Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Candidates for November 3rd 2009

Posted by Matt Hampel on 2. November 2009

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.

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Proposals for November 3rd 2009

Posted by Matt Hampel on 2. November 2009

There are two ballot proposals for the City of Ann Arbor and one for the Washtenaw Intermediate School District. There are other proposals for other townships.

PROPOSAL A ANN ARBOR CITY CHARTER AMENDMENT

Shall Sections 7.4(a) (1) and (2) of the Ann Arbor City Charter be amended to permit the current requirement of newspaper publication of City ordinances to be satisfied also by posting to the City website, or by any media determined appropriate to inform the general public by City Council?

PROPOSAL B ANN ARBOR CITY CHARTER AMENDMENT

Shall Section 7.3(d) of the Ann Arbor City Charter which currently requires the newspaper publication of a proposed zoning ordinance or amendment be amended to permit this publication requirement to be satisfied by publication in any other media otherwise permitted by law?

PROPOSAL I REGIONAL ENHANCEMENT MILLAGE PROPOSAL

Pursuant to state law, the revenue raised by the proposed millage will be collected by the intermediate school district and distributed to local public school districts based on pupil membership count.

Shall the limitation on the amount of taxes which may be assessed against all property in Washtenaw Intermediate School District, Michigan, be increased by 2 mills ($2.00 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation) for a period of 5 years, 2009 to 2013, inclusive, to provide operating funds to enhance other state and local funding for local school district operating purposes; the estimate of the revenue the intermediate school district will collect if the millage is approved and levied in 2009 is approximately $30,000,000?

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Lawsuit Filed Over E-Mails and Parking Structure

Posted by Matt Hampel on 12. August 2009

A lawsuit was filed yesterday against the City of Ann Arbor alleging that e-mail exchanges during the February 17, 2009 Council meeting violated the Open Meetings Act. It claims that the City did not provide all the e-mails on request, and made unauthorized deletions, violating the Freedom of Information Act. The focus of the suit is the proposed underground parking structure and City Council’s deliberations about it.

The plaintiffs are Herb David Guitar Studio; Kiki Properties, LLC; Jerusalem Garden; and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. The defendant is the City of Ann Arbor. This is a Washtenaw County Circuit Court Suit. Case number is 09-945 CZ. It was assigned to Judge Archie Brown.

The suit alleges that the construction of the parking structure will be a nuisance, damaging the nearby business owners. It also alleges that the vibrations, noise and dust of construction will be a trespass on their properties. It is also claimed that the construction of the parking structure violates the Michigan Environmental Protection Act.

The suit asks the Court to declare that the City approved the project in violation of the Open Meetings Act and that the nondisclosure of documents violated the Open Meetings Act. It also asks the Court to enjoin Council members from engaging in any further private e-mail discussions during public meetings regarding the project or its funding.

The suit asks for a preliminary injunction prohibiting the City from constructing the project until a comprehensive study of its environmental impacts and possible alternatives is made.

Our thanks to Dave Cahill for contributing this synopsis.

The filing

Thanks to The Ann Arbor Chronicle and Vivienne Armentrout for sending us this document

MEPA suit filed against the City of Ann Arbor

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Primary results coming in

Posted by Matt Hampel on 5. August 2009

Online at via the County Clerk

UPDATE

As of 10:11pm, Larry Kestenbaum reports the following complete results:

3rd Ward: Kunselman 511, Greden 505, Bullington 379.

5th Ward: Anglin 1301, Rosencrans 694.

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With 9 precincts of 18 counted as of 09:28:46:

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY - COUNCIL MEMBER BY WARD 5
   
  Mike Anglin91264.64%
  Scott Rosencrans49835.29%
  Write-In10.07%

DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY - COUNCIL MEMBER BY WARD 3
   
  LuAnne Bullington14223.01%
  Leigh Greden23938.74%
  Stephen Kunselman23337.76%
  Write-In30.49%

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Local Candidates' Survey - Opinions on arts and culture

Posted by Angela Martin-Barcelona on 31. July 2009

The Arts Alliance has contacted all candidates running for elected office in Washtenaw County to obtain their views on arts and culture in this region. To view all responses (and lack thereof), click here.

The survey, conducted annually in advance of the primary and general elections, was distributed to candidates throughout Washtenaw County for the offices of:
• Ann Arbor City Council, Wards 3 & 5
• Manchester Village, Village Trustee – Regular Term & Partial Term

As a public service, the Arts Alliance asked the candidates to respond to the following two questions about their positions on arts and culture in our community.
1. What is your position on public funding for arts and culture?
2. If elected, what measurable actions will you take to ensure that arts and cultural offerings survive and thrive in Washtenaw County? Please be specific.

The Arts Alliance is a non-partisan organization that endorses no candidate running for office.

About the Survey
Starting in early July, candidates were contacted about the survey 4 times by email (dependent on what personal information was posted on the Washtenaw County website), and of the 9 candidates contacted, the Arts Alliance received 6 responses.

Candidate questionnaire, August 09: Constituent communications

Posted by Murph on 30. July 2009

Continuing our candidate questionnaire results…

#2 – What systems do you have to manage communications with your constituents and to track issues?

Greden: I pro-actively distribute an e-mail newsletter to 3rd Ward residents on a periodic basis. Some of my past newsletters remain in the AU archives. I have an extensive e-mail database of a variety of issues raised by 3rd Ward residents.

Kunselman: I prefer to use face to face communication systems when responding to people. If that it too difficult to coordinate with others, then I prefer to talk via phone. E-mails are OK, but they don’t convey the sense of sincere connection to the individual being communicated with – I prefer to have someone look in my eyes and have them know that I’m sincere in what I’m saying. As for “issue management systems”, I don’t have a defined system but I do have an archive system consisting of lot of files with documents and notes lying around the basement from the last time I was on council.

(Candidates Bullington, Anglin, and Rosencrans did not provide responses.)

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Candidate questionnaire, August 09: Grow, shrink, develop?

Posted by Murph on 30. July 2009

Continuing our candidate questionnaire results…

#3 – How do you see Ann Arbor growing, shrinking, and developing over the next 15 years? Where should growth be encouraged or discouraged, and how should the City manage the impacts of these decisions?

Kunselman: I see Ann Arbor being fairly stagnant over the next decade and then possibly picking up. When we review the real estate development cycles in Ann Arbor, it’s pretty clear that every 10 years we peak and crash. My observation is this: during the 60’s, at least 2 very large apartment buildings were built downtown (Tower Plaza and U-Tower). Then the economy tanked in the 70’s and nothing was built. In the 80’s, 3 large buildings were built: One North Main, 301 E. Liberty, and Sloan Plaza. Then the Savings and Loan crash happened and nothing was built during the 90’s (except for the DTE building on Main which was heavily subsidized by DTE). And during the last decade (2000’s) we had Zaragon Place, 411 Lofts, and Ashley Terrace – and subsequently the biggest economic meltdown since the Great Depression leaving no doubt in my mind that there will not be any buildings of significant size being built in Ann Arbor for another 10 years. As for encouraging growth, let’s be real, the only policies Council has promoted to actually encourage building is to subsidize private development with tax abatements, tax credits, partnerships with developers, and direct payments to developers. All of these “tools” have been tried by Council, and none of them have led to any substantial economic growth (i.e. building construction) – in fact, every partnership the City has engaged in with a private developer has failed so far, but those developers that avoided council partnerships have all built their buildings – so, maybe we should take a hint and try something else rather than assigning staff to be “speculative developers.”

Greden: Ann Arbor – along with Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo – is one of three urban centers that will drive Michigan’s economic growth in the coming decade. If Ann Arbor does not prosper and enjoy economic growth, our region and State face serious problems that will have a devastating impact on every aspect of our life, including schools, parks, and human rights. I support the A2D2 plan, which will encourage downtown growth while protecting nearby neighborhoods. I will continue to support initiatives to draw new jobs to Ann Arbor, which – despite the false claims of one of my opponents – cost the City nothing.

(Candidates Bullington, Anglin, and Rosencrans did not provide responses.)

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Candidate questionnaire, August 09: Transportation

Posted by Murph on 30. July 2009

Continuing our candidate questionnaire results…

#4 – How will you work to ensure a safe, effective, and efficient transportation system in the city, ranging from biking and walking to transit options like AATA or the proposed commuter rails?

Greden: I have long supported the City’s pedestrian transportation program, which adds new bike lanes and sidewalks as part of road re-construction projects. I also support the expansion of regional mass transit in partnership with SEMCOG, U-M, and other local governments.

Kunselman: I can’t answer this question with much specificity as it is too broad of a topic, and much of our transportation planning occurs outside of City Hall. But I’ve always been supportive of pursuing a “safe, effective, and efficient transportation system.” As the candidate that is the most multi-modal of any (I have been known to bike, catch a bus, travel by train, drive a car, ride a motorcycle, and skateboard to my destinations), I know all too well the importance of the need for good roads (potholes are known to have killed motorcyclists), defined bike lanes, and laws that permit skateboarding as a form of transportation. As for the commuter rails – WALLY is dead due to a lack of Livingston County cooperation and cost sharing. And resurrecting commuter rail to Detroit will entail a huge federal subsidy that is not likely to happen during any tenure that I may have on Council; I would rather the Feds at least subsidize the Stadium Bridge reconstruction.

(Candidates Bullington, Anglin, and Rosencrans did not provide responses.)

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Candidate questionnaire, August 09: Palestine

Posted by Murph on 30. July 2009

Continuing our candidate questionnaire results…

#5 – Would you support Council discussion of a resolution to support sanctioning Israeli actions towards the Palestinian people? What is your opinion on past Council discussion of resolutions on divestment from South Africa (1986), urging the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq (2000), or opposing war with Iraq (2002)?

Kunselman: From the examples that are provided, it’s pretty clear that previous Councils have avoided deliberating the “hot topic” international issues that are obviously under the purview of the federal government. While I have my own views on these issues, bringing them to the Council table is not what I believe a Council member is elected to do and thus, no, I do not support discussing issues pertaining to the Mideast, Tibet, Somalia, North Korea, China, or any other country where human lives are being trampled by repressive authorities.

Greden: No. I do not believe the City Council should involve itself in foreign policy matters.

(Candidates Bullington, Anglin, and Rosencrans did not provide responses.)

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Candidate questionnaire, August 09: Online discussions

Posted by Murph on 30. July 2009

We only received responses to our questionnaire from two candidates, Leigh Greden and Stephen Kunselman, both in the 3rd Ward, but we don’t want to push back posting the answers too long. (The first question we asked, though, involved participating in online discussions, so maybe we do have everyone’s answers for this one…) We’ll provide separate posts for each question so that comments can be kept straight between the posts.

#1 – Do you expect to take part in online discussions on municipal issues? How do these discussions, whether on news sites or less formal outlets, factor into your consideration of issues?

Kunselman: I occasionally read on-line discussions offered by the various media and blog outlets but I tend not to participate in them and don’t expect to if elected to public office. While I enjoy reading the opinions posted, I will not engage in “opinion swapping” with people who post anonymously, and for the most part, that is what I see predominately on the on-line discussions. Will citizen opinions factor into my decision making – most certainly, that’s what politics is all about.

Greden: I have participated in on-line discussions about municipal issues on AU in the past. I will continue to do so as appropriate. On-line discussions are one of many factors I consider when making decisions. Other factors include correspondence from 3rd Ward residents, policy statements from City staff, legal opinions from the City Attorney, and my own personal conviction.

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