinction for the last six years. Their campaign, disturbed that the MARAL Pro-Choice Michigan candidate list did not include Mr. Greden, initiated a letter writing offensive to the MARAL board and pressured Art Aisner for a story in the paper, claiming that Rebekah had in some way inappropriately influenced the endorsement process. In brief response to that, Rebekah was completely segregated from the process this year and it is common practice for MARAL to endorse one pro-choice candidate over another – in fact that happened in other races this year, such as the 2nd Senate seat where they endorsed one official with a 100% pro-choice record over another. The issue is leadership. It should come as no surprise that their PAC board also figured that Rebekah would be stronger leader on their behalf. Incidentally, every pro-choice organization involved in this race has supported Rebekah.

    When Mr. Aisner decided to cover this issue, he was clear that the reporting would be balanced – that in investigating Rebekah, he would also investigate Mr. Greden. Because the Lowertown issue was itself so contentious, there is an active citizen group studying the process of decision-making around that development. And they’re upset. In my opinion, rightly. After conversations with some of them, most notably Tom Weider (who was quoted in the article), it was Mr. Aisner who broke the story about Mr. Greden’s involvement in meetings between city and county staff (please note that city staff attended the meeting that Ms. Teall suggest was only with Janis Bobrin) around the development. You’ll see in that column that Mr. Greden was quick to insinuate that something sinister was afoot, while Rebekah respectfully declined to comment on the Lowertown issue.

    Since then, yes, many people have raised many questions about Mr. Greden’s involvement – from how he was engaged in decision-making to where his funding for this campaign is coming from. Rebekah, her staff and her campaign are not among them. Are the people raising these questions supporters of Rebekah? Lord, I hope so. I want you all to support her! It makes intuitive sense, however, that if they have a distaste for Mr. Greden over this very local and very personal issue, that they would in turn support Rebekah in whatever way they choose.

    For those of you involved in campaigns and elections, if you have discovered a way to control all of your independent supporters and hold them on message, let’s talk publication rights, because you are sure to make a mint selling that book!

    In short, if Mr. Greden’s campaign had not launched their unwarranted attack on Rebekah over the MARAL endorsement, it is possible that this whole thing would have stayed under the table. I personally think we should be glad, however, that the facts are out there and that the debate is underway. The News and the citizens have raised serious issues for voters to evaluate. While Mr. Greden broke no laws, apparently, the community’s ethical standard may have indeed been violated. Perhaps not. I hope you will each give the question some fair and balanced consideration.

    Then, I hope you will take a close look at who is negatively campaigning against whom. Whose campaign staff is posting inflammatory critiques on the blogs? Whose campaign purchased an ad focused on negative criticism of their opponent?

    In summation: stones, glass houses.

       —Conan Smith    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:31PM    #
  69. My precinct had 140 voters at 10 am.

       —Dale    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:33PM    #
  70. Putting aside politics for the moment, if anyone who knows about the rent-to-own thing Ranzini set up, could you explain why a land contract would not be sufficient in this case? With a mortgage, the resident/borrower takes title to the asset from the first and makes payments on the money borrowed. With a land contract, the developer or lender retains title of the asset while the resident makes payments, eventually taking title of the asset. This seems to me (at a basic level) exactly what was necessary. What was the complicating factor that made a land contract not applicable?

       —Dale    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:42PM    #
  71. Oh, in interest of full disclosure, particularly for Dave Boyle, I’m Rebekah’s fiancee. She and I live together. We’ve been together nine years. We got engaged in a delightfully public and web-available way. I’m a Washtenaw County Commissioner. I’m the son of Alma Wheeler Smith, grandson of Al and Emma Wheeler. I like cheese fries. And no one helped me write this.

    Dave, are you that guy who hangs out on the computers in the basement of the Union?

       —Conan Smith    Aug. 8 '06 - 06:44PM    #
  72. Conan Smith wrote: “Stephen Ranzini, a friend with whom I’ve enjoyed a very competitive game of Risk, ...”

    You serve up this morsel and fail to disclose who actually won the game??!! Glaring omission!! Jeezus, Conan, two screens worth of information (serious aside: nice to see a another post from someone on County Commission) and you can’t find the space to spell out for us how you whipped Ranzini’s butt at RISK? Or maybe, IT WAS THE OTHER WAY AROUND?!

       —HD    Aug. 8 '06 - 07:13PM    #
  73. Maybe he’ll have to get on the totter…

       —Dale    Aug. 8 '06 - 07:15PM    #
  74. David Boyle = that guy in the basement of the Union, yep.

       —Brandon    Aug. 8 '06 - 07:41PM    #
  75. If the financial disclosure process needs to be improved (“lapse in the campaign finance reporting system”), good that you mentioned that, Mr. Smith.

    Also good that you mention your relationship with Warren, so we better know how the local power structure works…

    I don’t know about the timing of the MARAL thing, but your fiancee’s campaign has been so relentlessly negative on so many things: the insulting remarks towards Greden (at least by implication) by supporters; the planned “couch-in”; etc., that she is in little position to complain about any negative remarks by others. Stones, glass houses, etc. (And don’t get me started on her donation from a Lansing lobbyist PAC , Travis Radina’s comments above, etc.)

    And last but not least: Brandon’s poor manners and judgment aside, what is your interest, Conan, in finding my physical location? Are you and some friends going to “pay me (and maybe Margie Teall, if you find her address??) a little personal visit”? (The ultimate form of “negative campaigining”...) You’re lucky if I don’t file a formal complaint about your disgraceful (and as per your first name, barbaric) behavior here, “”“Commissioner”“”. Your poor manners, bordering on open thuggery and utterly unacceptable for a public official who enjoys his privileges on my taxpayer money, are not unexpected; but they are not acceptable even so.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 08:53PM    #
  76. David B.: “Are you and some friends going to “pay me (and maybe Margie Teall, if you find her address??) a little personal visit”? (The ultimate form of “negative campaigining”...) You’re lucky if I don’t file a formal complaint about your disgraceful (and as per your first name, barbaric) behavior here….”

    Please tell us that you’re kidding around, Dave.

       —todd    Aug. 8 '06 - 09:03PM    #
  77. This was the year of creating your own little PAC so you could endorse yourself and/or your friends and more importantly so you could use the PAC to do the dirty work. Conan and friends created the WARD 5 PRECINCT 4 ORGANIZING COMMITTEE so they could make it sound like a 3rd party when they endorsed Mr. Smith and Ms. Warren and others.

    POW, created by Mr. Collenback and Mr. DeVarti did the same but took on an even heavier load of negative spin. Schmerl worked with both and with Mr. Cowherds help, did a lot of negative stuff on her own. It all shows how far these folks are willing to go and how little they really value, the values they talk about in their official campaigns.

       —Dustin    Aug. 8 '06 - 09:10PM    #
  78. Holy cow, Boyle. Like you, I definitely read a threatening tone the question Conan asked.

    What is your paranoia? He obviously must have seen you around before and wanted to know you were the guy he thought you were. Have you ever met Conan Smith? He is about the least intimidating person I have ever met. Jeez.

       —Brandon    Aug. 8 '06 - 09:47PM    #
  79. “Please tell us that you’re kidding around, Dave.”

    Come on, Todd. You haven’t noticed yet that Boyle has no sense of humor? I mean, he thinks he does, but he doesn’t. I think he may have Asperger’s.

    From Wikipedia: “People with Asperger’s Syndrom lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction, and may lack the ability to communicate their own emotional state, resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend, or finding it hard to know what is “acceptable”. The unwritten rules of social behavior that mystify so many with AS have been termed the “hidden curriculum”. People with AS must learn these social skills intellectually rather than intuitively.”

    So learn, already, Boyle.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 8 '06 - 10:42PM    #
  80. Conan, give me a break. Your post about Rebekah’s alleged violations confirmed that the events were separate events. They were at separate locations. They were held at separate times. One event (Ranzini) cost money; the other event (ABC) was free.

    Your fiance listed the FREE event as the fundraiser. In fact, if you raised money at BOTH events, you should have listed BOTH events separately… and the campaign finance system WOULD allow you to do that because they occurred at SEPARATE addresses. In fact, the law requires it because they are separate addresses with separate terms for admission. That’s the law. If the ABC event did not raise ANY money, then you should not have listed it at all.

    Even if your interpretation of the law were accurate (which it is not), and you could only list one event because of that pesky computer software, why did you choose to list ABC—which was free—and NOT Ranzini—which cost money? Perhaps because Ranzini has given a lot of money to Republicans and is very controversial.

    You spent all that time crafting a detailed (and, frankly, embarrassing) response on this blog when you should have simply said, “we screwed up.” It appears that, in reality, you started this silly debate when you attacked Greden for taking Republican money… and then you got caught doing the same thing. I think it’s you who was throwing stones from your glass house…

    Dustin raises some excellent points too about that silly 5-4 group… but that’s for another day.

       —Campaign finance expert    Aug. 8 '06 - 11:03PM    #
  81. “Come on, Todd. You haven’t noticed yet that Boyle has no sense of humor? I mean, he thinks he does, but he doesn’t. I think he may have Asperger’s.

    “From Wikipedia: ‘People with Asperger’s Syndrom[e] lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction, and may lack the ability to communicate their own emotional state, resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend, or finding it hard to know what is ‘acceptable.’ The unwritten rules of social behavior that mystify so many with AS have been termed the ‘hidden curriculum.’ People with AS must learn these social skills intellectually rather than intuitively.’”

    So learn, already, Boyle.

    —Parking Structure Dude! Aug 8, 02:42 PM

    PSD: The same definition easily covers Blaine who as usual has hijacked yet another discussion with his favorite—and only—obsession (after all, isn’t that what obsession is all about?). Oh, sorry, his syndrome is something else: sociopathological obsessive disorder. But really, many of the symptoms you cite for AS fit his case, too. Only I don’t think he’s ever going to learn how to behave rationally in normal social interaction. I wonder if he’s ranting on every thread in Arbor Update and every other discussion group in the blogosphere. Wouldn’t put it past him by any means.

       —Mike    Aug. 8 '06 - 11:12PM    #
  82. Oh, for cryin’ out loud, it sounds like you’ve never been involved in a political campaign.

    Campaign kickoff events are usually billed as “free”, but the whole point of holding the event is to raise money. There’s a basket for checks, and the hope is that plenty of checks land there.

    It is also typical, especially where there are celebrity guests, to hold a private reception just before the big-crowd event, and call it part of the same thing. Buying in to the reception covers you for the main event. The county Democratic Party did this exact same thing at their annual dinner a few weeks ago. Reception over, the doors open up, and it’s one event.

    In this case, the reception was about 300 feet away from the main event, instead of in the next room. But calling it one event is hardly unreasonable. Nor do I see any attempt to keep it secret. Indeed, that would be the opposite of what any campaign is trying to do.

    I’m pretty disgusted by the baseless charges against Leigh and Rebekah, both of whom are friends of mine. Both sets of spurious accusations came from outsiders to the campaigns, but it bothers me that spokespeople for both candidates have spoken of the charges as if they were genuine issues.

    It’s late in the game, but clear disavowals would be a lot better.

    Are y’all coming to the unity breakfast on Saturday?

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 8 '06 - 11:23PM    #
  83. I mentioned to someone recently about Smith’s asking me about my location, and, unbidden, I believe, she said something like, “That’s crazy!” about his asking. People upthread notwithstanding, there is no reason, even in jest, for someone closely associated with the Warren campaign (and an elected official to boot) to inquire about where I am found. After all, a common motif in films and such is for “nosy journalists” or whoever to be asked by unsavory people, “Hey pal, where do you live?”, etc. I don’t find it amusing at all in real life to have my physical location inquired about under the present circumstances.

    I don’t mind Larry’s reminder about “party unity”, but there is some mess to clear up first, too. (Not to mention people’s new questions or assertions about the Warren campaign above, since my last comment…)

       —David Boyle    Aug. 8 '06 - 11:43PM    #
  84. Margie Teall asked me to post this. (ever the messenger, never the message…)

    From: Margie Teall

    Hi Ed: Would you mind posting this for me in the same thread where the last one went? Thanks.

    First of all, what I wrote yesterday was a response to the POW campaign against Leigh, not a response to Rebekah’s campaign itself, although she and Sonia have not distanced themselves from POW or from Doug Cowherd. So the “negative, disingenuous” aspect is directed not at Rebekah, but at POW, whose efforts I see as extremely divisive.

    Second, the MARAL flap is not over endorsements. Leigh fully expected that MARAL, and every other pro-choice organization would, in fact, endorse Rebekah. She deserves that, no question. The issue is the “Primary Voter Guide of 2006 Pro-Choice Candidates”. This is a list of pro-choice candidates, not endorsements, for the entire state. In many races there are more than one candidate listed as being pro-choice. For instance, in the 4th House District there are four candidates listed, both men and women. In the 9th House District there are three listed, both men and women. In some, there are Republicans listed. The fact is, Leigh Greden is as pro-choice as anyone, and was left off of the list (which was also being distributed at Art Fair). After this was published, we began getting phone calls from other supporters who are pro-choice, asking if Leigh was not pro-choice, as the list seems to indicate. We had to assure them that indeed he is, and we sent them some of the following information from his MARAL questionnaire, including the 100% positive pro-choice answers to their questions:

    Leigh Greden is pro-choice. He is a member of NARAL Pro-Choice America. As our State Representative, Greden will be a strong voice for reproductive rights and progressive policies to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies:

    Greden will oppose any legislation that restricts a woman’s right to choose. For example, Greden opposed HB 4446 to require women to receive an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abortion. Greden will work to expand family planning options for men and women of all ages. This includes funding for preventable health care services that will increase access to health care and help promote healthy families. Greden supports contraceptive equity legislation to ensure that women and men receive health insurance coverage to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    “I grew up in Ann Arbor, and when I was young, my mother worked for Planned Parenthood here in town. In my family, a woman’s right to choose is a fundamental family value.”

    Perhaps this will clear up some of the confusion involving what happened with MARAL.

    Thanks. -Margie

       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 9 '06 - 12:06AM    #
  85. David Boyle: ” I don’t find it amusing at all in real life to have my physical location inquired about under the present circumstances.”

    Dave, I’ll tell you what: if Conan Smith tries to hurt you, I promise that I’ll storm over to his house, (all 30-feet-tall of me) smash up his house but good, and throw any pets that he has into the next County. Except his dogs. I like dogs.

    How’s that?

    (Note to Conan: I’m not really 30 ft. tall. I just thought that you should know that.)

       —todd    Aug. 9 '06 - 12:18AM    #
  86. While you are a humorous guy, I think that the situation in question is not really conducive to humor.

       —David Boyle    Aug. 9 '06 - 12:48AM    #
  87. David…

    1. If the situation “isn’t conducive to humor” (and I disagree) then I wouldn’t make silly jokes regarding Mr. Smith’s first name; I OVERWHELMINGLY suspect his query as to your physical location was not intended with any homicidal intent.

    2. I think it would be a little odd for Ms. Warren to suddenly transform into a Republican cheerleader on election (assuming this is the source of the outrage over her campaign contributions) after she’s helped to lead an organization which so publicly stands against one of the GOP’s main planks…

    Happy primary day, folks!!

       —Lazaro    Aug. 9 '06 - 01:14AM    #
  88. This sure is odd, waiting until election day to unload all of this wackiness. Why didn’t you guys get this out of your system earlier. I guess everyone figures they have until 8 PM to get it out because no one will care tomororw.

    Boyle – if you’re going to place your public rantings online with your name, you’re going to need to quit being so paranoid.

       —John Q.    Aug. 9 '06 - 01:17AM    #
  89. Where’s the humor in someone with apparently intense ill-feeling towards me, asking my physical location? And someone who’s an officeholder who’s part of a powerful local political family? I fail to see the humor (although castigating someone acting badly is acceptable here, I think, even using his first name) here.
    See also my new Arblogger post on the threatening guy in sunglasses who just accosted me verbally a little while ago.

    And of course no one’s a “Republican cheerleader”, but she shouldn’t call Leigh Greden one either, or even come close, e.g., complain overly about his funding, when her own may not be completely “pure” itself. ...Make sure to vote, polls close at 8. Go democracy.!

       —David Boyle    Aug. 9 '06 - 01:55AM    #
  90. Sorry for superfluous period after “democracy”; got posted before I could catch…

       —David Boyle    Aug. 9 '06 - 01:56AM    #
  91. David Boyle,

    My reading of Conan’s remark (right after he informed us he likes cheese fries and that he had written that post his very own self) was an allusion to what I thought was a common cultural touchstone (perhaps not, as no one else has noted it), namely “the basement of the science building”. So in non-literal terms, I took Conan to be asking mirthfully: “Are you that nerdy-guy who spends too much time in front of a computer screen and who maybe should go above ground more often?”

    Or if that wasn’t the intended allusion, I think what he was innocuously asking was if you were the guy he thought he’d seen before (as Brandon suggests). As in, Hey guy, I think we might’ve shared space in the same room before, so maybe you’ve seen me, too, huh, so next time how’s about you introduce yourself, or maybe if you tell me that’s you, I’ll introduce MYSELF, and maybe we could probably actually have a friendly conversation, huh?

    Otherwise put, try as I might, I am not able to wring out an understanding from his comment that has him alluding to (cue scary music) ‘where he could find you’, even as a joke.

       —HD    Aug. 9 '06 - 02:31AM    #
  92. Maybe. That is a cultural touchstone, like you say. But I’m not sure it’s as “innocuous” in this case as you seem to think. ...And I have the terrible suspicion that “The Commish” probably doesn’t find his way down to UM computer basements that often; therefore, I doubt he’s seen anyone much there, myself or anybody else. (I certainly don’t remember seeing him anywhere around UM, though I saw him at at least one off-campus political event…)

       —David Boyle    Aug. 9 '06 - 02:40AM    #
  93. As per my Arblogger post , some early returns show Hieftje, Suarez and others winning. (Not vouching for the accuracy of these, and results may have changed greatly; posted c. 9:09 p.m.) Looked like a tie, or close, in 3rd Ward.

       —Early returns (David Boyle)    Aug. 9 '06 - 05:13AM    #
  94. Boyle, I voted this morning for Greden, partially (very partially—the Cahill connection clinched it) because Smith used to hit on my girlfriend (insert paranoid fantasy—I thought he was slimy) back in our R.C. Players days, but you, buddy, are currently in meltdown. Have you, seriously, been checked for Asperger’s?

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 9 '06 - 05:23AM    #
  95. Glad to hear about your vote choice (ha ha about Cahill), but keep the asparagus syndrome to yourself…

    My updated results (complete with photo of Dem pols at Pizza House) show Suarez pulled away handily, and Kunselman won 3rd Ward. (Again, results not guaranteed)
       —More returns (David Boyle)    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:38AM    #
  96. PSD, who was your girlfriend? Is she still around?

    David, apologize for my insensitive inside joke. I don’t really care where you are or have been. I promise to keep at least 100 feet away from you whenever possible, although mostly just to protect my historic family home from todd.

    HD, I was obliterated in that game of Risk. Although I played with verve, I think I’m too soft for that game. I feel bad for the little soldiers.

    Dale, I don’t know the answer to your question about the difference between University Bank’s program and a land contract. I’ll touch base with Stephen and ask him to post a description.

    Dustin, in retrospect, the PAC thing is a very interesting shift in Ann Arbor politics. Your initial analysis is way off, but your concern is valid. P54 was created not by me or Rebekah, but by some of our neighbors in response to the lack of aggressive Democratic organizing after the ‘04 elections. She and I have been active participants, listening carefully to our neighbors and sharing our own insights. It think local precinct committees should run rampant and get involved in primaries. One of the intents of P54 is to help draw the party to the futher Left by supporting candidates who evince that kind of liberalism. I was glad for their endorsement and the gracious support of the neighborhood, which I’m sure Rebekah would echo. I’m not so sure the group was all that influential though. Only 2 of their 4 endorsed candidates won, and each of the victors by very wide margins.

    POW started more than a year ago as well, following a similar theme. There’s abundant concern over Ann Arbor becoming a one-party town and the “Democrat” label becoming fairly meaningless. POW had a lot of influence in certain races where that drift to the right is felt more acutely (e.g. Rebekah’s and Ron Suarez’s). They stayed out of the Mayoral and few voters gave credence to claims that Easthope was turning into a right-winger. POW, I think, has the potential to be an essential critic of city politics from the perspective of the progressive left.

    As with all nascent political groups, they are each feeling their way toward doing their endorsement and electioneering in a sophisticated way. I expect that there will be more factual analysis in future election cycles from each of them.


       —Conan Smith    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:03PM    #
  97. I won’t be attending the unity breakfast (not a Dem), but I hope, Larry, that you’ll use the opportunity to talk up IRV among your fellow party members. If this Democratic party primary isn’t the poster child for IRV, I don’t know what is. (OK, maybe the 2000 presidential, or the 2004 presidential, or … Well, how many elections have there been since the year Al Wheeler was elected using IRV?)

    Divisive rhetoric, rancorous debate (among the voters, yet!), and, ultimately, low turnout. Do we want our democracy to be most influenced by those who have no reservations about ‘going negative’? They may not control it, but it’s getting closer to that being the case, even here at the local level.

    Rebekah, Conan, John H., Ron, Stephen, and Chris—in victory will you support IRV so that voters like myself won’t have to hold our nose while we cast our ballot? (Now don’t make me reference all that “leadership” verbiage in your campaign materials.) Don’t want to have to raise (and spend?) $20K to keep a council seat, Chris? Guess what?

    Jeff I., Joan, Margie and other unopposed incumbents—in victory will you support democracy above your own re-election chances by supporting IRV and the likelihood that more candidates will run and more issues will be addressed?

    Leigh, Steven, Wendy, John R., Alice, Jeff M., Sonia, and Richard—in defeat will you support IRV so that those who offer a different perspective, and perhaps have less affluent supporters, have a better opportunity to be elected and represent a more diverse constituency?

    Democrats in general—will you risk losing complete control over local politics for the benefit of all citizens and the possible revelation that your party may not represent all of us as well as you might think?

    Republicans, independents, and “minor” party members—will you support IRV to increase citizen interest in government and increase the potential for a more representative government body in city hall, the county building, and our state capital?

    IRV isn’t just about avoiding spoilers, it’s about improving the quality of the campaigns, increasing voter awareness and involvement, and getting qualified candidates to run without the fear of irrelevant personal attacks on their character, among other things. It’s about replacing politics with democracy and building, rather than fracturing, community.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:11PM    #
  98. Has POW! done anything to establish “progressive” credibility? Or are they just calling themselves “progressive”. Yes, I know. Just slinging the label around is plenty for some people, but, Conan Smith, I would expect you can explain what exactly POW’s “progressive” stance means, and how exactly they’re stemming a “lean to the right” in Ann Arbor.

    After all, I have enough respect for you that I believe, if you’re taking POW seriously, you must know something about them that I don’t – as the material I’ve seen from them so far gives absolutely no evidence that they’re any further left than Leiberman – and you’re not just supporting them in a mutual backscratching after they endorsed Rebekah. Right?

       —TPM    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:12PM    #
  99. Conan: Thanks for responding. Not many thought you were going to work

    POW and 5/4 share some of the same members. They are active on the left and POW’s whole focus seems to be trying to influence voters against the council. The funny part is the mayor and most of council are on the left as well. The only explantion I can come up with is that POW and 5/4 would like to be the folks on the left calling the shots rather than the people on council now.

    I was disturbed at the tone taken by POW. It was overly harsh and negative.
       —Dustin    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:17PM    #
  100. Sorry left something out. 108 should read: not many thought you were going to work “David over”...

       —Dustin    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:21PM    #
  101. Indeed. “Progressives of Washtenaw” appeared to be just a smokescreen for such questionably “progressive” folks as Doug Cowherd, David Cahill, the “full scale Greenway” crowd, and others who aren’t getting their way in the current Council. Seems like an attempt to mislead those who fancy themselves part of the Left into voting against urbanism, density, and Smart Growth, linking such things with the interests of “greedy developers.”

       —Brandon    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:24PM    #
  102. POW ENDORSED A REPUBLICAN? I heard last night that Schmerl worked for Glenn Ziegler, who ran against Easthope back in 2000. Ziegler ran against the homeless shelter while Easthope supported it in a very tight race. Schmerl had a campaign sign in the yard of Ellmann and Assoc. Attorney next door to the Delonis Shelter on Huron. Ellmann spent $15,000? trying to defeat the shelter in court and has really never given up. So POW endorsed a candidate that worked against the shelter, the most “progressive” accomplishment in this town in the last 20 years. This was much more about POW wanting to be in power than it was about anything progressive.

       —Dustin    Aug. 9 '06 - 06:34PM    #
  103. Brandon—here’s a few comments based on some rather indirect, anecdotal experience: POW is not a front/smokescreen for Cowherd & the full-greenway crowd, although there is a degree overlap among these activists. I’ll hazard to guess that the POW members who are not full-greenway supporters feel politically too weak at this time to adequately separate the group’s public identity from the full-greenway proponents. They may not feel POW could easily survive the divisiveness that could result. As a result, I think they have created a serious public relations problem for themselves, which (based on conversations and Arbor Update comments) I’m not convinced they fully appreciate or understand. Those of us who see a strong dose of Republican/subdivision-style thinking among key full-greenway activists are baffled and dismayed to see them linked in POW materials to “progressive” and left-of-center traditions.

    Steve – your statements above on IRV thoroughly deserve support.

    I don’t belong to any party – but I’ll cry if I want to.

       —hale    Aug. 9 '06 - 07:09PM    #
  104. Thanks for your note about IRV, Steve.

    Ann Arbor’s Ward 3 in particular seems to me a perfect example of how IRV would have enriched the process. All three candidates had some different things to say about where they wanted Ann Arbor to go, and some similar things. I would have loved to been able to rank them when I voted. I’d venture some of the supporters of either Ralph or Kunselman voted for them in opposition to the other, which left the 3rd candidate, Jeff Meyers, kind of hanging in the middle. Probably explains why there often isn’t a 3rd candidate running!

    With IRV, I’m positive we’d end up with candidates that had more community support, as well as MORE candidates, which would be great.

    Come to think of it, this would have been great in Ypsilanti’s Mayor elections as well…

       —Lisa    Aug. 9 '06 - 09:18PM    #
  105. There has been a lot of support for IRV here on AU, but didn’t Ann Arbor voters toss IRV a while back?

       —tom    Aug. 9 '06 - 09:30PM    #
  106. The “Progressives of Washtenaw” will surely endorse IRV, right?

    Oh, wait, I forgot. They aren’t actually progressive.

       —Brandon    Aug. 9 '06 - 09:43PM    #
  107. In the 1970s, Ann Arbor had three parties with significant support, the Republicans, the Democrats, and the Human Rights Party. The Dems and HRP together usually had a majority of the votes, but the Republicans usually won.

    So IRV (for mayor in the general election only) was instituted with clear political goals: to elect a Democratic mayor. The HRP voters could vote for their candidate with the Democrat as a fallback second choice, so that when the HRP candidate was eliminated, the Democrat would get those votes. And it worked to elect Al Wheeler as mayor.

    Naturally, Republicans, who had dominated the town politically for decades (in 1961 the mayor and city council were 100% Republican), didn’t like this system. The city clerk didn’t like IRV, and portrayed it as a complete mess. So Republicans got a petition drive together to amend IRV out of the charter, and their amendment was adopted.

    At the same time, the HRP was dying out, so perhaps IRV was seen as no longer necessary from a political standpoint.

    If the 1970s amendment were brought back, and the mayor’s race was conducted using IRV among partisan nominees, that would make zero difference. No matter how you count the votes, the Democrat still wins.

    I like IRV in principle, but I don’t want to oversell it. Many people assume that structural changes would make an enormous difference in politics, bringing about more candidates and better choices. But no matter how the election is organized, the same activists and the same factions and the same interest groups are all still contending for the same goals. Voters will still find plenty of reason for disappointment and cynicism. You can’t change that with mere structure.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 9 '06 - 10:00PM    #
  108. Larry, you are a walking encyclopedia of local politics. Thanks.

       —tom    Aug. 9 '06 - 10:29PM    #
  109. “Larry, you are a walking encyclopedia of local politics. Thanks.”

    I agree 100%. He has an amazing mind.

    Hat’s off to you, Larry.

       —todd    Aug. 10 '06 - 12:51AM    #
  110. “PSD, who was your girlfriend? Is she still around?”

    Ah, Conan, I’m afraid she’s moved away to Texas, is married, and has two, maybe three kids. We’re both out of luck there.

    And I doubt you’d remember her, or me. We were Freshmen, and it’s all a bit fuzzy now, and I’m not even sure about the R.C. Players aspect, just that East Quad was involved. Probably I was just insecure then, but old resentments die hard I guess. Even really petty ones. I really shouldn’t have made that post.

    Mrs. Structure-Dude assured me that I was being silly, and she voted for Rebekah and you both. Next time, in all likelihood, I will too.

    Take care, and congratulations on your election. If I spot you at ABC I’ll buy you a beer. No hard feelings I hope.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 10 '06 - 06:19AM    #
  111. “You can’t change that with mere structure.”

    Sure you can. Change is change, not necessarily complete reversal or replacement. Democrats—prime proponents of incremental change—would understand that, I would think. Greens—proponents of future focus—may have a clearer perspective on it, but it’s not difficult to imagine the positive effects if one gives it some thought. (Or folks could just consider what I wrote, which spelled it out pretty well, I thought.)

    I wouldn’t want you to oversell IRV either, Larry. But please keep it on the shelf at eye level if not in a prominent display.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 10 '06 - 07:20AM    #
  112. In regard to POW and their endorsed candidates,with the exception of R.Warren,none of the candidates used union printers for their literature or their signs. How “progressive” is that? Way to support the working person POW! Where was/is their little ‘newsletter’ printed? At the same place The Current is printed? Is that a Union shop?

       —Union Supporter    Aug. 10 '06 - 03:15PM    #
  113. Good observation. I just checked the Hieftje and Easthope literature in the recycling bin, both have the union label. Schmerl’s does not. Does anyone have Suarez and Roberts literature to check?

       —Dustin    Aug. 10 '06 - 04:25PM    #
  114. “In regard to POW and their endorsed candidates,with the exception of R.Warren,none of the candidates used union printers for their literature or their signs.”

    That’s because POW is not a ‘progressive’ organization. It should stand for Partisans of Washtenaw!

    POW is a group of people that have recognized (quite correctly) that the small clique of vocal conservatives that currently dominates the Republican Party is willing to do anything to get and maintain (often personal) power. Their rationale being- “the end justifies the means.”

    The knee-jerk response chosen by POW is to adopt the same tactics. And, for some period they will think they are successful. Perhaps they already do. This is an understandable response. After all, who likes getting beaten up on all the time?

    However, in the long run we all lose. Smear campaigns and ‘swift boating’, the favorite tactics of groups like the neocons and POW, provide the public with the perception that politicians are slimy and selfish. Participation wanes and apathy waxes. We can already see the cracks forming in the national Republican Party. Do we, as Democrats, really want to adopt this model?

    This is not to say that we shouldn’t ‘play hardball’. True liberals like Soapy Williams and Neil Staebler were as hard-nosed as politicians come and widely feared by their opponents. But, they were as principled about their politics as they were about their issues. They recognized that the process is sacred, participation is key, and politics is not personal!

    I believe these are the lessons we should be focusing on as we ponder the future of our Party. Groups like POW, however well-intentioned, do little but damage the fabric of our Party and our society.

       —DCED    Aug. 10 '06 - 06:40PM    #
  115. DCED—
    I agree partly with what you’re saying. There’s an apparent schism in the local Democratic Party. But I don’t think pointing out factual differences should be called being “partisan” and neither should pointing out legitimate concerns in a thoughtful way. I’m not saying you think that, of course. I just wanted to throw that out there.

    How did this schism develop? Why did it? When did it? I think the root of the problem is one worth talking about. And I’d welcome anyone else who knows about this to chime in since I’m a relative newcomer, and this is a stab in the dark.

    As I see it, there are some involved in the upper levels of the local Democratic Party who did heroic work over the past couple decades organzing the Democratic Party. Because of their amazing efforts Ann Arbor has become a one party town. But somewhere something broke down. The mechanisms that were so useful in organizing and providing for information flow gradually faded away. People running for office in largely uncontested races or primaries merely had to have a D behind his/her name to get elected. Citizens get lazy. Officeholders can get lazy, too. Thus the participation you so rightly mention regarding Staebler and Williams doesn’t happen as much any more.

    With the rise of Howard Dean in 2004 you had lots of new blood entering the process. There were new ideas and new people—and lots of those folks were precinct delegates and participated in the county convention and state convention. These folks are energized and excited and are hungry for change. The people who spent lots of energy and many years organizing and are now possibly local elected officials are surprised by this new influx of energy/people/ideas since they’re used to being in control and perhaps even feel that the local party might owe them something.

    Problems ensue.

    I realize this is a gross simplification, but I’m trying to encapsulate what I get from people when I talk to them. I disliked how crazy this primary got. But I think it’s a sign that something along the line went wrong.

    I agree that extreme partisanship can be damaging. But we should ask ourselves why this partisanship has arisen. The partisanship, I think, is merely a symptom and not the disease itself. The disease itself is a lazy public and a lazy elected class that tend not to communicate anymore. And politics has turned personal. Why else would you have a local elected official turn her/his back to people she/he doesn’t agree with? If that’s not personal, I don’t know what is.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 11 '06 - 12:29AM    #
  116. YOWS, consider how many hours each week elected officials spend in meetings, receiving and replying to phone calls and emails, talking with constituents on the street, campaigning, etc. I don’t think the word “lazy” can possibly apply to any of these folks. Yes, some don’t put in as much time as others, and they tend to lose their seat, as John Roberts did.

    “Why else would you have a local elected official turn her/his back to people she/he doesn’t agree with?”

    Could you be more specific about what you’re referring to here?

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 11 '06 - 12:56AM    #
  117. YOW-

    Thank you for your thoughtful response. I agree that

    “pointing out factual differences should (not) be called being “partisan” and neither should pointing out legitimate concerns in a thoughtful way.”

    If facts and reasonable discourse were the tactics of groups like the neocons and POW, I would have no problems with them as political entities.

    For example, Joe Schwarz and I disagree about many issues (he’s no liberal!), however, the manner in which he pursues his agenda is thoughtful, logical, and respectful. I may disagree with him, but I respect him and feel that despite our differences, we would be better off with more politicians like him.

    POW and the neocons, on the other hand, deal in deceit and innuendo bordering on (or sometimes spilling over into) slander. They honestly believe they are doing good, of course. However, their tactics of personal attacks and libelous accusations are harmful to the very system they profess to defend.

    “politics has turned personal”

    Absolutely, but that doesn’t mean we need to stoop to that level. You and I learned in kindergarten that ‘everybody’s doing it’ isn’t a good reason to do anything.

    POW and the neocons can assault good Democrats all they want and I don’t think we should respond in kind. Don’t, however, think I’m playing the martyr. I have no intentions of turning the other cheek. There are ample ways to fight the good fight without resorting to lies and personal attacks. In the long run, no one (especially the voters) likes a group who uses underhanded tactics at every turn. POW and their ilk will have their 15 minutes and then be relegated to the scrapheap of history.

       —DCED    Aug. 11 '06 - 01:09AM    #
  118. At one of the meetings at the beginning of the 1st Ward selection process last year, I remember somebody asking, “How much time does a Councilmember usually spend on City business every week.” Bob Johnson’s response was, I believe, “Well, you can get by with only 20 hours a week or so.”

    Not what one could call “lazy” – though I imagine that, with everything else a Councilmember has to worry about, getting out and campaigning in a virtually uncontested race probably isn’t a priority. And, “tend not to communicate anymore”? What I’ve found most interesting about this particular primary is that some of the people being challenged on grounds of “transparency” are some of the Councilmembers I’ve always found most approachable – Hieftje and Easthope.

       —Murph    Aug. 11 '06 - 01:11AM    #
  119. [The screed below starts out more or less in reply to #121 and #123.]

    In the mind’s eye, I am at home scanning the recycling bin. I do recall having seen a “union bug” on POW’s newsprint material, mostly because it was probably located underneath the front page headline/masthead. (As someone who’s done work in the “print industry,” I tend to pay some amount of attention to details like this.) A generic Warren letter asking for campaign volunteers, which arrived this Monday(!), did have a bug logo indicating a union print shop (though the decorative color was of low print quality). Am less certain if the Greden, Suarez, and Roberts mailings had one – can’t specifically remember whether I looked for a bug on their items or not (but do remember the high-end, full-color print work – no small expense paid by those campaigns).

    As for POW campaigning too negatively, probably yes in a few primaries and no in some others. (And I made a few comments about POW & the greenway above in #112.) If on the other hand “divisive” turns out to mean “hotly contested,” then there’s certainly nothing wrong with highly competitive party primaries, especially in a one-party town. In that sense the main problem with POW is that they, along with the full-greenway crowd, appear to be the only notable alternatives to the the current group of Council Dems. To paraphrase an antiwar line from the 60s, there should be one, two, three, many ‘outsider’ currents within the party, each seeking to put a shared vision or set of values into practice. That would hold promise for a more active and vibrant local political culture than exists presently.

    Which almost segues into what I originally showed up to say. If the set of comments on IRV between #106 and #115, before Larry’s rejoinder, come across to readers as promoting an election cure-all, that is at least not my intent. IRV is instead a very useful piece in a much larger puzzle. It would help give more voice to multiple activist currents within the Dems, within other parties, and in partisan and non-partisan contests. Compared to what we have now, people would have more encouragement to vote for something or someone closer to their values without necessarily having to commit to “wasting” their vote.

    The larger puzzle includes everything from public financing, or other major election spending reforms, to greater ease of registration and better access to polls or absentee ballots. A far more significant shift than IRV would be to adopt a parliamentary model, along western European lines, for electing state and federal legislatures. It’s not a perfect system either (politicians still get involved), yet the Green Party or the Libertarians could automatically gain a few seats by rising above a 5% threshold in vote totals, giving 3rd parties more substantive meaning and allowing for coalitions. If the real possibility of a parliamentary-style restructuring should ever arise, the donkey and the elephant will unite as never before in an iron show of force to protect their historically arbitrary duopoly. We’ll get a full, Canadian-style universal health care system long before nationwide proportional voting.

       —hale    Aug. 11 '06 - 01:27AM    #
  120. YOWSider:
    I agree with Steve Bean, most council members put in long hours, they attend long committee and council meetings. They often have meetings before the meetings. Balancing a career and a family is hard enough, add in 20 or 30 hours of council work and see how you feel at the end of the week.

    You have in the past expressed the opinion that local elected officials are somehow out of touch. But, have you ever tried to reach them to discuss an issue? Whenever I have contacted the Mayor, he has always responded and you can nearly always go and see him during open office hours. He also goes to the small park on Liberty downtown some Mondays for lunch, call his office to see when. He worked with our neighborhood to solve a serious problem a few years ago and forever won the support of many here. I have also found some of the council members to be very responsive, Jean Carlberg and Bob Johnson are two I have had good contact with. I have not really tried the others so I don’t know about them.

    Many of the people on council started out as activists and still are. Hieftje and Johnson were in Friends of the Bluffs and other environmental causes for years. The mayor was chair of the board of Recycle A2. (check his website) Carlberg worked on affordable housing, Teall organized against the NRA and handguns.

       —Dustin    Aug. 11 '06 - 02:00AM    #
  121. I know I’ve said this before on here, but let me repeat it again. I’ve contacted my councilmembers. I’ve spoken at city council meetings. I’ve been impressed with their resposiveness. Ditto for the mayor. That’s not my gripe, and I apologize for not being clearer.

    When I said “lazy” I didn’t mean to imply that they’re not working long hours or caring about what they’re doing. What I meant to say, and I apologize for not being clearer about this, is that the communication gets lazy. There’s no systematic communication between the councilperson and his/her constituents, and voters just vote for the D.

    That’s where I think the system breaks down. Could an individual councilperson answer someone’s email about why they voted a certain way? Of course. And often they do. But couldn’t that councilperson also put together a once-a-month newsletter or email newsletter for his/her ward discussing what he/she has been up to? Heck, I’ll even volunteer to help my Ward 5 councilmembers put one together! Perhaps even our county commissioner and state rep/senator wouldn’t mind, either.

    I’m not blaming or casting stones here. I’m honestly trying to figure out a way to bridge what I see as a divide between the council and every day citizens.

    I was upset by how nasty the council race in my ward got in the end, and I think we lost a fine opportunity to have a good discussion.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 11 '06 - 05:12AM    #
  122. Good point! Members of legislative bodies publish constituent newsletters when it is in their interest to do so, which is to say, when there is some question about their re-election.

    I can use myself as an example. As an Ingham County commissioner, I published a newsletter. But as a Washtenaw County commissioner, it never occurred to me to do so. I didn’t even think about it until now.

    Of course, my Ingham district was marginal (it elected a Republican after I left), and the Washtenaw district was safe (I was unopposed in the primary and general in 2000).

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 11 '06 - 05:33AM    #
  123. Does anyone know if Ann Arbor’s 1st Ward includes UM’s North Campus (Bursley & Baits)?


       —Travis Radina    Aug. 11 '06 - 06:39AM    #
  124. Representative Kolb definitely had an e-newsletter during his first couple of terms, don’t know if he still does.

    Senator Brater has a good newsletter she mails to constituents. Maybe if the city created a budget for such things (and instituted the franking privilege!) Council members would as well.

    The north campus dorms vote in the 1st Ward, at Bursley.

       —Tom Jensen    Aug. 11 '06 - 06:49AM    #
  125. Thanks Tom.

       —Travis Radina    Aug. 11 '06 - 07:13AM    #
  126. Sorry to take your words too literally, YOWS.

    We can still have that discussion you want, we just can’t have it (very successfully, anyway) with those who aren’t capable of it—or whatever their personal barriers might be. Whether they’re stubborn, poor listeners, self absorbed, defensive, lacking self control, or some other form of ‘doesn’t play well with others’, some people really struggle with participating in discussion. (For a counter example, did you notice Conan’s self awareness of his own verbosity? Without that awareness he probably wouldn’t be nearly as effective…or likeable.)

    I know that many of them are caring people who mean well, and I respect a number of them for the important roles they play. Some of them are successful in spite of themselves. I wonder, though, if they understand the effect they have on those whose ears they bend (frequently in some cases.) I write this with some humility because I know that I’ve bent a few a bit at times myself.

    For government to function well, our representatives need to place a great deal of thought in between their feelings and their actions (which often are in the form of words), whereas it’s not so disruptive when a few citizens don’t—unless they want to take over the role of the representatives. Maybe what you sense as being broken is an awareness of that on the part of some people.

       —Steve Bean    Aug. 11 '06 - 07:59AM    #
  127. No problem, Steve. Sometimes what’s clear as a bell to me comes out clear as mud to everyone else!

    I just realized I offered to put together a ward newsletter. Perhaps we should start smaller with a precinct newsletter instead!

    I think you’re right about the great deal of thought that goes on between feelings and actions. And what’s struck me recently is how quick some are to vilify or find a conspiracy or what have you. It’s amazing how quickly some people light the torches and grab the pitchforks. Well, amazing and kind of sad.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 11 '06 - 08:10AM    #
  128. In response to YOWSer, I have to say that my attitude on Greden turned the corner about the time that he was sending out long and detailed letters on the City’s budgeting process. See AU’s archived copies here and here .

    That right there is, I think, the best example I’ve seen of an individual councilmember making an effort to let constituents know what’s going on.

    (Of course, over here in Ypsi, we just elected Brian Robb to Council; he’s been chronicling City Council’s meetings on his page, , for years now. I think this helped his campaign, as people could (a) see that he was interested in communicating, and (b) is a good, analytic thinker.)

       —Murph.    Aug. 11 '06 - 03:57PM    #
  129. Young OWSider, you are right that better communication would help. One reason Ron Suarez beat John Roberts is that Roberts did nothing to communicate with his constituents. Suarez has promised that he will be different; we’ll see.

    I never put too much stock in the newsletters that Brater and Kolb put out. Their content is pre-approved by both parties, since they are put out at taxpayer expense, so they are pretty bland and useless.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 11 '06 - 05:33PM    #
  130. A quick update on union printers & campaign materials for the primary:

    Earlier this morning, after a brief moment of dumpster diving in my home recycling bin, I found copies of the campaign materials referenced at the start of comment #129. Warren, Greden, Roberts and POW all had a union bug on their materials. The Suarez full-color postcard did not.

       —hale    Aug. 11 '06 - 06:31PM    #
  131. The better plan (which may be impractical at the state level) is not to use tax dollars on the newsletter.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 11 '06 - 06:34PM    #
  132. Larry—
    I agree. What I was thinking about was more of a volunteer effort that was set up for sharing news on the precinct and also news from those who represent us. So maybe the non-elected citizens will have to take the lead with perhaps some support from the elected folks.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 11 '06 - 07:00PM    #
  133. In Chapel Hill, where I live, several Council members maintain blogs to discuss what’s going on and one has an e-mail list she uses very effectively to communicate with constituents. She even announced the town manager’s retirement to us, beating the local newspapers by a day.

    A good, free way to keep in touch. Maybe Mr. Suarez will utilize it after emphasizing his technology background so much during his campaign.

       —Tom Jensen    Aug. 11 '06 - 07:34PM    #
  134. Given the costs of printing a newsletter and the time needed for (door to door?) distribution, it seems that a e-mailed newsletter would be the easiest way to start. A step after that could be a simple web site that has additional content accessible by link from the e-newsletter. In this context, any printed materials would be used in much more limited, supplemental ways to reach those who are not online, or to recruit area residents to the ward or precinct e-mail list. In my experience, a regular, ongoing, print-based newsletter – published by volunteers – indicates a fairly high level of time commitment within a small group, as well as steady (if somewhat modest) donations to keep costs covered.

    Comment #143 was posted while I was writing this, and it covers some of these points. YOWS’ voter/volunteer-based communication model could exist, and probably should exist, alongside an elected official’s e-mail list and blog.

    Not just local grassroots groups on a limited budget, but also a growing number of well-funded organizations, have adopted electronic newsletters and e-mail lists as an important part of their communications strategy. To this you can add blogs, though that may necessitate the hiring of a spam janitor.

       —hale    Aug. 11 '06 - 08:01PM    #
  135. One of things I had hoped to do, if I had been elected councilman, was create a blog with interactive message board for the ward. This way I could have addressed topics as they reached the council and allow community discussion (not unlike what goes on here). It could also have become a defacto neighborhood bulletin board etc.

    There were a lot of logistics that needed to be considered (most importantly: a dedicated and strict moderator) but along with keeping regular hours (I was going to establish 4 regularly scheduled hours/week where anyone could meet with me) I wanted to bridge some of accessibility issues.

    I hope Mr. Kunselman (and other council members)will consider doing something similar.

    Likewise, I had several calls at home from voters who said the only reason they felt emboldened to call me was that my literature had included my number with an invitation to do so. Even then they were reticent.

    Sure it can be intrusive (and I established strict time limits for the sake of my family) but I figured it was part of the job and I should get used to it if I was serious about being a community representative.

    I very much worry about the ‘us vs them’ mentality that often settles into discussions about our community. It may sound a bit ‘Anne Frankish’ but I really do think that most of the people on council have good intentions. I certainly don’t agree with all their decisions or priorities but I prefer the issues rather than the people be taken to task.

    I think greater accessibilty on the council’s part would help… but I also believe that the rhetoric and expectations of various groups could be more respectful and civil.

       —Jeff Meyers    Aug. 12 '06 - 02:24AM    #
  136. Jeff—
    I would strongly encourage you to go forward with your ward (or precinct) blog. Do you know who your precinct organizer is? Are there any? Stop by the Coordinated Campaign office downtown and talk to Brandon Foster to see who you can connect with. I’m contemplating a blog for my precinct, and I think it’d be a great idea to get more of these throughout the city.

    You’re right—respect and civility are good things. I don’t like the us vs. them, either, because it assumes that the gov’t isn’t us when in fact it is.

    Please keep organizing and working to inform. We need to do as much as we can.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 12 '06 - 04:55AM    #
  137. I’ve put my phone number in campaign literature and posters in all my campaigns, from my first race in 1982 to my most recent in 2004.

    Admittedly, it’s a cheap tactic, because very few people find reason to call up county-level candidates or officeholders.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 12 '06 - 06:53AM    #
  138. Jeff, the mayor has had open office hours since he was first elected but the council members don’t. But, most of them also have full time jobs and several have kids too. Extra time is tough to come by for all of us. Most of them do respond though and will meet with residnets. But, I don’t know if I want my council member busy blogging… They have long packets to read, committee meetings to attend, etc. I don’t know where most of them would find the time. Carlberg is the only one who is retired and she is on the planning commission too. Still, she meets with people.

       —Dustin    Aug. 12 '06 - 07:52AM    #
  139. As posted on another topic… The big loser in this election was Doug Cowherd who ran Schmerl’s campaign and wrote all her literature. Rene Greff’s email said it all. Easthope’s big win blew Cowherd and the NIMBY’s away. Schmerl ran against the direction of council and for a “real greenway now” and was wiped out. She even lost her own precinct, right where the “full scale” greenway would be. The whole “movement” was exposed as being just a few vocal NIMBY citizens.

       —Dustin    Aug. 12 '06 - 08:02AM    #
  140. Dustin—
    Yep. The Schmerl campaign lost, and I wonder if it’s because her campaign went so negative. As I’ve spoken to neighbors and friends since the election, I know many were bothered by the negativity of the Schmerl campaign’s literature.

    I hesitate, though, to toss everyone into strict ideological corners. Easthope’s opponents got, essentially, 1 of every 3 votes. That means that about 1 of every 3 citizens in this Ward is not satisfied with his/her representation on council. Now, does that mean Easthope should ignore that 34% and push forward with little regard for them? I don’t think so. But I also don’t think Councilman Easthope should cave to the wishes of what is obviously a minority of 5th Warders. And I’m saying this as an Easthope voter.

    Additionally, I noted that Rene Greff bemoaned the partisanship of this campaign. However, I think Ms. Greff should take some responsibility for the divisiveness of the Greenway issue. I remember at the start of all this she had some pretty incendiary words that lumped all those interested in green space as NIMBY know-nothings. Granted, many of the pro-Greenway folks weren’t terribly flexible either. Most of the folks I know and who are interested in some more park space downtown honestly believe that as the downtown grows more dense we should provide some decent park space close to downtown. Does it have to be “the one true greenway”? Not for me it doesn’t. But most people I speak with aren’t NIMBYs.

       —Young OWSider    Aug. 12 '06 - 03:18PM    #
  141. YOWS’s perception matches mine. A lot of people I spoke with became increasingly troubled by the rigidity and negativity, along with the vagueness on everything but the One True Greenway, of the Schmerl campaign, even if they’d begun by being interested in ideas about green spaces, paths, etc., and even though many (huge majority actually) of people I talked with thought the idea of a parking deck at 1st and William was insane. Lots of people can and did have some complexity to their views, and they are definitely people who could be drawn into a better conversation. But these same people are, in many cases, really pissed off about being spoken to from a great height and told that they’re either liars (in claiming to have reasons for their views other than NIMBYism) or suffering from false consciousness (ie., they may believe they have reasons but they’re really ultimately just NIMBYs). The contemptuous tone of NIMBY-calling, and the claim that everything is really only ever about property values, was hugely alienating to some people I talked with, especially given the actual economic diversity of the area. The dismissal of even questions about the 3 site plan as greed-headed property-owning bourgeois NIMBYism went down especially badly when it came from members of the DDA, and I heard about it several times in talking with neighbors—it clearly still rankled, even though they were in many cases voting for Easthope.

       —Aki    Aug. 12 '06 - 04:51PM    #
  142. About 10 days ago I went to the city’s latest public presentation on the downtown greenway. As I’ve written on a different AU thread, what struck me was the intense refusal of the greenway activists to consider any other possible use for the land parcels in question. No other public good could even be allowed on the table for consideration. Thoughtfully-done, partial-greenway scenarios that would place affordable housing or mass transit services on a portion of the land, allowing the rest to still become park space, were attacked as gruesome violations of the One True Purpose for all three parcels. The idea of Kiwanis moving its charity operation onto a corner of one of the parcels was met with stony silence. An arts center with inexpensive studio space was anathema.

    The full-greenway speakers – a few of whom I’ve known in years past to be strongly supportive of affordable housing and mass transit – were so monolithically “on-message” in this regard that their behavior had a religious cult flavor, as if they’d all been recruited to Scientology. In summary, the greenway advocates, even when soft-spoken, were collectively stubborn, antagonistic and highly dysfunctional in their approach to other public interests outside of their own singular focus. To borrow an idea Steve discussed earlier, these people simply don’t ‘play well’ with others. They haven’t displayed the necessary maturity to engage the larger community in a productive conversation leading to a result that takes action on a mix of social needs while presenting a compromise acceptable to the majority. What we hear in it place is the “you’re either with us or against us” tactic so beloved by Cheney & Co.

    This doesn’t excuse those supporters of the DDA majority who may have mirrored this behavior while arguing for development proposals; any such immaturity on their part only damages their agenda and hinders public dialogue while fueling intransigence from greenway advocates. And, although a few key full-greenway organizers apparently have used the property values argument to build neighborhood support, I think a number of those who they’ve recruited to their cause are sincere in taking a parks-only approach and are not involved primarily for reasons of property assets. Instead, these recruits may well buy into Cowherd’s false, manipulative line that the only two real political options are all-park-space or all-skyscrapers; that affordable housing, mass transit, or Kiwanis likely represent Trojan horses leading to eventual corporate control of the land parcels.

    I see in the full-greenway position a well-stirred blend of both the grassroots Left and the self-absorbed, suburban Right. It demonstrates traits of both the environmental activists who successfully, and rightfully, pushed through the local greenbelt referendum in 2003, as well as the virulently NIMBY far-north-side residents who in 2002 unsuccessfully fought Avalon Housing’s Carrot Way apartments, in an attempt to keep “those people” out of “their” neighborhood. Full-geenway means caring only about park greenery while unethically and aggressively ignoring unmet social needs in our community. Strains of Libertarian thinking, from Cowherd and possibly others, could have played a role in developing this approach.

    Some partial-greenway proposals, on the other hand, do take other social needs into account and deserve serious consideration by everyone. More details available through this page.

       —hale    Aug. 12 '06 - 10:42PM    #
  143. Good link, (hale). I agree about the One True Greenway line totally, as I hope you could tell. It’s just that I found, in talking to people, that they could be prompted very quickly to imagine things other than parks or parking decks and what also emerged fast was a sense of frustration about how their views were getting no play, and that I heard a lot that snarkage from either of the self-appointed sides has a long afterlife. And I’ll add that I don’t think it’s just that DDA’rs “mirrored” opposition—in some cases, they started the stereotyping and set a tone (DDA’rs not necessarily meaning members in the strict sense in all cases), or that the all-or-nothing tone only comes from the (deeply annoying) anything-that-could-be-a-park-must-be-a-park people.

       —Aki    Aug. 12 '06 - 11:02PM    #
  144. Aki – Sorry, I did not mean to imply that any bad behavior by supporters of DDA development proposals came about only in response to some egg-tossing by the greenway-everywhere crowd. I’m not aware of all the early chronology involving the 3-site plan, so yes, a few folks promoting the DDA’s ideas may have gotten things rolling first, negatively speaking. On all sides of most any contested public issue, there will be outspoken individuals who don’t “play well” with others.

    And I did recognize that you are not an acolyte of the One True Greenway. The phrase you wrote above about people you talked to who had ideas on mixed use, ”... a sense of frustration about how their views were getting no play,” touches on my own discouragement when watching the full-greenway supporters in action. Likewise, I understand a similar response would be evoked in others in the event someone related to the DDA launched a verbal pre-emptive strike early on in an attempt to stifle both parks-only advocates as well as those who just inquired about modifications to DDA plans. On the other hand, I appreciate how my views do ‘get some play’ in a couple of the city’s partial-greenway scenarios.

    My willingness to vent on this issue more than most may have to do, in part, with some of the full-greenway supporters being individuals I’ve met and worked with under different circumstances in years past. I just feel disappointed in them, and don’t understand why they now push the idea that parks are mandatory in open space near downtown, to the full exclusion of all other possible land use options.

       —hale    Aug. 13 '06 - 01:08AM    #
  145. Again, the “full greenway or die” crowd lead by Mr. Cowherd lost big in this election. They went all out and lost by nearly 2 to 1 in the 5th ward. The people of the city are the winners on this one. The council rejected the big parking structure but also did not accept the all or nothing attitude of the “full scale” crowd. They appointed a balanced task force and now, after this election, they have the knowledge that the people are behind them in seeking to take the middle road.

       —Dustin    Aug. 13 '06 - 02:00AM    #
  146. I understand a similar response would be evoked in others in the event someone related to the DDA launched a verbal pre-emptive strike early on

    While I don’t want to say that the DDA & co were completely justified at all times – sometimes they (we) were as antagonistic and hotheaded as the Anti-DDA crowd – I do want to emphasize that the “pre-emptive strike” idea is not at all the case. I didn’t tune in until about the same point that most others in town did, but the DDA’s three-site plan had years of background work done before that point. Sonia Schmerl, Margaret Wong, and other representatives of the neighborhood were involved/invited to the process a year or more before the snarkfest in Council Chambers started, in the interests of trying to incorporate more interests than just “replace public parking lost during development.”

    What I saw, after signing on as a DDA supporter, was that a lot of the people who had been working on this proposal long-term felt wounded by being jumped all of a sudden, and some lashed back in kind. They felt that they had been working on this perfectly openly, in good faith, at Council’s charge, and made attempts to hear out differing viewpoints, and then, when they came to Council to present their recommendations, found the public commentary time packed with angry responses to the “giant parking garage”.

    Personally, I think the three-site plan’s crafters could have figured out a little earlier that this was brewing – Cowherd put out his “vision” of a “central park for ann arbor” that included First/William in its entirety six months or so before the storm broke, and maybe the DDA should have been watching for this kind of opposition, so that they wouldn’t have been caught by surprise, and could have responded more gracefully. I think they had felt, though, that this base had already been covered when they had previously brought Shmerl, Wong, etc to the table in the early planning stages.

    Hale, I did catch that you were speaking in the subjunctive, and do not personally buy the “DDA pre-emptive strike” theory – but it sounds like enough people do that it merited a lengthy response.

       —Murph.    Aug. 13 '06 - 06:41PM    #
  147. Murph – thanks for the background and history briefing. Again, I’m not up on the blow-by-blow history of the 3-site plan. As I don’t know who said what, or did what, early on, I hedged in my assumptions. Hence, the subjunctive tense that you note.

    Mixing your description above with earlier comments from Aki and YOWS, my present speculation on the DDA past (for you to critique if you wish) goes like this: Schmerl, Wong, Cowherd, et al., suddenly go on the offensive, following a long period of 3-site proposal development of which all parties are aware. In response, one or more DDA-related persons, feeling frustrated and blindsided by the late-stage attack, verbally lash out. At about this precise moment, central area residents begin to tune in to the proceedings. As a result, some folks sympathetic to parks (not necessarily full-greenway-ers) feel dumped on by the DDA before having had a chance to speak up.

    While the “DDA pre-emptive strike” theory may not be accurate, circumstances could have reasonably led people to that conclusion. Lashing out at the behavior of others, even when justified, is risky and easily backfires, sometime in unexpected ways. Just as we sometimes learn this lesson in daily life the hard way, the same thing happens on the public stage. In addition, when the lashing comes from someone perceived to be in a position of some influence, any poor reception by the public gets amplified. I’ll speculate further that the full-greenway organizing strategy at that point might have included pushing a few DDA buttons to elicit a sharp response that would provide the greeway-ers a propaganda edge.

    In a similar vein – to veer off into a concluding tangent – I think political attacks and negative campaigning (justified or not) leave more people feeling perplexed or annoyed by the tone than outraged by the political ‘atrocities’ being described. To people concerned enough to show up and vote, but who do not follow civic happenings on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, the attacks not infrequently come across as the crabby infighting of insular factions. I’d bet, as others seem to have, that the negativity at the end of the Schmerl campaign, as well as the POW newsletter (which, at a partial read, included a dose of negative campaigning blended in with the positive) had results far more mixed than their partisans anticipated.

       —hale    Aug. 13 '06 - 11:02PM    #
  148. Hale has, as so often, really nailed it, esp. in the bit that begins “At this precise moment…” onwards. People really do tune in at different moments and if they feel like full-scale snarkage and attacks are already in progress, they do get “perplexed and annoyed” and either don’t weigh in or do so in a tone that’s already escalated. And playing the “we know what we’re talking about and you don’t,” even if true, is totally counterproductive at that point, whether it’s Cowherd or the (deeply, perhaps unfairly, distrusted) DDA saying Trust Us.

       —Aki    Aug. 13 '06 - 11:41PM    #
  149. As the author of the POW! article about Leigh Greden’s ethics, I would like to respond to Margie Teall’s email.

    1. Margie says that the article/email was “filled with lies,” but does not identify a single factual statement in the material that she asserts is, in any way, false. Certainly, she doesn’t demonstrate that anything in the material is false.

    2. I do not agree that it is “common” for attorneys to represent private clients before public bodies on which they sit. I think it is, in fact, rather uncommon. For example, I have been informed by an attorney with a large law firm, who also sits on an elected public body, that the firm maintains a “Chinese Wall” policy about such situations. If an attorney in the firm is on a public body, the entire firm, not just the particular attorney, will decline to represent the client, even an existing one, on any matter before that public body.

    Even if this situation does sometimes exist, that does not mean that it is ethical. Margie and Leigh are free to take a different view of ethical standards, but nothing POW! said in this regard is false or can it be called “disingenuous,” “lies” or “misinformation.”

    There is a particular problem with Leigh’s actions. This was not a situation where Leigh had an established relationship with the client and had represented it on this matter. Quite to the contrary. As an attorney in his firm’s Employment Law section, it appears that he had nothing whatsoever to do with this client or this matter, before or since setting up the meeting in question. It appears that it was, specifically, his status as a public official and his likely relationship of some sort with another public official of the same party which prompted his involvement. This has the hallmarks of influence-peddling.

    3. Margie says that Leigh has made clear that his firm represents Broadway Village. I beg to differ. At least one member of the Ann Arbor Council has told me that the member was unaware of this fact. When Leigh recused himself from the June 5th bond vote, this member surmised, but did not know, that Leigh’s firm, which does a lot of bond work, might be involved in the bond issue. The member was not aware that Leigh’s firm had been representing the developer in seeking approvals from the city.

    4. Margie mischaracterizes what Janis Bobrin said. Janis merely said that a meeting of her staff and a developer to discuss such issues is not inappropriate or unusual. She was not offering any opinion regarding the ethics of Leigh in setting up such a meeting.

    Margie also leaves out a most important point. Present at the meeting were two City employees involved in the process of reviewing the Broadway Village project. These employees are ultimately responsible to the City Council and might feel pressured knowing that a member of the Council is associated with the developer. Although it is not totally clear, it is apparently the case that either Leigh or his client asked the City employees to be present, so there is not the isolation from City officials that Margie would have you believe.

    If Leigh’s involvement in the meeting was so innocent and appropriate, why was he so unthuthful about it? Ann Arbor News city government reporter Tom Gantert told me that, when he asked Leigh about the meeting, Leigh denied setting it up, stating instead that he had merely attended the meeting as a member of Council. Later, he admitted to News reporter Art Aisner that he asked for the meeting to be set as an attorney, acting at the request of his “client.” I was told this directly by Art. Unless Tom and/or Art is confused or lying, Leigh was not being straight about this issue.

    5. On the issue of contributions, it is Margie who is being disingenuous. The focus of the POW! material regarding contributions was that 12 different individuals and one PAC (Leigh’s law firm PAC) with financial interests in Broadway Village gave money to Leigh’s campaign. Six of these were principals, spouses of principals and/or employees of the developer. None lives in the Ann Arbor area. The POW! material made mention of the political affiliation of just one, McKinley CEO Albert Berriz. Berriz’ company is the leasing agent for Broadway Village. He has given over $20,000 to GOP candidates in recent years. This was pointed out to suggest that his interest in Leigh’s camaign was motivated by something other than a commitment to Democratic policies and candidates.

    If Rebekah Warren did not comply with any campaign finance law or regulation, it is appropriate to raise that issue. It says nothing about the propriety of Leigh taking thousands of dollars from contributors with an interest in a large private development pending before the City.

    The POW! material was not, as Margie characterized it, “rumors and innuendo.” It consisted of verifiable facts and POW!’s perspective on those facts.

    I have been involved in local Democratic politics for 35 years. I have never seen such questionable behavior from any local elected official, Democrat or Republican. It was totally appropriate to put these facts before the voters.

    Tom Wieder

       —Tom Wieder    Aug. 15 '06 - 04:11AM    #
  150. Tom, I think you already posted this in the thread that Ms. Teall’s comments actually appeared in .

       —Murph.    Aug. 15 '06 - 05:02AM    #
  151. Just got caught up on this amazingly long election thread. I have learned a lot from some of the smart people here about local politics. And I admire the passion.

    But I have to say—this Greff thing in post number 35 is pathetic. I mean, cry me a river Rene!

    Okay, you contribute to a lot of good causes. I’ve noticed it when I see stuff from groups I support. I admire you for this. I even go to your restaurant—a good one—more because of it. Tie goes to the good guy.

    But is this supposed to earn you a free pass so you don’t get criticized when you help a politician get a lot of money from people—like you!—who will make a whole lot of money if downtown gets a lot more parking garages and big buildings? Guess what. It’s a democracy. You can do what you want within legal limits to finance your favorite politician who will help you make a lot of money. But the public gets to criticize you for this, even if you do other very fine things.

    THis reminds me of the Clintons. And Kerry. Sure, they did a lot of good things that progressive-liberal-left people liked. A lot more than the other guys. But when they do bad things, especially ones that favor the corporations that pay them off with cash, anyone who called them on it was labelled disloyal to the cause by some with blinders on.

    Democracy doesn’t work well with this kind of bliinders.

    So Rene, love your place. Love your generosity when it comes to peace, green, social justice, etc. But I don’t love it when really big money (for a local campaign) gets dumped in the lap of a politician – any politician, even one I like – who is in a position to do favors for them that make their businesses more profitable. No ‘person of the left’ should look the other way when even someone with laudable credentials does this kind of slimy business. We certainly should call a spade a spade when they try to excuse it by basically saying ‘but I’m your friend!’

    Sure – and friends who do something wrong, or just entirely selfish – don’t deserve that we all look the other way.

    And I agree with Julie’s comments too. Cry me another river on how you can’t afford Ann Arbor or air conditioning in your car Rene. Way to destroy your own credibility further. Should we take up a collection for your air conditioning fund?

    Love your bar, love your causes. But really, you’re not doing the rest of us a favor. You’re trying to make money, and express your social beliefs. Go for it. But don’t whine,and don’t hide behind your nice causes to try to make your part in the sleazy campaign finance game go away.

       —AK    Aug. 18 '06 - 09:52PM    #