Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

1st Ward Council replacement sought

28. July 2005 • Murph
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With 1st Ward City Council member Kim Groome’s impending resignation (still no official date set, to my knowledge), the Council will have to select a successor to fill the remainder of her term, which expires in December 2006. I’ve received word that former City Council member Susan Greenberg has arranged an August 4 meeting to discuss the process and possible candidates. From a forwarded e-mail,

Greetings, Fellow First Warders
. . .
Thus, the first ward meeting to discuss process and
possible meet folks interested in being appointed as a replacement for Kim Groome will be held on Thursday, August 4th, 7:30 pm, at the Ann Arbor Community Center. Please ask your neighbors or friends to join with you in attending this meeting. The person appointed will undoubtedly wish to run for the office in November, 2006. I don’t anticipate decisions being made at this meeting, but it will initiate the process.

I’ve heard from a few sources (and confirmed with Jennifer) that Planning Commission Chair Jennifer Santi Hall is interested in the Council seat; the other name I’ve heard a few times is Tim Colenback, Assistant Dean of the School of Social Work.

  1. I’ve been tipped that the purpose of the meeting is to try to get everybody behind Colenback, and discourage others from applying to Council. I plan on going in official ArborUpdate mode; I know there are other folks lurking around here who could attend as true “concerned 1st Ward residents” (since I’m not, anymore).
       —Murph.    Jul. 28 '05 - 02:35PM    #
  2. I live in the 1W, but I also work Thursday nights.
       —[libcat]    Jul. 29 '05 - 04:09PM    #
  3. As long as you’re asking Colenback and Hall their position on other issues, please remember to also ask them about…

    ...City Council divestment from the Israeli military.

    It’s been a City Council issue for years; no harm in asking them.

       —-Blaine. (Palestine)    Jul. 29 '05 - 07:50PM    #
  4. Oooh, I know Tim. He was one of the folks that tapped Kim to run and “groomed” her campaign. (Sorry for the pun).
    He’d actually be a really great guy to get onto the council.
       —js    Jul. 30 '05 - 05:52PM    #
  5. Has City Council again tried to axe all Public Comment time, until midnight or whenever City Council dedcides to end its meetings?

    Check out tonight’s City Council agenda:

    For the first time in many decades, the Council Agenda shows no Public Comment time at all, until J-4 (the tail end of the meeting.)

    The last time City Council tried to cut out Public Comment time, the ACLU came and talked them off the ledge:


    “Proposed rule change irks council speakers”

    By Mona Rafeeq,


    Staff Reporter
    January 08, 2004

    On the Web at:

    “Residents continue to express concern that a recent Ann Arbor City Council proposal will limit their ability to freely speak about important issues, even after the council amended the resolution.

    “The original resolution, proposed by Councilmember Michael Reid (R-2nd Ward), would have limited speakers in the public commentary-reserved time section at the beginning of council meetings to agenda items only. This section allows members of the public who want to address City Council to call ahead of time to sign up for a time slot.

    “The time limit for each slot would also have dropped from four minutes to three.

    “After discussion of the proposal, City Council amended it to include time for non-agenda speakers.

    “The number of slots of reserved time would increase from eight to 10, but speakers on agenda items would receive priority over those bringing up other issues.

    “Councilmember Joan Lowenstein (D-3rd Ward) said she agrees with this prioritization because it would give her a chance to hear comments about issues on which she will be voting.

    ” ‘Otherwise, people who just want a soapbox can take up all the places and we don’t get to hear issues that relate to our meeting,’ Lowenstein said. She added that other cities, such as Ypsilanti, have also had to restrict commentary time because of ‘abuses.’

    “Mayor John Hieftje said he was opposed to Reid’s original resolution but supports the amended version.

    ” ‘It’s very important that we allow time for people to express their concerns about non-agenda items, but it’s also important that we don’t push aside others who want to speak about agenda-related issues,’ he said.

    “The council has not yet voted on the amended resolution. A city rule requires that proposed resolutions be put forward two weeks prior to a vote. Hieftje said he expects the resolution will be approved at the council’s next meeting on Jan. 20.

    “But some Ann Arbor residents are still concerned.

    “Farouq Shafi, a resident of the 2nd Ward, called the original proposal ‘anti-democratic’ and said he thinks it limits free speech.

    ” ‘The public commentary section has been a part of the City Council meeting for a long time and citizens should be able to use it to bring issues to the council’s attention that they were not aware of before,’ he said.

    “Shafi said he would prefer the public commentary section remain unchanged than have either version of the resolution instituted.

    “He said he believes that some council members support the resolution because they want to curb citizens who have been speaking about Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories. Shafi has spoken at City Council meetings about this issue in the past.

    “Hieftje said the resolution was not a response to these frequent speakers. He said there were concerns that citizens who wanted to speak about agenda items were being turned away since all reserved time slots were filled.

    “But Shafi added that other important issues have been brought to the council’s attention via the Public Commentary section, such as homelessness.

    “Mary Bejian, president of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Washtenaw County, also cited homelessness as an example of the effective use of the Public Commentary section.

    “According to Bejian, the city did not want to address the issues of homelessness and affordable housing in the 1980s. The city’s current stance is that these are important issues facing the community.

    ” ‘Citizen activists and homeless people themselves spoke during Public Comment time on a regular basis for years before the city ever put a proposal to address homelessness on a Council meeting agenda,’ she said.

    “Like Shafi, Bejian said the ACLU doesn’t believe the current policy needs to be changed.

    ” ‘Citizen input is valuable to council members and should be enhanced rather than curtailed,’ she said.

    “The Public Commentary-General Time at the end of City Council meetings would remain the same under the resolution. There is no limit to the number of people who can speak at this time, but speakers are limited to four minutes.

    “But City Council meetings do not typically end until 11 p.m. or midnight and few citizens stay until the Public Commentary-General Time section.

    “Lowenstein said citizens who are concerned about a certain issue can also contact their respective City Council ward representatives by letter, e-mail or phone.

    “Hieftje said he holds office hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Fridays. Anyone who calls his office can have a 15-minute appointment to talk to him.”

       —-Blaine. (Palestine)    Aug. 1 '05 - 11:56AM    #
  6. The City Clerk’s office recently installed new software to make it easier to access specific agenda items on-line without being forced to download the entire agenda file. The new software has had some glitches, as new software often does. This is one of them. I have asked the Clerk to update the web agenda.

    If Blaine had called the City Clerk’s office to sign up for public comment before posting this message, he would have been told that there is, of course, public comment time at the beginning of the Council meeting.
       —Leigh Greden    Aug. 1 '05 - 05:07PM    #