Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Cowherd Gets the Boot from City Council

9. June 2004 • Ari Paul
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The Ann Arbor News reports that prominant Treetown environmental activists who were originally supposed to be nominated for a government advisory board were denied yesterday.

“Doug Cowherd, co-chairman of the Sierra Club-Huron Valley group, and Bill Hanson, executive director of the Washtenaw Land Trust, were both originally nominated to serve on the nine-member Greenbelt Advisory Commission. Their names were left off the list of nominees approved Monday night by the council, with almost no public comment.

“Both men are recognized as playing a big role in helping win approval from city voters in November for the 30-year, half-mill property tax. Cowherd loaned the pro-greenbelt campaign $60,000 of his own money.”

Several months ago, the Ann Arbor Observer ran a feature on Cowherd and the Sierra Club-Huron Valley group. The article spectulates that Cowherd, a former Republican, has a tight grip on city politics, and could be responsible for the NIMBYist qualitys that come with Ann Arbor City Council regulations.

So will the snubbing of Cowherd and Hanson be a defeat for environmentalism in Ann Arbor politics, or will be a break away from homeowner-centerist NIMBYism and elitism?



  1. Since other respected enviros were appointed to the commission, I doubt this signifies a “defeat for environmentalism in Ann Arbor.” And the NIMBYism won’t go away as long as neighborhood associations are the strongest force in the local politics. It looks like Cowherd and Hanson were snubbed to try to discredit the impression that Hieftje & the council are riding around in Cowherd’s pocket.
       —Scott Trudeau    Jun. 10 '04 - 07:39AM    #
  2. Ari, I think “who were originally supposed to be nominated” is misleading—it’s a reasonable paraphrase of the article, but that part of the article is also misleading.

    There were a few dozen applicants, of whom the nine the A2News mentions as “orginal nominees” were simply one councilmember’s slate. So “original nominees” simply means “favorites of the councilmember with the fastest draw” in this case.
       —Murph    Jun. 10 '04 - 08:24AM    #
  3. murph,
    you may be right, perhaps i should change that…if i have time to before i head off to work…

    -ari p.
       —Ari P.    Jun. 10 '04 - 08:39AM    #
  4. And don’t forget, Bob Johnson was appointed to the commission, and he’s certainly tight with the Cowherd NIMBY-”environmentalist” crowd, in fact nominating Hanson and Cowherd. Don’t overlook this point. I think booting those two big names was more about public perception than anything, but it’s a start.
       —Brandon    Jun. 10 '04 - 09:14AM    #