Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

May 2 Election

25. April 2006 • Juliew
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Update, 3 May: With 99% of precincts reporting, the countywide communications millage appears to be passing with 62% of the vote, 12,126 to 7,352. Murphy, Newman, Greene win AADL Board. See eWashtenaw cumulative report and canvass report. The millage lost only a handful of precincts. -Murph, 7:50am /Update

Next Tuesday, May 2, is the spring election. For Ann Arbor, this means School and Library Board elections and a countywide millage.

Countywide Millage
Although there has been very little discussion of this millage, it has a potentially very large impact on emergency services in Washtenaw County. For extensive details of what the millage will provide and why this was the route taken, see this .pdf from

School Board Election
In a surprisingly non-confrontational School Board Election, the candidates are all incumbents running unopposed. League of Women Voters Candidate Forum is live tonight (Tuesday, April 25) from 7:00pm to 7:45pm on CTN. Replay schedule is here.

Library Board Election
Pick three of the five candidates. League of Women Voters Candidate Forum is live tonight (Tuesday, April 25) from 8:00pm to 9:00pm on CTN. Replay schedule is here.

  1. I’ll start. I oppose the county’s equipment millage for two separate reasons.

    First, the county’s two attempts at jail millages were disasters. The initial try was for a hugely overblown set of projects. The vote was in February, 2005. Bob Guenzel, the county administrator, ran around telling the media that even if the millage failed, he would build the jail anyway and fire county staff to pay for it.

    Major pressure was put on county staff. I’m a lawyer – everyone needs a day job. One one afternoon in Feburary ‘05, all the courts were closed. The staff was told that if the millage failed there would be staff cuts.

    Guenzel was not talking about firing people in suits with fancy salaries and titles. He was talking about firing the people in the field, many of them women, whose jobs make the difference between putting food on the table and not.

    Of course, after the millage failed, no one was fired. Guenzel’s cruel bluff can never be forgotten or forgiven.

    Guenzel’s second attempt at funding the unnecessary jail expansion and taking the money out of police services failed because of an unprecedented citizens’ petition drive.

    So any county millage starts out with a heavy presumption against it, at least for me.

    Second, a letter to the editor in today’s AA Newes raises civil liberties issues about the millage. It says that the proposed radio system, and similar ones being set up around the country, will allow secret “tagging, tracking and locating technology” involving the use of radio frequency identification to enable the police and military to follow individuals everywhere they go. The writer says this is part of the Bush administration’s agenda.

    So I’m voting no on the millage.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 28 '06 - 02:11AM    #
  2. I’m a much bigger fan of Dave Cahill than most of y’all, but I disagree with just about everything he says above.

    I’ve written already about the jail. Washtenaw County has the fewest jail beds per capita in the entire state. The jail is hugely overcrowded (with function and exercise space sacrificed for more bed space for prisoners) and has been starved of resources for many years, under the last two sheriffs.

    We have also discussed the county board’s policy of insisting that townships pay for the sheriff’s road patrol. It was the continuing anger in the rural areas (either paying for patrols or suffering without them) that led those townships to vote as much as 10-1 against the jail millage in February 2005.

    I don’t want to go on too much about this, because the emergency radio millage is actually rather unrelated, and came up in a completely different way.

    Last year, the local police chiefs, led by then-Chief Dan Oates of Ann Arbor, came to the county board, hats literally in hand, and asked them to place this millage on the ballot to pay for a replacement emergency radio system. The county board, having been burned already at millage requests, was very skeptical.

    But the police people went on and on about how dangerous it was to have unreliable radios that often failed, were unusable in certain areas, had no replacement parts available, etc., etc., and there were no other funding options.

    Finally the county board said, okay, okay, we’ll vote it onto the ballot, but it’s your issue, you run with it. In the discussion afterward, everyone agreed (except the police chiefs) that the thing would go down in flames.

    Now the pro-millage committee has come out with some literature. Interesting to note, the county board is not mentioned, and no politicians’ names appear on the endorsement list. They’re stressing that no matter who provides your police services, they will need a radio system (including towers, transmitters, all that expensive stuff). And I’m getting the sense that voters, even those strongly opposed to the jail millage, are listening seriously to this argument.

    We Washtenaw County politicians (or Bob Guenzel, who works directly for the county board) did not come up with this proposal. If it passes, it will go to show that amateurs are better at this politics stuff than the self-styled professionals.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 28 '06 - 04:54AM    #
  3. I am no opponent of Cahill either, though I wonder if in this case his dislike for Guenzel (which may be justified, I know) is a determinative factor here.

    As for the AA News letter, it’s by Laurel Federbush from Jewish Witnesses for Peace, apparently, see this letter in the 4/4/05 Nation . (I also saw her at last Friday’s UM Regents’ meeting, she speaking in favor of—guess what—divestment from Israel; in fact, that’s how I recognized her name.) Her JWP membership does not tar irremediably anything else she says, but just looking at her AA News letter , anyway, it seems to go a bit far, e.g.,

    ”...Outlined in the Joint Vision 2020 and further elaborated upon in the Department of Defense Homeland Security Joint Operating Concept, the plan for the integration of the military with interagency partners in the government of the “homeland’’ essentially calls for the establishment of a military police state on American soil. Interoperable communications – that is, shared or compatible radio systems among many agencies – are an integral part of enabling that transformation. ...”

    I am very suspicious of the Bush Admin but radio interoperability seems a good thing in itself, even if it somehow gets bent so that it’ll be used to put evil microchips in our foreheads at some future point! E.g., interoperability could also help in natural disasters, etc. Any technology can be warped; but I think Federbush, maybe spooked by having “bush” in her name, is getting a little bit on the overly fearful side here?

       —David Boyle    Apr. 28 '06 - 05:11AM    #
  4. Nation link seems to want you to subscribe; maybe this Google cache might work.

       —David Boyle    Apr. 28 '06 - 05:13AM    #
  5. I must disagree with Larry about the alleged need for jail expansion. Washtenaw’s crime and arrest rates have both been dropping steadily for the past decade. Thankfully, with the failure of the expansion effort, the judges are taking some meaningful steps to reduce overcrowding by getting more information on prisoners before they are arraigned, so that more can be released on bond.

    I also got the lit on the communications millage. I noticed the strange absence of elected officeholders.

    But let’s not be fooled into thinking that the County Board is not behind the millage. The address of the committee putting out the lit is Commissioner Leah Gunn’s house.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 28 '06 - 05:15AM    #
  6. Actually, in recent months, we have seen a huge spike in the jail inmate population.

    This has led to growing tension between the sheriff and the county board. The sheriff has coped with the huge influx of prisoners by sending lots of them to hired beds in other counties.

    The county finance office reported that the “corrections” (jailing) element of the sheriff’s department is running massively over budget, and that the county doesn’t have contracts with the counties where inmates were sent. The county board sent 20 not-friendly questions to the sheriff, and asked that he answer them at the April 19 board meeting.

    The sheriff did not attend the meeting, but sent a pugnacious young attorney who announced that all further communications with the sheriff would be through him.

    No one really knows why the inmate population has suddenly exploded. But it may be that, with Michigan’s economic indicators plunging and more people becoming unemployed, crime is making a comeback. Certainly the number of arrests is way up locally, apparently across all jurisdictions.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 28 '06 - 05:40AM    #
  7. Federbush’s LTE is a little less convincing when you see the version that hasn’t been sanitized for newspaper readership. To wit, I received from her on the Huron Valley Greens mailing list a message that read similarly up until this point:

    “Tagging, tracking, and locating” techniques, whose details are admittedly kept secret, are under development by the Technical Support Working Group (which includes the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the Special Operations Forces, among other agencies) that involve the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) to enable law enforcement and the military to follow individuals everywhere they go, just like packages and merchandise similarly tagged with RFID.

    You might wonder, at this point, just how exactly this tracking will be done. Is the hypothesis that RFIDs in consumer goods will become so ubiquitous that we won’t be able to avoid it? Nope:

    I would add that I began investigating all of this when I became acquainted with a woman in Oakland County, where a similar radio system had recently been adopted, whose life has become a surveillance nightmare. She is openly tracked wherever she goes, and has implantable devices that can be felt through her skin. Her phones are tampered with, and she is always on the run, so it is hard for me to stay in touch with her. Although I cannot produce any proof of this (except that my mother also witnessed suspicious surveillance vehicles when we visited her), I can prove every other claim that I have written here regarding the radio system, with defense, government or industry documents; and anyone else can verify this information as well.

    Oh. I see. Because, obviously, the questionable part of this is whether or not the CIA is part of the Technical Support Working Group.

    Personally, I think I’ll be voting for this; it sounds well-justified when you consider the merits, rather than subscribing to ill-defined conspiracy theories or using it as a platform for meta-politicking.

       —Murph    Apr. 28 '06 - 06:06AM    #
  8. I am still trying to collect data on the emergency radio. John Ellison, a friend, who negotiates software contracts for the University Hospital told me that we don’t need to build our own system for $30 million and that it should cost $5 to $10 million by getting the service from a provider. I hope to get more data soon.

       —Ron Suarez    Apr. 28 '06 - 06:47AM    #
  9. Ron’s post hits on a point that I am also concerned about. It seems clear that something needs to be done to upgrade the communication system. However, this does not necessarily mean that proposed solution is the best one. A few questions that I would like to find answers to are:

    1) Could we provide a similar service for significantly less money, as Ron suggests may be possible?

    2) What is the decision-making impact of buying into the State supported system? Would such a buy in relinquish any important local control over emergency communications?

    3) Similarly, what information is made available to outside organizations as a result of participation in this system? I don’t buy into the Federbush conspiracy, but would like to know what might change here.

    4)What alternatives were considered and why was this one chosen?

    HD, in one of his teetering interviews, asked whether this system might be coordinated with the Wireless Washtenaw initiative. I wonder if this or other creative solutions may be possible or have been considered.

    I also feel obligated to ask whether a millage is the appropriate funding tool for this investment. I understand that this is the sort of one-time, large-scale investment that millages generally fund, but it is also a contribution to general operating expenses (it includes user fees for the network), which I don’t see as appropriate for millage votes. Similarly, I’d like to see some indication that the county will be able to cover its share of depreciation and maintenance without requiring further special contributions.

    One argument I’ve already heard on this funding strategy is that it is small enough ($25/year for the “average” home owner) that this should not be an issue. I disagree that low personal financial impact resolves this issue. It would be a bad precedent to turn millages into “bail-outs” for bad planning, and there is a lingering question of why the situation became so dire before it was addressed.

    None of this is to suggest that I do not see a need for the system or would not vote in favor of the millage. But answers to these questions would help me cast a more informed vote. I would, however, be less inclined to vote in favor of the millage if I felt I was being forced to take what is offered or nothing at all.

       —Scott TenBrink    Apr. 28 '06 - 10:21AM    #
  10. Addendum:

    I waited until after posting the previous to actually go to the site where they have a breakdown of the costs. As a result, I’d like to ammend my reference to “user fees” to be the full “maintenance” cost of $4.7 million which covers ten years. I don’t understand why there isn’t an existing budget line to cover such costs.

    While I’m at it, one third of the total capital costs are for “costs of puting the system together not accounted for in another line item.” I’m not saying they aren’t legitimate, but this is a big number to be so vaguely defined.

       —Scott TenBrink    Apr. 28 '06 - 10:48AM    #
  11. “2) What is the decision-making impact of buying into the State supported system? Would such a buy in relinquish any important local control over emergency communications?”

    This would be the case, according to a relative of mine who is high up in emergency services locally. The impetus is largely “homeland security” related, they said. They also cautioned that if the state changed something in the future, we could be expected (required out of necessity) to go along since we’d bought into their system.

    I asked how bad the current communication situation is and heard the reply as something along the lines of, “we can get by, it’s just a matter of some extra coordination, and then only sometimes.” When I asked if the need is urgent, they shrugged.

    If I could ask the AA police or fire chief a question, it would be, what is the worst case scenario if the millage doesn’t pass? (Then I’d get a second opinion from my relative.)

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 28 '06 - 04:22PM    #
  12. To David Cahill – I am the Treasurer of the millage campaign because I believe that it is very necessary to have this millage.

    I have been working closely with the various first responders in law enforcement, fire service and emergency ambulance service. I am totally convinced that this millage is necessary, not only for the safety of the citizens of Washtenaw County, but for the safety of those brave men and women who protect us. In this year alone we have lost two firefighters and a police chief. They need to talk to each other, and this is the best and most reliable system. They have done copious research to decide on what will work best and for someone to attack either their expertise or sincerity is just wrong.

    I am doing this as a volunteer because I believe in the cause, and it is not connected to either the jail issue or the road patrol issue. It is my hope that everyone will vote “yes” on May 2 for this very much needed funding.

       —Leah    Apr. 28 '06 - 04:36PM    #
  13. If we vote no, the county will just increase the fees charged for sheriff patrols to the township and buy the communication system they want with the profits. You have lost your credibility.

       —Karen Luck    Apr. 28 '06 - 05:16PM    #
  14. “The profits.”

    Enron…Haliburton…Exxon…and now Washtenaw County. Isn’t it time for a local government windfall tax? Haven’t we suburbanites paid enough money to those Ann Arbor fat cats when they soak us for frivolous services like police patrols and emergency response systems?

    Vote ‘nein’ on May 2nd. For accountability. For the suburbs.

       —Dale    Apr. 28 '06 - 06:00PM    #
  15. “I am totally convinced that this millage is necessary, not only for the safety of the citizens of Washtenaw County, but for the safety of those brave men and women who protect us. In this year alone we have lost two firefighters and a police chief. ”

    Leah, are you saying that there is a connection between the current state of the communication systems and the deaths of those people?

    If not, then what specifically convinces you of the need for the millage?

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 28 '06 - 09:33PM    #
  16. I think I can see why people thought this millage would go down in flames. It has nothing to do with the millage for the jails or County road patrol funding, but people are associating them never the less.

    I’m up for a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person, but I have no reason to believe this is motivated by anything other than a desire to have upgrade our emergency communications system to a functional level in the County. Did anybody else read the accounts in the paper about what some of the limitations of the current system are currently? Personally, I am certainly willing to pay a small amount extra to make sure we have a decent system in the future.

       —Lisa Dugdale    Apr. 28 '06 - 11:42PM    #
  17. I would rather not make the Bushies’ task easier by conforming our system to Homeland Security’s fantasies.

    Of course there is no link between the recent deaths and the claimed need for this new system. If there were such a link, you can bet that it would have been spread all over the AA News.

    The millage proponents lack the required “horror story.”

    I think they will also lack the votes come Tuesday.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 28 '06 - 11:50PM    #
  18. Thanks for mentioning the News coverage, Lisa. I don’t subscribe and haven’t checked it out yet. I will.

    A horror story isn’t “required” in order to make a convincing (not to say, persuasive) case, David. Your apparent preference for politicking over all other considerations is disturbing and is potentially harmful to community relations (i.e., the positive relationships between the people who live here—together, not as in PR.) Please give some thought to this.

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 29 '06 - 12:12AM    #
  19. The idea that this plan could somehow cause an increase in “tagging, tracking and locating people” is laughable. That can be done far more easily by checking your e-mail, cell phone, and land lines than by checking to see where your local fireman is. The primary use of this system is to allow emergency responders to communicate with each other immediately. This is useful in emergency responder-type situations where minutes and seconds count. The 800 MHz system has been around since 1986 and is currently being used by many units in the county. (Ironically, it is not the system in use in Oakland County, which is using the much newer VOIP system, so Laurel Federbush is totally wrong on SO many levels in her message.)

    I was hesitant about this millage, especially the costs, but after reading the 26-page document (this is also linked on the original post) from the 800 MHz Consortium and reading up on other comments on the 800 MHz system from around the country, I now think this is a reasonable millage. Several of the questions raised in the comments above were actually answered in the document. This plan is actually the cheapest of the options considered (cheaper than leasing from a private vendor) and addresses a very real need in our emergency responders. As one example, I think it is a very good idea for the fire department to be able to communicate with the police and ambulance services. This is not currently available but would be under the new system.

    However, I do not agree that ongoing funding for equipment upgrades should be funded by a future additional millage after this one expires (which is a strategy mentioned in their document). I do think that it is reasonable to approve this millage at this time but I would hope that the departments/consortium would then work together to upgrade as necessary using regular funding lines.

       —Juliew    Apr. 29 '06 - 12:19AM    #
  20. AA News, today, 800 MHz vote ,

    “What: A two-tenth mill levy that would raise the money necessary to upgrade emergency radio communications in the county.

    When: Tuesday.

    Where: Local polling precincts. The measure will appear as Proposal A on the ballot….

    What’s at stake: Money to streamline into one system the four radio systems currently used by Washtenaw County’s emergency response agencies, and to provide digital equipment that will interface with a statewide network.

    What it will cost: $25 a year for the owner of a home with a $250,000 market value and $125,000 assessed value.

    More information: or 734-477-6200.”

       —David Boyle    Apr. 29 '06 - 12:26AM    #
  21. I thought it would be helpful to find out who is funding the millage campaign. I went to [note irregular address], selected ballot question committee, and typed in “emergency” in the committee name box. Up popped the campaign finance reports for the Emergency Communications Committee. Here are the leading contributors so far:

    Huron Valley Ambulance $10,000.00
    State Electronics (Houghton Lake) 3,000.00
    Com Source (Rochester Hills) 3,000.00
    Advanced Wireless Telecom (Wixom) 2,000.00
    Motorola Corp. (Houghton) 9,597.00

    Total 27,597.00

    The Committee has raised $29,297.00 as of April 26. Almost all of it has come from companies who will benefit if the millage passes.

    Oh – Leah Gunn has contributed $1,100.00.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 29 '06 - 12:56AM    #
  22. I am not happy to see all those corporate donations; however, to have a more fully informed view, I might have to know how that conforms with “the pattern”. I.e., some revamping of electronic systems may be totally necessary, AND also heavily lobbied for by corporate money. Or, the opposite, i.e., only totally UN-necessary electronic revamping is lobbied for by corporate money, because truly necessary revamps will voted for by everyone anyway, sans need for corporate lobbying to convince voters. Any historical info that you have?

       —David Boyle    Apr. 29 '06 - 01:09AM    #
  23. Juliew wrote: “Ironically, it is not the system in use in Oakland County, which is using the much newer VOIP system, ...”

    Juliew, do you have any additional details on that you can share (just off the top of your head)?

       —HD    Apr. 29 '06 - 01:10AM    #
  24. HD, off the top of my head: Page 9 of the Washtenaw County 800 MHz plan—VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) ... “This technology is currently being installed in Oakland County” and FAQ from “Why are we not going with a system like Oakland County? ...the technology that Oakland County is using requires not only a great deal of capital, but also a different type of infrastructure that we do not have here in Washtenaw County. They have erected 36 towers for their system. They are using fiber optic cable to connect them, which we don’t have in the out-county areas in Washtenaw County.”

       —Juliew    Apr. 29 '06 - 01:19AM    #
  25. Juliew, Thanks. Right on point.

    I think it’s probably a little simplistic to say the emergency response system in Washtenaw County should just take advantage of the Wireless Washtenaw initiative, so Down with the 800 MHz millage! For one thing, if your goal is to provide free wireless broadband access county wide, because you want county residents/businesses to have access to the internet, then some number less than 99.9% coverage would probably count as a successful implementation, whereas it wouldn’t if we’re talking about an emergency response communications system. From what I understand of the Wireless Washtenaw strategy, very little new infrastructure needs to be built, with existing tall structures having already been identified that will meet the needs of the WW project. In other words, WW is not planning to build lots of new towers. Maybe to get the absolute blanketing an emergency response system would require, you’d have to actually go out and build towers.

    For all I know, the possibilities of coordinating the efforts of Wireless Washtenaw and the emergency response system have already been explored/studied by the folks responsible. And for all I know, what you’d need for WW and what you’d need for VOIP emergency response are two entirely different technologies. Perhaps someone with more technical acumen could comment.

       —HD    Apr. 29 '06 - 01:53AM    #
  26. I see the AA News actually has more stuff on the issue both yesterday and today, see Emergency signals tangled: Upgrading communications is crucial, county says , HVA gives most cash for radio campaign: 2 firms also donate funds in emergency system vote and Vote yes on Proposal A for emergency communications system by Luis A. Vazquez, “a member of the City of Ann Arbor Local Emergency Planning Committee”.

       —David Boyle    Apr. 29 '06 - 01:56AM    #
  27. From the first article David B. referenced:

    “Because much of the equipment on the systems is incompatible, police and fire officials often need two or even three different radios to coordinate duties at emergency sites. ‘We go on about two-thirds of our runs together and we can’t even talk to each other,’ Bunten said.”

    I suspect it wasn’t intentional, but exaggerations like this one (that are obviously false, based on the lead in) don’t help the case of the proponents.

    “Even though an antenna was installed [in Manchester Village] to repeat transmissions, deputies and investigators still rely heavily on cell phones, Sheriff’s officials said.”

    Anyone have specific info on why cell phones aren’t a reasonable back up system? (I can imagine, but I haven’t seen any details in my reading so far.)

    “About $3.7 million would be set aside for user fees charged by the state.”

    “Joining that state system has advantages. Not only can signals be transmitted statewide, but the state will assume responsibility for maintenance and system upgrades. Each agency would remain responsible for their individual radios, but the state would absorb improvements to the towers and software. Their technicians and engineers would also manage the system 24 hours a day.”

    “Assume responsibility” and “absorb improvements” are quite the pair of euphamisms for $3.7 million in service fees. I’ll put the burden of the wording on the reporter. And I’ll withhold judgment of the state (on principal) until someone can weigh in with details on where that money would actually go. Did you see anything on that, Julie?

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 29 '06 - 02:17AM    #
  28. Steve, I don’t get why you say that “exaggerations like this one (that are obviously false, based on the lead in) don’t help the case of the proponents.” What are you inferring from the lead-in?

    Having worked in Public Works Departments (in Michigan and Oklahoma), and after spending numerous hours with Fire Department personnel, I can say that yes, it is true that many of the existing analog systems require more than one radio to communicate to one agency for another.

    For example, on the old system, a firefighter may have to radio to his/her dispatch to ask a question of police, who in turn has to pass the question on to police dispatch, who then asks police personnel, and the process is then reversed. However, with the new system, a firefighter can use the main channel to communicate directly with a police officer, thus eliminating time delays and possible mis-communiciation problems (Ever play the telephone game? Tell someone a secret line, pass it around the room, and see what the last person hears? It’s usually much different).

    Therefore, since the State has already created this system, it would make sense to upgrade to have the capability to use it. If I recall (from using my scanner in Ann Arbor), the City is in the 146 megahertz and 400-500 megahertz range for current communiciations (thus requiring different radios). The new system puts it all into the 800 range. Very helpful.

    And no, cell phones are not always helpful, because certain messages are best relayed to all personnel in the field at one time, instead of time-consuming phone calls. Also, an officer in distress can have a very hard time pulling out a cell phone, dialing the number, and trying to talk. Using a radio is much easier.

    Another issue is that the older systems often fail in high-rise and dense buildings. The 800 range radios have much better ability to transmit in these buildings, making it easier for personnel to transmit messages back and forth.

       —paul    Apr. 29 '06 - 02:53AM    #
  29. And from the second (today’s) article:

    “They have also asked local members of Congress for a federal grant of $6 million for the project. If granted, the money would defray construction costs, but the earliest it could be approved is next fall, and there is no guarantee, Bunten said.”

    I also skimmed the business plan (the pdf Julie provided the link to), and found this:

    “Despite the fact that planning is being done to pay for the upgrade and operation of the system entirely from a dedicated millage, the Consortium will be vigilant for the future additional funding opportunities from other sources, such as Homeland Security Interoperability grants, etc. If these additional sources were secured with a promise of non-supplanting of existing funds, they could be used to augment the system with other features, like Automatic Vehicle Locators, or In-vehicle Terminals equipped for data transmission. If they are secured in a timely manner, they could offset some of the costs of this plan, resulting in a lower millage.”

    I wonder, though, what the likelihood would be of getting such funding if the millage passes. Aside: who was responsible for not requesting federal funding for this a year ago (as it seems didn’t happen)?

    They also included a caveat about state control of the system (reminiscent of what my relative shared with me.) The ‘buy in’ (literally) gives me even more pause because of the $3.7 million for what I would think would be marginal costs to the state system. Will we be subsidizing other members of their system?

    Beyond that the plan looks thorough and the recommendation seems sound, given where things stand today. I’m still undecided, though.

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 29 '06 - 02:55AM    #
  30. “Steve, I don’t get why you say that “exaggerations like this one (that are obviously false, based on the lead in) don’t help the case of the proponents.” What are you inferring from the lead-in?”

    Paul, I inferred from the lead-in that while it can require two or three radios to accomplish, communications were possible. Bunten said “we can’t even talk to each other,” which isn’t true, if I read the lead-in correctly. Maybe he meant they can’t talk directly, but the lead-in didn’t say that.

    Of course, why I would put more weight in the lead-in is another question, and probably a good one. :-)

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 29 '06 - 03:04AM    #
  31. ”... In this year alone we have lost two firefighters and a police chief. They need to talk to each other, and this is the best and most reliable system….” – Leah, message#12

    This is akin to President Bush mentioning ‘Saddam’ in the same paragraph as “9-11” to give a significant number of Americans (who don’t read much) the mistaken impression that the Iraqi leader had something to do with the NY towers falling. Like Bush, Leah didn’t explicitly state that the two were related, but she is happy to let some draw that erroneous conclusion.

    But that’s just politics by numbers—For every person that is turned off by such brazen propaganda, two more are “convinced” by it.

       —Michael Schils    Apr. 29 '06 - 03:10AM    #
  32. “Maybe”, but I somehow doubt Leah Gunn is as duplicitous as “Dubya the Decider”.

    Now if she wants to raise money for AA to invade Ypsilanti to deal with the Weapons of Mass Totally Awesome Fest, THAT, I would wonder about.
       —David Boyle    Apr. 29 '06 - 03:17AM    #
  33. Michael, I already posed the question to Leah. Give her a chance (time) to respond. I don’t expect her to dodge the question.

    David, that’s “Deciderator”. Get it right. ;-)

       —Steve Bean    Apr. 29 '06 - 03:20AM    #
  34. Unfortunately for Leah, at least two of the deaths are unrelated to radios at all. They died while in a helicopter chasing a suspect near Chelsea… A fire captain and a police Chief I believe.

       —paul    Apr. 29 '06 - 04:54AM    #
  35. Perhaps I could have more clearly indicated that I was only referencing the similar political tactics employed by the commissioner and the POTUS. Other than that, I would agree that they are hardly similar. A gun and a Weapon of Mass Destruction would be an approximate comparison of their relative power. Pun intended.

    On another note, if there’s any sources to support the “huge spike in the jail inmate population” mentioned earlier in this thread, I would appreciate being pointed in the general direction of such. On the other hand, if the evidence is purely anecdotal then I shall remain a skeptic. I used to work at the County, so I know how the propaganda flows from the top down, especially before a vote.

       —Michael Schils    Apr. 29 '06 - 05:21PM    #
  36. I certainly hope, Commissioner Gunn, that you weren’t trying to mislead people with your statement. Here’s hoping you explain yourself soon.

       —Matthew S.    Apr. 29 '06 - 11:51PM    #
  37. In this morning’s AA News, our county clerk, Larry Kestenbaum, says that he expects the communications millage will bring out more voters than normal. He says this election is somewhat similar to the February ‘05 countywide millage election.

    In February ‘05 the voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposed millage.

    Larry, look into your famous crystal ball. Will voters approve or reject the communications millage on Tuesday, and by what margin?

       —David Cahill    Apr. 30 '06 - 06:32PM    #
  38. There is a full-page ad supporting the communications millage in today’s AA News (page A7). It says it is paid for by “800 MHz Consortium” with an address of 100 N. Harris St., Saline, MI 48176-1642. That’s the address of the Saline Police Department.

    Nothing about this group is available on the county’s campaign finance web page. The ad uses the same general theme and graphic design as the stuff from the Emergency Communications Committee.

    Curiouser and curiouser.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 30 '06 - 07:39PM    #
  39. My crystal ball, if I ever had one, got pretty well smashed four years ago.

    I have no idea whether the millage will pass or fail, and I venture no prediction about it.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 30 '06 - 07:45PM    #
  40. Aw, Larry, you shouldn’t give up predictions just because you were a teensy-weensy bit off in the Rivers-Dingell primary of ‘02. 8-)

    “Cahill predicts” a defeat for the millage, about 55-45. In addition to doubts about the merits and the funding, “naysayers” on tax issues traditionally dominate low-turnout elections. The proponents would have had a better chance, I think, if they had put this proposal on the November ballot, when hordes of Ann Arbor tax-and-spend liberals would have been part of the electorate.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 30 '06 - 09:30PM    #
  41. You may be right, but note the New Testament letter of James, where the apostle reminds us we don’t even know whether we’ll be breathing tomorrow, therefore, predictions (unless you are an actual…prophet of God) can be dangerous…(heh).

    That being said, you could well be right; speaking of propositions etc., I am actually hoping, re the November election, that the large number of other propositions on ballot will help doom the MCRI, on the possibility (NOT prediction) that a large number of propositions may just lower the probability of people voting “yes” on any one of them….
       —David Boyle    Apr. 30 '06 - 10:00PM    #
  42. On the other hand, we in the elections world are dreading trying to fit all those proposals on a standard size ballot.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Apr. 30 '06 - 11:45PM    #
  43. The “800 MHz Consortium” was formed in 1986 by Washtenaw County and the cities of Saline, Ann Arbor, and Milan. It is a governmental entity of some kind.

    It apparently is spending public funds to support the millage campaign.

       —David Cahill    May. 1 '06 - 03:19AM    #
  44. Here’s a news story from the Manchester paper about issues in that corner of the county.

       —Edward Vielmetti    May. 2 '06 - 12:23AM    #
  45. Wow… There is a lot of mixed up information on this page, as people are mixing together different problems.

    1. The county jail is overcrowded, and that is not the issue with the radios, nor the funding of such.

    2. None of the proposed radio systems can track the location of anything but a specifically outfitted user of that specific radio system. (HVA currently tracks the location of all their units in near real-time, as there are miniscule delays in the system.)

    3. Law enforcement officers and firefighters rarely need to talk to each other directly, and it would probably cause confusion if they were to try, due to differences in “shorthand” used between the two groups. Additionally the respective people should be in communication with their superior in the chain of command. That chain will lead to an Incident Commander, which is the one person that is in charge of managing the incident at hand. The chain of command is adjusted in size and scope, according to the size and scope of the incident.

    4. Wireless Washtenaw is not, to the best of my knowledge, going to make use of any sort of public safety radio system. The various public safety agencies could make use of the connectivity provided from Wireless Washtenaw, once it’s in place. This would all remain to be seen, as to if there would be any benefit or if it would be reliable enough for the time-critical needs.

    5. The Michigan State Police in Washtenaw County are dispatched by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department. This takes place on the county’s radio system, on the same channel that most of the county’s law enforcement is dispatched on. All of the non-Federal law enforcement in the county is done on the county’s radio system, so those officers have the ability to talk to each other when needed.

    6. The Line of Duty Deaths of the public safety officials that have occured this year have had NOTHING to do with the radio systems.

    7. The new radio system is no guarantee that anyone using the radio system will be able to call for help. It’s just the nature of using this type of radio system. In fact, they will be less likely to be able to get a call for help out, if relying solely on a digital radio system.

    I’m sure I’m missing things right now, but that hits the major points.

    I am very curious as to why there is any need to do anything with a “Tie-in” to a Northville location. There is a node of the state’s radio system near the intersection of Baker and Jackson roads.

    There is also no mention of what the failsafe plans are, when the radio system fails. Please note I said when, not if. Also, if there is any large-scale event, the state’s radio system is verly likely to be overwhelmed. (There are currently failsafe plans in place in all the radio systems mentioned.)

    For the record, my background knowledge is very relevant to this discussion. I was an active-duty military electronics technician for many years, specializing in communications equipment. I am also an Amateur Radio operator (AKA ham radio), a scanner enthusiast, a volunteer firefighter, and currently a military firefighter. During my tenure in the active-duty military, I also served as Armed Forces Law Enforcement.

       —RichS    May. 2 '06 - 06:42AM    #
  46. The polls are open.

    Sabra and I voted at 9:00. I was voter 13 in a polling place that was serving two regular precincts merged together, on the northeast side of AA City. The worker said they didn’t get their first voter until 7:40.

    Voting in AA City is typically steady throughout the day, without any spikes or troughs. Since the polls are open for 11 hours, and my poll received 13 votes in the first 2 hours, I expect the total vote will be (13/2) x 11 = 72 votes.

    This number will be close to an all-time low for these precincts. So I disagree with Larry Kestenbaum. I think the county-wide turnout will be less than 10%.

    I voted no on the millage, of course. “Read my lips – no new taxes!”

       —David Cahill    May. 2 '06 - 06:31PM    #
  47. Of course you did. “Money – get back! I’m all right, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack.”

       —TPM    May. 2 '06 - 06:47PM    #
  48. My husband and I were number one and two at 8:30. There is never a huge turnout at Mary Street because it encompasses a primarily student population, but usually there is someone before us. Oh, and yeah, I voted for the millage.

       —Juliew    May. 2 '06 - 06:50PM    #
  49. I was voter no. 3 at my polling station, at 7:30 AM; the place was deserted. I did vote for the millage, figuring that it will cost me less than $20 a year for what appears to be a better, more safe emergency response system. A bargain, really-

       —KGS    May. 2 '06 - 06:57PM    #
  50. Mrs. Structure-Dude! and I were numbers three and four at about 8:15 in our respective polling place. Two more yes votes. Thanks for motivating me, Dave; I was so eager to cancel out your vote that I even wrote “Don’t forget to vote” on my hand before I went to bed last night.

       —Parking Structure Dude!    May. 2 '06 - 07:16PM    #
  51. There was a basket of treats where I voted (way better than a sticker with I Voted Today printed on it).

    As I pawed through the candy bars and little rubber animals a poll worker foraged around and found some Mardi Gras beads in there. A poll colleague said: “I think you have to do more than vote to get those.”

    I figure it’s none of anyone’s business how I voted on Proposal A or the Library Board, but I will say that I emerged with two Twix Bars and a little rubber whale. Democracy pays off once again.

       —HD    May. 3 '06 - 02:44AM    #
  52. In other election news: though my title for this comment may resemble Parliament-Funkadelic’s album title “Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome”, a more pertinent description might come from the article itself, today’s AA News County clerk OKs recall vote for Pittsfield: But 3 targeted officials plan to challenge decision in court ,

    “The Washtenaw County Clerk’s office certified Monday that enough registered voters had signed petitions to force a recall election Aug. 8 for three Pittsfield Township officials.

    Recall backers rejoiced at the news, but the targets of the recall – Supervisor James Walter, Clerk Feliziana Meyer and Treasurer Christina Lirones – said they will go to court this week to challenge the petitions.

    Walter said County Clerk Lawrence Kestenbaum did not consider a law requiring that whole petition sheets be thrown out if there is evidence of “fraud, deceit or misrepresentation’’ in the way any signatures on the sheets were gathered.

    ...Recall leader Gavin Clarkson hailed certification of the signatures as a chance for Pittsfield residents “to voice their opinion.’’

    Clarkson said the petition collection process would stand up under any scrutiny from a legal challenge by the township officials. “We are confident that the county clerk did an excellent job in vetting the petitions,’’ he said. “The allegations leveled by the triumvirate are baseless and without merit.’’

    Kestenbaum said Monday that his office had consulted with the state Bureau of Elections on the issue of whether whole petition sheets should be thrown out if there is evidence of any signatures being gathered improperly, and state officials said whole sheets should not be thrown out because of that.

    “The state was very firm on that, and we followed their lead,’’ Kestenbaum said.

    He said that he had expected a suit from whichever side the certification did not favor.

    “We’re pretty sure that we did this in the most scrupulous, correct and legal fashion,’’ Kestenbaum said.

    ...Recall proponents want to remove the officials because they say each official made a false statement in public and interfered with the Planning Commission’s work. Two of the three accusations leveled at each official are related to a Wal-Mart store that’s being built at the corner of US-12 and State Road. The store received final site plan approval Feb. 2. Recall backers also criticized a pay raise the officials received.

    Walter, Meyer and Lirones acknowledge they voted to accept the township Compensation Commission’s recommendations for their salaries. They call the other accusations baseless. ...”

    Sounds like a lotta “baselessness” floating around. And triumvirate sounds a little ancient Roman; but nothing on earth ever changes I guess. “Hail Caesar”, salad or otherwise.

       —David Boyle (Kestenbaum & the "baseless triumvirate")    May. 3 '06 - 03:56AM    #
  53. At 7:20 there had been something like 60 votes cast at the Coliseum, no lines to vote, very very quick.

    Voting results are here:

    0% votes counted so far.

       —Edward Vielmetti    May. 3 '06 - 05:00AM    #
  54. So – the polls are closed. The County will do its best to post results on its website, but if past experience is any guide nothing significant will be posted there until 11:00 or so.

    If anyone was a poll watcher (not sure any campaign had them) or has results from the sheets posted inside the County Clerk’s office (which is open to the public now), could they enter them here?

       —David Cahill    May. 3 '06 - 05:01AM    #
  55. No suspense: the radio millage wins.

    Freedom and Sylvan townships have voted “yes”, so how could it lose?

    Freedom’s clerk says: “I didn’t know we had so many cops living in our township.”

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 3 '06 - 05:20AM    #
  56. Link for millage win?

    Watch out for that “triumvirate”, by the way! (heh)
       —David Boyle    May. 3 '06 - 05:55AM    #
  57. So at 10:15 the radio millage has 64%. Way to go rallying the troops, Dave!

    But it looks like they didn’t tally my “Impeach Cahill” as a write in for the Library Board. I knew I should have written in an object instead of a command. Next time I’ll go with “Cahill’s Scalp.”

       —Parking Structure Dude!    May. 3 '06 - 06:31AM    #
  58. O.k., Ed’s link is showing some results now, over 9% of ballots counted, & Larry’s crystal ball is working again perhaps re the radio millage. . .

       —David Boyle    May. 3 '06 - 06:32AM    #
  59. Early results indicate 2 to 1 for the countywide millage and a resounding win for Gregory Gurka in the Lincoln School Board election.

       —Dale    May. 3 '06 - 06:33AM    #
  60. I guess I wouldn’t be so quick to count the countywide radio millage as a win. All the votes counted to date are from the townships, none from the city.

       —Edward Vielmetti    May. 3 '06 - 06:55AM    #
  61. The millage won the cities, too. The only precinct any of us have noticed that went against it was a small one in Ypsilanti city.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 3 '06 - 07:10AM    #
  62. “Kestenbaum said Monday that his office had consulted with the state Bureau of Elections on the issue of whether whole petition sheets should be thrown out if there is evidence of any signatures being gathered improperly”

    I know that Larry’s just going by what the State’s telling him but I’ve always been told that even minor errors on a petition will invalidate it. It seems strange that now the process allows flawed petitions. Isn’t that a recipe for all kinds of mischief?

       —John Q.,    May. 3 '06 - 08:14AM    #
  63. Results linked above: resounding victory. Looks like Northfield Twp is about the only place it didn’t play.

    As Larry notes, if my home Twp of Sylvan voted for it, there was no way it could lose.

       —Murph    May. 3 '06 - 03:56PM    #
  64. The millage result goes to show that a huge stack of corporation and public dollars, not reported by the AA News until the last minute, can have a significant impact. The total is at least $30,000 (Emergency Communications Committee) + $3,500 (Sunday AA News ad by the 800 MHz Consortium) + $900 (1/4 page ad in Monday’s AA News, paid for by State Electronics Company) = $34,400. That’s almost $3.00 per yes vote.

    At least I was right on the turnout – less than 8%. 8-)

       —David Cahill    May. 3 '06 - 04:57PM    #
  65. I heard a weird hypothesis from somebody in the polisci department that seems relevant to this millage. His idea (untested, but he’s doing the research now) was that sometimes a voting result reflects the will of the people.

       —Dale    May. 3 '06 - 05:21PM    #
  66. It’s the will of the people when the people agree with David Cahill. When the people disagree with the David Cahill, it’s the result of a huge stack of coporation and public dollars.

       —tom    May. 3 '06 - 05:30PM    #
  67. Tom is right—gosh, it doesn’t sound like Cahill is much of a big “D” or little “d” democrat.

    It seems clear that Cahill does not have a good sense of the electorate, even in his own precinct where the millage won overwhelmingly. I suspect that’s because he only talks to the same 6 people who share his paranoid conspiracy theories, and then he presumes that the other 114,000 people in Ann Arbor also share his views. Once again, he’s been proven wrong.

    Larry—can you clarify when, if ever, an entire petition would be thrown out due to irregularities?

       —PJ    May. 3 '06 - 05:51PM    #
  68. “The millage result goes to show that a huge stack of corporation and public dollars, not reported by the AA News until the last minute, can have a significant impact.”

    I would bet that a lot of people voted absentee and that many of those ballots were returned before these expenditures could have had an impact on voter behavior, undercutting DC’s argument. Larry?

       —John Q.    May. 3 '06 - 09:39PM    #
  69. I don’t think so, John Q. The millage committee has been sending out propaganda for several weeks.

    I’m quoted in today’s AA News story. Check it out!

       —David Cahill    May. 3 '06 - 09:45PM    #
  70. Whole petition sheets are frequently thrown out when there is a problem with the circulator’s certificate at the bottom. For example, if the circulator is not a registered voter, or (in the case of recalls) a registered voter in the district where the target official was elected. Or if the circulator’s certificate is dated before the signatures on the petition sheet. Those are just a few examples, not an exhaustive list.

    However, when there is a problem with a single signature on a petition, that is not, generally speaking, grounds to throw out the entire sheet. For example, if a voter signed twice, on petition #471 and petition #582, neither of those signatures are valid, but the other signatures on those two petition sheets certainly could be.

    As to the millage, it certainly didn’t take a crystal ball to see the millage winning after the Freedom and Sylvan results. It’s like projecting a John Kerry win in the presidential election based on him carrying South Carolina.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 4 '06 - 12:43AM    #
  71. AA News excerpt ,

    ”...There was no organized opposition, but some voters still had reservations.

    David Cahill, of Ann Arbor, said he voted no because the consortium that touted itself as grass roots ran a campaign funded largely by Huron Valley Ambulance and several private companies expected to bid on components of the project.

    “If this was funded by the firefighters and police, I would support it. But this was funded by companies that want to sell us equipment and Huron Valley Ambulance, who would benefit, too,’’ Cahill said.

    HVA contributed $10,000 and two private companies that are authorized Motorola Inc. distributors contributed $3,000 each, according to a campaign finance report filed April 21. In addition, Motorola, located in Houghton, contributed $9,597, and Advanced Wireless Telecom of Wixom contributed $2,000, according to a late contribution report filed with the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office on April 26.

    Members of the consortium nervously awaited results for about two hours after the polls closed Tuesday. But once the tallies showed a wide margin of victory in the city of Ann Arbor and reasonable success in smaller communities such as Freedom and Sylvan townships, they were ready to celebrate.

    “I expected it to be a little closer in a lot of areas, but with a low turnout you never know,’’ said Ypsilanti Township Fire Chief Larry Morabito, referring to the 8 percent of county voters who participated. ...”

    Ah Freedom.

       —David Boyle    May. 4 '06 - 07:06AM    #
  72. David Cahill,

    Did they misquote you in the article? You are quoted as saying, “If this was funded by the firefighters and police, I would support it.”

    But clearly your posts here indicate that before you found out about the corporate conspiracy, you firmly rejected the proposal based on the with-or-without-you jail funding conspiracy as well as the NSA-secret-tracking-system conspiracy.

    I can see two legitimate reasons to oppose the millage. Either you find that the system is not necessary, or (like me) you feel that this is not the appropriate funding mechanism for the expenditure. Unless the corporate contributions can be linked to one of these arguments, I don’t see why it would impact your vote. I don’t see any evidence of deception or illegal contributions here. Considering the supposed financial crunch, it would seem inappropriate for EMS, fire, and police not to accept donations for a program they already support. If the investment is unwarrented, that is another story.

       —Scott TenBrink    May. 4 '06 - 07:27AM    #
  73. Yes, the quote is not accurate. What I said was that I would respect the ballot question campaign more if it had been funded by firefighters and police.

       —David Cahill    May. 4 '06 - 04:48PM    #
  74. How would they go about doing that? Do you expect them to use their own out of pocket money as private citizens?

       —jcp2    May. 4 '06 - 08:13PM    #
  75. David Cahill may love this: AA News today, Radio dealer aided tax campaign: Donation for successful millage drive came from system designer ,

    ” The campaign to pass a county-wide emergency radio millage last month received a late infusion of cash and in-kind contributions from companies likely to be involved in the new communication system’s development.

    The Emergency Communications Committee, the political arm of the 800 MHz Consortium that designed the millage request, received a $2,000 contribution from Advanced Wireless Telecommunications, an authorized Motorola dealer based in Wixom, and $9,597 from Motorola Corp. itself to cover printing costs, just days before the May 2 vote, according to records filed with the Washtenaw County Clerk’s Office this week. Motorola will design the new system and provide towers, computers and software for it. ...”

       —David Boyle    Jun. 4 '06 - 06:55AM    #
  76. Yes, I enjoyed the article. The news peg was the filing of the campaign report. Interestingly enough, what the news said about the campaign contributions was almost identical to what it said in the article excerpted above in comment #71. I don’t know why the News felt these corporate contributions deserved double coverage…

       —David Cahill    Jun. 5 '06 - 01:16AM    #