Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

ArborUpdate Voter Guide: Ann Arbor Ward 1--Patricia Lesko vs Sandi Smith

27. July 2008 • Chuck Warpehoski
Email this article

Thank to to everyone who contributed to the ArborUpdate Voter Guide, here’s the first response post featuring the responses of Patricia Lesko and Sandi Smith.

1. Do you support the proposed court-policy facility, as currently planned? What role do you see for Council now that it is underway? (Edited version of question from Eric)*

PATRICIA LESKO: I do not. I have researched other such facilities, and the cost per square foot of Ann Arbor’s planned facility is, in some cases, triple the cost of similar facilities planned and built in similarly-sized communities. I have toured the Police facility, and have serious concerns about the current state of disrepair into which the facility has been allowed to fall. I question why the facility was allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair, and why the refurbishment planned under the auspices of the proposed facility was not carried out a decade ago. In essence, as citizens, we have no guarantees that any new facility built will be adequately maintained. In addition, the 2009 adopted budget contains a quote from Roger Fraser that says Ann Arbor anticipates a structural deficit, and the city can make no further cuts in staff. Until the city’s financial situation stabilizes, we need to repair the facility, and refurbish the basement immediately. This will cost significantly less than the proposed facility. Current Council, however, has wasted $4 million dollars of our money designing a Mercedes when we have enough money to repair our mid-sized sedan.

SANDI SMITH: I believe that the current police facility is inadequate. The County and City have been unable to come to terms over a joint court facility and the City is required by law to provide a home to the 15th district court, making it essential to find a solution. For these reasons, I support the project.

If the project is scaled back, the first cuts will be the green components. As it is currently designed, the building is likely to achieve a LEED Gold rating. Bond rates are very favorable currently and construction bids are coming in lower than anticipated on other city projects making this a favorable time to invest in infrastructure.

Council’s role is to keep the project on budget, find opportunities to enhance the public amenities and seek out energy reducing technologies to make it as green as possible.

For more of my thoughts, see:—building-project.aspx

2. What will you do to ensure that Ann Arbor has sufficient affordable housing? (Question from Chuck Warpehoski)

PATRICIA LESKO: I would like to work toward developments that favor co-housing. As you know, co-housing developments have been built in several spots surrounding Ann Arbor, and provide a wide variety of attractive design and construction attributes—the inclusion of green space, for instance—not to mention price point that is far more affordable than, say, the recent North Sky development which was just voted on by Council.

SANDI SMITH: Affordable at what level? First, establish the levels of affordability, define the problem and address solutions for each population. I support the Blueprint to End Homelessness and its goal to create 500 units of affordable housing at or below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) by 2014. I am currently serving on a County Task Force whose mission is to find funding for services for the people in those 500 units. Most often it is not just the housing itself that is needed, but the social services that support the individuals so they can remain in the housing. I also support the replacement of the 100 units that were formally at the Y.

I have initiated a program through the DDA to grant energy related improvements to affordable housing units in or very near the DDA district, reducing utility costs and freeing money for other uses.

3. What will you do to ensure a healthy community where people can live, work, shop and play without depending on their car? (Question from Chuck Warpehoski)

PATRICIA LESKO: If Ann Arbor residents do not elect to City Council members who are committed to responsible development, nothing substantial may be accomplished to help residents in Ann Arbor live, work, shop and play without depending upon their cars. The current thinking (including my First Ward opponent) is that the easiest way to swell the tax roles is through new, dense, development. It is a “Field of Dreams” strategy, that does not benefit citizens, but rather benefits developers, lawyers, and real estate agents. The problem is that Ann Arbor is losing residents to surrounding communities, and there are currently 1,000 homes for sale. The condo-building mania, and city officials who are content to use tax dollars to subsidize private builders, will only stop when citizens elect Council members willing to ask hard questions concerning our City’s budget which will lead, I believe, to a debunking of the myth that Ann Arbor needs development to grow revenue.

SANDI SMITH: Regional and multi-modal transportation are essential elements to the city’s planning. I will work to implement the Non-motorized Transportation Plan throughout the city, including the bike and pedestrian improvements to 5th and Division planned by the DDA.

I also will continue to support the work of the Downtown Development Authority within its District to provide public investment in our downtown that will stimulate private growth.

4. How will you work within the local foodshed to ensure food security and affordability for our city? (Question from TeacherPatti)

PATRICIA LESKO: Farmers who grow food using sustainable and environmentally sound methods deserve and must be paid a sustainable and living wage for their work and their products. This often conflicts with the notion that food should be “affordable” (whatever that term means). As an individual, I have participated in community supported agriculture since 1990. I have been a member of the People’s Food Co-op for 16 years, and served on the organization’s Board of Directors. On Council, I would certainly support initiatives such as Project Grow, and work to have it expanded.

As for food security, again, if we are talking about local food, no food source is completely beyond threat. However, if Michigan shoppers spent just $10 per week purchasing local food products, it would pump more than $35 million dollars per week into the Michigan agricultural economy. So, if I may, I would suggest that it’s ultimately up to people like TeacherPatti to spend her money wisely when she food shops.

SANDI SMITH: Personally, I was at the organizing committee for the Homegrown Festival ( and encourage and participate in this type of community based work. I would love to see a program where building roofs were converted to garden spaces. It would improve stormwater management, improve water quality in the watershed and increase the amount of locally grown produce. I will support the Farmer’s Market and Greenbelt Program, which provide resources for local farmers to grow and sell their produce in Ann Arbor and the surrounding region.

I have been a Project Grow gardener in the past and will continue to support programs such as these.

5. What is your opinion of the performance of the Mayor and City council over the past 2 years? (Edited version of question from Mark Koroi)

PATRICIA LESKO: City revenues from property taxes and fees are up for the fourth year running. City spending on services has been reduced, and city services have been cut. For instance, Ann Arbor no longer replants any of the 10,500 trees lost to disease between 2005-2007. City debt over the past five years has doubled. There is hunger, and there is continued homelessness. The number of units of affordable housing built over the last two years pales in comparison to the total number of units built. Development continues to be approved for the sake of the developers, as well as to feed the gaping maw that is our city’s completely convoluted and difficult to interpret budget. The North Sky development in Ward 1, for example, puts 198 units in a denuded field, and we can count on the fact that residents will drive into the City center, and the three miles to the nearest loaf of bread and gallon of milk.

Though I am respectful of their opinions and contributions, I find the concrete (both literally and figuratively) results of their work disappointing, at best.

SANDI SMITH: I believe that most council members do their best to come prepared to the meetings, do their homework and participate in engaged dialogue. I do not agree with all of their decisions, nor will I when I am on council. However, I have been particularly unimpressed with the work of Ron Suarez. I supported him as a Candidate and voted for him. He has voted contrary to his expressed opinions and has even fallen asleep in meetings. He complains about being shut out, but does not attend his committee meetings. His poor performance led me to step up to run for his seat.

  1. Chuck, thanks for putting this together and all of your hard work on this effort! Thanks to our first two candidates, as well!

    Just FYI, if you want to use my full name, please do: Patti Smith. Yes, just like the rock singer. No, I can’t sing. Yes, your ears would bleed if I sing aloud. :)

       —TeacherPatti    Jul. 28 '08 - 03:52AM    #
  2. Great!! Another candidate for City Council whose views dovetail with those of Ask Voters First. Let’s get out the pens on August 5th and write in Lesko’s name. Remember in 2006, People Against Corruption volunteers were present at the polling precincts and able to procure hundreds of write in votes in Ann Arbor in favor of Mrs. Gravel-Henkel in her quest to unseat Judge Timothy Connors, so do not “write-off” Patricia Lesko yet.

       —Kerry D.    Jul. 28 '08 - 05:35AM    #
  3. Hi,

    I just wanted to thank all involved in this candidate forum for organizing an opportunity for the candidates to answer what I thought were some very well-crafted questions. Nicely done, ArborUpdate.

    best wishes,

    Patricia Lesko

       —Patricia Lesko    Jul. 28 '08 - 04:46PM    #
  4. Pat, what is your plan for tackling the problems you cite in question #5? How do you propose to replant trees, pay down the debt, support hunger and homelessnss, and build affordable housing without either raising taxes, decreasing services or increasing the city’s property tax base through development?

       —Jennifer Hall    Jul. 28 '08 - 06:40PM    #
  5. Jennifer,

    You ask practical, difficult questions which require actual thought and planning. As a result you will receive no answers.

    Regarding the answers to question 2,

    Pretending that Ann Arbor has been pro-development is laughable.
    Everyone wants to preserve green space, have a walkable city but not allow for development downtown. In reality, many of these folks are terrified of change.

       —anonymous observer    Jul. 28 '08 - 10:54PM    #
  6. Hi Jennifer,

    Funny you should ask that question. I just spent most of the morning comparing Ann Arbor’s approved 2009 budget to that of Berkeley, California. Have a look at some of interesting details I found here:

    The numbers tell an fascinating tale, including the fact that in 2009 Berkeley allocated $720K for downtown development, and Ann Arbor taxpayers are forking over $17 million to your DDA. A2 could plant some trees, pay down our debt and find $1.5 million for affordable housing (like Berkeley City Council did this year) with some of the $13 million from parking fees your group “captures.”

    Not that the downtown funding is the only interesting difference between the budgets of the two cities! Check out Berkeley’s 2009 budget online. It’s super well-organized, provides loads of data from previous actuals and even has a glossary of terms. Unfortunately, you’ll have to go to A2 City Hall and pay to get a copy of Ann Arbor’s budget. Well, maybe not YOU, but the rest of us mere mortals.

       —Patricia Lesko    Jul. 28 '08 - 11:21PM    #
  7. Thanks for the link to the Berkeley budget. I love visiting that city and it’s always great to see what other progressive college towns are up to.

    A few corrections, however. The DDA does not get $17 million in tax dollars. The DDA district levies about $17.4 million in tax dollars – $14 million of that levy is returned to the taxing authorities (schools, county, city and library). The DDA only receives the increased valuations of downtown real and personal properties – in 2007, this amount was about $3.4 million. For more information, see here and here.

    Yes, the DDA does take in about $13 million in parking fees, but the DDA spends this money on things like:

    *maintaining and operating the parking structures

    *funding alternative transportation initiatives like the getDowntown program, goPass, the Link, bike lockers, etc.; and

    *paying rent to the city for the use of parking meters and structures ($1million/year).

    The DDA also has about $1 million earmarked for affordable housing projects.

    I took a look at Pat’s website and her comparison between A2 and Berkeley … and was pretty shocked (as she was) by some of the numbers. I did a little more reading, however … and everything is not as it seems.

    For example, the Berkeley did spend $1.5 million of general fund money on affordable housing. But this was in the form of a LOAN to their program to make up for DEVELOPMENT fees that had not yet materialized (see page 8 of the Berkeley budget document posted on Pat’s website).

    Page 12 of Berkeley’s document states that state funding has increased (not true in Michigan) and that many of their employees are funded from outside grants (not tax dollars).

    These are just a few things that I found in a quick read of the document. I hope that people look a bit further into what’s behind the numbers before they believe that Berkeley can do more with less money. I don’t think that’s the case.

    I don’t have a copy of the city budget, but I’ve heard that it’s pretty easy to see one at city hall and at the library. I’m not sure why the city doesn’t have it on the website, I personally think that would be a good idea. Maybe Councilmember Suarez can help out?

       —Jennifer Hall    Jul. 29 '08 - 12:31AM    #
  8. Jennifer,

    Berkeley’s magic isn’t really the issue. The issue is that with MORE money our city is doing significantly less. That $1 million to which you refer is allocated over a very long period of time. However, let’s be honest, the DDA simply can’t be responsible for being the main developer/support of affordable housing. Your group is spending your $17 million working, literally, inside a small circle in our city.

    Because your proposed 2009 budget is posted online now (thanks!) I know your $17 million comes from parking fees and property taxes. Yes, DDA maintains structures and pays rent for meters. However, DDA is also are giving tax money to private developers to “mitigate the risks” associated with private development in Ann Arbor. The DDA Board supports a policy of raising parking rates regularly with no regard to your expenses incurred.

    Berkeley’s budget is eye-opening, if only for the simple fact that that city’s downtown development will get $720,000 in 2009, and ours will get $17,000,000, while Berkeley’s parking fees go toward a General Fund that is 40 percent larger than ours, and funds significantly more citizen services AND maintains their parking structures.

    See you tonight, I hope.

       —Patricia Lesko    Jul. 29 '08 - 12:53AM    #
  9. It looks like the FY 2009 budget is online as a PDF at this site:

    If you don’t want to download the 38MB PDF, I’ve posted a version at Scribd: There are pretty pictures starting on page 56 of the PDF (page 62 of that upload)

    Unfortunately, the text wasn’t indexed completely, so it isn’t searchable — if anyone has tips on optimizing that, please let me know

       —Matt Hampel    Jul. 29 '08 - 01:06AM    #
  10. Now with linking!

    City budget page

    Scribd version of the FY 2009 Ann Arbor City budget

       —Matt Hampel    Jul. 29 '08 - 01:23AM    #
  11. I think we’re just going to have to agree to disagree about the value of the DDA. I volunteer my time as a citizen appointee to that board because I believe a vibrant downtown is vital to our efforts to maintain and attract residents to all of Ann Arbor. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not a huge fan of cars and parking (although I understand that they are necessary) and am a huge advocate for alternative transportation and the efforts of the getDowntown program.

    It is simply not true that the DDA gives money to developers to mitigate risks of development. Money that has gone to developers has been thoughtfully granted (with stringent guidelines) and has gone to specific project attributes that will benefit the public taxpayers of Ann Arbor – like green building components, pedestrian enhancements, parking and other utility improvements.

    It is also not true that the DDA board supports a policy of raising parking rates regularly with no regard to expenses incurred. I’m not sure what data you have to back up this assertion.

    The city budgets are lengthy and complex. I think that the stories behind these numbers are a lot more complex than they are being portrayed.

    For example, Berekely’s general fund may receive parking revenues, but are they also responsible for paying for the maintenance and operation of their parking structures?? We don’t know what condition they are in by looking at their budget. In addition, it seems like Berkeley’s general fund also receives contributions from hotel and sales taxes (in the amount of $3.4 million and $14.6 million). Ann Arbor does not. My point, it’s apples and oranges.

       —Jennifer Hall    Jul. 29 '08 - 01:51AM    #
  12. Despite the chatter, I have yet to see answers to the questions posed by Jennifer Hall.

       —anonymous observer    Jul. 29 '08 - 07:25AM    #
  13. Yesterday evening was the First Ward Democratic Party meeting that included a forum between Sandi Smith and Pat Lesko. The organizers had expected 10 people. Instead, at least 50 folks turned out. They had to bring in extra chairs, and people were standing around the back and at the door.

    The two candidates for mayor made brief pitches. So did two candidates for the judgeship.

    The forum between Smith and Lesko went well. The candidates were friendly to each other. There were no hardball questions from the audience. The knives did not come out.

    After the forum, we were scheduled to hear from Peter Schottenfels, the Obama campaign’s organizer for the First, Second, and Fifth Wards, and Ann Arbor Township. His phone number is (734) 330-7740.

    As Schottenfels got ready to speak, Sandi Smith and her supporters left the meeting. The candidate forum had been friendly, so this was not a “walkout”. Instead, Smith and her friends just didn’t care about the Obama campaign.

    I can imagine the impression their departure left with Schottenfels.

    How rude!

       —David Cahill    Jul. 29 '08 - 05:06PM    #
  14. Just curious, who does the Cahill/Brierre combo endorse in that election?

       —anonymous observer    Jul. 29 '08 - 07:02PM    #
  15. Who were the two judicial candidates?

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 29 '08 - 07:50PM    #
  16. Cahill endorses Lesko. Briere isn’t endorsing anyone.

    The two judicial candidates were Margaret Connors and Joan Lowenstein.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 29 '08 - 08:34PM    #
  17. Which judicial candidate(s) is/are Cahill and/or Briere endorsing?

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 29 '08 - 09:09PM    #
  18. We’re both endorsing Lowenstein.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 30 '08 - 04:05AM    #
  19. What will you do to ensure that Ann Arbor has sufficient affordable housing?
    PATRICIA LESKO: I would like to work toward developments that favor co-housing. As you know, co-housing developments have been built in several spots surrounding Ann Arbor, and provide a wide variety of attractive design and construction attributes—the inclusion of green space, for instance—not to mention price point that is far more affordable than, say, the recent North Sky development which was just voted on by Council.

    This answer just astonished me. It shows such a profound lack of understanding of “affordable” housing issues and knowledge of the market. Co-housing developments near Ann Arbor are expensive! They are a certain type of living arrangement, but inexpensive is not part of the deal. They are actually very much on a par with the expected prices of the North Sky development. Even the Sunward web site says “It’s important to realize that Sunward, like the community of Ann Arbor, is generally an expensive place to live.” Some current rental/sales rates are here, here, and here (don’t forget to add the community fee of several hundred dollars/month on top of these prices). Not only that, but the co-housing units “in” Ann Arbor were all built in the townships specifically so they don’t have to contribute to taxes in Ann Arbor (but do use the services like public schools). Oh, and as far as I can tell, they aren’t even really on a bus line (the closest stop seems to be over a half-mile away at best). Now the Inter-Cooperative Council co-ops are a good deal but I’m thinking that isn’t what Ms. Lesko is talking about.

    Affordable housing in Ann Arbor isn’t just about squeaky-clean late 20s couples needing to find a lovely place to raise a family (although there is that too). There are real issues and real barriers to some people finding housing. None of them can be addressed by “working toward developments that favor co-housing.”

       —Juliew    Jul. 30 '08 - 05:15AM    #
  20. When we were house-hunting, we looked at co-housing and it was definitely out of our price range, and we’re both professionals!

    I have heard 20-something professionals complain about the lack of housing at the standards they want and price they can afford. I only have so much patience for those complaints, but they do raise the question of retaining the “creative class.”

    That’s not to say having housing for the folks who actually make the city run.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Jul. 30 '08 - 05:35AM    #
  21. I have just checked the addresses of everyone who contributed to Sandi Smith’s campaign in the reporting cycle ending July 20. I also included a $500.00 “late contribution” which came in July 26.

    Sandi’s total contributions were $6328.28.

    Of that amount, $1026.20 was from addresses in the First Ward.

    Therefore, only 16.22% of her contributions were from addresses in the First Ward. 83.78% – more than 5/6 – were from addresses outside the First Ward.

    It looks like Sandi does not have much support in the ward she is seeking to represent.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 30 '08 - 05:16PM    #
  22. Just happened onto this first ward discussion. More fun than others. Two things pop up to me – seems like a diversion from the real topic when you talk about the timing of people leaving a meeting. Add the time spent on finding out the percentages of where funds come from (who has time for that?) & I believe that David Cahill has an axe to grind against one of the candidates instead of adding to a otherwise interesting discussion. Politics!

       —Rita Columbo    Jul. 30 '08 - 06:16PM    #
  23. Sure, Rita, I support Pat Lesko. It is relevant that one candidate’s supporters are not interested in the Obama campaign. What does this lack of interest say about their party loyalty? From what happened at the meeting, it looks like Lesko’s campaign has more party regulars as supporters than Smith’s does.

    A campaign’s source of funds is always of great public interest. That’s why we have campaign finance reporting laws.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 30 '08 - 07:28PM    #
  24. Speaking as Sandi’s campaign treasurer, I can tell you that the majority of Sandi’s campaign contributions came from friends and family. These people may not live in the 1st ward, but they support Sandi because they know her well and know she will be a good city councilperson.

    Yes, a campaign’s source of funds is always great public interest. I know Pat filed a waiver for her campaign, but in the interest of transparency, wouldn’t it be interesting to see her numbers as well?

       —Jennifer Hall    Jul. 30 '08 - 07:37PM    #
  25. It just occurred to me that since Pat has filed a waiver, that means that she expects to raise (or spend) less than $1000 during her campaign. Seems to me that Sandi’s $1026 support from the 1st ward exceeds that of Pat’s.

       —Jennifer Hall    Jul. 30 '08 - 09:02PM    #
  26. “I know Pat filed a waiver for her campaign, but in the interest of transparency, wouldn’t it be interesting to see her numbers as well?”

    Pat’s website and blog don’t help much. At one point she insists that she’s funding her campaign entirely with $700 of her own money. At another point she thanks people for the donations to the campaign but implies that they merely fell out of the sky because she’s “not fundraising!” And then more recently she files a waiver and declines to discuss the issue at all because it’s going to amount to less than $1000 anyway. And what about the donations in kind, like her printer colleague she boasts printed and produced her yard signs at 25% of the going rate? That’s $670 right there. Does she have to declare that?

    It all sounds like the bumbling of an amateur, and would be perfectly forgivable, except that with Mr. Cahill involved one is inclined to assume that there is some premeditated prevarication.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 30 '08 - 09:39PM    #
  27. You’re being too clever by half, Jennifer. The absolute amounts don’t count as much as the proportions.

    It is clear from your nicely-done report that Sandi’s campaign is being largely funded from outside the ward. Very largely funded, actually. I have never heard of a Council campaign receiving more than 80% of its contributions from outside the ward in question.

    Of course Sandi’s contributors like her. It would be truly bizarre if her enemies contributed. 8-)

    Whoever pays the piper calls the tune.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 30 '08 - 10:08PM    #
  28. I’m glad that folks brought up the co-housing prices. My husband is an IT engineer and I’m a public school teacher. We aren’t rich, but we’re okay so long as we both keep our jobs. I was heartbroken when I found out the prices of Sunward and the like.
    I don’t mean to be disrespectful to anyone who lives there, as I understand that prices are what they are, but I was shocked (probably being too naive, as I usually am) when I saw the prices. Personally, I’d love that kind of living arrangement—the shared meals, shared gardens and so on…it all just seems so right to me. Sigh.

       —TeacherPatti    Jul. 31 '08 - 04:37AM    #
  29. “And what about the donations in kind, like her printer colleague she boasts printed and produced her yard signs at 25% of the going rate? That’s $670 right there. Does she have to declare that?”

    If this is accurate, there’s all kinds of problems here. One, donations in-kind have to be reported along with direct contributions. If those exceed $1,000 in value, a waiver would not be permitted. If a candidate is granted a discount on a service that is not given to the general public, that has to be reported and the discount is treated as a contribution by the person who offered it. As individuals are limited to $500 in contributions and corporate contributions are not allowed, if the amount of the contribution by the “printer colleague” exceeded that amount, there would be a problem there as well.

    I would defer to Larry K. on any questions of the campaign finance law but if the claims are accurate, he might want to look into those.

       —John Q.    Jul. 31 '08 - 07:49AM    #
  30. I went and read Pat’s blog and I have to question that this all can be done for under $1000:

    “I’ve done mailings, bought 100 yard signs, 400 tri-fold brochures, 1000 postcards, and other supplies.”

    But I would say that whomever gave her a quote for yard signs that stated they would cost $900 per 100 was grossly overstating the cost of signs. There are local sign makers who will sell you standard yard signs with wires for half that cost (or less). The cost she listed does seem discounted but not by the amount that her blog posting suggests.

       —John Q.    Jul. 31 '08 - 08:02AM    #
  31. Democrats have a tradition of using union printers. If Pat Lesko is using a “friend” to print her signs, does that “friend” employ union labor? I recently picked up an order from our local union printer, Partners Press (1958 S. Industrial) and they sure could use the business. In these hard economic times, we Democrats should stand by our values and support union labor.

    Also, John Q is exactly right about contributions and how they must be reported. The manual for a campaign committee is on line at, Clerk/register’s office.

       —Leah Gunn    Jul. 31 '08 - 03:49PM    #
  32. We are talking about different sign products. Both candidates used union printers, but they ordered different kinds of signs.

    According to her report, Sandi spent $1219 on signs she bought from Sawicki & Son in Detroit. These signs were large, two color on heavy white paper, with big wire frames. She probably bought about 200 signs. She has placed many of them outside the First Ward, for reasons which are obscure.

    Pat, on the other hand, spent $230 on 100 signs that are smaller. They are one color on foam core, with small wire frames. There was no discount or donation, just different purchases.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 31 '08 - 05:13PM    #
  33. I can so agree about the importance of finance reporting (#23), but let’s get back to the substance of the candidates? If I could get answers to the #5 questions from Pat, it might help me on Tuesday. Also interesting discussion about the affordable (or not?) houseing at the co-houseing sites. I guess I need to do some more research!

       —Rita Columbo    Jul. 31 '08 - 05:24PM    #
  34. Dave — 80% is a pretty arbitrary number. You remember Ron Suarez’ 1st ward campaign 2 years ago was overwhelmingly funded from outside your ward. 70%, 75%?

       —Dale    Jul. 31 '08 - 05:31PM    #
  35. 83% is Sandi’s number. I doubt if anyone else’s campaign topped that.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 31 '08 - 06:58PM    #
  36. “There was no discount or donation, just different purchases.”

    She should clarify that in her blog posting. That’s not the impression one gets from her statements. I would also question the costs associated with some of the other items she listed and whether she was able to stay under the $1000 limit. Mailings are expensive. What was mailed and how?

       —John Q.    Jul. 31 '08 - 07:07PM    #
  37. John Q., you should go back and take another look at the blog. They have gone beyond mere clarification. “Clarification” would consist of a July 31 post to “set the record straight.” What they’ve done is go back to the July 26 post, the one that boasted about using her connections to leverage a sweet deal on her signs, and edited it seamlessly to remove the incriminating evidence. I almost took a screen shot of it yesterday, but folks I’m afraid I wasn’t actually cynical enough to think that her campaign would go back and change it.

    But with John Q. and Leah validating my concerns about campaign financing improprieties it appears that panic has set in at Certainly someone should be able to pull up a cached copy of the blog from the July 26-30 period so that others can compare the two versions.

    It’s interesting to note that as these changes to the Lesko blog are occurring, Dave “Napoleon the Pig” Cahill is here, waving his hands in post 32 and whispering distractions.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 31 '08 - 07:48PM    #
  38. I see that PSD, an admitted Republican, is still posting junk while hiding behind a screen name. Tsk.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 31 '08 - 08:40PM    #
  39. Dale, in case you actually care about the numbers (I’m pretty sure that DD really doesn’t), I’ll point out that this is a primary campaign (so far—and it’s not over for a few days yet), and the Suarez numbers you pointed to were for the general election, unless they included both.

       —Steve Bean    Jul. 31 '08 - 08:46PM    #
  40. Re: 13 Sandi is rude???

    FYI, the poster’s wife (Councilwoman Briere) also walked outside at that time, as well as quite a few of Pat guests!

    Outside funding:

    Those of us who work and shop in Ann Arbor’s First Ward are still stakeholders in policy. I support Sandi because she is experienced, progressive, and fiscally responsible. She answers tough questions without resorting to name-calling or other misleading pseudo responses.

       —Joan    Jul. 31 '08 - 10:23PM    #
  41. David, regarding the “Republican” oil slick you try to create whenever you’re looking foolish or mendacious, as I recall the issue (at least where I’m concerned) was put to bed here.

    It would be nice if Pat Lesko would explain herself. The longer she allows the likes of you serve as her mouthpiece the worse she looks.

    Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Jul. 31 '08 - 10:28PM    #
  42. PSD is correct. The portion I quoted has been removed completely. That’s very sketchy behavior.

    Larry, what is the process required to file a complaint about possible campaign finance violations?

       —John Q.    Jul. 31 '08 - 10:29PM    #
  43. Anyone that wishes to file grievances for violation of the Michigan Campaign Finance Act can download the complaint form from the Secretary of State website at and send it to the listed address in Lansing. They have election analysts that are available by telephone that can assist you in the process. Their Bureau of Elections telephone number is (517) 373-2540 and the Bureau of Elections Director is Christopher Thomas. If Larry has any further information on the process, I would be happy for him augment my information.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 31 '08 - 11:37PM    #
  44. That about sums it up.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jul. 31 '08 - 11:43PM    #
  45. Well, CM Briere walked back into the meeting. Sandi’s people didn’t.

    It’s not much of a surprise that PSD always opposes the most progressive Democrat. Too bad that he, as a Republican, has to make do with that in Ann Arbor. Or, perhaps s/he’s really another City Councilperson in disguise. I’m assuming, without any evidence, that s/he lives in AA.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 1 '08 - 03:43AM    #
  46. Glad to hear about support for union labor, in the printing of yard signs in particular. I supported the IBEW picketers of the Public Market solar panel construction by going to the Public Market Advisory Committee and publicly expressing my solidarity. As a First ward citizen, I want my current and potential City Council members to know that I support union labor in ALL city construction projects.

       —Luis Vazquez    Aug. 1 '08 - 04:45AM    #
  47. “Pat, on the other hand, spent $230 on 100 signs that are smaller. They are one color on foam core, with small wire frames. There was no discount or donation, just different purchases.”

    Does Pat realize that foam core is 1) petroleum based and 2) awful for the environment and 3) will remain in our local landfills, impacting our local food production, for several mileniums?

       —anonymous observer    Aug. 1 '08 - 05:00AM    #
  48. David, your efforts to, as you say, “out” anonymous posters would have more legitimacy if you applied the same standard to those who agree with you as those who disagree with you. Why do you pounce on PSD’s identity but never question folks like First Warder

    But on a more serious note, I don’t think the word “progressive” has much connection to local politics. As I see it, there are basically 2 visions of Ann Arbor:

    1. growth for good Invest in the downtown and create pathways for new housing and businesses so that we have the tax base to support good services for our parks, low-income population, and other city services and so that we have a compact downtown that isn’t car-based as an alternative to sprawl.

    2. conservationist Ann Arbor is pretty good as it is, and to pour more concrete downtown damages our green space and connection to nature, and to invest in downtown services takes money away from parks, city services, and social services.

    I think both visions are progressive visions, more or less, and I don’t think it’s as easy as saying “the most progressive candidate.”

    Okay, to take this one step further, both positions are vulnerable to progressive attacks.

    The “growth for good” position is vulnerable to the attack that it’s anti-environment by paving over green space (such as the proposed greenway).

    The “conservationist” position is vulnerable to the attack that it’s anti-environmental because by limiting urban density it promotes suburban sprawl. It’s also vulnerable to the charge that it’s anti-poor because it creates amenities for existing residents while constraining the amount of new housing. The effect of which is great for folks who already live here and own their homes (property values go up), but bad for folks who want to come in.

    Lesko and Smith, Armentrout and Hohnke, they’re all progressives, just like Superman and Rocky Road are both flavors of ice cream. They do have different visions for how to implement their progressive values in Ann Arbor.

    End of rant. Time for bed.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Aug. 1 '08 - 11:06AM    #
  49. Oop! I was wrong about Lesko’s signs. I went out into the front yard and examined hers more closely. It’s not foam core. Instead, it’s plastic. It consists of two thin sheets of plastic with rectangular tubes of plastic between them – plastic girders? But it also is not recyclable.

    Campaign signs are often not thrown away. They are saved by the winners for use in the next election cycle. We saved all of Sabra’s signs from last year. I think Sandi has also said she will keep her signs, which don’t identify a date for the election.

    My favorite sign re-user is County Commissioner Barbara Bergman. While I was out in the yard, I examined hers more closely. The basic sign says re-elect Barbara Bergman. Stuck over part of that sign is a red rectangle that reminds people of a primary on August 8. That date is from two years ago. Over the 8 Barbara has glued the number 5, so that it reads August 5.

    This sign has been used for at least six years!

       —David Cahill    Aug. 1 '08 - 05:11PM    #
  50. Yesterday Lesko was endorsed by the Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 1 '08 - 06:09PM    #
  51. Here is the statement by Progressives of Washtenaw (POW!) endorsing Patricia Lesko:

    Progressives of Washtenaw (POW!) has endorsed Patricia Lesko for the open council seat in Ann Arbor’s First Ward. POW! had been poised to endorse incumbent councilmember Ron Suarez until his recent decision to withdraw from the race due to family and business considerations. Suarez immediately endorsed Patricia Lesko and encouraged his supporters to vote for her.

    Due to the timing of the decision to withdraw from the race by Councilmember Suarez, First Ward voters will need to write in Patricia Lesko on the Democratic primary ballot on August 5th. POW! strongly encourages First Ward citizens to write in Patricia Lesko for First Ward council.

    Patricia Lesko has a long history of working for the people of the First Ward as a PTO leader and as an activist committed to neighborhoods and citizen participation. We are confident she is the best choice for First Ward voters and will represent all of the citizens of the First Ward, not simply the needs of developers, and downtown property owners and corporations.

    The first ward has a long tradition of electing progressive activists as representatives on City Council. Patricia Lesko will be a fine addition to the pantheon of First Ward progressive city
    council members which includes Larry Hunter, Lowell Peterson, Ann Marie Coleman, Tobi Hanna Davies, Pat Dixon, Jean Robinson, Bob Johnson, Kim Groome, Ron Suarez and Sabra Briere. These fine progressive activists have had the courage and the desire to stand up to the powerful members of our community and work on behalf of all the people, especially those with the least. Patricia Lesko has the same strong commitment to the people of the First Ward.

    Patricia Lesko has two children attending the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and she has owned and operated small book and magazine publishing businesses. Patricia Lesko has a strong commitment to keeping our parkland preserved, maintained and publicly owned. Patricia Lesko supports reasonable development which does not put at risk what is great about our city. Patricia Lesko believes in open and transparent governmental processes to ensure accountability for taxpayers. Patricia Lesko deserves the support of the people of the First Ward.

    Write In Patricia Lesko for First Ward Council August 5.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 2 '08 - 03:28AM    #
  52. Has a write-in candidate ever won an Ann Arbor City Council seat before? Does Lesko have a chance?

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 2 '08 - 04:07AM    #
  53. Steve — I ran that report (with the help of volunteers) the first week in August 2006 from papers filed at the end of July. They are comparable.

       —Dale    Aug. 2 '08 - 05:00AM    #
  54. Re: AA Greenway people (#50)-
    First how many of them live in the 1st ward? Better yet, how many are there in total?
    Second, I have never trusted them since I read what Richard Murphy said on June 13, 2005 in the Viewpoint in the MI Daily “...the Friends of the Ann Arbor Greenway, a slogan-toting band of nearby homeowners who have decided that this looks like an excellent opportunity to score themselves some pork. Sorry, “park.” The Friends are demanding that no parking structure be built and that the site be devoted entirely to parkland. They’ve dismissed the DDA’s park as a “token park,” demanding a “full-scale” greenway instead — a difference of perhaps an acre. They’ve silenced downtown business owners who support the DDA’s plan, mocking or threatening those who openly support it. They seem to have some issues with money: Anybody who supports the DDA’s plan is “in the pockets of the big developers” (my kickbacks must have been lost in the mail), and they studiously avoid talking about where the money is going to come from for their version of the park, let alone all of the other sitework needed. They’re deceptive — simplifying the issues to “parks, not parking structures!” — and they’re just plain mean, openly booing a student who said at a city council meeting that the DDA’s plan would benefit the whole city, while the Friends vision would only benefit their neighborhood.”

    Re:POW (#51)-
    Don’t know if being endorsed by POW is a good thing either…Are there only 7 of them with 2 guest writers? Having watched them for a while,I find it interesting that 3 or 4 them are realtors. And that the head of the Dem Party in AA is on it too. Wow. I believe a little therapy (sic) would help them realize that they are still acktin like the little kids that didn’t get picked for the school play in 2nd grade or for the baseball team in the 7th grade. Could they print their questions & answers? I found the ArborUpdate Q&A to be helpful.

    Hate to be redundant: Could Pat please answer the questions to #5? I am still open to who to vote for on Tuesday-but time is running out soon.

       —Rita Columbo    Aug. 2 '08 - 06:00AM    #
  55. No response since Friday night at 10:00? Did I break the system? Or…did a ‘bigger’ power tell David to quiet down? Seems like that power told Pat, too. Interesting politics!

       —Rita Columbo    Aug. 4 '08 - 07:12PM    #
  56. Ha! Sorry, “Rita”, but I realized that you are just another screen name, so why respond?

       —David Cahill    Aug. 4 '08 - 09:42PM    #
  57. Rita, David and Pat are obviously busy rewriting Pat’s blog and preparing to defend themselves in the campaign finance scandal they’ve created. And the scandal is just going to get more interesting as she has to declare all of the “last minute” donations and all of the checks she hadn’t cashed because she’s been too darn busy to open the envelopes they were in. ‘Cause you can’t declare money you didn’t know you had, right?

    And how ironic that Dave gets so lathered up over screen names. After all, what’s the creation of a little on-line persona compared to what he’s done: he’s frankensteined himself an entire city council candidate.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 4 '08 - 10:04PM    #
  58. In post # 5 I wrote “You ask practical, difficult questions which require actual thought and planning. As a result you will receive no answers.”

    Unfortunately, for residents of the 1st ward, my words proved prophetic.

    When sound bites and easy political maneuvers are eliminated, Candidate Lesko has no substance.

       —anonymous observer    Aug. 5 '08 - 02:30AM    #
  59. David:

    Being somewhat new to the area & really new to the politics of the area, I began my fact finding mission on web pages. Having found this one, I was quite excited about seeing the dialog at the beginning.

    When I really started digging in, I found the true essence of the candidates & some of their supporters.

    it seems to me that Ann Arbor is a good town. Besides being on some of the Top 10 or Top 50 “cool” places (for many reasons), it has a small town flavor with big town conveniences. REI, TWO whole foods, a fab co-op, parks all over the city (including downtown), a great university, trees…everywhere, happy people that say hi to you as you walk around, great new ADA compliant corners, wonderful purple busses, dogs on (& off) leashes and…wow…as I have read recently even chickens if you want them. What more could you ask for? Ok, so the weather could be better in February; but it’s always better the next day.

    Back to my point…Ann Arbor is a good town. Those of you who are so negative are really surprising to me. I’m sure that there is alot more that could be done to improve the town, but the mudslinging is just not a way to get it done, in my opinion.

    I would never vote for (nor do I even want to be around) someone that points fingers at others & tries to make themselves look good by trying to degrade others. Kid stuff. Been there, already put up with it, never need it again. (see where therapy helps?)

    And…until I know who all of the players are, I won’t identify myself. Too easy to have the back-biting & mud-slinging pointed at me instead of others. Life’s too short to get in that arena.

    I’d rather be reading about AARP’s top cities than mucking in the mud.

    Enough…off to REI & then to run the dog in the new dog park! (yeah, it ain’t perfect, so why don’t you just whine about it in a blog?)

    Good luck to those tomorrow who have not stooped & wallowed in the mud. Life is brighter when you look up to the sky instead of down to the gutter. And the rest of us need you to be bright…while you work your tails off for us.

    Why would anyone want to be a politician? A good politician, that is.

       —Rita Columbo    Aug. 5 '08 - 02:39AM    #
  60. Candidate Lesko indicates she is a member of the People’s Food Co-op and has served on its board of directors. I wonder if she has any comments on the recent YouTube video taken in front of the co-op on July 20, 2008 that has already garnered over 1,600 hits.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 5 '08 - 05:04AM    #
  61. This link to the Ann Arbor City Council Ward 1 results (at will have the results for this race – nothing counted yet at 10pm.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 6 '08 - 06:02AM    #
  62. I completely agree with Rita… life is too short to get involved in childish political behavior. In the last town I lived in, I was deeply involved in the local political scene and every time you go downtown you run into someone who hates you because of your stand on one side of any polarizing issue. I feel like I’ve been able to step away and start over in Ann Arbor… so I remain anonymous and friendly to everyone I meet downtown.

    After perusing all the postings and David Cahill’s meanderings, I decided to vote for Sandi Smith.

       —New In Town    Aug. 6 '08 - 07:04AM    #
  63. All of these City Council elections point out that the residents of Ann Arbor want positive leadership. They want intelligent discussion. They want good government that can get down to business and do the hard task of governing. They don’t want nasty sniping and complaining, wild conspiracy theories about City Hall, personal attacks, and other political gymnastics. This vote demonstrates that Ann Arbor voters are very positive after all. I would encourage those who lost this election to continue to find ways to also serve the City. It is not easy to put yourself out in public like this in an election.

       —math man    Aug. 6 '08 - 08:36AM    #
  64. And Sandi Smith won!

       —Leah Gunn    Aug. 6 '08 - 08:40AM    #
  65. Maybe Pat Lesko can run next year for the other First Ward City Council seat. I would certainly think she would get a lot of support.

       —Kerry D.    Sep. 29 '08 - 06:54AM    #