Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Candidates for November 3rd 2009

2. November 2009 • Matt Hampel
Email this article

Five Ann Arbor City Council positions are open, but only two are contested. (see all candidates)

In the 1st Ward, Democratic incumbent Sabra Briere is challenged by independent Mitchell Ozog.

In the 4th Ward, Democratic incumbent Marcia Higgins faces independent challenger Hatim A. Elhady.



  1. I’m sorry that you didn’t do the questionnaire thing for candidates this year.

    Of course that would have been by email…


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Nov. 3 '09 - 12:03AM    #
  2. Matt, you didn’t state explicitly that you closed off the comments on the previous council election thread.

    I wanted to comment on David Cahill’s report that the AV ballots would be counted at city hall. This is a significant departure from recent practice. The practice has been to count the AV ballots at each precinct. That meant that it was impossible to know what percentage of the vote was AV (without doing some calculations) and what percentage of the AV vote went for each candidate. That information should now be available and could yield important information about Ann Arbor voting behavior and campaign strategy for future campaigns.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Nov. 3 '09 - 03:59PM    #
  3. We were #2 and 3 at the 4th ward Mary Street polling place at about 8:45. Our neighbor was #1 (he was working there).


       —Juliew    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:11PM    #
  4. At 9:15 am, the combined vote for precincts 4-7 and 5-7 at Dicken Elementary School was 146. Precinct 5-7 usually has a much lighter turn-out than 4-7 and that is likely today, as well, with no contested council race in the 5th.


       —Jack Eaton    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:21PM    #
  5. I have information from Acting Director of Elections Washtenaw County Mr. Matt Yankee regarding graphic. – Mr. Yankee say:

    “I just wanted to clarify the issue of the graphic next to Sabra Briere’s name on the ballot.

    That graphic is not the American Flag; it is official vignette for the State’s Democratic Party adopted per MCL 168.684. Michigan’s ballot production standards require the vignettte placed on the ballot next to a partisan candidate’s name (or next to the party name if there is a Straight Party Vote section included).

    Because candidates running as “No Party Affiliation” do not have an officially adopted vignette, none is placed next to their names.”

    Well Nice and we call this democratic process.
    MO


       —Mitchell Ozog    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:58PM    #
  6. Maybe the law should be changed to allow independent candiates to supply their own vignette.

    I remember Robert Tisch, the Shiawassee County Drain Commissioner, ran for governor and had his own face on the ballot under his own party, which I found to be amusing.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 06:05PM    #
  7. Vivienne, do you think it’s in the public interest to provide that information or is it really only of value to candidates?


       —Steve Bean    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:15PM    #
  8. Steve, how do you respond to Post #539 on the predecessor to this thread.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:25PM    #
  9. The absentee votes in AA City are being counted in City Hall, according to the City Clerk, because in 2008 farming them out to be counted in the precincts did not go well. This year’s central counting is a trial run for 2010.

    The Clerk implied that there are a lot of absentee ballots. She suggested that campaigns send someone down to City Hall to get the absentee results.

    My own view is that AVs traditionally are cast primarily by seniors and the well-to-do who are away from the City on business trips. The AVs tend to be in favor of the conservative candidates. These were Republicans when there were Republicans. 8-)


       —David Cahill    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:42PM    #
  10. The on-line poll at a2politico.com shows Hatim Elhady with a lead of around 3-1 over Marcia Higgins.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 08:02PM    #
  11. Steve,
    The AV votes are data, information about the functioning of our political system. Obviously candidates want to know the information but the public should have all such information freely available for whatever reason that each person may wish to have it. I’m always for open access to information as a public benefit.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Nov. 3 '09 - 08:06PM    #
  12. Michael, re: #535 on the closed ‘…Elections’ thread, I wasn’t defending the commenter, but clarifying the comment, which you misrepresented. Clarity doesn’t depend on the speaker, it stands on its own (or not.)


       —Steve Bean    Nov. 3 '09 - 08:12PM    #
  13. there is an excellent post, in response/juxtaposition to one by jack eaton, that appears on the MICHIGAN DAILY thread dealing with that papers’ endorsements. it directly clarifies ( #12 above) the whole matter that mr bean correctly addresses that got so many elhady supporters’ shorts in a knot, leading them to unjustly crucify poor mr ( or ms) “s.ross”.

    they might well consider that” the fault ,dear brutus, lies not in the stars but in ourselves”


       —blaines tone    Nov. 3 '09 - 09:05PM    #
  14. In today’s annarbor.com City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry has already opined that a better than average voter turnout is occurring in Ann Arbor.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 09:15PM    #
  15. “The on-line poll at a2politico.com shows Hatim Elhady with a lead of around 3-1 over Marcia Higgins.”

    I wouldn’t put too much stock in that poll. I went to that site and viewed the content. It seems to be set up by an individual with the sole purpose of defeating the council members they view as the “establishment”. Based on the comments, the readers of that site all have the same narrow view.

    Just an opinion, but the content there seems mean-spirited and juvenile and there seems to be a creepy angry and exclusionary feel to the whole thing.


       —Marvin Face    Nov. 3 '09 - 10:34PM    #
  16. “….but the content there seems mean-spirited and juvenile and there seems to be a creepy angry and exclusionary feel to the whole thing.”

    Doesn’t that sound like City Council chambers when the “Council Party” is in session?


       —Annette Gilbert    Nov. 3 '09 - 11:14PM    #
  17. “…seems mean-spirited and juvenile and there seems to be a creepy angry and exclusionary feel to the whole thing.”

    Somebody didn’t get their Pandy?


       —yet another    Nov. 4 '09 - 12:04AM    #
  18. “Just an opinion, but the content there seems mean-spirited and juvenile and there seems to be a creepy angry and exclusionary feel to the whole thing.”

    Annette you beat me to the punch. Lol..


       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 4 '09 - 12:35AM    #
  19. Did I mention juvenile? Oh yes. I did.
    .
    .
    .
    “Lots of love” right back atcha Alan


       —Marvin Face    Nov. 4 '09 - 02:07AM    #
  20. Ann Arbor.com is reporting the following:

    “Briere defeated Mitchell Ozog by 1,375 to 387, according to unofficial results with all but three precincts and the absentee votes counted. Higgins beat Hatim Elhady 2,183 to 1,299, according to unofficial results with all precincts counted”.

    So much for the Elhady landslide…


       —scooter62    Nov. 4 '09 - 03:52AM    #
  21. One of the Democratic Party ward chairman told me a week ago that Elhady’s major strategic blunder was not running in the August primary as a Democrat.

    Elhady thought the student vote would carry him through and would not be there in August.

    Looks like the chairman was right.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 4 '09 - 03:57AM    #
  22. The a2chronicle report via twitter:

    well, our strategy for collecting election results fell apart, but here it is: Higgins: 2183, Elhady 1299

    which confirms the unofficial results reported by AnnArbor.com


       —Edward Vielmetti    Nov. 4 '09 - 04:10AM    #
  23. The 4th Ward turnout today is much higher than the 3rd Ward in August and (probably) the 5th Ward in Aug. 2008. Will guess that the WISD referendum drew more local attention than I anticipated.

    Although Elhady lost, persuading 1300 people to look for the independent candidate on the ballot and make that selection, rather than for a party candidate, indicates a strong effort.

    Question: looking at the time stamp on comments, does the AU server reside in Nova Scotia?


       —yet another    Nov. 4 '09 - 04:30AM    #
  24. Is silence on the issues the key to winning?


       —Dan Gersten    Nov. 4 '09 - 04:45AM    #
  25. I would like to take this opportunity to quote a post on a prior thread entitled “Washtenaw Election Results 8 November 2005” that was posted on that same date by a poster utilizing the admittedly distateful pseudonym “Marcia Blows”:

    “I can’t believe that Marcia Higgins won again. She never seems to know what is going on and its a shame that she will be in office again. It should be the goal of this blog to make her look like a fool. This is just more evidence of how ridiculous the people in the fourth ward(sic) are.”

    Yes, M.B., your time-honored quotation was taken to heart by dozens of citizens who generated hundreds of posts to execute that very theme, however Higgins has won yet again. The anguish and disappointment you had four years ago was felt anew, but unlike 2007, a candidate valiantly attempted to unseat Higgins and inspired many.

    We can only hope in 2011 that another candidate will arise to go toe-to-toe with Higgins.

    I thank all those who opposed Marcia Higgins this election cycle.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 4 '09 - 05:20AM    #
  26. And I thank all of those who supported her. Obviously, the voters of the Fourth Ward are far wiser than the bloggers on Arbor Update. It was a particularly satisfying win for all of us who worked very hard to re-elect Marcia Higgins, and is evidence of the intelligence of the voters in the Fourth Ward of the City of Ann Arbor.


       —Leah Gunn    Nov. 4 '09 - 06:06AM    #
  27. As predicted, Higgins wins big and we can get back to business as usual on City council. The trust I put in the hands of my friends in the 4th was rewarded and they did the right thing.

    I think Elhady could have done better if he had not been “advised” by people that have been nothing but unsuccessful in City elections.


       —Marvin Face    Nov. 4 '09 - 06:13AM    #
  28. Congrats to Marcia Higgins (and Leah Gunn for running such a great campaign for Marcia). The voters have spoken and Marcia is their choice…now, back to business…


       —scooter62    Nov. 4 '09 - 06:28AM    #
  29. I would like thanks to anyone who was voting for me in Ann Arbor City Council election. The report: will come soon.

    Mitchell Ozog


       —Mitchell Ozog    Nov. 4 '09 - 11:46AM    #
  30. Higgins campaigned on a record of zero, for 10 years. Her opponent was full of ideas and energy. But he had an Arabic name.


       —Dan Gersten    Nov. 4 '09 - 01:19PM    #
  31. Elhady would have stood a better chance if he had competed in the August primary for Marcia’s seat. I think it was not being a Democrat that killed his campaign. If Marcia had not switched her party from Repub to Dem after 2003; she might well have lost last night. I’m a Green but I know this town is doggedly Democratic. The student vote when it did come out voted Democratic, that is for Marcia.


       —ChuckL    Nov. 4 '09 - 01:34PM    #
  32. Here’s one of the several lessons that can be learned from yesterday’s election: having Pat Lesko on your campaign team is a certain way to lose an election.

    -Pat ran for 1st Ward City Council, and lost badly.

    -Pat managed LuAnn Bullington’s campaign for 3rd Ward City Council, and LuAnn came in last place.

    -This year, Pat managed the abysmal Elhady campaign that was beaten badly by an incumbent who barely campaigned.

    A warning to local Council-wannabes: if you hope to win, stay away from Pat Lesko.


       —bcorman    Nov. 4 '09 - 01:49PM    #
  33. Pat Lesko vehemently opposed Leigh Greden, and like Mrs. Bullington, reveled in his defeat.

    Leigh Greden was, in my opinion, a far more effective council representative than Marcia Higgins.


       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 4 '09 - 04:13PM    #
  34. Mark-your comments are interesting. So are you saying that Pat Lesko is not actually advocating or campaigning for her candidate (eg. Luanne) to win, but campaigning to take out the opposing candidate?

    If that is so, then the residents of the city should realize that if they vote for one of Lesko’s candidate they are actually voting for “No” representation. Lesko has no interest in putting up a candidate who wants to serve the public; her interest lies in taking down another candidate. If she succeeds then the city and the public suffer.

    In fact a2journal is reporting that Elhady has applied for Grad school out of state at Dartmouth. What would have happened if Elhady won and then got accepted to Dartmouth? Would have Elhady quit midterm?

    These types of questions are quite valid.

    The public has a right to know if a candidate plans on serving after winning the election or if their interest is only in campaigning and taking out another candidate.


       —bcorman    Nov. 4 '09 - 04:31PM    #
  35. “In fact a2journal is reporting that Elhady has applied for Grad school out of state at Dartmouth. What would have happened if Elhady won and then got accepted to Dartmouth? Would have Elhady quit midterm?”

    Eh, great reporting the day after the election…lol.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 4 '09 - 06:14PM    #
  36. Is a belief in the democratic process unfashionable on AU? I thought that, after a fair election, the losers were expected to graciously swallow their disappointment and congratulate the winners, and all sides were supposed to pledge to work together for the common good. Instead, this thread is full of spin from militants unwilling to sheathe their daggers while awaiting the next confrontation, and completely uninterested in the need for the local government to function. The voters have spoken, and they deserve respect in a democracy, whether or not you agree with their choices.


       —Henry Brysk    Nov. 4 '09 - 06:24PM    #
  37. Militants? Is that language directed at Elhady? What are you trying to say? “Militants”?


       —Sam Sterling    Nov. 4 '09 - 06:41PM    #
  38. sam…i suspect mr brysks remark reflects the fact that alot of elhady supporters on this site are indeed militant anti- israel activists….elhady’s main problem in this regard was not openly repudiating them from the outset.

    he could well profit from his ( and my)model of a good politician —-barack obamas—getting out in front of such “guilt by association’, in obamas case with his open disavowal of rev. jeremiah wright, one of the only cases where the right-wing raised a legitimate issue.


       —blaines tone    Nov. 4 '09 - 07:57PM    #
  39. Comment #37 illustrates what I was saying: A call for civility elicits an outburst. The applicable definition of “militant” (from my dictionary) is “aggressive, esp. in the service of a cause: a militant political activist”. I do not use “militant” as a euphemism for “terrorist” as the media tend to do. I have seen no evidence that the term applies to Elhady, under either definition, as Sterling implies. Elhady is ill-served by the insistence of some of his supporters to put Arab victimhood at the core of his candidacy, contrary to his own stated views.


       —Henry Brysk    Nov. 4 '09 - 07:58PM    #
  40. You are the one who keeps using the words “militant” and “terrorist” in the same sentence with “Elhady”. Is that how you plan on handling any future Arab-American who runs for any office in the future? It sure worked this time.


       —Sam Sterling    Nov. 4 '09 - 08:52PM    #
  41. re # 40..mr sterling. do you have a reading disability, re your gross misrepresentaion of brysk’s ? it wasnt really that long a post, and not too complicated.


       —blaines tone    Nov. 4 '09 - 09:21PM    #
  42. We had a number of instant analysis posts on the election earlier in this thread. I invite those experts to weigh in on Mr. Sterling’s conspiracy theory. For that matter, what do Hakim Elhady and Pat Lesko think of it? [Incidentally, I do not live in Ward 4 and did not partake in the campaigning there, nor ever met any of the players].


       —Henry Brysk    Nov. 5 '09 - 04:06AM    #
  43. Since many of you read a2politico I thought I would post here to clear the air.

    A2politico, the blog with no conscience, the blog who rips everyone apart whether they are an elected official, a campaign worker or a resident in the city, the blog that allows comments to remain on the site that are outright lies, defamatory and libelous, took issue with a comment I posted because I called the campaign managers of the Elhady campaign “liars”.

    A ‘liar”??? Is that the worst thing in the world to be called? I can’t believe it. Considering the tone of their blogs articles and the viciousness of some of the comments posted afterwards, I don’t think calling someone a liar justifies removal of a comment. Below is what I posted; the last line was deleted.

    —-beginning of post
    Not a shabby showing by a challenger? Oh please. What this election shows is that blogs are meaningless. According to blog posts and comments by the Elhady campaign leaders Lesko and Eaton:

    * They spoke to hundreds of voters who supposedly expressed overwhelming support for Elhady. * They dropped literature at thousands of doors. * They claimed to have yard sign superiority over Higgins.

    Either (1) Lesko and Eaton are liars, or (2) the voters to whom they spoke were lying about their support for Elhady. I bet it’s #1.
    —end of post

    So how many comments on the a2politico site have been refused or edited to reflect the politico views of the site? There can be no opposing viewpoint. And who’s to say that there polls are even real at this point. That site is nothing more than a PR site for their candidates of choice.

    I am new to actually “blogging” but have read blogs for years. I might not always agree with what is posted here on this site, but at least there’re opposing viewpoints. A2politico is a joke.


       —Jenna T.    Nov. 5 '09 - 04:22PM    #
  44. I’m not defending a2politico or getting into that fight, but I’ll comment on your broader point (#43)

    I am always uncomfortable with calling people liars. Often people are speaking from different perspectives, have a different set of information, or are using illustrations, metaphors, or hyperbole that don’t quite ring right, but are meant to express a viewpoint. The viewpoint can certainly be debated, on the basis of what is presented.

    “Liars” present material that is deliberately falsified. Using that term implies vile intent and outright dishonesty. As such, it is an accusation that should be made only with deliberation. It is not a “viewpoint”.

    With regard to the statement about talking with hundreds of voters, I know nothing about the facts in the case, but I don’t see why their statements conflict with what is known about the outcome of the election. Elhady did receive quite a few votes, certainly more than hundreds. (1299, to be exact) They may indeed have had yard sign superiority, since that would have only been in the hundreds. They may have dropped thousands of pieces of literature; it isn’t disproved by the vote.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Nov. 5 '09 - 05:56PM    #
  45. I agree with the preceding comment as far as saying that the facts as presented don’t support a logical conclusion that either the campaign leaders or voters must be liars. But IMO, saying someone is “lieing” is sometimes just a hyperbolic way of expressing a viewpoint that they are stretching or spinning the truth.

    If it was my blog, I wouldn’t have deleted any portion of the comment (assuming the copy presented here is accurate) as it seemed like just an expression of an opinion to me.


       —Michael Schils    Nov. 5 '09 - 06:29PM    #
  46. In some circles, calling you a liar is “fightin’ words”. It certainly makes me furious when unfairly applied to me. Semantics, like so many other things, are a matter of personal taste but can be important.

    I only delete comments that are personal attacks on my blog. Fortunately, it is so boring that I don’t get much of that and haven’t had to do it.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Nov. 5 '09 - 06:55PM    #
  47. The issue here is once again about hypocrisy.

    Should the writer of a blog known for tearing apart people’s reputations using hard, malicious language disguised as satire be allowed to reject comments that are not all that malicious (a liar? come on!) and/or because the comment is insulting to them or their friends.

    a2politico can obviously do what they want, but the readers should now know that they are disingenuous. I agree with Jenna, the site is just a PR website to back their candidates.


       —bcorman    Nov. 5 '09 - 07:09PM    #
  48. The real reason Jenna’s comment got booted is because Pat Lesko is a2politico… and she ran Elhady’s campaign (notice how there no news posts or comments from a2politico on monday and tues during election crunch time?). Of course she doesn’t want comments calling the campaign dishonest to go up on her blog. What I’d like to know is whether Elhady knew his campaign manager was using an anonymous blog to talk smack about anyone who opposed him?


       —BB9    Nov. 5 '09 - 09:14PM    #
  49. Some post-election numbers, as witnessed from a lofty heights of a residential armchair:

    In the 4th Ward, 3927 ballots were cast, by my count from eWashtenaw. The WISD proposal received 3901 total votes (both yes & no), while the council race generated 3515 (both Elhady and Higgins, plus 33 write-ins). Of all ballots cast, 26 did not include a vote on WISD, as compared to 412 that contained no vote for either council candidate.

    As for the winning totals in uncontested council races, the A2 Journal post-election article states the following:

    Running unopposed was Second Ward Democrat Stephen Rapundalo, who received 2,685 votes. In the Third Ward, Stephen Kunselman, who won an August Democratic primary, grabbed 2,452 votes, while in Fifth Ward incumbent council member Mike Anglin got 3,929 votes.

    Ironically, each of these uncontested winners polled more votes than either Higgins (2183) or Briere (1616) who faced independent candidates and who actively campaigned. Further, in comparison to their respective winning totals in the hotly contested August primaries, Kunselman received nearly 2000 additional votes, and Anglin improved his count by upwards of 2600.

    Two years ago at this time, in the city’s November 2007 general election, Anglin picked up only 711 total votes, while Higgins drew 458, Rapundalo earned 843, and Briere reeled in 392.

    Could there be reason to think (per one take on conventional wisdom) that the WISD awoke from slumber a fair number of the local citizenry who normally rest very quietly at times like this? That it created a startle among the vast, teeming masses otherwise inclined to snooze contentedly through yet another odd-year November election? Then later… as they stood facing their little cardboard voting booth with ballot in hand, did these same people dutifully decide to add another mark to the sheet — on the line for the ward Democrat — for the purely existential reason that it was there? Or maybe it didn’t seem quite right to their school-trained minds not to fill out everything on a form when politely asked to do so?

    The science of armchair analytics does point us in the direction of one alternative socio-political explanation for the relative outpouring of voters in November’s uncontested 2nd, 3rd and 5th Ward council elections:

    Ann Arborites maintain a special affinity for Soviet-style best-of-one contests, to which they respond with a hearty jaunt to the polls, carrying with them a serene enthusiasm. It’s the politburo effect — the warm satisfaction of knowing you’re voting for a winner. No distasteful upset will occur to spoil your effort, turning the trip to the polling station into a dispiriting waste. Everyone goes home happy, no one need be a loser. By unanimous acclaim, and without fail, every one of The People gets their Chosen Representative.

    Wait… what did you say? All of the widely ignored November 2007 council races were technically uncontested? Really? Oh, never mind then.

    Or… as a sinister plot, might the many alleged election robocalls have contained a crafty, subliminal message that secretly implored residents to bestow a little affirmative attention upon their neglected neighborhood Democrat? Has anyone taken the time to uncover hidden meaning by playing these strange recordings backwards? (In this context, also note that it’s now exactly 40 years since Paul died, as first reported on Detroit radio, I believe. Please keep him in your prayers.)


       —yet another    Nov. 6 '09 - 12:04AM    #
  50. The numbers of votes in different wards has often been disparate. Technically, each ward is supposed to have the same number of residents, as counted by the census, as compared to voters. But usually there are not as many votes in the 1st Ward as the 5th, for example.

    BTW, the 2010 census should lead to redistricting unless the population has been absolutely static since 2000. Watch for fireworks if any real population shifts have occurred. I think that last time the city ward boundaries did not shift very much.

    Paul who?


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Nov. 6 '09 - 12:22AM    #
  51. The only robo calls that I got were against the Charter Amendment Proposals (which we now know were financed by the Michigan Press Assn.). They were profuse in number – about six or seven – and highly annoying. I also got one robo call from Albert Berriz asking me to vote against the millage for schools.

    I know for a fact that calls on behalf of Marcia Higgins were made by live volunteers – she did not engage a robo calling company. I don’t believe that Hatim Elhady did either, although I personally did not receive a call from his campaign, which would hardly be surprising.


       —Leah Gunn    Nov. 6 '09 - 12:54AM    #
  52. Sorry, did not intend to leave you with any impression that either candidate might have been linked with referenda-related robocalling.

    Paul who?

    Fun reads can be found here and here.

    “Fact” checking indicates that the Michigan Daily (and WCBN to a degree) played key roles in kick-starting national & international coverage. Also, it’s now 40 years since the ‘story’ first broke; the ‘death’ actually occurred three years previous. If the wiki world is to be believed, a core truth all along was really “cranberry sauce,” a common comestible, and not burial.

    For some of us still too young at that time to read & understand the underground press, the ongoing pseudo-saga amounted to an introduction to ‘investigative’ reporting.


       —yet another    Nov. 6 '09 - 01:39AM    #
  53. It strikes me as ironic that despite Paul’s death, he is now a heartbeat away from being the last surviving Beatle.


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Nov. 6 '09 - 02:19PM    #
  54. RE:48 Do you have any proof that Pat Lesko runs A2politico.com or is that just your guess?

    While I disagree with A2P’s decision to delete the “liar” accusation, I believe saying that discredits the entire site is a gross overstatement. After all, if censoring opposing viewpoints was the objective, then the entire comment would have been deleted and not just the last line.

    The site administrator stated that of the 650 comments posted, that is the first one that has been edited. Seeing as there haven’t been any previous complaints, there really isn’t any reason not to believe that statement.


       —Michael Schils    Nov. 6 '09 - 05:37PM    #
  55. Michael-Your argument would be more credible if the comments that were allowed to remain on a2politico were not so defamatory to people mentioned in the articles or to other posters.

    If they claim that none of the 650 posts, some inappropriate, some lies, some defamatory) were edited or denied but calling someone a simple liar suddenly raises a red flag for a2politico, then the site and people involved have no credibility.

    It does sure look like Patricia Lesko or Jack Eaton (who is also mentioned in the post) is the creator of a2politico. It makes perfect sense.


       —bcorman    Nov. 6 '09 - 06:23PM    #
  56. It makes perfect sense that Dick Cheney is the Son of the Lord of the Underworld, too, but that doesn’t (necessarily) make it true.

    I agree that the deletion was inconsistent with what has been allowed on that site. But “blogs are meaningless” was how this person self-introduced themself to the site. Now I have to say that that is how I would probably introduce myself on a site if I wanted to get my first comment deleted. Blog operators have feelings, too.

    After that intro, I’m sure the rest of the comment was viewed with closer scrutiny and it was decided that the final liar accusation crossed the line. Comment #44 correctly pointed out that the comment’s conclusion that someone is a liar is not supported by the cited facts. In the past, Arbor Update has also deleted comments that have made false statements about individuals.


       —Michael Schils    Nov. 6 '09 - 10:29PM    #
  57. Firstly, I want to clear up a misunderstanding. A2 Politico is not Pat Lesko nor is it Jack Eaton – but you are getting warm. It is really a website by committee of several who have views similar to these two.

    Secondly, I need to do a post-mortem on the Fourth Ward race. Larry Kestenbaum recently posted on a2politico.com that if Elhady ran as a Democrat and Higgins ran as an independent, Elhady would have won. Higgins was the beneficiary of undeserved Democratic Party support. Elhady ran an aggressive campaign that dwarfed what Marcia Higgins did personally.

    Elhady did have some electoral achievements. He won the Second Precinct and scored over 300 votes in the Dicken School precinct. His 37% vote total actually surpassed what Leigh Greden and Scott Rosencrans garnered in their primary race losses.

    In many ways it was hard to imagine a more negative and uninspiring figure than Marcia Higgins. She unabashedly backed the City Income Tax being placed on the ballot and also was deeply involved in the electronic mail controversy; both were proven factors in Greden’s defeat. A startling number of longtime Democrats and civic leaders identified with the Democratic Party gave varying degrees of support to her young opponent. She was vilified for her years of perceived inactivity on City Council.

    Many of Higgins’ allies cried foul at those attacking her. But look at the First Ward. No great outpouring of civic leaders or members of the general public were uniting behind the incumbent’s independent opponent in that ward. The Fourth Ward had numerous citizens come out to vociferously denounce Higgins’ conduct and pledge their vote to Elhady. Elhady came out of nowhere to become a respected and intelligent candidate people wanted to hear. In many ways the campaign had to be embarrassing to Higgins as she was being criticized at every turn for her performance (or lack thereof) by numerous persons of varying political colors.

    As a councilperson she likely had less to offer than anyone on City Council. At least Leigh Greden had maintained close ties to Third Ward residents and was lauded for his ability to produce for his constutuents. Marcia was lambasted for the Stadium Bridge problems as well as other matters of community concern.

    I feel that Marcia Higgins should have retired long ago. Perhaps she could play a productive role in city government, but not as a City Council member. She just does not have the energy or commitment.

    Does anyone disagree?


       —Jerry Gilbert    Nov. 7 '09 - 03:02AM    #
  58. I disagree. Marcia Higgins is a solid member of council who has worked hard.

    Mr. Elhady is a bright young man whose campaign was taken over by Jack Eaton and Pat Lesko. Eaton has never forgiven council for their vote on the 42 North project near his home even though they had no other choice because it was a by-right project and everyone knew it would never be built anyway. Council was smart not to give the developer a chance to pursue a winning law suit. Who knows what motivates Pat Lesko other than general grumpiness?

    The votes Elhady received in defeat were not that big of an accomplishment given that Higgins was never able to campaign due to her daughters condition. Her opponents drew people with an axe to grind from all over the city but few from the 4th ward. Lesko herself lives in the 1st.

    Elhady himself appeared to run a clean campaign but as this group does in campaigns, his handlers did whatever they could to tear down Higgins. The attacks against Higgins and the Chronicle were a good example of the tactics this group uses in campaigns.

    The combination of a small group running a dirty, negative campaign and Higgins not being able to campaign resulted in Elhady getting some votes. But getting 37% is a huge loss no matter how you spin it.

    It will be interesting to see if Mr. Elhady sees the light and separates from people who really don’t care about him. He might have a lot to contribute.


       —David Lewis    Nov. 7 '09 - 05:07AM    #
  59. The discussion about who A2Politico is reminds me of a famous scene in Isaac Asimov’s classic science fiction novel, “Second Foundation”. (The Second Foundation was set up to protect the work of the First Foundation.)

    Toward the end of the book, a bunch of people sit around and discuss where the Second Foundation is located. Each one prefaces his/her idea with the statement that s/he knows where the Second Foundation is. All are wrong.

    I know who A2Politico is. 8-)


       —David Cahill    Nov. 7 '09 - 02:31PM    #
  60. Re No. 58: How do counter the protestations of Higgins’ opponents that Marcia Higgins’ failure to have a “shovel-ready” plan for the Stadium Bridge deprived the city a chance at getting federal stimulus package funds for needed repairs?

    At the Dicken School Meet The Candidates function, which I attended, Marcia Higgins told the audience to “Get their shovels ready” which shows me that Higgins never had any plan authorized to take advantage of these funds. It is my understanding that all is not lost because there is a two-year window in which to apply for funding. So we will wait to see if Higgins will not blow this oppotunity to attend to Stadium Bridge.

    The Elhady supporters were not just Lesko and eaton. Look at Larry Horvath and Eric Lipson. Look at all the people who had Elhady lawn signs. Look at the Sierra Club. Elhady may have raised more campaign funds than Higgins. Mike Anglin proudly stumped for Elhady.

    Marcia’s work has been largely ineffectual over a span of ten years, but she has survived politically, something Leigh Greden was unable to do.

    I challenge anyone to cite one specific thing Marcia Higgins has done to improve Ann Arbor; I am sure I will wait a long time before one of her supporters can quote to me an item in that regard.

    Marcia proved you can campaign on a record of zero and still get re-elected, at least in the Fourth Ward.


       —John Dory    Nov. 7 '09 - 06:07PM    #
  61. David-

    Congrats on being the only person on the planet to think about referencing Second Foundation when talking about Ann Arbor politics. Lol.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 7 '09 - 07:40PM    #
  62. The Second Foundation was actually located in Trantor, at the center of the galaxy.


       —Junior    Nov. 7 '09 - 08:12PM    #
  63. Secondly, I need to do a post-mortem on the Fourth Ward race.

    The Elhady supporters were not just Lesko and Eaton … Look at the Sierra Club.

    A former moderate Republican, Higgins is slightly conservative or centrist as compared to other A2 council members. She appears detail oriented, knows a lot about the city budget, and shows few outward sign of being a policy jock. Judging mostly from anecdotes, Higgins has a mixed record on constituent response. She hangs with the majority crowd at city hall. She sends them email.

    A novice to city politics prior to this year, Elhady does bring some political experience from other areas. In the comments sections on news sites and forums such as this one, though, we never heard from him (except once, briefly); his organizers and surrogates did all the talking. On his campaign website, he lists a number of policy ideas and opinions, and there’s more good than not. In relation to “not,” he hangs too much with the full downtown greenway crowd, for campaign purposes at least.

    In terms of how much political interest this contest generated for me, just the act of writing the above paragraphs brings on some drowsiness. On Tuesday, a career centrist was challenged by a semi-invisible newcomer who leans a little leftward but who is also politically beholden in no small part to the conservative full greenway lobby.

    To all this, I apply a double negative:
    What isn’t there to get unexcited about?


       —yet another    Nov. 7 '09 - 08:43PM    #
  64. Some additional replies:

    But look at the First Ward. No great outpouring of civic leaders or members of the general public were uniting behind the incumbent’s independent opponent in that ward.

    That’s relative, in a green way. Hypothetically, if earlier on Elhady were hypothetically to have publicly stated, “City Council is overly pro-development, not sufficiently supportive of neighborhoods, and needs to refocus on improving a wide range of public services — and also should not direct a heavy commitment of resources toward a full downtown greenway,” I’d bet a good portion of his small army of supporters would have literally walked away overnight. He’d have been far more on his own, much like the 1st Ward independent, Ozog. Granted, South Maple activists and a handful of local progs would likely have stayed on to help him.

    Alternately, if 1st Ward incumbent Briere had shifted and publicly embraced a cautious, prudent greenway stance similar to Kunselman’s while Ozog began chanting “Yes! Full Greenway Now!” the challenger would soon no doubt have discovered a contingent of A2 greenway-ers lining up to volunteer their Solidarity on his behalf. (Remember that in the summer these activists ignored challenger Kunselman, then lined up behind third candidate Bullington and split the opposition vote — nearly re-electing Greden as a result.)

    He won the Second Precinct … His 37% vote total actually surpassed what Leigh Greden and Scott Rosencrans garnered in their primary race losses.

    The 2nd Precinct amassed a grand total of 42 votes, with Elhady winning by 8. Due to a very substantial boost in voter turnout — courtesy of the WISD proposal — there’s just no point in trying to compare Tuesday’s elevated vote totals to the August primary.

    I feel that Marcia Higgins should have retired long ago. Perhaps she could play a productive role in city government, but not as a City Council member. She just does not have the energy or commitment. Does anyone disagree?

    I’m not writing because I share a great deal of common ground with Higgins. I don’t, as politically she is off in a different place. What got me started was poor behavior on the part of some Elhady’s supporters.

    As an example, the comments section below the McGovern column now stands a local history museum piece displaying immaturity and specious arguments by various Elhady proponents, although not all. While a couple pro-Higgins comments are less than judicious, too, it’s clear that Elhady surrogates drive the pointless proceedings through stubborn attempts to beat back sensible judgement on a bad campaign decision. Along the way I learned a few more things about his surrogates, while continuing to have little sense of Elhady himself. As the last comment (at present) aptly summarizes: Oh. My. Gawd.

    Another example can be found in an exchange here on the older election comments thread, starting here, from #319 until #324-25. This is a brief, but startling read. Looking back, I was negligent not to start commenting at that point.

    In the end, it won’t work for you to try and frame the election as being entirely a referendum judging Higgins’ role on council and her limitations. In addition you need to offer your ward a compelling alternative, a ‘complete package’ (if you’ll forgive the marketing lingo): an independent candidate, running under whatever label, who publicly speaks their mind; has knowledge and a sense of focus; and is backed by a sizable, ward-based campaign team who consistently comport themselves with due respect to voters and their opponent(s).

    With Elhady held in the background, not sufficiently independent of his backers, and with a few loose-cannons among the surrogates, what was offered to ward voters was rather incomplete. Can you recruit a future candidate in the 4th Ward comparable to someone like Kunselman?


       —yet another    Nov. 7 '09 - 09:05PM    #
  65. I agree that someone with a proven background on either the Democratic primary ticket or the Republican general election ticket, such as Eric Lipson or Jim Hood would have had a better shot at unseating Marcia Higgins.

    Steve Kunselman is a pefect example of a known commodity that Tree Towners know and trust.


       —John Dory    Nov. 8 '09 - 10:12PM    #
  66. Higgins was on council for 10 years, and is still an unknown commodity.


       —Dan Gersten    Nov. 8 '09 - 11:32PM    #
  67. Interesting comments in the post-m of the Elhady-Higgins race. He made the decision to run as an Independent and off we went. As I told him, there are 1,000 armchair candidates for every one who actually sticks out his neck and runs.

    37 percent was a good showing, I think, simply because there were loads of extra voters who came out in Ward Four for the millage and who very likely just voted for the Dem candidate. Same in my Ward (1). Turnout was up.

    Hatim needed help to run his campaign; so did Mike Anglin, Steve Kunselman, and Marcia Higgins. That’s how it works.

    #58: What’s my motivation? I answered Larry Kestenbaum here: http://www.a2politico.com/?p=1437 (comment #20).


       —Patricia Lesko    Nov. 9 '09 - 04:26PM    #
  68. Leigh Greden will go down as one of the most influential and controversial City Council members in the history of Ann Arbor.

    His farewell address last week was met with both lamentations and glee. There can be no gainsaying that the flamboyant Greden has had a profound impact upon Ann Arbor in many different areas during his tenure and his impact will continue to be felt for decades to come. These include his spearheading support for development projects in Ann Arbor and his influence in obtaining board and commission appointments for friends and associates.

    Greden’s intelligence, political savvy. and vast connections he engendered placed him, in his early 30s, as one of the most powerful insiders in Washtenaw County. His law practice included providing legal counsel to some of Michigan’s most influential business leaders. Greden, whose personal tastes included Grand Marnier and beautiful women, was an example of a political leader who enjoyed a meteoric rise and, more than anyone else in Ann Arbor government, had lived his own version of the American dream and loved it with a passion. Still, that vast success did not come without a price; that price being an arrogance manifested by humiliating humor directed toward others and a disturbing air of indifference toward norms of acceptable behavior that would ultimately lead to his downfall as a political leader.

    Greden struck a chord in all of us when he emphasized the need of Ann Arbor’s leaders to establish a more close-knit relationship with constituents, and this will likely be an aspect of his enduring legacy – commitment to voters and neighborhoods at the grassroots level.

    But Leigh had developed (no pun intended) foes at many levels who bitterly complained of his wheeling and dealing that pushed the boudaries of legally and morally appropriate conduct. The most vocal of these having been prominent Ann Arbor attorney Tom Wieder. These voices of dissent were largely ignored for a number of years as those in positions of power had no reason to harm the career of a young man who essentially became the goose that lays the proverbial golden egg. Leigh Greden was not a measure of our limitations but, rather, an index of our possibilities as citizens of Ann Arbor.

    Indeed, numerous persons benefitted from Greden’s positions as a City Council member and his status as a member of powerful committees. These included developers, city vendors, persons seeking board or commission appointments or higher office (such as Chris Easthope), even clients of his law firm. He was a political fix-it man of the highest order. All this from someone earning $15,000.00 per year as a part-time elected municipal officeholder. Amazing.

    Greden’s political skills and the Mayor’s vast existing connections made Greden’s clout grow that much more. He was on his way, some thought, to an office in U.S. Congress or perhaps a high-ranking gubernatorial position if he wanted it. He was the Mayor’s go-to person in any important matter.

    Then Professor Noah Hall began receiving responses to his Freedom of Information Act request and became stunned at what he read. Greden was in trouble and his closest allies began to counsel him to go into damage control mode. As Judy McGovern began to have her articles published, it began to seem to all that Greden could possibly be voted out of office. The maverick elements on council and their allies began turning up the heat on Greden in the campaign. In the end it was too much for Greden and he lost by a thin margin to Steve Kunselman.

    Greden appeared at City Council meetings subsequent to that August primary to be withdrawn: a shell of his former self. He later resigned his position on the Budget Committee.

    Even his opponents today express something approaching sympathy for Leigh Greden: an elected official with unusual abilities who made imprudent decisions and whose career is reminiscent of a plot in a Shakespearean tragedy.

    I cannot help but to be reminded the similarities between Leigh Greden and Kwame Kilpatrick. Both were young lawyers with influential parents who advanced their respective careers and had achieved high office at a young age. Both had exercised poor judgment which led to their downfalls. Greden at least will likely never face any criminal charges as Kilpatrick did, as the Open Meetings Act and Michigan Campaign Finance Act violations some have alleged occurred will likely have no interest to the City Attorney, County Prosecutor or the Attorney General.

    The missing ingredient in this sordid mess is Leigh Greden’s character. Surely many other young politicians have been successful without the visible self-destructiveness Mr.Greden has displayed. One can only imagine the heights his career would have reached had the E-mail scandal not occurred. His recent apologia on YouTube has gathered hundreds of hits but has swayed few. Will he ever regain his stature as a major player in Ann Arbor politics?

    We believed in you, Leigh.

    You let us down.


       —Annette Gilbert    Nov. 10 '09 - 12:40AM    #
  69. I would say out of every 10 words in the above post has any bearing with reality. I’ll leave it to others to point out which ones they are. The rest is someone trying to be the next John Grisham. Pure fantasy.

    Can you people ever move on?


       —sam kirkpatrick    Nov. 10 '09 - 04:42AM    #
  70. If Leigh Greden had made his “Last Stand” speech at the beginning of the reports of the e-mail scandal, he would have likely been re-elected. The post-disclosure attitude of Greden and his e-mailing cohorts on City Council was even more disturbing than the possible legal violations themselves.

    It was no wonder that Third Ward voters decided they had had enough last August. It is my fervent hope that the other co-participants with Greden will face stiff opposition in next year’s elections.


       —Junior    Nov. 14 '09 - 07:21PM    #
  71. Can Arbor Update post a link to the popular a2politico.com website?


       —Annette Gilbert    Nov. 25 '09 - 02:39AM    #
  72. http://www.a2politico.com/


       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 30 '09 - 09:45PM    #
  73. There has been some chatter about a Marcia Higgins recall movement.

    Anyone know anything further?

    I would like to join up!


       —Junior    Dec. 5 '09 - 10:34PM    #
  74. We can see how she votes tonight on the Court-Police Art and how she deals with the firefighter layoffs. Higgins and everyone else on Council.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Dec. 7 '09 - 04:42PM    #
  75. Marcia Higgins, as some may recall, received a large political contribution several years ago from the firefighter’s union PAC; I think it was about $2,000.00.

    She was also the councilmember at a council caucus last February who recognized apparent overfunding of art due to the One Per Cent for Art Program.

    Let’s see how she votes!


       —Mark Koroi    Dec. 7 '09 - 11:26PM    #
  76. I would support any recall movement against Marcia Higgins or any number of the others who are part of the anti-citizen Gang of Seven whose interests are inimical to Ann Arbor.

    Marcia did recognize the problem of overfunding – and did nothing to correct it. Another example of her lack of leadership.


       —Kerry D.    Dec. 8 '09 - 02:15AM    #
  77. And Margie Teal—who showed up for a daytime meeting of the A2PAC subcommittee to vote for the urinal art, but was ‘too sick’ later that day to vote on additional aid for the homeless at the evening Council meeting.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Dec. 8 '09 - 08:11PM    #
  78. Re Post No.76:

    Ann Arborites have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season over the political accomplishments in diminishing the influence of the Gang of Seven.

    The defeat of bon vivant Leigh Greden in the August primary was a stunning upset and a victory for both the anti-taxers and those who saw the electronic mail controversy as a serious infringement of the spirit, if not the letter, of both the Open Meetings Act and Michigan Campaign Finance Act.

    While the victory of Gang of Seven veteran Marcia Higgins was somewhat disappointing the lesson learned from the defeat of Mr. Elhady was that change must be effectuated through the major political parties – not via an independent ticket. The fact that many prominent Democrats inside and outside the Fourth Ward supported a young independent with no background in electoral politics had to be a severe embarrassment to not only Marcia Higgins but the Ann Arbor Democratic Party establishment whose machine gave massive support to Higgins to ensure she would not go down to ignominious defeat as Greden did.

    We must translate our mixed successes into confidence and enthusiasm for the following year.

    I see a sterling oppotunity for the right candidate to upend the the incumbents in each of the Third, Fourth and Fifth Ward democratic primaries next year. There is profound disappointment by citizens in the way our municipal leadership led us down the primrose path the last several years.

    There have been calls for recall throughout Ann Arbor and I find these calls to be both reasonable and warranted given the conduct of certain City Council members. But we should not forget that we are only about one month away from the point where incumbents on City Council have traditionally pulled petition forms fron the City Clerk.

    A2Politico.com recently republished an email authored by Leigh Greden directed to the Mayor about 1 and 1/2 years ago informing him that his majority on City Council was prepared, in so many words, to go to political war with the Mayor unless the Mayor supported passage of crucial City Council legislation needed for the Police/Court project. The Mayor apparently acquiesced to this bullying without disclosing this insolent email to the public.

    Leigh Greden’s law firm, Miller Canfield, represents many prominient real estate developers and construction companies. Greden has been known in the past to advocate for Miller Canfield interests – take the appointment of Miller Canfield principal Marta Manildi to the Housing Commission, for example. I would suppose that Greden may have been advocating for client interests when he began his pushy campaign to get his Police/Court building project passed by City Council.

    Remember Councilperson Joan Lowenstein, an attorney with the prominent Jaffe Snyder law firm who herself specializes in media law, but whose firm represents many big developers. She was retained to handle a family law matter for a prominent developer doing business with the City of Ann Arbor, causing many citizens to cry foul due to concerns that their was a conflict of interest in Councilperson Lowenstein representing a developer in a personal family law matter when that developer had substantial business before the city.

    Let us not forget that Christopher Taylor is employed by the Butzel Long law firm, which has client relationships with some of this state’s largest real estate development and construction compainies. Is their influence coming from that clientele on matters coming before City Council?

    Typically large law firms, such as those employing Greden, Taylor, and Lowenstein, have a conflicts check system when a prospective client appoaches them for retention to ensure that no conflict of interest would exist in representing the person or entity. This way situations can be avoided where, for example, a prospective client wants to sue Comerica Bank and it is later found that another attorney in the law firm is representing Comerica Bank in a separate matter.

    The respective councilmembers who work at law firms who may have clientele who transact contractual business with the City of Ann Arbor or who have or are likely to have business before City Council should use a conflict check system to ensure no potential conflict of interest exists.

    I suspect that much of the pro-development bias on City Council emanates with clientele and campaign supporters of attorney-members of the Gang of Seven. These developers have the financial ability and need for legal counsel to direct significant amounts of legal work to firms such as those that have employed Greden, Taylor and Lowenstein.

    We have already seen that McKinley Associates, a 2.2 billion-dollar revenue per year corporation headquartered in Ann Arbor who has close ties to the Michigan Republican Party has a Miller Canfield principal on its board of directors and Greden is employed by that law firm.

    I have also found it interesting that Marcia Higgins, after working at clerical positions at Ardesta Corporation and Borders, just fairly recently took a position with the University of Michigan when that entity has regularly had issues with the City of Ann Arbor.

    Our city boards and commissions are stacked with sycophants and cronies of Greden and allies of the Gang of Seven. It will likely take many years before these individuals and their pernicious influence will be gone from the City of Ann Arbor. The best way to combat this influence will be via dismantling of the Gang of Seven. This can be done next year with defeats of Hohnke, Taylor, and Teall.

    I call on the good citizens of Ann Arbor to rise up against the self-serving influence of developers who want to use our beloved Tree Town for financial gain and will manipulate City Council for their own sordid ends.


       —Junior    Dec. 12 '09 - 08:46PM    #
  79. Junior,

    Maybe the first step could be for you to declare your actual name and to become involved in the political process for real, instead of long essays calling on others to act. It takes a lot of time, money and personal sacrifice to make a difference in local politics. Choose a champion to support, recruit one, or run yourself. Then get ready to give up much of your personal time for many months. And also to be attacked in both open and subtle ways by the entrenched power interests you are fond of chronicling.


       —Vivienne Armentrout    Dec. 13 '09 - 03:05AM    #
  80. [off-topic, removed]
       —Palestine deleted    Dec. 17 '09 - 11:42PM    #
  81. [off-topic, removed]
       —sam kirkpatrick    Dec. 18 '09 - 12:14AM    #
  82. I am happy to report that there is finally a movement underway to undercut the vast power wielded by the Gang of Seven in Ann Arbor politics.

    The proffered strategy will be the establishment of a candidate slate covering each of the five wards to to oppose the five of Gang of Seven members facing re-election this August.

    Groups that will be instrumental in this effort are expected to be anti-tax activists (of which I am an enthusiastic member), supporters of so-called “maverick” Democrats on City Council, local Republican leaders, and anti-development advocates. These groups are believed to have played key roles in Democratic Party heavy hitter Leigh Greden’s upset loss last August.

    The key to success shall be organization and sound strategy.


       —Kerry D.    Jan. 18 '10 - 03:21AM    #