Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

City Council 1st Ward replacement timeline

25. August 2005 • Murph
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The following e-mail from 1st Ward City Councilmember Bob Johnson outlines the official timeline for filling Kim Groome’s seat; if you’re from the First Ward, consider attending to meet your new Councilmember potentials:

Greetings, Fellow First Warders

As you may know, Kim Groome recently resigned from
her seat as one of the two First Ward representatives on the City Council.

City Council will be selecting a replacement at its regular meeting on September 6. Any resident of the 1st Ward from any Party is eligible to apply for the opening, by notifying the City Clerk by August 23rd, at (734) 994-2725. There is an application form [(pdf)] on the City’s web site: http://www.ci.ann-arbor.mi.us/ .

City Council will interview the applicants at a special Council meeting on August 25, 7 PM, which will be televised.

It is important that the residents of the First Ward should also get a chance to ask the applicants for their views on the issues facing the City.

A public meeting to meet the applicants for the First Ward City Council seat will take place on:

Wednesday August 24, 7 PM,
Ann Arbor Community Center,
625 N. Main St., (near Summit)

See you there,

– Bob Johnson

[Please excuse any duplicate e-mails. We are trying
to let as many people as possible know about this event.]

I’ll again be trying to attend in “press” capacity.

Edit, 25 Aug:

Here’s the Ann Arbor News’ article on the public meeting; conversation on that continues in this thread.

Timestamp reset to bounce this item to the top, rather than posting a new one…



  1. The following people turned in applications for the 1st Ward seat by the 4pm deadline yesterday:

    * Tim Colenback
    * Bill Hansen
    * Jennifer Hall
    * Audrey Jackson
    * John Roberts

    I don’t know anything about these last two, but I plan to be at the forum tonight. If anybody can attend or watch the Council interviews tomorrow, please report back, as I won’t be able to.
       —Murph    Aug. 24 '05 - 08:45AM    #
  2. If it’s this Audrey Jackson, she might have some problems!

    “Audrey Jackson was not scheduled to speak to the board but she did so anyway, telling them that they had no business sitting behind closed doors and making decisions that stab people in the back.

    “City Hall needs to get their act cleaned up right now,” Jackson said, after insulting Mayor Ingrid Sheldon by calling her a “white Republican bitch.” ”

    http://www.pub.umich.edu/daily/1996/jul/07-03-96/news/news2.html
       —John Q    Aug. 24 '05 - 12:03PM    #
  3. Ah. Well, if she still has that tone, then it looks like the competition is Colenback, Hall, Roberts, eh?
       —Murph.    Aug. 24 '05 - 12:19PM    #
  4. Audrey Jackson has run for the School Board at least three times, and ran for the 1st Ward Council seat as a write in in 2000. She has never come anywhere close to winning.
       —Tom Jensen    Aug. 24 '05 - 01:29PM    #
  5. Hall bought me breakfast! I’m in her pocket!
       —js    Aug. 24 '05 - 01:43PM    #
  6. Hmm. I wonder if Jackson is the Arrowwood member that’s in the running…
       —js    Aug. 24 '05 - 01:52PM    #
  7. Tom:

    No, Audrey Jackson did come fairly lose to winning one race you didn’t mention, for County Commissioner, in the 1998 Democratic primary.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 24 '05 - 02:02PM    #
  8. Jennifer Hall has my full support.

    ...and she didn’t even buy me breakfast!

    What’s up with that, js?!

    ...or I guess that I should complain to Ms. Hall?!
       —todd    Aug. 24 '05 - 02:06PM    #
  9. Well, if Jennifer Hall gets the nod, I would certainly hope to see a lot more residential in the 1st Ward since as far as I can tell she has never met a building she doesn’t like in anyone else’s neighborhood. Not, of course, that she personally lives in or near (heaven forbid!) a dense building. She likes to talk about density and public transportation, while driving in from her large expensive house on a big lot. Hypocrite.
       —Juliew    Aug. 24 '05 - 03:24PM    #
  10. You mean bike in from her place near a bunch of low income multiple-unit housing, Julie? She was on a bike when she met me for breakfast, and I lived closer than she did (though I had to drive out to the Ballas building after eating with her). And she’s over on Culver, which if you were motivated, you could look up the lot size for. I know that it’s over near a bunch of kinda squalid duplexes because I used to deliver pizza there.
    Of course, Julie, your NIMBY gland could simply be acting up again.

    Todd: Murph put her in touch with me, because Murph secretly wishes he could date me. Oh, and just as a note from a pedant who listens to your jukebox: Yo La Tengo are famously from Hoboken, NJ, not Brooklyn. They are, in fact, the biggest band ever from Hoboken (or so they claim).
       —js    Aug. 24 '05 - 04:07PM    #
  11. I’m certainly willing to let any of the candidates buy me breakfast, but I’m also backing Jennifer. Tim Colenback also seems like he wouldn’t be a tragedy to have on Council (I don’t know anything about Roberts), but he seemed a little more susceptible to courting by the freeze-it-in-amber crowd at the first of these meetings than I expect Hall would be.

    When another candidate can manufacture statements showing an awareness of regionalism that her tossed-off comments do, it might be a tougher choice.

    Of course, I was counting down the comments until Julie registered that particular opinion – I think I’d prefer Hall on Council (over Hall on Planning Commission or over one of the others on Council) in part becuase she’s got experience in how much really ought to be handled upstream rather than at the end-of-the-process Commission stage. Once she’s on Council, we can start expecting her to do something about it.

    But – there goes my ability to claim to be a neutral member of the press. (As if…)
       —Murph    Aug. 24 '05 - 04:23PM    #
  12. js – how did you know?!? I actually hooked up Jennifer with a hidden camera so that she could tape your breakfast and I could play it back later and pretend it was me you were at breakfast with…

    And, to settle the question, “0.29 acres” – larger than Julie’s 0.17. (I love publically accessible databases…)
       —Murph    Aug. 24 '05 - 04:29PM    #
  13. How’s John Roberts going to swing that Supreme Court thing while he’s busy in Ann Arbor?
       —John Q    Aug. 24 '05 - 04:41PM    #
  14. Yeah, I know where Hall lives. I did make a point of checking that out last year. The houses on Culver all range in the +2000 sq/ft, +$300,000 range on about 1/4 acre lots (Hall and her husband paid $342,500 for their 4-bedroom on a lot of 89’X141’ or .29 acre). The houses on Orkney are the same, if not slightly bigger and more expensive. The houses on Fountain and Sunset range in price and size. I’m glad to hear that she rides her bike. Her comment during one of the Planning Commission meetings was that “she never had a problem parking at City Hall during Planning Commission meetings and neither did her husband when he came during the break.” So not only did they drive one, but two cars to City Hall during the Planning Commission meetings which annoyed me, especially because she followed it up by the statement an hour later that “people will just have to learn to live without their cars.”

    And yes, I am still bitter about 828 Greene. It is an open, festering wound in our neighborhood. I will most likely be bitter about it as long as I live (geez, I’m sounding like Blaine here). Hall was the only Planning Commissioner to approve it and she did so wholeheartedly with an appalling lack of understanding of the realities of the situation (“students want inexpensive housing like this”).

    Murph, I hope you are right that Hall will be better on Council than on the Planning Commission. Even better, how about some sort of regional planning group?
       —Juliew    Aug. 24 '05 - 04:46PM    #
  15. (a little bit of pessimism) As far as I can tell, there are already enough regional planning groups around with no teeth to be hopeful that another one would do any good. (Washtenaw County Planning Department, SEMCOG, WATS…) I think the County has already done the work of coming up with a regional plan – it’s just that nobody is willing to sign on to that; they all want their own plans that pretend there won’t be any growth, so they don’t need to plan for it in Ann Arbor, in Northfield Township, in Lima Township, whereever.
       —Murph    Aug. 24 '05 - 05:29PM    #
  16. Julie: From talking to Hall about Greene, she said that she didn’t personally like the design, but that she didn’t see any legal justification for rejecting it.

    Murph: I know Tim through the Groome campaign, and would be happy to have him on the council too. He’s solid, though a little more establishment politik.
       —js    Aug. 24 '05 - 06:12PM    #
  17. In 2000 Jackson sought the Green Party nomination for mayor. Nobody’d ever heard of her or met her before so we chose not to endorse any candidates that year. The Detroit Greens got pissed at us for not nominating the an African-American woman who stepped forward to seek office… I spoke nominating any candidate (including Jackson) that we didn’t know anything about consistently, so I don’t think she got special treatment (bad or good).
       —Scott Trudeau    Aug. 24 '05 - 07:14PM    #
  18. From talking to Hall about Greene, she said that she didn’t personally like the design, but that she didn’t see any legal justification for rejecting it.

    This is what City Council said too. If city planning is all about what is legal or not, why is there a Planning Commission and why does City Council vote on any building? Shouldn’t it just be a question for the City Attorney in that case? I think this line of reasoning is a cop-out. If legality is the only valid issue, they shouldn’t waste everyone’s time and money pretending to “plan.”
       —Juliew    Aug. 24 '05 - 08:03PM    #
  19. It’s a matter of degree – there are areas where the Commission needs to be make a subjective decision. Not everything falls into black and white decisions or can be simply decided by reading the ordinance. And sometimes the Commission needs to make an interpretation of the ordinances. I’m not familiar enough with the details of this project to know if any of that applies. But if a Commissioner takes this route on one project but acts differently on other projects, then I would say that they are using that as a cop-out and not an honest statement of the limitations of the planning process (and they do exist and sometimes poorly written ordinances and bad planning require Commissioners to vote for projects/rezonings/etc. that they would rather not support).
       —John Q.    Aug. 24 '05 - 11:20PM    #
  20. When I was an MSU student on the East Lansing Planning Commission in the late 70s, someone applied for permission to install pinball machines in his bookstore.

    It was a funny sort of bookstore, lots of empty floor space in a vast old concrete-floored garage building, and very few books, widely spaced on secondhand displays. The owner was planning to install a lot of pinball machines.

    In those days, pinball was extremely disreputable, and though the bookstore was in a student area, there was fear that the pinball machines would attract kids from a nearby homeowner neighborhood. Trouble in River City! Except that the “P” stood for “pinball”.

    The planning staff carefully and repeatedly explained what grounds the Commission could legally reject the application. I think “noxious odors” was one possibility. None of the legal grounds even remotely applied to this case. But it was obvious that the Commission wasn’t interested in following the law.

    I argued for doing the legal thing, but I think I was the only vote against rejecting the pinball machines.

    The owner stormed out of the meeting, and his final words were something like “See you in court!”

    But he went out of business very soon thereafter.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 25 '05 - 01:05AM    #
  21. I’m probably committing a big political no-no here, but I want to respond to a personal but incorrect comment by Juliew (#14 above) regarding Jennifer Hall. Full disclosure regarding my bias – I’m her husband.

    Juliew states “not only did they drive one, but two cars to City Hall during the Planning Commission meetings….” This is ridiculously inaccurate. We do not even own two cars, and never have. Nearly every week, Jennifer bikes, walks, or bums a ride from a fellow planning commission member (some call it carpooling) to the planning commission meetings. I often have to bring our baby to the planning commission meeting so that Jennifer can take a break and feed the baby. Usually I bike or walk myself, but sometimes the planning commission meetings go well past midnight and I succumb to the convenience of a five minute drive to city hall.

    I understand personal attacks are part of Jennifer’s public service, especially on the planning commission where passions are high and controversy the norm. But attacking her commitment to alternative transportation, both on a personal and policy level, has no basis.

    Thanks for allowing me to join the discussion.
       —Noah Hall    Aug. 25 '05 - 08:17AM    #
  22. Noah, I didn’t say it, Jennifer did. She said “I don’t have problems parking at City Hall and neither does my husband when he comes during the break.” I’m sorry if I misinterpreted that—it seemed quite clear at the time.
       —Juliew    Aug. 25 '05 - 08:54AM    #
  23. Yesterday (Thursday) evening there were about 50 people at the First Ward meeting. I was impressed with Tim Colenback. Someone asked the “What about Kim Groome?” question. Tim said he had told Kim a long time ago that she could either be on the wrong end of a lot of 10-1 votes, or she could establish her expertise on a couple of issues and generally go along with the rest of Council on other matters. Kim chose not to take his advice. Colenback said he believed in being a team player.
    Tim also had a refreshing viewpoint on sprawl. He said sprawl around Ann Arbor was being largely driven by the depopulation of Detroit, so constructing large buildings in downtown AA would not help the sprawl situation.
       —Dave Cahill    Aug. 25 '05 - 10:17AM    #
  24. ”...while driving in from her large expensive house on a big lot. Hypocrite.”

    Hey Julie, how much did you pay for your house? How big is your lot? Oh, you rent? How long have you lived there? How much do you pay? How frequently do you bike to work? What kind of car do you drive? What gas mileage does it get?

    Oh, I’m sorry, you say it’s none of my business? Hypocrite.

    PS: Bob Johnson lives on Culver too. Why does it matter that Ms. Hall lives there? Answer: it doesn’t.
       —Mike    Aug. 25 '05 - 10:22AM    #
  25. “He said sprawl around Ann Arbor was being largely driven by the depopulation of Detroit, so constructing large buildings in downtown AA would not help the sprawl situation.”

    Wow. Yet another reason to freeze Ann Arbor in amber. Great logic.

    Let’s try this: you bail from Detroit, and look for a home/condo that runs between say $200K and $300K. Because there are only a handful of units that cost this much in Ann Arbor, and the citizens see no reason to build more in or near the center of downtown, you choose one of the 2,000 new units out in Saline.

    Result: Sprawl. Get it? You need to give people a choice in order for them to move into city center.

    Or are you another one of those people who think that the demand for housing in Wash. County is magically endless?
       —todd    Aug. 25 '05 - 10:42AM    #
  26. Oops, I meant “is Mr. Colenback one of those people who thinks that the demand for housing in Wash. County is magically endless?”

    Strike the “you” part. My mistake.
       —todd    Aug. 25 '05 - 10:55AM    #
  27. “Oh, I’m sorry, you say it’s none of my business? Hypocrite.”

    Bzzzt! Wrong answer! When you become a public official, and being a Planning Commissioner is a public official, you open yourself to a greater level of scrutiny. Whether that’s fair or not, it’s the reality of the position and if you don’t like it, don’t accept the position. AFAIK, Juliew is not a public official and as such shouldn’t be expected to be held to the same standard.

    Juliew was pointing out what she perceived as inconsistencies between what a public official said or positions she advocated and what she actually practices. That’s fair and if others want to respond why Juliew’s positions are wrong or how the public official was misinterpreted, that’s fine. To claim that Juliew has to open up her private life to such scrutiny in order to be able to comment on the public comments of a public official isn’t how the system works Mike.

    As far as Jennifer Hall goes – I think it’s fair game to ask whether she’s willing to accept the same kind of development in her neighborhood as she thinks is good for others. It’s not about the size of her house or lot or whether she’s an owner or a renter – it’s about whether she’s willing to accept the same kinds of impacts as she’s asking others to accept. And that was what I got from Juliew’s post. Resorting to personal attacks on Juliew is just a diversion from responding to the point that she raised.
       —John Q    Aug. 25 '05 - 11:01AM    #
  28. Regarding Jennifer Hall’s position on denser development in her neighborhood, it would be interesting to know where she stood regarding the Bluffs project and also the condos that had been proposed on Sunset, but unfortunately I think she moved there after both of those debates were settled by the city buying the land for parks.

    That part of town is pretty heavy on open space, with Hunt Park, the Bluffs, the new nature area on Sunset, Kuebler Langford, Bird Hills, and the Catholic Cemetery. It would be nice to see some apartment buildings, and maybe even a little convenience store somewhere in the Hunt Park area, but I can’t think of any open space that hasn’t already been spoken for. Maybe the city could sell of the lower end of Hunt Park for development. They could use the money to mow the remainder—something they seem to be having trouble with this year.
       —Parking Structure Dude!    Aug. 25 '05 - 11:28AM    #
  29. I attended the 1st Ward meeting last night too, and was impressed with Jennifer Hall’s thoughtfully considered, well-informed, open, and articulate response to each question asked. She actually responded to the Kim Groome question before Colenback (who was also quite good), indicating that she had a lot of respect for Groome’s dedication to public service and adherence to principles, but that she (Jennifer) differs in that she would work more collaboratively with her colleagues and constituents to gather the support necessary to be effective. Well said.

    Throughout the session, Jennifer’s personal values, professional experience, and (perhaps most vital) prior commitment to and involvement in the City commended her. She certainly has my vote.
       —KLS    Aug. 25 '05 - 11:49AM    #
  30. “When you become a public official… you open yourself to a greater level of scrutiny”

    Yeah, I know. You’re right; I actually agree wholeheartedly with what you said. It’s just so tiresome listening to people like Julie armchair-quarterback the people who actually spend their free time working hard, in good faith, under a lot of scrutiny, to make our community a better place. Like Ms. Hall.

    Agree or disagree with a public official’s positions; question her reasoning and her motives; that’s all a sound part of healthy discourse. In contrast, Julie’s nasal whining, smug assumptions (which were, in fact, quite personal indeed) and her post’s snotty ending just begged for an equally low response. It brought out the worst in me. I apologize to the forum for indulging.
       —Mike    Aug. 25 '05 - 12:02PM    #
  31. “Oh, and just as a note from a pedant who listens to your jukebox: Yo La Tengo are famously from Hoboken, NJ, not Brooklyn. They are, in fact, the biggest band ever from Hoboken (or so they claim).”

    JS, corrections to the jukebox notes are not allowed…..and you are also forbidden to point out all of the typos.

    The sad thing is that I’m well aware of YLT’s background as well as their annual concert week at Maxwell’s. To be honest, I had no idea that I wrote Brooklyn in the notes. Mea Culpa, and thanks.
       —todd    Aug. 25 '05 - 12:04PM    #
  32. (I’m not feeling the urge to make a new top-level post for last night, so I’ll just carry on this thread, since Dave already has…)

    I found Tim’s assertion that sprawl around here was Detroit-sprawl and not Ann Arbor-sprawl interesting (since it is definitely the case that we’re part of the same out-movement that Livingston and Oakland and Macomb are, and that needs to be explicitly acknowledged by everyone in Ann Arbor), but I was disappointed in where he took that. His conclusion seemed to be that, since Washtenaw sprawl is driven by the Detroit area, Ann Arbor can’t do anything internally to stop it, and therefore we shouldn’t let our decisions about development in Ann Arbor be affected by concern with sprawl outside Ann Arbor. What he didn’t offer was any kind of alternative suggestion – given this kind of causality, what can Ann Arbor do? Assuming none of us like sprawl, is the only thing we can do shrug and say that it’s something that Detroit and the state have to handle? He repeatedly offered up that we need to provide for affordable housing, for transportation, for LGBT concerns “with creativity”; I would have liked to hear some creative suggestions, even if ultimately unworkable ones.

    I found Jennifer and John’s responses to the same line of questioning more satisfying. John represented the financial arguments of “smart growth” pretty well – given development pressure, best to put it where the infrastructure exists to support it, and where it can make best use of what’s already there. Jennifer made what could have been a good response to Tim’s argument about the regional nature of sprawl in her introduction, saying that Ann Arbor needed to be a “model city” in the nation and especially in the region, and later stated that development can/should be accomodated within the context of what’s already there – a contrast to the more zero-sum sentiment of some of the questioners, that growth must naturally come at the expense of the present situation. (We’ve already seen Juliew’s response to this position of Jennifer’s…)

    If I could get a candidate or two to put those together into a coherant statement that development can happen in a way that enhances quality-of-life for what’s already there, and express a vision of Ann Arbor demonstrating how to do it and helping other communities do the same – well, I’d find that a much more satisfying strategy to combat sprawl than an assertion that it’s a Detroit/Michigan problem, and not something we can affect with Ann Arbor’s development policies.

    I don’t expect to change your mind, though, Dave – I know you’ve been behind Tim since he threw his hat in, just as I’ve been behind Jennifer. Now, if only we had open supporters of Hanson, Roberts, and Jackson to round out the discussion…
       —Murph    Aug. 25 '05 - 12:18PM    #
  33. Also interesting about Tim’s position on development was a warning against “too many tall buildings on Huron” – I haven’t bopped over to City Hall yet to view all the Calthorpe maps in detail, but it seems like Huron as the focal point for new development was just about the strongest consensus point after “some kind of greenway”.

    “Tall buildings” is an unfortunate kind of phrase, though – it evokes Tower Plaza Condos as people’s first thought (the most visible outlier), even when what it’s referencing are buildings like the Campus Inn or Dahlmann, which weigh in at less than half the height. (repetitive assertion follows) We need a better way to discuss these things – it’s hard to know what Tim means when he says he’s against “too many tall buildings on Huron”.
       —Murph    Aug. 25 '05 - 12:29PM    #
  34. Thanks John Q, that is exactly what I was saying. I do not make policy that affects other people’s lives, Jennifer Hall does. She has also publicly made many statements about the motivations and actions of my neighbors and me without any knowledge of who we are or how we live—not even things that are incorrect based on statements we made as I did regarding the cars, but just because of how she perceives us. (And she is not alone in that on Planning Commission or City Council.) The only reason it is important how much she paid for her house is that in 2003, $350,000 would have paid for a place very close to City Hall.

    That said, I am happy to answer Mike’s questions: we rented for several years in Ann Arbor at Ann Arbor Woods apartments, then we rented the upstairs of a small house on Golden. We paid $122,500 for our house nine years ago, our lot size is .17 acre (which I think is too big, but most of the lots are bigger than expected in my area in order to park cars for football games), my husband and I both walk to work. We own two cars, one is 14 years old and gets 35 mpg, the other is 5 years old and gets about 30 mpg. We tried going to one car, but need two on occasion. We tried to join the A2C3 car co-op, but didn’t have a lot of luck getting them to answer. We do our shopping downtown at PFC, White Market, the Prescription Shop, and Village Apothecary. We donate a lot of time and money to local environmental and political groups. We shop locally as much as possible. We have our dairy delivered from Calder Dairy and buy eggs from a local farmer. We have a rain barrel and are putting in a rain garden. We neither Chemlawn nor water our lawn. Anything else you would like to know?
       —Juliew    Aug. 25 '05 - 01:23PM    #
  35. Juliew –
    Hopefully by the time your 14-yo car dies, A2C3 will be in a position to help you not replace it. We’re in the process of a massive overhaul. And by “we”, I mean “Dale and his infectious enthusiasm” (who are, what, four blocks from you?).
       —Murph    Aug. 25 '05 - 01:32PM    #
  36. JulieW,

    What projects has Jennifer Hall shot down that are near her home?

    Oh, as to your curriculum vitae….all that I ask for are 2,000 more people living downtown in the next 10 years who share those characterstics!

    Before you all go blind with rage…that’s just four buildings the size of Frieze (500 beds, mixed use)!
       —todd    Aug. 25 '05 - 01:39PM    #
  37. Murph, I do hope the A2C3 gets going because that would be great for us—especially if there were trucks or minivans or something that could do a bit of hauling. I have been hoping for some sort of car-sharing for a long time in Ann Arbor. If we were a part of it, we would be willing to keep one parked at our house for people on our side of town.

    Todd, I don’t know if Jennifer Hall has shot down any projects near her home. I just hope that she will use the same arguments there that she uses for other areas of town. Sounds to me that she will be very consistent at least, which is good. As for residential, 2000 more bedrooms is pretty easy and I would love to see it. You could start in my neighborhood by knocking down many of the current apartment buildings and building up a bit and taking better advantage of space that is now devoted to parking. But please, no expensive six-bedroom units with no storage, tiny windows, and beds and desks bolted to the wall. It that makes me a NIMBY, so be it.
       —Juliew    Aug. 25 '05 - 02:18PM    #
  38. “Anything else you would like to know?”

    Yeah, actually: If she’s so far off base so many times about you and your neighbors, why haven’t you called her up, or dropped by to have a friendly chat? (You know where she lives.) (Insert dead horse here.)

    In all seriousness, you might be able to clear up some things that way. I know it’s fun to complain (aren’t we all terribly misunderstood in one way or another?), but you could probably find a lot more common ground by sitting down over a coffee at Jeff Market than you seem to think.
       —Mike    Aug. 25 '05 - 02:28PM    #
  39. “Someone asked the ‘What about Kim Groome?’ question. Tim said he had told Kim a long time ago that she could either be on the wrong end of a lot of 10-1 votes, or she could establish her expertise on a couple of issues and generally go along with the rest of Council on other matters. Kim chose not to take his advice. Colenback said he believed in being a team player.”

    Wait…this is a reason to vote FOR Colenback?? That his main criticism of Groome was that she didn’t agree with everyone else on council? How would dissenting from the monolithic council affect her ability to “establish her expertise on a couple of issues” anyway?
       —ann arbor is overrated    Aug. 25 '05 - 04:59PM    #
  40. “That his main criticism of Groome was that she didn’t agree with everyone else on council?”

    No, that she didn’t realize that voting “no” on everything looks good in the paper but doesn’t accomplish anything. Politics is the art of compromise and while everyone loves to read about the “rebel”, people who are always on the wrong side of the vote total are either Republicans or people who are more concerned with being “right” than getting anything done.

    Before anyone thinks that means selling out to the machine – it doesn’t. But “standing on principles” 100% of the time often accomplishes nothing. Why? Because democracy is about majority rule and if you want something done, you have to be in the majority. Now if your a Republican and your biding your time or voting contrary to stake out a position, that’s one thing. But if your in the majority and your issues aren’t getting addressed because you refuse to work with others on their issues, then you’re not doing your constituents any favors. They don’t elect you to be contrary – they elect you to make things happen or to have their positions presented.

    Tim’s point is that you have to find your issues and push those to a successful conclusion. To do so, you may have to give on some other issues because they are important to other people. If you won’t work with them, they often won’t work with you. And you’re dealing with people who are generally similar mindset – you’re not being asked to make a deal with Wal-Mart or the Nazis.
       —John Q.    Aug. 25 '05 - 05:44PM    #
  41. I hope the City Council candidates

    (* Tim Colenback
    * Bill Hansen
    * Jennifer Hall
    * Audrey Jackson
    * John Roberts)

    can state, publicly, about whether they will allow a public hearing on the City Council’s own Human Rights Commission’s Palestine resolution?

    This is the resolution which urges and end to U.S. military aid to Israel (the most intimate ally Apartheid South Africa ever had.)

    In 2003, the Ann Arbor Human Rights Commission officially transmitted it to the City Council, urging them to approve it.

    So…

    Why no public hearing for the past 2 years, on that Palestine resolution?

    Will the new Councilmember call a public hearing on it?
    —Hoping for the candidates’ response,
       —-Blaine. (Palestine)    Aug. 25 '05 - 06:02PM    #
  42. And the News’ article on last night’s interviews, Council mum after 1st Ward interviews

    “Of the seven council members present, only Chris Easthope and Mike Reid would say who they supported. Easthope, D-5th Ward, said he backs Roberts, a longtime friend.

    Reid, R-2nd Ward, said he found Hall’s presentation to be the most compelling.”
       —Murph.    Aug. 26 '05 - 11:19AM    #
  43. If anybody has e-mail addresses for Jackson or Hanson, please send them my way – I’d like to send the candidates a few questions, but only have e-mails for the other three.
       —Murph.    Aug. 26 '05 - 11:20AM    #
  44. “The Detroit Greens got pissed at us for not nominating an African-American woman who stepped forward to seek office… ”

    That was a while ago, given, but it highlights a component of the current debate that I think everyone is (understandably) reluctant to address. Jackson, from what I can tell, is extremely well-intentioned and utterly devoid of important qualities (such as the ability to articulate a position) that would make her a good public official. I would be deeply insulted if Mike Reid or Chris Easthope (or myself for that matter) were automatically considered to be good candidates for Council because they’re white males. That idea is, of course, repugnant, but its mirror image is not, and I’ve never understood that.

    On to the point: the News article quotes Jackson as saying that more minority representation is needed on Council. That’s a different issue, addressing a concept larger than Jackson as an individual. As such, it’s harder to question; doing so opens one up to the king of dialogue-killing claims: “you’re a racist.” So, at risk of same, I would reference the 2000 Census (which can be found here) data indicating that 9.9% of the Ann Arbor population is African-American/black or of mixed race with African-American/black as one of the identifiers.

    Just doing the straight race-representation math: with 10 Councilors, and Wendy Woods among them, minority Council representation appears to reflect that of the general population. (Unless there’s something I don’t know – entirely possible.) Sidebar: I find it curious that Eugene Kang, who appears Asian (though I don’t know his ethnicity) received no support from Council though the Asian (or mixed/Asian) population is a good 13% in Ann Arbor. (Note that I would gladly be corrected if there is a person of Asian descent on Council with whom I am unfamiliar.)

    I actually don’t support the commodities-based method of achieving minority representation, but if you’re going that route, those are the numbers. I point it out because I just believe it’s worth asking – in all good faith – “why?” when confronted with the ubiquitous “we need more minority representation on Council” statement.

    There, I said it. Fire away.
       —Mike    Aug. 26 '05 - 03:20PM    #
  45. Since you’ve asked for a response, I’ll try.

    This is the same city government that, in the 1990’s, was forcibly taking many, many blood samples from Black male Ann Arborites.

    This is the same country that has forcibly taxed everyone, Black and white, for trillions of dollars in highway and automotive transport, to build an overwhelmingly white urban-sprawl paradise, hermetically sealed aginst Black America until the 1968 Fair Housing Act, as every possible dollar was sucked out of the cities and invested into the white suburbs.

    This is the country that vampired its way to world power, based on the tremendous capital provided by kidnapped Black labor.

    This is the country that physically destroyed African democracy,

    * from the Congo in 1960,
    * to getting Mandela arrested in 1962,
    * to backing a 30-year war on Angola, so it never enjoyed its independence, until it was almost dead in the dirt, to…

    ...you get the point.

    Black creativity, in overcoming all of that, was actually not quite enough, not enough to overcome everything.

    The ruins of white American vampirism are all around you, if you open one eye to look.

    The City Council, and the U.S. Congress, should be competing to fix all of that damage, to Black America, to Africa, and to the world.

    ...Instead of telling Black Ann Arbor, Black America, Africa, and the world, to be happy with one non-white City Councilwoman.

    There is a huge task of rebuilding what has been destroyed.

    This is what you might consider debating.

    Free school, free university, free medical care, clean water, a decent job—for the whole city, for the whole country, for the whole planet, would be easy compared to the present armed vulturism which is consuming the globe.
       —-Blaine. (Palestine)    Aug. 26 '05 - 04:35PM    #
  46. Blaine, I respect your passion. While objective rationalism is rarely as sexy as passion, I will try again: How does the commodities-trading approach solve the injustices you enumerate? If every person on Council was African-American, would that automatically solve the “present armed vulturism consuming the globe?” [And oh my god, if you respond “it would be a good start,” I will have a fit of the dry heaves.]

    My quarrel with the racial-brokerage method (“we need one of these, two of those, eight of these…”) revolves around this core question: must one be African-American in order to be cognizant of – and responsive to – the issues affecting the black community? And isn’t that a bit limiting, considering that the Council would then be split into factions, each of which is considered the sole voice of authority for that particular segment of the community? What a burden to place on those individuals. Not only that, but wouldn’t we have to elect everyone in the City to serve on City Council in order to make sure everyone is represented? Some reductionism of the electorate is required. I would prefer we use ideas and positions as the filter, rather than skin color.

    I wonder what you think of Kwame Kilpatrick. With that, I sign off.
       —Mike    Aug. 26 '05 - 05:24PM    #
  47. Since you asked…

    I honestly can’t think of anything remarkable to say about the accomplishments of any big-city Mayor, including the one you named.

    And since you asked, essentially, how I’d like to see an entirely Black City Council in Ann Arbor—I’d like it fine.

    First of all, it wouldn’t happen in today’s “lush and thieving times” (to quote Langston Hughes).

    It would happen when Black Ann Arbor walked in the front door of American politics without waiting for permission, had decided to show an example to the rest of the country, had erased forever the notion of waiting for some politician to hand out insignificant favors.

    It would happen when Black Ann Arbor insisted on the same rights and the same privileges which you already take for granted.

    There is no Earthly reason that every Black child, 140 years after Emancipation, should not expect the university education, the politcal entree, the job guarantees, the housing, the transport, the safety, that you expect for your own children.

    In Ann Arbor, in North or South America, and in the world.

    So yeah, to use your phrase, a Black City Council in Ann Arbor would be a good start.
       —-Blaine. (Palestine)    Aug. 26 '05 - 06:06PM    #
  48. Blaine: Why would it be a good start? Detroit’s had a mostly black city council on and off for years. Alan Keyes is a black guy.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Obama in ‘08, but I’d rather have people who believe what I do, regardless of their race, than a bunch of people chosen for their melanin.
    Here’s a hint: There are actually many white people (gasp) who support equality for black people. And while it’s always a good thing to promote a diversity in experience (one of the true positives for Affirmative Action), it’s more important to get people who are qualified than it is to get people who fit a social construct.
    Further, and this is my inner Marxist, there’s far more division between rich and poor than there is between blacks and whites of the same class. Racial divisions are a distraction from class struggle.
       —js    Aug. 27 '05 - 12:20AM    #
  49. Sorry, Murph, I don’t have e-mail addresses for either Hanson or Jackson.

    The fact that Jennifer Hall is the Republican-supported candidate is further evidence for the fact that she supports the Republicans’ long-term scenario for Ann Arbor: lots and lots of development. The big issue in local politics for the past couple of decades has been development. The residential neighborhoods, full of Democrats, oppose this. The development industry is full of Republican business types who make bundles of money on new construction.

    I realized how bizarre the situation with Jennifer Hall was when I ran into Ray Detter, possibly the most prominent supporter of the Downtown Development Authority since its formation. Ray, of all people, told me after the initial First Ward meeting at the Community Center last month that Jennifer Hall was a “scary person” because she always voted for development as a planning commissioner!

    Then, Ray told me during the larger First Ward meeting this past Wednesday that what Hall had just told the meeting about her views on development was “complete bullshit.”

    If Ray Detter, a leading proponent of downtown development, is scared of Jennifer Hall, then we should be too.
       —David Cahill    Aug. 27 '05 - 09:52AM    #
  50. “Then, Ray told me during the larger First Ward meeting this past Wednesday that what Hall had just told the meeting about her views on development was “complete bullshit.”

    A little elaboration would be helpful here, Mr. Cahill. Exactly what is “complete bullshit”?

    “The big issue in local politics for the past couple of decades has been development. The residential neighborhoods, full of Democrats, oppose this.”

    Oh please, these aren’t Democrats. Since when did Democrats stress wealthy (relatively speaking, if you want to split hairs) property owner rights at the expense of everyone else? Did I miss a meeting?

    No development in downtown means:

    *increased taxes
    *continual rise in cost of living
    *displacement of the working class who can no longer afford to live here
    *favoring of chains and corporate businesses over locally owned businesses since the small business owner won’t be able to afford to operate
    *pushing out minorities who, speaking demographically, can’t afford the cost of living
    *increased car use, gas consumption
    *push the real, actual development outside of downtown, contributing heavily to sprawl.

    Now Mr. Cahill, since when were these the ideals of the Democrats?

    These are the ideals of Texas Republicans, not Democrats.
       —todd    Aug. 27 '05 - 12:51PM    #
  51. “She supports the Republicans’ long-term scenario for Ann Arbor: lots and lots of development. The big issue in local politics for the past couple of decades has been development. The residential neighborhoods, full of Democrats, oppose this.”

    I disagree. Yes, I know there are a lot of people in the “neighborhoods” (and not just Democrats) who oppose development. But the idea that the only people who support “lots and lots of development” are Republicans and developers is off base. I want to see more development – development that makes sense in the context of where it is located, promotes alternative forms of transportation, respects the environment, supports the local economy, provides a diversity of housing types, discourages sprawl etc. Cities that don’t have development and redevelopment aren’t thriving and that’s a direction that I don’t want to see Ann Arbor go in.
       —John Q.    Aug. 27 '05 - 01:18PM    #
  52. It’s amusing that Cahill is so influenced by parking lot conversations with another local gadfly about how scary Jennifer Hall is. His points are also, to mimic the post by js above, a distraction. If anything, the fact that Ms. Hall can gain the support of Mike Reid – who at least has the integrity to come out and say what he’s thinking, unlike 80% of the other Councilors – shows that Ms. Hall is (as she succinctly stated at the 1st Ward meeting) capable of gaining support and cooperation rather than spinning the same, old, tired, divisive partisan politics with which we’ve all become so comfortable. And which, oh by the way, manage to get nothing done.

    Cahill’s comment and Mike’s earlier exchange with Julie combine to reflect a disturbing trend in left-leaning politics today: We all are so intent on scrutinizing each other’s leftie street cred (“You say you support affordable housing and dense development? Well, my house is less expensive and on a smaller lot!” “You only drink local beer?” “I only drink organic local beer!”) that we don’t even notice that quietly, things are being done in back rooms and hand-shake deals from which we are deliberately excluded.

    Case in point: word on the street is that Roberts is the heir apparent to the Groome seat. As in, it’s a done deal, folks. Whoops! Does anyone know anything about this guy, other than what he’s parroted back from a written cheat sheet? And I’m not kidding: the interviewees on Thursday were given the questions in advance, so they had plenty of time to inform themselves on, for instance, the Lower Town development. Of which Roberts knew nothing – nothing! – at Wednesday’s impromptu Q&A session.

    Don’t get me wrong – I have nothing personal against Roberts. My impression is that he’s a pleasant enough guy; he loves his family; he’d be a great neighbor. But is anyone else wondering what made him wake up one morning and decide to throw his hat in the ring for a position on City Council, apparently absent any prior participation in – hell, passing knowledge of! – City government? Easthope concedes they’re old friends… Hmmm. I wonder if that could have anything to do with Roberts’ sudden and powerful interest in a position for which he is clearly out of his depth. Anyone get the feeling he was recruited? Groomed a little? Got a crash course on Everything You Need To Know About Ann Arbor But Were Too Apathetic To Ask after his dismal showing during the Wednesday meeting?

    I can’t help but wonder: to what end?
       —Fly on the Wall    Aug. 27 '05 - 01:21PM    #
  53. “Easthope concedes they’re old friends…”

    My experience is that “old friends” equals “rubberstamp” unless the person can show community involvement, participation, etc. that demostrates otherwise. Absence of public involvement is a major strike against anyone who wants to be a City Council member.
       —John Q    Aug. 27 '05 - 04:17PM    #
  54. Okay, I did miss the last cabal meeting, but based on what I’ve heard, I’d be stunned if Colenback is not the one chosen.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 27 '05 - 10:31PM    #
  55. My opinion, as stated, is that Hall is the best candidate. Colenback is the most likely candidate, though, based on the fact that he hasn’t really done anything controversial, but he has plenty of political experience (worked on Hieftje’s campaigns, and he’s a social worker, for poop’s sake! How could anybody object to a social worker?). Public service, such as that of Hall’s, is a strike against in this sort of situation, since it gives people something to attack.

    So, if anybody’s going to vote against Colenback, Hall is kind of a dangerous choice. Voting for Hall takes a will to make the right choice despite its being politically risky. If one wants to vote for not-Colenback, Roberts is a much safer bet than Hall, since he’s got no experience that can be used against him. (What a wonderful criterion…)

    I don’t know who’s in the cabal that Larry’s a part of, but if it’s people who try to use Mike Reid’s support for Hall as evidence that she’s a Republican (and therefore some sort of a tool of Big Development!), then one would hope we can discount said cabal’s opinion significantly. I don’t think we’re going to know most Councilmembers’ opinions until they vote next week, but I kind of expect (to my chagrin) that it’ll be a Roberts/Colenback split due to the political demands of the situation.
       —Murph    Aug. 28 '05 - 01:20AM    #
  56. Julie—shoot me an email, if you don’t mind.

    lwinling@umich.edu
       —Dale    Aug. 29 '05 - 07:42AM    #
  57. Roberts is Chris Easthope’s former college roommate, actually.
       —David Cahill    Aug. 29 '05 - 12:54PM    #
  58. Um, I didn’t mean that last post to be taken literally.
       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 29 '05 - 01:46PM    #
  59. Despite strong First Ward support at the Council meeting for Tim Colenback and very positive words from everyone on Council for Tim Colenback, John Roberts gets the nod for the First Ward seat on City Council. He will be sworn in at their next meeting.
       —Juliew    Sep. 6 '05 - 09:19PM    #
  60. (Thanks, Julie…those of us who have fallen off the earth were wondering…)
       —Murph.    Sep. 7 '05 - 10:07AM    #
  61. Nuthin’ like political patronage, I always say. I could go on a lengthy soliloquy about how politics really haven’t changed since Rome, but I’ll spare you all…
       —Marc R.    Sep. 7 '05 - 12:04PM    #
  62. Yeah, it was as odd as people thought it might be. Everyone seemed to agree that Colenback was the candidate that the First Ward would vote for and that he was a great candidate. Johnson proposed the amendment for Colenback and he, Carlberg, and Hieftje were the only ones who supported it. Woods made a good speech about race and how it does still matter and they needed to keep that in mind. Easthope said that he has known Roberts for a long time and “he shares my values and anyone who has watched me over the last five years knows what my values are.” (It was a very political speech because Easthope didn’t/couldn’t actually say what those values were, but Roberts sure has them.) Lowenstein liked Roberts because he didn’t have any experience in public committees. No one else seemed to be able to come up with anything concrete about Roberts. Teall was tortured by the decision (has anyone else noticed that she is always tortured by her decisions?) but concluded that Council was a team who worked well and she didn’t want to disturb that so she supported Roberts. Woods then proposed the amendment to support Roberts and it passed unanimously. Hall was only mentioned once in passing which I thought was strange since she is the chair of the Planning Commission. I think the nicest thing that could be said about the process was JohnQ’s comment in post #53—”old friend” equals rubberstamp.
       —Juliew    Sep. 7 '05 - 02:11PM    #
  63. I wrote some letters and made some phone calls, but was ignored… Ah well, we’ll just have to boot Roberts out of office come the next election…
       —js    Sep. 7 '05 - 04:08PM    #
  64. Yes, watching Bob Johnson’s appointment to the council when there was a vacancy several years ago was similarly surreal. He had little experience, and was new to the area. Two of the three other candidates had experience on committees and in city politics, and some great ideas, with slightly different philosophies from each other. Instead, Council appointed him. He’s a nice guy and all, but logic would have said that it would make sense to appoint people who were at least familiar with the city – he didn’t have any idea about it. It seemed they appointed the ‘in’ Democrat instead of somebody more experienced.

    Sounds like politics won this time too.
       —CommunityMember    Sep. 7 '05 - 04:41PM    #