Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Hall Buzz

28. September 2004 • Brandon
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A few interesting local government/politics stories covered by the Ann Arbor News recently:

>GOP council member switches:

Marcia Higgins, the longest-serving Republican on the Ann Arbor City Council, said she is switching to the Democratic Party.

The defection, announced Saturday, is the latest blow to the city’s Republicans, who in the last 15 years have gone from a majority on the council to now holding a single seat.


“It just had to do with my own personal values,” said Higgins. “There is room in the Democratic Party to be moderate. ... With the Republican Party … there is a strict party agenda. You don’t want to deviate from that.”

>Mayor wants to put more bite in Clean Community program’s bark:

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje wants the city to start hitting landlords and students in the pocketbook by rigorously enforcing an ordinance that carries stiff fines for people who allow litter to pile up on their property.

A month after the City Council beefed up the Clean Community program by doubling fines to as much as $1,000 for multiple violations, the mayor says it’s time the police stop issuing warnings and start writing tickets.

“We have gone way overboard in being patient in bringing people around slowly,” Hieftje said. “Now is the time to start writing tickets. At this point, there shouldn’t be anyone left in town that doesn’t know we are serious about this program. Now is the time to lower the boom.”

>E-mail to developers causes stir for Hieftje:

A local developer says in an effort to create more dialogue about the future of downtown he got Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje in a political pickle.

Peter Allen sent an e-mail to 20 developers and downtown activists last week that said Hieftje had asked him to “bring together those interested in downtown for a discussion and reception.” The catch, Allen said in the e-mail, was each developer had to make a $100 contribution to Hieftje’s re-election campaign.

Allen’s e-mail didn’t mention that the “reception” was the mayor’s already scheduled fund-raiser that’s expected to draw as many as 200 people.

But Allen now says he unwittingly misrepresented what the mayor said. Allen said all the mayor did was invite him to the fund-raiser Wednesday evening at Zanzibar, and asked him to invite anyone else who might be interested to also come.