Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

2009 City Council Elections

27. April 2009 • Bruce Fields
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The City Council has ten members, two representing each of the five wards (ward map), with two-year terms staggered so that each ward elects one member yearly.

The Ann Arbor News reports that all incumbents are running for re-election. The list of incumbents (with possible challengers from the News article in parentheses) is:

Ward 1: Sabra Briere
Ward 2: Stephen Rapundalo
Ward 3: Leigh Greden (Steve Kunselman, Marwan Issa)
Ward 4: Marcia Higgins (Hatim Elhady)
Ward 5: Mike Anglin (Scott Rosencrans)

The general elections are November 3rd, but in recent years the Democratic nominees have always won, so the August 4th primaries will probably decide.

  1. Also, note that I’ve followed HD’s lead in linking each candidate to an arborwiki entry, editable by anyone, so if you have any information about candidates, that would be a good place to leave it.

       —Bruce Fields    Apr. 27 '09 - 03:03AM    #
  2. Oh, and, the referenced Chronicle article also includes a discussion with Hatim Elhady in the comments section.

       —Bruce Fields    Apr. 27 '09 - 03:05AM    #
  3. I’m glad that AAU opened a thread on this subject. I have two comments:

    1. It is an interesting addition to Ann Arbor politics that two people linked to the Moslem community and I think to the Issa franchise are running for office. I think most people reading this know that the Issa family is very active and influential. They have the Ahmos business and also run a charter school operation. This seems to be their entry into local politics.

    2. Remember that this is an “odd year election”. Practically the only items on the August and indeed the November ballot will be City Council campaigns, if there are opponents. (I think that the city code calls for no primary elections if an incumbent is not opposed; I think the November election does take place regardless.) Since there are no contests for higher offices, this means a relatively small turnout, unless there is a ballot measure.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Apr. 27 '09 - 05:15AM    #
  4. Bruce, could you (or someone else technically talented) copy the comments about the City Council elections from the article “Should city bonds need voter OK?” and paste them here?

       —David Cahill    Apr. 27 '09 - 05:39PM    #
  5. I’d rather not copy comments over. Feel free to summarize here if you think there was useful information in them.

       —Bruce Fields    Apr. 27 '09 - 06:36PM    #
  6. Marcia Higgins is the Chair of the Council’s Budget and Labor Committee. Last time she ran, she took a $1,500 campaign donation from the Firefighter’s PAC. Leigh Greden, who also sits on that same committee, took $1,000 from the PAC. Committee member Rapundalo took $500 from the PAC.

    Interestingly, Sandi Smith scored $750 from the Firefighter’s PAC, as did Hohnke. Derezinski took $500, and and Chris Taylor’s campaign pocketed $200.

    In a city campaign, where the average campaign donation is $50-$75, accepting those donations is ethically suspect. The Budget and Labor committee impacts police/fire layoffs (how many firefighters this time around?). Council members vote on any budget that calls for firefighter layoffs, forced retirement/buyouts.

       —UMGrad1234    Apr. 27 '09 - 07:14PM    #
  7. I think an emphasis on candidates’ religions can lead nowhere positive. Emphasizing that candidates may be “linked to” “influential” Muslims does not sound like sincere interest in the candidates’ own abilities to administer this city.

    Then you see a warning that “relatively small turnout” is expected in this election. That does not sound like happiness that the candidates may win. It almost sounds like worry that they may win in some unfair way.

    It would be nice to see more about the actual abilities and strengths of candidates, and less about their religious pedigree. Do you know about their education, they energy, their drive to improve their city?

       —The Colonel    Apr. 27 '09 - 07:37PM    #
  8. And Ms. Higgins has had to pay a small fine a couple of times over the years for late filing of her campaign reports.

    If you look at her first campaign reports, back when she was a Republican, she took money from some interesting folks then as well. Well, Republicans (lol) but if you look at her decade long political career, she seems to shift like the sand. That is when she’s not invisible.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Apr. 27 '09 - 08:28PM    #
  9. The Issa family are West Bank Palestinian-Americans that are originally from Ramallah, a city about 10 miles north of Jerusalem. Ironically, former Councilperson Joan Lowenstein attended school not far from there at Hebrew University. I do not know how “influential” the may view themselves, but it is accurate that they do operate several businesses in Washtenaw County, including the Ali Baba restaurant in Ann Arbor.

    I am not aware of Mr. El-Hady, however, and any information and opinions about him would be helpful.

       —Mark Koroi    Apr. 27 '09 - 09:14PM    #
  10. From the Ann Arbor News:

    A Detroit native, Elhady is a U-M student completing a dual major in economics and Near Eastern studies.

    An opportunity to work in the U.S. consulate in Germany contributed to his interest in politics, he says. “If you’re a citizen who really cares, it’s best to be part of the action,” he says.

    Elhady says he’s focused on issues of concern to permanent residents and students who live in the 4th Ward: for example, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority rate increase, traffic congestion – especially on football Saturdays, and street repair.

    He said his decision to run as an independent was meant to signal an interest in serving all residents regardless of political affiliation. He’s also mindful of the fact that the August primary date works against a candidate hoping to secure student votes.

       —The Colonel    Apr. 27 '09 - 09:46PM    #
  11. I offered the information about Mr. Issa and Mr. El-Hady out of sincere interest that a new set of voices was entering Ann Arbor politics. Actually, I know little about Mr. El-Hady other than the information he has presented about his goals for the city, which sound fresh and enthusiastic. I’m glad to read more about him in the ArborWiki entry.

    The Issa family has indeed been influential – I’ve seen Mr. Issa (senior) appear at a number of council meetings and any family who have such a successful commercial enterprise and have founded schools (I believe that franchise is also expanding) are already prominent in the community.

    My comments were not intended as a slur or any other negative connotation – merely a pointer that new voices are being heard on the platform.

    I looked up the word on Wikipedia, and it seems that my usage of “Moslem” is out of date. It states that the correct word is Muslim and that some find the other usage offensive. I apologize for that and any other offense I may have given inadvertently.

    The comments about a low turnout were “inside baseball” notes about off-year elections in general. Anything can happen when relatively few votes can make a difference in who wins. In off-year elections, it is the candidate who inspires just enough voters to go to the polls who wins. That has been important in contested Ann Arbor elections.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Apr. 28 '09 - 05:24PM    #
  12. The Colonel was also correct that I should not have brought the candidates’ religion into the discussion. I don’t in fact know Mr. Elhady’s religion and made unwarranted assumptions that because he has an Arabic name, he was Muslim and was connected with the Issa family. This was stupid. My enthusiasm for the political story sometimes gets me in trouble and this was one of the times. I was insensitive and thoughtless.

    (I copied the spelling of El-Hady from a previous comment and that was a mistake too. He apparently spells the name without a hyphen.)

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Apr. 28 '09 - 06:23PM    #
  13. I am glad to see new people coming into local politics. I do wish, though, that folks would give up the idea of running as an Independent, Green, Socialist Worker, Vegan, or whatever. With the Republicans in such deserved disarray, non-Democrats might as well forget winning Council races in November.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 28 '09 - 09:26PM    #
  14. It is touching to hear that no smaller parties will ever grow, or ever be worth hearing from. They might as well give up now!

    But you may recall the once all-powerful Christian Democratic Party in Italy. They won every national election for over 40 years. Where are they now? The same is true for the once mighty Whig Party in the United States. Where are they now?

       —The Colonel    Apr. 28 '09 - 09:55PM    #
  15. David,

    I totally agree with you, but think there are a couple of Republicans in Democratic clothing currently on council who needed to be campaigned against and defeated as part of the Democratic Party primary process.

    Good grief, because of the process and the August election date when the town is empty, it only takes 100 signatures to get on the ballot and a few hundred to win an August primary.

    But if people like Marcia Higgins are reselected in August, I would expect others would run against her in November.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Apr. 28 '09 - 10:38PM    #
  16. Re Post#15: Who are the “… couple of Republicans in Democratic clothing currently on council” who need to be campaigned against?

    I am sure the local Democratic Party faithful would like to find out.

       —Mark Koroi    Apr. 29 '09 - 07:09AM    #
  17. Alan is referring to Second Ward Council member Stephen Rapundalo and Fourth Ward Council member Marcia Higgins. Both are former Republicans who converted to the Dems.

    Who knows – their early conversions may have paved the way for yesterday’s conversion by Senator Arlen Specter, the freshly-minted Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania. 8-)

       —David Cahill    Apr. 29 '09 - 05:46PM    #
  18. Have either of them voted “republican” on any issue? And if in your opinion yes, then did some of the “real” (using your label, not mine) democrats also vote with them on those issues.

    What makes them a republican vs. a democrat? Just because one is not “left of the left” does not make them a republican.

    And Alan, just so I am clear on my viewpoint, I actually think the non-development, anti PD/courts building stance is actually a conservative viewpoint (republican) not a progressive viewpoint (democrat). Progressive implies change; where anti-development implies no change.

    So I actually think you have it backwards; most of the anti-development people are actually very conservative (possibly with memories of being liberal back in their college days?) while the council is mostly progressive and democratic in their thinking.

       —Diane    Apr. 29 '09 - 06:43PM    #
  19. Diane, better than conservative is reactionary. It is possible to be a reactionary liberal, when change goes the “wrong” way, in the same way that one can be a progressive conservative.

       —jcp2    Apr. 29 '09 - 08:42PM    #
  20. “Reactionary liberals” typically react to government that is overreaching in to people’s lives and liberties, they do not react to government spending and development.

    No government spending “ is a mantra of the rebulicans. (even though we all know that the republicans do like to spend money, just not on what we democrats want to to spend money on)

    Having the anti-everything view towards development is not reactionary to a specific cause but rather a veiwpoint or opinion about change.

    Just being “anti-governemnt” does not qualify you as a democrat (the 1960’s are over). It has to do with whether you believe the government has a social responsibilty to its citzens (eg. unemployment, national healthcare,schools ect) (dems) or whether you feel that govt should only be responsible for the basics (military, national security, etc) This is just to name one difference.

    Saying the city should not invest in infrastructure is a very republican ideal.

    Maybe we should open a new thread to discuss “What makes a democrat a democrat or a republican a republican?

       —Diane    Apr. 29 '09 - 11:44PM    #
  21. Locally, the beneficiaries of development are developers and bankers – mostly Republicans. The victims of development are the residents of neighborhoods near the center of the city – mostly Democrats.

       —David Cahill    Apr. 30 '09 - 02:37AM    #
  22. David I disagree. I believe that development is necessary for a city to grow and to thrive; therefore development benefits everyone who lives in the city, uses the downtown and shops at the stores. So there are no neighborhood victims.

    The affordable housing project on main street that was fought against would have benefited the city and supported the values of most of the city residents, especially the progressive, socially conscious dems. Ann Arbor always supports affordable housing in theory, but these so called “victims” as you call them believe that their right to not look at a brick wall outweighs the general consensus of most city residents that affordable housing needs to be near downtown. You call them democrats (victims); I call them NIMBY provincialists who in my opinion resemble a republican more than a democrat.

    People do not invest in a project unless they can get a return on their money. To expect a developer to not make a profit or benefit from their investment is completely unrealistic and completely naive. Do you work for free? You expect a return of money in exchange for your services. Does that make you greedy or a republican? Expecting a return on your investment should not disqualify you from having your project approved. It is reality to expect a return. We do live in a capitialist society after all.

    Whether you are a developer or not does not have anything to do with party affiliation. You have made too much a broad generalization with no facts to back it up. Being pro-development does not make you a conservative; being anti-development makes you a conservative, you want to conserve the status quo.

    Everyone has the right to be pro-development or anti-development. The issue I have is that the anti-development group is stating their position on behalf of the democrats, when these views are actually contrary to the definition of “progressive” and to what the average democrat believes (eg. affordable housing).

       —Diane    Apr. 30 '09 - 06:57AM    #
  23. Diane makes excellent points. Since when does being anti-development mean being a good Democrat?

    The anti-development fervor in this city is very Republican, reactionary conservatism. “Keep those students, low income, new, different from me (you choose) people away from here!”

    What it is really about is: “We have our nice place to live and we don’t want to share it with anyone!”

       —Ted Ancil    Apr. 30 '09 - 07:11PM    #
  24. The corollary to that would be “ We don’t have a nice place to live, but you do, so you have to share it with us.”

       —jcp2    Apr. 30 '09 - 07:15PM    #
  25. I think the best shot of unseating Marcia Higgins in the Fourth Ward would be in the Democratic primary. Any John or Jane Doe candidate could likely beat her.

    Previous posts are correct that the opinions of locals are that Higgins has been ineffective.

       —Lillian Dwyer    Apr. 30 '09 - 08:14PM    #
  26. Lillian-That is a broad statement. Ineffective at what?

    And to those who insist she is still a republican, name what issue she is conservsative on? Stop making accusations and using tag lines and talk specifics.

    I, and many others, feel she has been highly effective. Now I admit that I did not live in town during her republican days, so I am judging her on her current performance which I find acceptable.

    I would never want to vote for a new candidate that cannot actually tell me how they differ from her. The few people on arbor update they are complaing about her, appear to me to be conservative people (even if they can’t admit it to themselves)who actually do not like her liberal views. Any candidate they support would most likely not be liberal enough to gain my support.

       —Diane    Apr. 30 '09 - 08:39PM    #
  27. Diane—

    Marcia Higgins—TOO liberal for the 4th Ward. You have made my day. I am rolling on the floor laughing! Wow.

    So being undecided on the Greenbelt issue is liberal? Is failing to step up and take the lead on replacing Ash trees (or being quiet as a mouse), is that liberal? Is agreeing to nearly a million bucks for a pointless and elitist piece of ‘art’ and leaving local artists out of even being considered—is that liberal? Is tossing money into the City-Police building that was assisted by a healthy dose of cash piled up in the rainy day fund while cutting social programs in the budget this year and next—is that liberal?

    I guess asking tough questions about the neighbors having to approve whether you could keep chickens in the backyard—is that liberal because she likes animals and used energy to focus on that issue? Or is it conservative because she demanded regulations?

    Is replacing the Stadium Bridges a liberal or conservative issue?

    Trust me, I am far more left wing that you, but i don’t want my tax dollars wasted on anything and rather have the money more focused on local, neighborhood issues. I don’t want houses bulldozed in the Germantown neighborhood but think we need AFFORDABLE housing that probably means less cost to developers. And most of these ‘developments are rental properties or apartments and don’t allow for ownship. I would call that a Republican ideal actually…

    Most of the people who are not happpy with Ms. Higgins span the political rainbow. But we do agree she’s acomplished zero in her ten years on council.

    I’m glad you are happy with the ‘liberal’ Marcia Higgins. I would love to hear your top ten things you think she’s acomplished in the last two years. If you have trouble with that high of a number, you can go back to when she was elected in 1999.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Apr. 30 '09 - 10:39PM    #
  28. Alan: I don’t know nearly as much as you seem to about Council Member Higgins but I do disagree with you on several points. And, by the way, you are have been so vocal lately, you should run for council.

    I don’t know if you caught it but the ash trees are being replaced. Over a thousand trees are being replanted in the city each year. The latest estimate I heard is the entire 10,000 will be replaced in 6 years. Of course they need to grow…

    You have your oft repeated point of view on the art project but the majority of comments I have heard disagree with you.

    The city administrators budget proposal does not cut human services funding this year but he is proposing it for next year but then the council and Higgins may not agree.

    The city has increased this line item over the years despite the state cutting revenue sharing. HS funding jumped last year and the year before when the mayor put in the $250,000 for supportive services. Higgins supported this. If you want to see cuts, wait until the county budget is complete.

    We needed the new court house and police building.

    It is also going up at the perfect time when the jobs are needed. And it looks like the “rainy day fund” is fine. They used money that had been saved in a “facilities construction fund” for the down payment and everything I have been able to learn the rent they save and the $$ from the DDA make the bond payments so no impact on the operating budget.

    I don’t want local road money spent on the Stadium Bridges. The feds will step up to the plate on this and I think the city is working hard to get the money. The state paid for the Broadway Bridges and they could do it for the Stadium Br. as well with the chunk of stimulus $$ they are getting.

    Ms. Higgins has so far as I know always voted for affordable housing. Carrot Way is a good example.

    I hope she votes for the N. Main proposal.

    I don’t know if it was liberal or conservative but Higgins has been part of a council that has done a good job keeping the wolf away from the door during Michigan’s long downturn. Ann Arbor is doing way better than other cities and the council has not raised taxes.

    I have the sense that she works hard on committees as she is doing on the A2D2 process. It seemed like she was the major driver in getting the UM to back off on the noise at the Stadium Construction and in making them settle for a 4 month lane closure rather than 20 months.

    But again Alan, if you feel this strongly, you should run.

       —LauraB    Apr. 30 '09 - 11:30PM    #
  29. As it stands, the council is very white, and very tolerant of whatever the real-estate developers feel would make them some money. There are a great many public works and social programs needed, now more than at any time in the last 35 years. Who will make those programs happen?

       —The Colonel    May. 1 '09 - 12:20AM    #
  30. LauraB.,

    The city is not paying to plant 1,000 trees per year. Over 80 percent of the planted trees for the past three years have been donated trees. Relying on donations to replace our city’s trees is foolish public policy.

    One must also remember that maintaining the trees we have is of the utmost importance. The city loses 500 street and park trees in a normal year. In 2007-2008, the city planted 652 trees; that’s a net gain of just 152 trees. At that rate, it will take 60 years to replace the remaining 9,000 lost trees and bring Ann Arbor’s urban forest to where it was in 2005. To me, that’s not an acceptable pace. Since 2006, an additional BILLION gallons of storm water has run off into the system and the river because of those lost trees.

    We may have needed and wanted a new court house (the police aren’t getting a new building, but rather a redone space), but it’s clear the millions siphoned off from services and programs to pay for it, as well as the money that will be spent to make the monthly bond payments, is needed elsewhere. Marica Higgins voted to spend money on a new building versus improving services to residents, lowering taxes, and minding our infrastructure.

    You may believe the feds and state of Michigan should give Ann Arbor the money to repair our bridge; I think it is, again, ridiculously dangerous public policy. Coincidentally, the money needed to replace that bridge is almost equal to the $31 million in bonds the city borrowed to build the building. Furthermore, there was no plan to repair a bridge that had been judged to be in need of replacement several years ago, and no plan to set aside the money to do it.

    However, this appears to be the public policy of our Mayor, Council and City Administrator: sit around and wait for handouts and donations.

    Maybe someone will donate a bridge!

    Until then, our roads are in terrible shape, and the new budget is an exercise in squeezing more money in the form of taxes and fees from an already burdened tax base.

       —UMGrad1234    May. 1 '09 - 12:24AM    #
  31. Alan- Actually when I read your posts, you sound like a republican to me. Maybe you are more liberal than me, but you don’t write that way.

    I agree with almost everything lauraB says.

    But to sum up:

    I was not here for greenbelt and don’t know the issue well enough to comment.

    Pro-public art IS liberal, whether you like it or not. Continuously complaining about tax dollars being spent for the common good, not so much.

    Saving for the much needed PD/court building and financing it is at least in my opinion the responsible thing to do and I would say more of a democratic viewpoint, complaining about spending tax dollars for something that will benefit everyone in the city, again not so much.

    No human services have been cut yet, but even if the council does vote for some cuts next year, is that because of any individual’s viewpoints or because of the economy?

    As for public programs (not human services) such as project grow, wasn’t she the one who brought this back up to city council when they were left out of the budget last year?

    As for chickens…..I HATE the chickens (mostly for bird flu reasons not for provincial reasons) and I do not understand how you can even think being pro chicken is a conservative issue. She voted for it. But I also feel that this is a stupid issue that should never have come before council. I don’t judge my council people by how they voted, because frankly it is not all that important an issue. However, if we actually had swine permits right now instead of chicken permits I then I might change my mind…

    I also don’t want local road money spent on the Stadium Bridges. I can’t believe with all your rants about the city wasting money that you want to pressure council into using the city road fund for the bridge. It would be completely irresponsible to use the city road fund when we could get funding from another source. In general this is not a partisan issue. However, thinking local monies should pay for everything and federal and/or state money should not subsidize IS a republican talking point. Dems usually think federal and state government should help out. Again republicans think the fed government should only pay for the basics.

    As for the Avlaon project I also hope she votes for it. Those who claim that they are for AH but don’t allow it to be built anywhere feasible are hypocrits.

    You can judge her all you want. My problem with it is that you keep insisting she is a republican and i have not seen any proof of it. If the people that are unhappy with her span the political rainbow than that should tell you that she is more of an independant than a republican.

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 12:27AM    #
  32. UMgrad1234- it is standard practice by every state and city to have these types of bridges subsidized with federal/state funds. If you disagree with that concept fine, but do not hold the city council in disregard for using the system that all other cities use. This system saves us money locally and is RESPONSIBLE public policy.

    No money has been siphoned off to pay for the PD courts building. The money was put aside for the purpose of building this facility. It was never earmarked for human services as you are implying. I am sooooo tired of hearing this misinformation campaign.

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 12:40AM    #
  33. Colonel: Umm, it was the anti-development crowd that ran the last African American off council and replaced her with the oh-so-white Mike Anglin.

    I have no idea what you mean about developers. It looks like the only projects that get approved are the by-right projects. All the rest the council seems to do whatever the neighbors want.

    A2 needed a homeless shelter, the council voted for a state of the art facility. They have had a passel of affordable housing votes lately and they are trying to find a place for 100 more units downtown but the neighbors are fighting it tooth and nail.

    Or how about the Avalon proposal on N. Main, again, its a huge struggle. The wealthy folks in the big condo’s behind don’t want new neighbors.

       —Ted Ancil    May. 1 '09 - 12:59AM    #
  34. Diane,

    Just because a plan, program, policy, etc… always been done, doesn’t mean it’s going to work every time. It also doesn’t mean one shouldn’t plan for a time when the welfare might end.

    Michigan has been in deep recession for several years. If Michigan’s lack of ability to give a hand-out to Ann Arbor to fix our bridge comes as a surprise to anyone on Council, s/he is a fool. (I do believe I saw Marcia Higgins at a recent Council meeting claim to have been taken by surprise by the economic downturn….) Anyone who lets our Council members get away with blaming their poor public policy decisions, and planning fiascos on the state or federal government is a bigger fool.

    Living off of federal and state welfare is not responsible public policy; Waiting around for hand-outs is not effective government. In our city’s case, it’s public policy that has resulted in infrastructure collapse (evidence the Stadium Bridge).

    The millions you euphemistically refer to money “put aside” was money not spent on parks, infrastructure, human services or any of the other myriad of programs and services that benefit residents. It was never spent for human services, because it was earmarked for a building. Bricks and mortar before flesh and blood.

    I happen to believe that lowering our absurdly high tax burden, increasing city services, making our financial commitment to human services less of a national joke, and tending diligently and pro-actively to our infrastructure ought to be the goal of city government and out elected leaders.

    Over the past five or six years exactly which city services have been significantly expanded at no cost to taxpayers? If that question strikes you as absurd, I would suggest you’ve come to believe, like Council and our City Administrator, that taxpayers exist to be milked like so many cows.

       —UMGrad1234    May. 1 '09 - 01:07AM    #
  35. “…taxpayers exist to be milked like so many cows.”

    Absolutely, this is why Leon Drolet of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance drew 4,000 persons to his Tax Day speech at the State Capitol a couple of weeks ago. 200 attended the Diag protest the same day in Ann Arbor.

    Leon Drolet is now running for the Michigan State Senate . So is Hamburg Township resident Joe Hune, who also believes in fiscal responsibility.
    Both had distinguished careers in the State House.

    Michigan Republicans believe that 2010 will be a rebound election year as 1994 was following the Bill Clinton landslide in 1992.

    Anti-tax attitudes are already beginning to crystallize and Ann Arbor is one center of that discord. Ron Weiser, who was an Ann Arbor Republican precinct delegate in the 1990s, has been selected as state GOP chairman and made taxes his #1 target.

    The Ann Arbor Democratic Party solidarity in Ann Arbor has been challenged by fiscal conservatives Mike Anglin and Sabra Briere, strong opponents of wasteful spending such as the Police/Court building project.

    It looks like there is substantial discontent among Fourth Warders with Marcia Higgins and her free-spending ways.

    I look forward to this August and November, where I expect a profound change in leadership on City Council.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 1 '09 - 01:40AM    #
  36. Mark, I think you unknowingly just backed up one of my strongest points.

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 04:10AM    #
  37. All,

    This quote from Diane is well…just amazing, “No money has been siphoned off to pay for the PD courts building. The money was put aside for the purpose of building this facility. It was never earmarked for human services as you are implying. I am sooooo tired of hearing this misinformation campaign.” Never earmarked for human services? Why not? It was not siphoned off because it was never intended for any other purpose than the PD building although it could have been used for other things if the priorities were different, no? The circular reasoning is truly astounding! So Diane, what great services will the citizens of Ann Arbor get with the new PD building? Let’s see, the city should be able to ramp up its ticket enforcement; you know this will make us all just giddy with excitement. Have you noticed lately that while the City of Ann Arbor talks lay-offs for city employees, the construction contractors are working overtime on Saturdays to get this “important” public infrastructure built. You know we can’t delay that enhanced ticket revenue one day more than necessary!
       —ChuckL    May. 1 '09 - 04:35AM    #
  38. Chuck, you are implying that building a new pd/courts building is not a responsibility of the city, which it is. How do you propose saving for large infrastructure projects that the city knows they are responsible for in the future? I think you should save and put money away for them and not live paycheck to paycheck. If they did not save over the years for this “future need” you would be criticizing them for not being responsible and having no foresight. This is not a circular argument but rather a fiscally responsible one.

    But I guess you actually spend your entire paycheck every month and never put money aside for an emergency or a future expense. All that matters now are today’s expenses; you can worry about tomorrow when it comes, right?

    “Just because a plan, program, policy, etc… always been done, doesn’t mean it’s going to work every time. It also doesn’t mean one shouldn’t plan for a time when the welfare might end.”

    As for the bridge, we may have to spend our city tax money to repair it if the feds don’t come through, but that does not mean we should not try to get the subsidy. Why give that money away so freely on the conservative principal that the feds should not support states or cities. Our current system is that most cities benefit from waiting for the subsidy, we should too. Council has said they will try to get the funding and if it takes too long they will then have to find the money to fix it.

    I guess if council wanted to start saving for the bridge 10 years ago (like the did for the PD/courts building), some of you would have found that irresponsible, after all we have all these other programs that can be expanded in the city. Live for today, don’t save!

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 05:01AM    #
  39. Grad: The state and federal governments have always paid for things like major bridge projects. The Stadium Bridges are no different than the Broadway Bridge project. The city paid 20% of that cost after nursing the bridge along for years with steel netting under it to catch the falling cement. It would be a mistake to spend local road funds on something the Feds or state (using federal funds) will pay for.

    No one ever came up with another solution to the problem of housing the courts after the county kicked the city out. The city has to provide the court with a building that is up to courts security standards. They looked at something like 8 other sites and buildings before finally making the decision to go ahead. This was after a 10 plus year discussion.

    The new building will also hold the police and they have needed a new headquarters forever because the current city hall was never meant to hold them but the intended free standing police station was never built.

    The rent money saved plus some $$ from the DDA will make the bond payments so the operating budget will not be impacted.

       —LauraB    May. 1 '09 - 05:09AM    #
  40. Grad: You said “making our financial commitment to human services less of a national joke.” I am sorry to be so blunt but you don’t know what you are talking about.

    If you paid attention at all you would know that only two cities in Michigan fund human services out of their general fund. All the rest only pass on HUD funds.

    Ann Arbor has actually increased HS funding over the last several years even though the state has been cutting funding to the city. Two years ago the mayor got them to put in yet another $250,000 for supportive services for affordable housing and those $$ are still in the budget for next year.

    If the tax burden is high in Ann Arbor you won’t make much headway cutting the city, they get only 29% of property taxes. Try the schools where over 50% goes.

       —LauraB    May. 1 '09 - 05:24AM    #
  41. Diane,

    This project (the PD building) was unnecessary and is a wast of resources. I analyzed Leigh Greden’s spreadsheet which was supposed to show that owning is cheaper than renting and found it to represent pure fiction. Yes, owning can be cheaper than renting, assuming the space constructed is not many multiples times the previous space rented! Another fantasy assumption was that rents for the current court facility would increase at 8%/year or 2-3 times the rate of inflation for 60 years (only if the city was not proactive in discussions with the county.) The citizens of Ann Arbor are getting ~100,000 sq-ft for about $35 Million or about $350/sq-ft (it should be noted that Skyline was built for about ~$200/sq-ft.) Even if I accept your premise, which I don’t, that new facilities were/are in order, there were still alternatives that would have been a far better use of public resources. For example, why not have the County and City collaborate on a larger Courts facility (if it is even necessary)?
       —ChuckL    May. 1 '09 - 07:00AM    #
  42. “Being pro-development does not make you a conservative; being anti-development makes you a conservative, you want to conserve the status quo.”

    This silly word play has little basis in reality. Often, the status quo is better than what is proffered as the end result of the development process. To label those who seek to protect the environment from degradation as “conservatives” is the kind of phony double-talk that comes from corporate PR flacks. Perhaps this is an insight into your day job?

       —John Q.    May. 1 '09 - 07:40AM    #
  43. LauraB,

    $250,000 for affordable housing is a national joke, and an embarrassment. There are cities the size of Ann Arbor that budget 10 times that much for affordable housing and build hundred of units each year. The old Y’s 100 units have not been replaced. At a DDA meeting, Avalon’s Michael Apple told folks no one can seem to find a spot for those 100 units. So, in Ann Arbor, we have a parking lot with nifty new asphalt that reduces run-off. The irony is too perfect.

    As for the new $44 million dollar Court house (I repeat, the police aren’t getting a new building; three judges are getting some fancy digs), I think our city leaders have a sorry case of building envy. If U of M can erect (pardon my pun) shiny, new buildings, why can’t our Mayor and Council? Dammit! They’ve wanted one for a decade. They need it. They have to have it or else. Frankly, Veruca Salt, a fictional character from Willy Wonka, comes immediately to mind (“I want it NOW, Daddy!”)

    The City Center building was offered for sale for $8 million. The 90,000 square foot AA News building was just appraised at $9.7 million. We’re getting 100,000 square feet for $90 million. Such a deal! Let’s just light to money on fire and watch it burn. The $90 million (principal plus interest) we’re spending on those bond payments is money we won’t spend on, say, affordable housing, parks, city services or human services over the next 30 years. The millions “saved” for that building were siphoned off from parks, human services and city services.

    Pardon me, but your logic aligns perfectly with that of Mayor, Greden, Higgins, etc…. “Everyone ELSE does it, so we should, too! Everyone ELSE does it, so why shouldn’t we do it, too!?” Marcia Higgins takes immense donations from the firefighter’s PAC while she chairs a Council Committee that negotiates with the union. Ethical problem? Not in Ann Arbor! Everyone ELSE on the Committee does it!

    In your opinion, cities wait for state and federal welfare to tend to their infrastructures. Is relying on hand-outs poor public policy and planning? No! EVERYONE does it, why shouldn’t Ann Arbor? Here’s why: it’s not viable public policy or planning in a state that’s going through the equivalent of an economic depression. Of course we’re going to have to spend our tax money; that’s exactly why the new Court House was a horribly misguided expenditure. It’s also, I suspect, why no one breathed a word about the Stadium Bridge problem while Council was debating those bonds for the new Court house.

    I’m glad you explained that high taxes problem to me. It’s the schools! Diane, Diane, Diane. Poor fiscal management, haphazard, corrupt, self-serving elected and appointed leadership, over-spending, and over-taxation are to blame for our high taxes. Most Council members, I would wager, haven’t a clue about where all of our tax money goes. The budget book is convoluted, and there are 55 funds to manage $400 million dollars. U of M has three funds to manage $1.4 billion dollars.

    Taxpayers are so many cows to be milked; that’s the view from the new Court house, as it was the view from the old Larcom Building. Where’s our free parking? Where’s our sidewalk replacement program? Where are our trees? Where’s our Senior Center? Where are our police? Why must we pay more to rent a park shelter on a weekend day than someone who lives in Minneapolis? Why must we pay at all? Why can’t residents rent canoes and kayaks for free? Why can’t we park in the structures for a couple of hours without paying?

    Why? Because we’re not citizens to be served by government; we’re cash cows to be milked.

    And I repeat my question, (it’s not rhetorical, by the way: Over the past five or six years exactly which city services have been significantly expanded at no cost to taxpayers?

       —UMGrad1234    May. 1 '09 - 02:37PM    #
  44. “Alan- Actually when I read your posts, you sound like a republican to me.”

    What are polcies here about verbal abuse? Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 1 '09 - 04:47PM    #
  45. LauraB—

    Sorry to disappoint you but I fall under the Hatch Act and can’t run City Council. I can do pretty much everythign else politically but, sadly enough, I can’t do that. But if I did I’d hire you for spin management. Lol.

    But if anyone decides to run:

    1. Turn out, for better or worse, is low. It would only take a few hundred votes to capture a primary victory.
    2. There are unhappy campers in Ward 4, left and a few right, who would love the chance to toss her out of office.
    3. It’s very affordable to run a campaign, if the previous financial reports are in indication, with under a $1000 or less needing to be raised, if that.

    And, literally, you are the 5th person to ask me if I wanted to run. And all I’ve done is reply on serveral blogs. I don’t take that as any indicator of my skills and talents with words, but the fact there is a huge undercurrent of anti-Higgins feelings in the 4th.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 1 '09 - 04:57PM    #
  46. John Q, How is being anti-development protecting the environment from degradation? We are not building on open fields or in any kind of nature area, wetland or even lawn. It is re-development of an already developed area. That is the kind of talk that spins misinformation out to the public. We are replacing one building with another building albeit sometimes a different size building.

    I think you are playing the word games.
    BTW, my daily job is in academic medical research (a field that is progressive, very much liberal, and desperately underpaid)

    Chuck L. – You are mixing in two different arguments. so we are arguing apples or oranges at this point.

    First argument is “Should the city save for a future infrastructure projects?” When beginning this process you do not actually know exactly when it will be critical to replace the item or when it is just good planning. Should we plan for tomorrow or only live for today and expand today’s programs.

    Second argument is the “When do you tap into the fund to replace the item? You feel we are not at this critical time to use the money and it can be diverted elsewhere; many of us feel we are approaching the time that was planned for and should begin preparations. I also fell that even if the PD/courts building did not come to fruition that the money should be used for a different infrastructure project and not be diverted to other resources.

    Many will never agree that our PD dept and courts should use empty commercial space and not have a city building of their own, so let’s stop arguing about that.

    I think a lot of the fantasy assumptions are on your part. If the county had an interest in collaborating with us, they would not have pushed us out of the courts building. Now that the county is in desperate straits some feelings may change, but that is because they will benefit from the deal and we (always labeled as the rich people of the county) will end up supporting the county.

    Your ideas have to be pragmatic just not alternative.

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 05:04PM    #
  47. Alan, I wasn’t actually using the word “republican” as “namecalling” in a negative way. Just countering your label of Marcia Higgins.

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 05:10PM    #
  48. Grad:

    The police dept.absolutely will be housed in the new courthouse and police building. To say it won’t means you don’t know what you are talking about. It is being built to suit their needs. I don’t know where you could have been not to know this.

    The $250,000 for supportive services was added two years ago in addition to what the city was already doing. It does not go to build AH but rather to the all important task of providing counseling to keep the most at risk people in the housing rather than on the street.

    Your comparison of A2 to cities outside of Michigan (ala Pat Lesko) is worthless for two reasons.

    Michigan has been in recession for what, 8 years? And two, cities in other states are funded in different ways. Local governments in other states have local sales taxes plus property taxes and/or they could have a special tax on entertainment or drinks in a bar or whatever, Michigan cities can’t do that. And by the way, A2 does put millions into affordable housing by way of HUD funds. They pay another $1.25 million for human services out of the general fund and only two Michigan cities manage to do that.

    A2 is the leader in Michigan in funding human services. Having served a few years ago on the Housing Policy Board,(appointed by the previous mayor)it was well known to us. It was true then and it still is. This was a major bone of contention back when there were still Republicans on the council.

    The city has been working to build the 100 units, actually some of them have already been done with city assistance. Fourteen for “very low income” with supportive services in the Avalon project over on Pear, another 6 in another Avalon project, etc.

    In case you haven’t noticed, the city is trying to build another 100 but there is stiff resistance to the plan on 4th Ave. Just as there is strong opposition to the Avalon project on N. Main., complete with yard signs.

    On the new courthouse, the County told the city in no uncertain terms that they had to move out. They didn’t want to collaborate. The city has needed a new police station for decades, the space they have had for so long was never meant to hold them.

    If you recall the city had a task force that looked at sites (9?) but when they got down to the costs of renovating a building, they were too high. New courts need secure parking (underground) and entry ways for prisoners, separate elevators for judges and the public and prisoners, etc., etc.

    For most people the need for the new building was clear. If you don’t want to take my word for it, take a look at last summers election. All of the candidates who favored the new building won. Those who ran against it, lost.

    The county built a new courthouse in Saline just a few years ago and the costs were right in line with what the city is doing for the courts portion. The police headquarters is different.

    Plus, included in the project cost are millions for needed work in the old building. And yes, the city will no longer pay rent to the county or the owners of the city center building (by the way, there is no parking there for police, judges, etc.) and the rent does indeed cover almost the whole bond payment. Without a new building there is no rent savings. Over half the cost of the new building comes from saved rents.

       —LauraB    May. 1 '09 - 06:09PM    #
  49. “John Q, How is being anti-development protecting the environment from degradation? We are not building on open fields or in any kind of nature area, wetland or even lawn. It is re-development of an already developed area. That is the kind of talk that spins misinformation out to the public. We are replacing one building with another building albeit sometimes a different size building.”

    Based on your past comments, I didn’t assume that your argument was limited to one building. Am I mischaracterizing your position as pro-development when it comes to any proposal in town?

       —John Q.    May. 1 '09 - 08:18PM    #
  50. My comments are directed to devlopment projects within the city; I am not referring to suburban sprawl. All the subjects that have been debated on the blogs around ann arbor have to do with re-devlopment of current buildings and sites. I don’t think any of these have to do with environmental issues.

       —Diane    May. 1 '09 - 08:49PM    #
  51. Diane, I was teasing. Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 1 '09 - 10:19PM    #
  52. “All the subjects that have been debated on the blogs around ann arbor have to do with re-devlopment of current buildings and sites.”

    You must have missed the discussions of the Greenbelt.

       —John Q.    May. 1 '09 - 11:26PM    #
  53. Has any candidate put up a campaign website yet?

       —Mark Koroi    May. 2 '09 - 05:08AM    #
  54. LauraB, you sound like an insider. If so, how do you miss the point that putting the PD or Courts in a privately owned building (after the city purchases it and renovates it) costs the tax payers forever because of the simple fact that the property comes off the tax rolls, forever. 40% of city land is already UM owned and not revenue generating.

       —CDBF    May. 2 '09 - 07:25AM    #
  55. Diane,

    “I also fell that even if the PD/courts building did not come to fruition that the money should be used for a different infrastructure project and not be diverted to other resources.” How about replacing the Stadium Street bridge (instead of the PD/Courts); how’s that for being pragmatic? Wasn’t Obama looking for shovel ready projects to fund with Federal Dollars? If the city had been on the ball, maybe we could have earmarked money for this. Perhaps working in the medical field and/or UofM you are use to seeing bloated costs (for example, $485/sq-ft for North Quad—UofM will never be able to charge enough through room & board to recover this cost)


    So you acknowledge that the savings from rents only cover half the cost of the new PD/Courts addition. So now we get a beefed up police/courts facility that can issue more tickets more efficiently; how does my quality of life improve? Where is the savings?
       —ChuckL    May. 2 '09 - 07:47AM    #
  56. LauraB, Diane,

    Answer this, did neither of you see the Pfizer property going off the tax roles? The city had plenty of time to see this coming before embarking on the plan to expand city hall. I am not surprised one bit that UofM picked-up the property; the surprise for me was that UofM paid about $130 Million for the property since I figured Pfizer would donate the property to UofM for the tax write-off. I actually think that rather than mothballing plans to expand city hall due to the loss of the Pfizer tax revenue, the city accelerated its construction plans to get it done before the citizens (aka, the milk cows) could mobilize significant opposition to the expansion.
       —ChuckL    May. 2 '09 - 08:04AM    #
  57. Hi Chuck: It looked to me like the city tried to get stimulus funds for the bridges but the entire amount given to the county would not cover the bridges. If you saw the conversation about this recently on CTN you know they are after the $$ with the feds and state.

    As before, this type of project has always been funded in large part by the feds/state. It makes no sense for the city to spend local road dollars when the feds will pay.

    If you recall, the vote to fund the new court house and police building was last spring. Long before the market crash and well before the UM takeover of Pfizer in Jan. of 2009. When it was up for a vote 7 months (?) ago it was already too late, the bonds were sold last summer and it would have cost something like $9 million to “mothball” the project.

    But what difference would it have made if the market crash and Pfizer had come about earlier? The city is required to take care of the courts and the county said they had to move.

    As Larry Kestenbaum has said many times here, the county has their own plan to move the juvenile courts into the space when the city court leaves.

    The saved rents will indeed make the bond payment and that is over half the cost of the project. If you track it, the down payment was mostly from money that was saved over a long period of time, going back into the 1990’s for just this purpose.

    Depending on how you look at it your personal quality of life may not benefit directly. But the community will benefit. For decades the AAPD has been stuck in the basement because the city never built the police station that was planned when they build city hall back in the 1960’s. Did you ever tour their space?

    I guess many people in the community feel that having decent civic buildings is worth it. It builds pride in the community. Look at the new high school.

    The bottom line seems to be the city is required to house the courts in secure space and it seemed wise to fill the other long time need by putting the police station in the same footprint. The bonus play was the rent savings that would make the bond payment so the operating budget was not impacted.

       —LauraB    May. 2 '09 - 04:22PM    #
  58. LauraB,

    Pfizer had already announced that they were leaving when Ask Voters First tried to block the bond sale; the city should have at least delayed the project until the Pfizer situation had fully played out. It is also the case that bonds can be bought back after they are issued. In fact, with the low interest rates we are in now, in a few years with higher interest rates; the city could potentially buy the bonds back for a lot less than what they were issued at, realizing a net profit. There is also a key principle of financial engineering that is being violated, “past expenditures should have no influence on future expenditures”; that is, wasting money in the past does not mean you should wast more money in the future. What I’m hearing and seeing from the city (and you parroting) is bad planning, wasteful spending and excuses to justify the bad planning and spending.
       —ChuckL    May. 2 '09 - 05:13PM    #
  59. Re Post#17: I find it as a not-so-amazing coincidence that Leigh Greden works at the same law firm as Washtenaw County Republican Committee Chairman Mark Boonstra.

    Democratic State Representative Rebekah Warren soundly defeated Greden for the Democratic nominating primary in 2006 by effectively labeling him a DINO (Democrat In Name Only), citing the fact he advocated the interests of large corporations in his labor law practice.

    When people cite the Republicans in Democratic clothing on City Council they correctly identify Marcia Higgins and Steve Rapundalo, however let us not forget Leigh Greden – the fellow you may run up against in court if you sue your employer.

    The sad part about the re-election bid is that Greden could conceivably be re-elected with 35-40% of the vote since two challengers are going to enter the field and may effectively split the anti-Greden vote, which is expected to be substantial.

       —Junior    May. 2 '09 - 07:20PM    #
  60. So we are to be judged by the political affiliations of our co-workers? That is unrealistic and actually….silly logic.

    Using that logic, a company should be able to also fire people for their political beliefs; I find that completely unacceptable.

    I have friends and co-workers of all sorts of different political affiliations. Do I have to throw away our relationships because they believe in a different governmental philosophy that me?

    That is very facist and totalitarian. I thought we lived in a democracy/republic where people are allowed to believe in whatever philosophy they want and where the minority interests and viewpoints are protected.

       —Diane    May. 3 '09 - 07:51PM    #
  61. Diane: Do you ever have anything critical to say about anyone on City Council?

    Your voluminous posts over the last year or so reveal yourself to probably be either a city official or some city employee with close ties to the municipal administration. I know there are a couple of Dianes who sit as mayoral appointees on city boards or commissions.

    You really should be a public relations spokesperson for City Council if you are not already.

    You also incorrectly spelled the word “fascist”.

       —John Dory    May. 3 '09 - 08:59PM    #
  62. John,

    I work for UofM (not the city) but I do sit on a commission as do many of the people who are strong vocal activists in opposition to the council.

    Overall I like the job that council is doing. There are a few council members that I have problems with, but still would rather have them sitting there over some other highly conservative republican who would have even more differences in opinion with me. If there was another dem I liked better who was challenging them, I would campaign for the challenger against them. I just don’t want to give ammunition to the other side (republicans) and end up with someone worse.

    The issue that many of you are having with my comments is that Arborupdate has typically been a place where it has been one-sided bashing. There have always been others who disagree with you and for once, some of us (them) have been posting.

    I will always defend against misinformation campaigns, name-calling/labeling and attacking elected officials for things that are not in their purview. If one can’t win their argument with the truth then maybe their argument is not all that sound.

    I choose not to attack the council members I disagree with as long as their vote/opinion is well intended. So that is why you don’t hear my criticisms.

    It is sort of arrogant of you to assume that just because I like the job that council is doing that I must be a paid employee of the city. Do you actually believe that everyone in the city shares your viewpoint? I think not. Typically when people are happy with a situation they are quiet, when not they are vocal. You might see many people like me speaking up over the next few months because we are sick of all the manipulation and drama that a few tend to create. It does not imply that this is an inside job.

       —Diane    May. 3 '09 - 10:09PM    #
  63. I believe Diane has a good point. As a fairly neutral observer of this conversation I would say that by John’s logic anyone who is against the city is part of the small group that campaigned so hard last summers election and lost 4 out of 4 races.

    Diane is right about only the people with a complaint doing all the complaining. M

    Most voters in the city obviously support the majority on Council. Several of them win by overwhelming majorities. They may sometimes have only a weak opponent but that may mean they are doing a good job in that no one has a strong enough issue to run on against them.

    As for mayoral appointments I would again agree with Diane. There are several people on boards and commissions who may not support the mayor or council majority in election campaigns which is a good thing. There does not seem to be a litmus test for appointments.

       —Ted Ancil    May. 3 '09 - 11:07PM    #
  64. Hi Chuck: I watch the council meetings fairly religiously. On the night last fall when they were discussing the bonds, long after they had been sold, the city’s outside bond attorney said it would cost $10 million to back out or otherwise pay them off early. I suspect he knows his business better than you do.

    All major decisions to go forward with the needed new building were made before the market tanked and long before the UM takeover of Pfizer.

    But even if this was not true the city still would have needed to provide secure space for the courts by the end of 2010 when the county is forcing them out and they still would have needed a new police station.

    In #63 Ted talks about who won 4 out of 4 council races and I would add that of those four council races all of the candidates who won favored the new building. Those who did not, lost. Perhaps it was indirect but the voters had their say on this issue. Had their been significant disagreement the election would have turned out differently.

    I remember the vote on council to sell the bonds was 9 to 2 in favor and that was well before the August election. That was the last time they could have backed out of the project but they still would have left $5 million on the table. Council made the right decision.

       —LauraB    May. 3 '09 - 11:30PM    #
  65. LauraB,

    The consultant you are referring to probably stood to gain a lot of money by selling the bonds or he was smart enough to figure out what the Council wanted to hear. Secondly, bonds trade in the market place and can be bought back without paying a premium if they are purchased piecemeal rather than in one giant chunk. Bond prices when traded in the open market move inversely to interest rates, when interest rates increase, the bond price drops and vice versa. All of the conditions that you claim made the PD/Courts addition necessary (the bond sale, the 15th District Court situation) were not set in stone and did not require a Taj Mahal solution.
       —ChuckL    May. 4 '09 - 03:32AM    #
  66. I find it as a not-so-amazing coincidence that Leigh Greden works at the same law firm as Washtenaw County Republican Committee Chairman Mark Boonstra.

    I thought it was more amazing that the previous county Republican chair was a co-workers of the previous county Democratic chair, in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit.

    I don’t remember anyone questioning either one’s partisan bona fides.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 4 '09 - 03:41AM    #
  67. ChuckL #56

    “I am not surprised one bit that UofM picked-up the property; the surprise for me was that UofM paid about $130 Million for the property since I figured Pfizer would donate the property to UofM for the tax write-off.”

    It is pure fantasy and speculation if you think Pfizer was going to donate the entire site for a tax write-off. Pfizer’s history has shown that when they close a site they try and sell the site for whatever they can get. If the site does not sell, then they knock down the buildings in order to eliminate the property tax for the buildings. They then sell the vacant land for whatever they can get. Typically vacant land sells easier than lands with specific use buildings. This has been their pattern at other sites that they closed.

    UofM bought the land for $130 million but people forget that a few years back they sold the vacant land near the water tower to Pfizer for somewhere near $80 million (I am not sure of the exact price). So in reality UofM got the original park-davis site for only 50 million. This was a great deal for UofM.

    As for “did anyone see Pfizer’s departure coming?” It doesn’t matter. If the council (and most of us residents) believe that the PD/court building is absolutely necessary, the down payment was saved for and the bond payments will come from rent savings, then Pfizer leaving is a moot point. Losing the Pfizer tax base has no effect on any of these facts.

    Just because you want to funnel this down payment money into another pot so that we can fund ongoing expenses that might be affected by the loss of Pfizer taxes does not make it the financially appropriate thing to do if many believe that we must build this courthouse.

       —Diane    May. 4 '09 - 04:35AM    #
  68. Diane,

    If Pfizer had knocked down all of the buildings and sold the land, that would have been better for the city of Ann Arbor since the property would have stayed on the tax roles. I think UofM could have gotten a better deal if they had held out longer (again the property would have stayed on the tax roles longer) but Pfizer probably figured UofM wanted it so held out for more money. The trick for UofM would have been to make the Pfizer folks think UofM was not interested, then perhaps Pfizer would have donated the land to UofM for the tax write-off. When it comes to students and staff, UofM seems to have no problem engaging in all kinds of subterfuges to get what they want but then, students and staff aren’t the pit vipers the Pfizer folks are. I guess the UofM Admins ran-up against their equals and came out with a less than optimal result. As far as Pfizer having “no effect”, tell that to the city employees who will now lose their jobs as a result. Also, tell that to the citizens of Ann Arbor who will lose out on the services supplied by the laid-off employees. The bond payments + court security – rent saved on the new building would have paid the salaries of quit a few city workers.
       —Chuck L.    May. 4 '09 - 06:23AM    #
  69. If Pfizer had knocked down all of the buildings and sold the land, that would have been better for the city of Ann Arbor since the property would have stayed on the tax roles.

    That is not correct. From a municipal self interest standpoint, a site that provides jobs (even if tax exempt) is better than a subdivision or condo complex, because residential areas generally demand more in services than they pay in taxes.

    I think UofM could have gotten a better deal if they had held out longer

    U-M got the complex for about 25 cents on the dollar. The low price is bad for the city, short term, because Pfizer is likely to appeal the property tax assessment for the last several years, and get a bunch of money back.

    I guess the UofM Admins ran-up against their equals and came out with a less than optimal result.

    I think this is probably the best result for the property that could have happened under the circumstances. If U-M had held out and Pfizer got impatient, all those labs (workplaces for thousands of jobs) would have been destroyed.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 4 '09 - 04:47PM    #
  70. Hi Chuck:

    I am afraid you are revealing your own paranoia in thinking that everyone is only out for their own self interest vs what is best for their client. In the case of the city’s bond attorney you are doubly wrong. The bonds in question had been sold months before this discussion occurred at CC, any money to be made on the bonds, was made.

    You are saying that to benefit himself the city’s bond attorney (from an outside local law firm) made it look like de-funding the bonds or paying them off early would cost $10 million. But wait, he would only make money on transactions so he had nothing to gain even if he was corrupt and willing to throw his client over for his own gain.

    If he were corrupt he would have recommended the city de-fund the bonds so he would make money on advising the transaction!

    Again, I am sorry but I don’t think many of us are going to take your savvy advice on municipal bonds over a certified member of the bar, local bond attorney.

    And again you fail to understand that without a new building there is no rent to be saved!

    Without the rent saved there is no money to make bond payments. ( This is why the new building does not impact the operating budget.) Without the new building the courts would be meeting in a storefront (until the state stepped in and ordered the city to provide them with a court house that meets security standards) and the police would forever be stuck in the basement.

       —LauraB    May. 4 '09 - 07:03PM    #
  71. I would rather know what sort of cases Leigh Greden has taken as a lawyer than who has the office next to his.

    And while I think some choices made by local elected officials leaves me…less than happy, I can’t think of anyone on city council or the county board who is ‘corrupt’. A couple who might be arrogant, invisible or out-of-touch perhaps. But not dishonest.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 4 '09 - 11:37PM    #
  72. LauraB,

    I also mentioned that the advisor was smart enough to tell the council what it wanted to hear; one way “experts” manipulate things is by not presenting all of the options. The council wanted to hear that it would cost a lot of money to undue the bond sale so they could have another excuse to proceed with Raj Mahal. The rents saved are less than the cost of the building when all is said and done and you know this.
       —ChuckL    May. 5 '09 - 02:30AM    #
  73. Larry,

    The city also controls the zoning on the property; so it is not certain that housing would go into the land Pfizer is on. The notion that the Pfizer facility was had for 25% of its value is doubtful since a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay. The Pfizer facility is/was a very specialized facility with a limited market if you take away UofM.
       —ChuckL    May. 5 '09 - 02:39AM    #
  74. Re Post #71: Can you identify those on City Council whom you consider to be “arrogant, invisible or out-of-touch”

       —Mark Koroi    May. 5 '09 - 02:57AM    #
  75. Hi Chuck: So you were wrong about accusing the bond attorney, we can agree on that. Good.

    I have never said the cost of the building was covered by the rent saved. The new building was needed because the courts had to move when their lease was up and why not put the police station that had needed for 40 years, on the same foundation. The city saved a large down payment over many years going back into the 1990’s and what was left over was bonded. The saved rents cover the bond payments.

    I suppose someone could make a case that if you stretched the rent savings out far enough it would cover the total cost but I never made that argument.

       —LauraB    May. 5 '09 - 09:20AM    #
  76. Regarding Mark Koroi’s question about invisible council members, I had heard that one of my council reps, Mike Anglin, has been MIA on his appointment to the environmental commission. Does anyone know if he is showing up? That’s not to say he’s totally invisible. He speaks up in council and volunteers in the community.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    May. 5 '09 - 07:29PM    #
  77. I pay pretty close attention to the Parks Commission and Council Member Anglin has had very spotty attendance there too.

       —Dusty Lake    May. 5 '09 - 07:40PM    #
  78. Similar to the Cable Communications Commission, which missed half of its meetings in a 12-month period ending in later 2008 — but I haven’t checked since then.

       —Matt Hampel    May. 5 '09 - 08:08PM    #
  79. Wow. I wanted to know who I should call to complain about my city ‘cable’ tax on my ATT Uverse bill and not being able to access CTN a year after signing up and ditching Comcast. Sounds like, from this link, no one is doing much on anything on the Cable Commission. Let me find a membership list.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 5 '09 - 08:31PM    #
  80. City Council Representatives

    Marcia Higgins
    Telephone: (734) 662-0487

    Sandi Smith
    Telephone: (734) 302-3011

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 5 '09 - 08:34PM    #
  81. There are no meeting minutes posted to the site. Unless I’m missing something.


       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 5 '09 - 08:37PM    #
  82. I was wrong. Lots of canceled meetings but 01/09 is posted and looks like 04/09 is pending.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 5 '09 - 08:39PM    #
  83. Alan: My wife was on this years ago when they still had some power. A few years ago in an effort to bring in more competition the state took away all power from the cities to do anything about what the cable companies do. That is why the cable commission does not meet very often.

    About all they can do is talk about what the local station can do.

    The council members are not in charge of this, there is a citizen chair. You should put in an application if you think they should be doing more.

       —Ted Ancil    May. 5 '09 - 09:07PM    #
  84. Maybe, if there isn’t anything to do, we don’t need a commission. Perhaps it’s one that needs to be abolished. But the move to allow competition which let a union employee company like ATT to enter the market (which was the major reason the state Democratic Party supported it) wasn’t a bad idea. But those local channel protections were something the Dems didn’t feel was important it appears.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 5 '09 - 10:24PM    #
  85. FYI: Council members are on the Cable Commission as non-voting members. It is true that there is very little the Commission has authority over anymore. Most of the power has been transferred to Lansing.

    ATT’s solution for CTN is costly to implement and is currently an inferior solution. The Commission is not interested in making the capital expense at this time. ATT’s proposal is to offer the CTN channels on their version of On Demand, where you have to drill down through many menus. You cannot mark the channels as favorites or shorten the process. If you wished to scroll through the CTN channels, you need to start at the top menu and drill down each time.

    If ATT offers a different (better) solution, I would think that the Commission would re-consider their position.

       —Sandi Smith    May. 6 '09 - 01:23AM    #
  86. Re Post#85: Sandi, could you comment also on Post #6 since that is likewise directed at you, not to mention some other members of City Council.

    How specificaly do you feel about the allegations that such contributions are “ethically suspect”?

       —Mark Koroi    May. 6 '09 - 01:45AM    #
  87. Re #6: I do not sit on the Council’s Budget and Labor Committee. I also do not believe that receiving a campaign contribution makes a council candidate “ethically suspect”. By that logic, any politician can be labeled as such.

    When I decided to run for office, I made of list of many different people and organizations that I needed to meet with, and the Ann Arbor Fire Department was on that list. I met with several firefighters and learned a great deal about regionalization, equipment and staffing concerns. They learned about me, my candidacy and my vision for Ann Arbor. Their contribution to my campaign was a vote of confidence that they recognized me to be a thoughtful person capable of understanding the complex issues.

       —Sandi Smith    May. 6 '09 - 04:30AM    #
  88. The city also controls the zoning on the property; so it is not certain that housing would go into the land Pfizer is on.

    That’s true, but zoning does not necessarily bring the desired use into being. Moreover, residential is usually a permitted use in all zoning districts.

    The notion that the Pfizer facility was had for 25% of its value is doubtful since a property is only worth what someone is willing to pay.

    Sure, but the tax assessment is based on a value about four times what U-M paid.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 6 '09 - 06:36AM    #
  89. Sandi—

    Thanks for the info. I’ve used the ATT On Demand feature, it’s not really that complex and get to watch ten or so other government meeting channels including Birmingham and Detroit. What would it cost the city and CTN to put that option into operation?

    So, to play devil’s advocate, why should I pay a city cable user tax to support CTN when I can’t view it on ATT? The days of public access channels being in the lower tier are gone and there is nothing in the law, at least in Michigan, that is going to bring it back. The On Demand may be the only option for the future.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 6 '09 - 03:07PM    #
  90. What is Marcia Higgins (or anyone else) doing about the crumbling Stadium Bridge overpass that is located in the Fourth Ward? What about possible federal funding?

    Are there any updates on this most important issue?

       —Mark Koroi    May. 7 '09 - 07:22PM    #
  91. Larry,

    Is it not true that Pfizer could have gotten 0.35*Assessed_Value if they had donated the facility to UofM? Also, 0.35*Assessed_Value > 0.25*Assessed_Value, so why did Pfizer opt for a sale when they could have gotten the top corporate tax bracket times the assessed value? One answer would be that Pfizer lost money in the year of the sale so they would not be able to cash in the bounty right away (they would have to wait until they were profitable again.) I think if UofM had played its cards right, they could have gotten the place for nothing.
       —ChuckL    May. 8 '09 - 03:37AM    #
  92. Re Post#6: Thank you for disclosing the contributions by the Firefighter’s PAC to the referenced City Council members. Perhaps it is more than a mere coincidence that I have not heard anyone mention that layoffs were being considered for the Fire Department, but substantial cutbacks of police and civilian personnel were being discussed with respect to the Police Department.

    Did the Ann Arbor Police Officer’s Association make any contributions to any City Council members recently? I am going to guess not.

       —Junior    May. 9 '09 - 11:33PM    #
  93. Junior: I don’t agree that just because a union contributes to a campaign a city council person is going to carry their water. Unions have been contributing to Democrats forever. Shoot the Teamsters even contributed to Bush in the beginning.

    The city cut back on the fire dept. 5 or 6 years ago, contributions didn’t save them then. But then, I agreed with those cutbacks. There are a lot less fires than their used to be. Building codes and sprinkler systems have made a big difference.

    I agree with the cut backs for the PD too. The crime rate in A2 has been going down for decades and they used to have to cover the UM campus but now they have their own police force.

    By your theory every person in elected office is
    compromised because they all owe someone for campaign contributions. It is unavoidable unless a person is independently wealthy and I don’t know why someone would spend thousands for a job that pays $15,000 a year and takes up more time than it is worth.

       —Dusty Lake    May. 10 '09 - 12:12AM    #
  94. Dusty,

    Go back and look at Marcia Higgins’s campaign finance forms and you will see an interesting picture:

    1999: Raised under $1,000
    2001: Raised under $1,000
    2003: No statement filed.
    2005: Ran opposed. Accepted $2,000 in donations from Firefighter’s PAC (single largest donor, by far, to her 2005 campaign).
    2006: 11/14/2006 Accepted Chair of Budget & Labor Committee.

    That $2,000 accounted for 40 percent of the money she used to finance her campaign in 2005.

    She chairs the committee that negotiates contracts with the police and firefighter’s unions. Elected officials who accept campaign donations in what amount to immense sums from groups they negotiate contracts with, and on whose contracts they vote, come very close to accepting what amount to implicit bribes.

    Higgins should either refuse the money, or stop voting on and participating in contract negotiations with the unions. So should Rapundalo, Greden, Hohkne, Smith and every other City Council member who accepted the huge amounts from that PAC last year.

    The average donation to Marcia Higgins, aside from the PAC donation, was $50-$75. We’ll have to watch how the next firefighter’s contract negotiaitons shake out, and how she votes to see what that $2,000 will buy.

       —UMGrad1234    May. 10 '09 - 07:33PM    #
  95. So do you hold it against Obama that he took boatloads of union money plus all the ground troops? He seems to be pushing the UAW hard despite all the help they gave him.

    I don’t know that $2000 can be called an immense sum. Both candidates spent over $12,000 in the second ward last year. I just don’t think people are going to go against their better judgment because of a union contribution. Besides, the city tries to treat all the unions the same. The PD seems to be different because they can go to binding arbitration and the local governments almost always lose when that happens. I suppose the FD could do that as well but they haven’t.

    And again, unions have always supported democratic candidates. As a democrat, I support the unions too.

       —Dusty Lake    May. 10 '09 - 08:26PM    #
  96. I bet you the Firefighters’ Union rank-and-file is darn happy that Councilperson Marcia Higgins got that PAC contribution since not only did she edge out Republican Jim Hood in the general election but got appointed to that influential position on the Budget Committee.

    Note how Councilperson Sandi Smith differentiated at Post #87 the nature of the contribution she received with that of other City Council members:

    “I do not sit on the Council’s Budget and Labor Committee….”

    Look to see if local Firefighters Union members give further aid to the Higgins re-election bid this year. It may be a smart move.

       —John Dory    May. 10 '09 - 10:21PM    #
  97. Dusty,

    There’s a reason for campaign finance reform movements. I am pro-union, but have real problems with union PACs, and so do, for instance, members of the American Federation of Teachers. Members in California sued to keep their dues from being used as political donations. Thus, the formation of PACs within the higher education labor movement. Those PACs are BIG business, plain and simple.

    As for Marcia Higgins, 40 percent of her money came from a PAC; this goes against the common scenario whereby the majority of a candidate’s money comes from individuals (Obama’s campaign fit this description). That 40 percent of her money came from a PAC should give all voters pause to consider her ethical standards. That she then turned around and negotiated on behalf of Ann Arbor’s taxpayers with her biggest donors, I see that as a clear conflict of interest and a gross lapse in ethics.

    Frankly, it makes me wonder about the lack of ethical standards on Council and the lack of a conflict of interest policy for Council. It’s convenient.

    As for Sandi Smith, she’s trying to be a little too clever. She took the PAC money (the PAC was one of her largest single donors, as well). She’ll vote on a budget which impacts the same union. That she doesn’t sit on the Committee means little, ethically. Perhaps Sandi is confused about what it means to take $750 from a union PAC and then have to deal with union pension/retirement and pay issues as a Council member. Heck, she voted to raise parking rates 40 percent as a member of the DDA, and then voted on her own recommendation as a Council member. The First Ward didn’t get any unbiased representation from her on that issue.

    I have no doubt the PAC would make donations. I’m hoping that something happens that will make the people on Council, and particularly on the Budget & Labor Committee, think twice before taking huge donations again and then negotiating and voting on cozy contracts and buy-outs with their biggest donors.

       —UMGrad1234    May. 11 '09 - 02:10AM    #
  98. Whoa, slow down Grad.

    The Police got the buyouts, not the fire fighters but the Police Pac did not contribute to candidates so that goes against your theory.

    Sounds like the retiring police officers are not getting any more than an early retirement. The money goes to insure the pension system is not impacted and the city gets rid of some high salaries without a lot of impact on the service.

    I fault the administrator for not having done this years ago.

    I don’t think council members negotiate with the unions. The administrator and his staff do that.

    I don’t have a problem with Smith voting on the DDA and the council and the rate increase was 10 cents one year and 10 cents later. That is 20% over 2 years, not 40%. Downtown needs more parking and it has to be paid for somehow. Government costs money like everything else. I don’t have a problem with that.

       —Dusty Lake    May. 11 '09 - 02:36AM    #
  99. Dusty,

    Sorry to go a bit too fast.

    The Police have a “no lay-off” clause in their contract; thus the 30 or so who were offered “early retirement,” as opposed to being laid off. The early retirement is costing more per officer than keeping them employed. Other city staff positions were simply “eliminated,” as the Mayor likes to brag, at a yearly savings of $10 million. (Just where the $10 million per year went, exactly, he never tells us….)

    Council members do negotiate, approve or reject contracts with the unions. Through budget votes, every Council member participates.

    The total parking rate hike will be 40 percent for parking meters. Check out the DDA minutes, and you’ll find the rate hike schedule. Does downtown need more parking? The DDA insanely blocked access to data which showed actual use; the group relented, but one might rightly wonder why actual use data isn’t posted to the DDA’s web site for all to see. In one month, Roger H. was quoted in DDA minutes as telling the DDA Board parking revenues and use were flat in 2008. Then, he went before Council and testified that parking demand was up in 2008. Either he forgot both groups keep minutes, or thought no one would ever notice the discrepancy.

    Finally, I suppose, though, as always, the issue is not what we “need” or “want,” but what taxpayers can afford. At the moment, we anticipate not having the money in our General Fund to support current expenditures well into 2011. Thus, the proposed budget, staffing and service cuts.

    What we can’t afford is any form of representation that puts the interest of the representative over those of the taxpayer. Right now, unfortunately, we have a system that does just that on a regular basis.

       —UMGrad1234    May. 11 '09 - 06:25AM    #
  100. If I might wade into this conversation… About the $10 million. Like you grad, I have wondered about this and asked some questions a while back.

    If you look at the budget numbers it does not at first appear to be true to the layman but if you look a little deeper it works.

    The city has over 200 fewer employees than they did back when they had just over a thousand. But to make the math easy let’s say its 200 at $60,000 per FTE; so that’s $12 million.

    But thinking the general fund should be $12 million lower leads one astray because the employees were from across the whole city operation. The entire utility system along with solid waste, both people intensive sectors, are not in the general fund. (In these sectors there are also big capital expenses.)

    But even if they were in the general fund it would not be down the $12 million because of the compounding effect of 2.5% or 3% raises for all the rest over the years, the double or triple the rate of inflation increases in health care expenses for all, including the retiree’s and the extra payments because of the hit the pension fund has taken since last June when it was 100% funded. (Every retirement fund has been hit including mine.)

    Then you would have to account for the one time expenses that are part of the budgets of all areas. There’s more but I think you probably get the point.

    Anyway, it’s safe to say the overall city budget would be at least $12 million higher if the city still had those 200 + employees. I think that is all the mayor is saying.

    The city has been careful not to back fill those positions.

    That is what is hurting the County. They had an early retirement program in the early part of the decade but they let the employee numbers creep back up. Now they will have to lay many off to close a gap that is quite a bit larger than the city’s.

       —Ted Ancil    May. 11 '09 - 07:13AM    #
  101. Any thoughts/comments on the A2 News article today about the potential lawsuit over the Library underground parking structure and City Council being forced by a FOIA request to release email exchanges that took place during meetings?

    That would explain some members totally ignoring people during the public comments period and furiously typing away on their keyboards instead.

    I thought it was only rude before. Now it might have been illegal. Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 15 '09 - 11:08PM    #
  102. Aside from being rude, email exchanges among council members during the meeting certainly violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the Open Meetings Act. Discussion of items before the council is supposed to be open to the public. How about if I say to you, “Vote for this and I’ll drop my objection to that other thing”? Or even, “if you vote for that, you are a dingbat”?

       —Vivienne Armentrout    May. 15 '09 - 11:35PM    #
  103. I think all of the current candidates and council reps running for reelction need to address this issue. On this thread would be great too (lol).

    I think it likely violates the law and is yet another lawsuit waiting to happen. Why does anyone have to fill a FOIA to get this information? It’s just not right.

       —Alan Goldsmith    May. 15 '09 - 11:41PM    #
  104. It depends on what they said. If it was “where do you want to go for a beer?” Or, “I can’t believe he said that!” It’s one thing but if indeed it was something illegal under the Act, then that is something else.

    At this point there is too little information to debate the issue. In the end, if they did violate the act, the Attorney General will have something to say when it comes to light. If they did not violate the Act, it does not mean much.

       —Dusty Lake    May. 16 '09 - 01:34AM    #
  105. I can’t think of one good reason for any member of council to be e-mailing during a council meeting. I don’t care if they are discussing the score of the Tigers game or where to go for a beer after the meeting. It’s inappropriate and as Vivienne stated, when it involves council discussion, it should be considered illegal.

       —John Q.    May. 16 '09 - 08:36AM    #
  106. According to the AA News article on this, “Round-robin phone conversations or e-mail that lead to a decision are at odds with sunshine laws when they involve a quorum of a given public body.

    Ack! I can hardly believe I’m relying on the News as a legal authority. 8-)

    I haven’t seen the e-mails, so I don’t know how many Council members were involved.

       —David Cahill    May. 16 '09 - 04:03PM    #
  107. Was Sabra Briere involved with e-mails?

    Did she witness anyone else e-mailing during council meetings?

       —Junior    May. 16 '09 - 07:14PM    #
  108. From watching the meetings email is often used to send an amendment to the whole group or a late resolution. It appears the clerk uses it to send things to the council members.

    That they use email during meetings is not the issue, it appears they all do as part of the job. The issue is what is in the emails and if they constitute a violation of the open meetings act. If they do then the legal hammer should come down.

    If they don’t then they may just need to stop kibitzing during the meetings.

       —David Lewis    May. 16 '09 - 07:24PM    #
  109. Actually, the practice of sending an amendment during discussion is not good either. The public has no chance to see what is being done. Often the discussion makes no sense, as in “Let’s change part A to shall be instead of will be”. The conventional parliamentary approach would be to read the revised language out loud. The mayor or mayor pro tem could do this, or could instruct the clerk to do it if generated from the clerk. It would be nice if CTN could be outfitted to project such documents onto the screen.

    As to David’s remarks re a quorum, a quorum is present in council meetings. It doesn’t have to be a quorum of people engaging in the subterranean discussion, in my opinion. It is that the discussion in a deliberative meeting should all be in the open and clear.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    May. 16 '09 - 09:21PM    #
  110. Are you saying you disagree with the AA News, Vivienne?

       —David Cahill    May. 16 '09 - 09:59PM    #
  111. Sorry, I didn’t read the story you mentioned, so I can’t comment.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    May. 16 '09 - 10:06PM    #
  112. re: e-mailing during council meetings

    I’ve created a post on the 5th Ave parking structure and e-mails for your commenting pleasure.

       —Murph    May. 16 '09 - 11:24PM    #
  113. On March 8th I made a post that Ann Arbor citizens should “vote Marcia Higgins and the rest of those bozos out of office”.

    Little did I realize that, thanks to Alan Goldsmith, John Dory and other vigilant citizens of the Fourth Ward, I had tapped into a major reservoir of discontent and spawned a zealous movement in the Fourth Ward to make Higgins’ City Council seat a “bozo-free zone.”

    I wish to take this opportunity to thank the fine electorate of the Fourth Ward and to exhort them to continue to fight the good fight and in the end Marcia Higgins may be defeated and a new representative take office in the Fourth Ward.

    I salute you all. Cheers!

       —Kerry D.    May. 18 '09 - 06:10AM    #
  114. Hey, I think Marcia does a fine job. She stays out of the spotlight and works in the trenches but she is always working.

    When we needed her to take action about all the noise coming from the Stadium Construction, she did and things have been quiet since.

    As someone else said a while back, most importantly she has been part of a group that has kept our city well ahead of the rest in a state that has been in recession longer than any other.

    And, the millage has not gone up!

       —David Lewis    May. 18 '09 - 06:33AM    #
  115. I lot of people liked and voted for Dan Minzey, in fact he got thousands of votes in last year’s August 5th primary. He still lost in a landslide.

    Marcia Higgins probably has less percentage of support among her constituency than Dan Minzey did.

    Thankfully at least one Fourth Warder will be on the ballot this fall to oppose her.

       —Kerry D.    May. 18 '09 - 06:50AM    #
  116. Kerry D. you are dreaming if you think there are that many people who are upset with Marcia Higgins. Just because a few people who post do not like her does not mean the entire ward wants to throw her out of office.

    She does a fine job. She speaks up and asks questions during council meetings so that questions and problems are clarified. Some at AU like to criticize her for this and say that makes her uninformed which is silly. She does work hard behind the scenes with her council work and with all her committee and commission assignments, which not every councilmember does. Do you support Mike Anglin? He is known for doing little work and NEVER attending his committee/commission meetings. Do you support him?

    She is honest and hardworking and deserves to be re-elected..

    The truth is some of you just don’t like the way she votes (however, most of us 4th warders do); it has nothing to do with her character or work ethic. You keep putting out this misinformation by calling her names and exaggerating specific events in order to try to get more supporters behind you.

    I hope you hold all the other council members up to your fantasy standard, because I think some of your favorite councilmembers might not live up to your own superimposed standard.

       —Diane    May. 18 '09 - 05:06PM    #
  117. Diane, look at the voting results for the last three City Council elections she was a candidate in.

    In 2003 she was the only major party candidate that ran in either the primary or general elections from the Fourth Ward and she had only minor party and independent opposition in the general election; one was a student, another was a recent U-M alumnus, Scott Trudeau, who ran on the Green Party ticket. Neither of her three opponents campaigned heavily, but in the November election they collected 48% of the vote. Marcia apparently blamed her poor showing on her Republican Party affiliation and switched to the Democratic Party, which many saw as rank political opportunism.

    In 2005, things got worse for Marcia when Rosewood Street had traffic noise and congestion problems and Marcia was perceived by neighborhood residents of having done squat for them on that issue. Eric Lipson, an Ann Arbor Planning Commissioner and Rosewood Street resident ran against Marcia in the Democratic primary but lost in close race. In November of that year, she won with only 50.66% of the vote against Ann Arbor Republican Party leader Jim Hood.

    In 2007, no opposition existed at all in the general election yet an amazing 8% of Fourth Ward residents signed a write-in vote against Marcia Higgins.

    Citizens like Alan Goldsmith, Eric Lipson and John Dory are not political hacks, but concerned citizens who want effective and firm representation on City Council.

    I would urge all registered voters in the Fourth Ward to compare the records of the candidates, go to the polls and vote for the candidate of your choice.

    It is time for a change in the Fourth Ward.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 18 '09 - 09:30PM    #
  118. Mark- First of all I never called them hacks, I think that their criticisms are not pointed in the right direction. Marcia is effective and good representation for the 4th ward, especially for those of us who like the way she votes. Just because you don’t like her position on things that does not make her incompetent or ineffective as you imply.

    I urge people to actually watch city council and judge for yourself. You can criticize her because you don’t like her decisions or her votes but not because she does not perform the job or is ineffective; that is a completely false statement. There are others on council who deserve this sort of criticism yet for some reason they are backed by a lot of you who seem to label Marcia with this. Your inconsistency in how you judge ALL the councilmembers is why I do not give credit to your allegation that she is ineffective.

       —Diane    May. 19 '09 - 12:38AM    #
  119. “There are others on council who deserve this sort of criticism yet for some reason they are backed by a lot of you who seem to label Marcia with this….”

    If there are other council members you feel do not perform the job or is not effective, please feel free to share their identities with everyone and disclose specific examples. I would love to hear about it as most persons reading this thread. Such disclosure fosters accountability.

    Sandi Smith, John Hieftje and Leigh Greden in the past have posted here in response to questions posited regarding their performance; I would be more than happy to hear from any City Council member responding to questions about their performance.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 20 '09 - 12:59AM    #
  120. “ I would be more than happy to hear from any City Council member responding to questions about their performance.”

    Councilmembers from Ann Arbor or Warren, Mark?

       —curious    May. 20 '09 - 10:47PM    #
  121. Mark I already did disclose a name.

    From my post 116:

    “Do you support Mike Anglin? He is known for doing little work and NEVER attending his committee/commission meetings.”

       —Diane    May. 21 '09 - 12:38AM    #
  122. Marcia Higgins effective? Heh!

    Ask some of the residents of Rosewood Avenue when they had traffic congestion issues.

    Do you want to defend Marcia’s action/inaction on that important issue.

    Marcia Higgins’ Machiavellian shrewdness has kept her in office for ten years.

    Remember June 22nd is the deadline for submitting petition signatures in the City Council races. The best way to dethrone Marcia Higgins may be in the August Democratic primary. Only 100 signatures are needed to get on the ballot.

       —Larry Fugle    May. 21 '09 - 03:37AM    #
  123. Mike Anglin is KNOWN for doing little work and never attending his committee meetings? Known by whom? If I remember, last May a woman named Sarah J. Munson wrote a letter to the Ann Arbor News making the same claim. Judy McGovern, in her recent article about the 5th Ward race, generalized (demonstrating lazy journalism and a disdain for accuracy) based on that single letter published by the News; she didn’t look up the attendance records of any Council members and compare them. I did.

    Know what? First off, look in the voter rolls and there is NO Sarah J. Munson in the Fifth Ward. There is no Sarah J. Munson in any Ward in Ann Arbor on the voter rolls. Maybe she’s not registered. Maybe she a fiction. Maybe she’s the invention of someone who’d like to see Mike off of Council? To get a letter published in the News, one need only provide a phone number.

    Mike Anglin meets with Fifth Ward constituents weekly. Does Marcia meet with her constituents weekly? Some of the boards and commissions he’s on is in an advisory capacity (non-voting). Furthermore, I’ll tell you something Judy McGovern should have when she wrote her piece about Mike and Scott Rosencrans: Marcia Higgins and Leigh Greden have the same overall attendance record in their committee meetings as does Mike Anglin. This attendance record flap was a farce last May when “Sarah Munson” complained to the AANews about Mike’s attendance; it’s a farce now.

    We have plenty of “do nothings” on Council: Mike Anglin isn’t one of them.

       —UMGrad1234    May. 22 '09 - 12:07AM    #
  124. Thank you for your thoughtful input, UMGrad1234.

    When Mike Anglin first campaigned for his seat, he knocked on every single door in his Fifth Ward and voters overwhelmingly chose him over Wendy Woods. I am acquainted with Mike and he has impressed me both with his thorough research knowledge of matters before City Council and his ability to communicate with his constituency.

    I don’t believe that “Sarah J. Munson” has fooled many in the Fifth Ward, however it just goes to show you the extent some will go to discredit a fine public servant as Mr. Anglin.

    Yes, we do have plenty of “do-nothings” on City Council; there needs to be accountability.

       —Mark Koroi    May. 22 '09 - 01:40AM    #
  125. What has Mike brought before council? Has he sponsored any legislation? Was he the champion for Project Grow that he promised he would be? (No, he did not attend the meeting to include PG into the budget.) What problems has he solved?

       —CDBF    May. 22 '09 - 06:39AM    #
  126. Sabra Briere explains Mike Anglin’s absence from that discussion on The Chronicle.

       —Matt Hampel    May. 22 '09 - 07:26AM    #
  127. Thanks for the link, Matt. That is a satisfactory explanation for me as to Councilperson Anglin’s non-appearance.

       —John Dory    May. 26 '09 - 06:06PM    #
  128. Has anyone new pulled petitions or announced their candidacy for the City Council races?

    Has any of the announced candidates withdrawn?

       —John Dory    May. 26 '09 - 06:14PM    #
  129. Re Post #128: I do not know of any new candidates or confirmed withdrawals with respect to the City Council race however Mr.Issa has stated that he may not file nominating petitions for the Third Ward seat currently held by Leigh Greden.

    In the First Ward, Sabra Briere appears to be facing no major party opposition to her seat. It can therefore be safely expected that she will be returned to office this November.

    Ms. Briere, previously a longtime county and local Democratic party leader and local ACLU director, has split with her Democratic and liberal colleagues on a number of issues, most notable of which was the Police/Court project, which she staunchly opposed. She has brought an independent voice to City Council and appears to have “done her homework” on matters that are presented for City Council consideration. She has communicated ably with her constituents as well as senior members of the County Commission, including then-chairman Jeff Irwin. Her vast experience and connections in local political circles have served her well and she has been an asset to the citizens of the First Ward.

    In the Second Ward, Democrat Steve Rapundalo a former mayoral candidate and ex-Republican, likewise appears to be unopposed. Steve was considered by many to be vulnerable this election due to his support of the Police/Court project and the perception that he embraced Republican ideals, in stark contrast to the majority of Tree Towners.

    Absent any late filing opponents, Rapundalo can be expected to retain his longtime seat on City Council.

    In the Third Ward, a major fight is brewing where ex-Councilperson Steve Kunselman is squaring off against Leigh Greden.

    Leigh Greden, a member of City Council’s former “Gang of Seven” that largely dictated the agenda and support for proposed legislation before Council, is seeking yet another term.

    Greden, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, has had a string of accomplishments while on City Council, including passage of the approvals for the Police/Court building. He has been said to lack the influence and abilities as other colleagues on Council, including former members Chris Easthope and Joan Lowenstein.

    Steve Kunselman, on the other hand, has had a reputation as a maverick, known for such things as his backyard chicken ordinance and bucking the Gang of Seven in their exploits.

    While Kunselman was popular with his constituents look for Greden, with his vastly superior political connections and resources, to beat Kunselman, especially if Mr. Issa does file and dilutes the opposition vote against Leigh Greden.

    The Fourth Ward is going to be a real donnybrook this year with Marcia Higgins fighting to retain her Council seat she has held for ten years; she at this juncture is being opposed by Hatim Elhady , a former U.S. State Dept. intern, who is currently undertaking graduate studies at the University of Michigan. Mr. Elhady, who is in his twenties and never has held public office before, is heavily recruiting student support for the election and has declined to run with any party affiliation, thus avoiding an August primary where local regiterered student voters are often not on campus and do not vote.

    Mr. Elhady has recently been diligently, but quietly, meeting with local civic leaders to discuss their issues and his views in an attempt to shore up support for his campaign. Some of his concerns have been regarding banning smoking in public places and increased fiscal responsibilty.

    Marcia Higgins is the sitting Mayor Pro Tempore of the City of Ann Arbor. She has been tagged as a political opportunist due to her switch of parties fron Republican to Democrat following a 2003 victory in which she received only 52% of the vote in the general election against an asssortment of independent and third-party candidates who hardly campaigned. She had previously ran against Mayor Hieftje and lost badly. She has been labeled as ineffective and invisible by many constituents in her Fourth Ward. There is no doubt that substantial numbers of Fourth Ward residents are going to actively support any person opposing Higgins with respect to this Fourth Ward seat. If Elhady is the only other candidate on the ballot expect large numbers of residents and students to be volunteering to an Elhady campaign. The Fourth Ward electorate is crystallizing against Higgins due to years of her ineffective representation on City Council; add to that her support to the unpopular Police/Court project and it is clear that Higgins is facing a largely angry Fourth ward electorate.

    Look for a very competitive race in the Fourth Ward for the seat of Marcia Higgins. Mr. Elhady’s chances of winning will largely depend on whether any new candidates crop up in the race and how strong of a campaign can Elhady muster this fall. There is no doubt, based on prior Higgins races, that she is going to have a very hard time pulling off a victory this year based upon the close calls she has had previously; this is especially so given the number and vehemence of Fourth Warders who have come forth recently to publically endorse a change in the Fourth Ward.

    Finally in the Fifth Ward, Mike Anglin is facing opposition from Scott Rosecrans.

    Anglin has been facing controversy over alleged non-appearance at committee/commission meetings; this has been disputed. Supporters say Anglin meets with his constituents regularly via weekly meetings. Some have pointed out that recent absences at crucial City Council votes were due to a family health emergency.

    It has been rumored that the Rosecrans opposition was or may have been motivated by Mr. Anglin’s involvement in the Ask Voters First movement. There has been no evidence to support this.

    Rosecrans, while seeming like a nice and reasonable fellow, does not have the political experience or background to warrant his election. Anglin, on the other hand, has been proven to have the background and experience to effectively represent his ward. He is popular with residents of the Fifth Ward.

    Expect Mike Anglin to beat Mr Rosecrans in the Fifth Ward Democratic primary.

    I would urge all residents to register, if not registered already, and vote this August and November, especially with the Third and Fourth Ward races anticipated to be hotly contested.

       —Junior    May. 30 '09 - 11:25PM    #
  130. Great story on our friends on City Council in the A2 News this morning. Especially enjoyed the part members were joking about ‘pandering’ to veterans’. Funny stuff. As someone who has worked in the veteran health care field most of my life, I found this repulsive and disgusting.

    Thank goodness the News is finally being a newspaper at long last.

    And kudos to Judy McGovern, though it took an outside group to file the FOIA request.

    And more kudos the the reps who DIDN’T insult the voters and the public.

    AND thanks again to the “world class” public servants in my 4th Ward. Both of them should resign.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 7 '09 - 04:53PM    #
  131. Or be recalled…

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 7 '09 - 10:15PM    #
  132. From Judy McGoverns M Live blog yesterday (cut and pasted);

    “In a March 16 exchange with Council Member Margie Teall, Council Member Leigh Greden dealt with a political hot potato while council guests and rank-and-file citizens stood at the mic and talked about community events and problems.

    The subject is Ann Arbor’s public art program and the move to spend perhaps three-quarter of a million dollars for an installation at city hall. (Previous coverage.)

    7:29 p.m. Greden to Teall – “Did Taylor call you? The art thing is a disaster. We need to find a way to clean it up.”

    7:31 p.m. Teall to Greden – “…stop calling it a disaster.”

    7:35 p.m. Greden to Teall – “Margie, I have very good instincts. We haven’t had a PR mess like this in quite some time. This has stretched into the masses. Taylor says Ned and Bernstein were complaining. The public sees it as a very simple analysis: Cops before art. Roads before art.”

    That’s not the analysis Greden offered when he complained about News’ coverage of the issue. Instead, he argued that there was no controversy… and certainly no “disaster.”“

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 8 '09 - 05:53PM    #
  133. One of the published e-mails in the Ann Arbor News section for Comments contained the following e-mail from Marcia Higgins to several other City Council members:

    “Sorry, Margie. No one treats constituents worse than I do…The last time I returned an email was in 2002…orwas it in 2003?? And I dont DO(sic) phone calls. If my constituents want to talk to ME(sic) they cane(sic) come and speak at Council. Is someone speaking right now?”

    No wonder there have been so many digruntled Fourth Warders posting regarding the need for a new face on City Council.

    It appears Mr. Elhady’s chances at winning are getting better, especially if no one challenges Higgins in the Democratic primary this August.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 10 '09 - 08:16PM    #
  134. Much as I would love to believe this, the ‘emails’ posted in the comments section were an attempt at humor and not really written by Ms. Higgins. She’s been a poor enough rep for the 4th Ward and there are plenty of things to be critical off but this…was humor. Lol. A thin line between humor and reality but…these are not real messages.

    But cleverly written!

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 10 '09 - 11:32PM    #
  135. It did seem too good to be true.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 11 '09 - 07:13AM    #
  136. According to the story today in the Ann Arbor Chronicle and a question about the Stadium Bridges:

    “One resident asked for a status report on several aspects of the E. Stadium bridge repair. When will the drawings for the design be done and ready for citizen input? Will any of the funding come from the $23 million available from the street millage? What about general obligation bonds? Who is going to lead the project?

    By “leading the project,” the resident meant to be asking who on council would be adopting the project as their own “baby” to shepherd it through to completion. Hieftje said he felt that it was something that all councilmembers thought was important. Marcia Higgins (Ward 4) said that she and her Ward 4 colleague, Margie Teall, considered it to be something they were especially committed to overseeing, given the bridge’s location in Ward 4.”

    Guess she finally got a map of Ward 4 and figured this out…

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 15 '09 - 10:14PM    #
  137. It appears there will be a City of Ann Arbor primary election on August 4th as Leigh Greden and Steve Kunselman have filed petitions as Democrats.

    In the Fourth Ward as of this afternoon with the filing deadline only a few days away there have been no petitions filed on either the Republican or Democratic side for the seat currently held by Marcia Higgins.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 19 '09 - 01:00AM    #
  138. So Marcia Higgins hasn’t filed either?

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 19 '09 - 01:12AM    #
  139. got a map of Ward 4

    I ran for City Council in the 4th Ward in November 1999, losing narrowly to then-Republican Marcia Higgins by about 80 votes.

    During that campaign, it occurred to me that the 4th Ward has a population distribution like Canada: almost all the population is along its border with other wards, and the different parts of the ward have little in common.

    All of the other wards are communities with distinct personalities. The 4th Ward is blander and un-centered, as if it were the territory left over after the other wards were drawn.

    Even though it includes Michigan Stadium and other university facilities, the 4th is the least UM-oriented ward. It is also the most socially conservative ward — though that’s not saying much compared to the world beyond the Ann Arbor city limits.

    At one time, the 4th Ward’s Lansdowne neighborhood was the epicenter of political conservatism in Ann Arbor, full of many Bechtel engineers. But those folks have moved on, and Lansdowne, like the rest of the city, votes Democratic.

    Politically, the 4th is a tactician’s constituency. Other wards may have word-of-mouth networks and transcendent community figures who emerge in other venues besides politics. By contrast, an arbitrary, attenuated territory like the 4th Ward can be won by a lesser-known candidate who works to directly communicate with voters.

    The two county commission districts I have represented (the Ingham 8th in 1983-88 and the Washtenaw 4th in 2000-02) were even more extreme examples of this.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Jun. 19 '09 - 04:36AM    #
  140. Larry is right on the money. There is no ‘center’ to the 4th, it’s a collection of ‘pockets’ and, from living in Landsdowne since the mid-1990s, the neighborhood has made a major shift to the left over the last decade, to being Democratic, but with voters more concerned about taxes, roads, schools, etc. while less concerned about whether they can have backyard chickens.

    The Stadium Bridge(s) is a major issue, so was the tree replacement fiasco, but mostly people want good city services, they want their money spent wisely and they want city govenment to be effective and invisible. For the most part, that has been the case, but with all the economy falling apart (and home prices dropping), etc. voters are a bit more stirred up about the future than they have been in the past. With the string of events lately, the email, the Court-Police building, and even the Pauline-Maple housing issue, more people are unhappy about the direction of the city.

    All it takes is a candidate going door-to-door to make a major impact on an election. That hasn’t happened in years with a council election. And that is why my jokes about Higgins being ‘invisible’. She might be sitting on different boards and committees but other than where she lives, I don’t think she’s been “in” the ward in years. Much LESS going door-to-door.

    I DID vote for you Larry in ’99, let the record show! Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Jun. 19 '09 - 02:39PM    #
  141. The deadline to file completed petitions as a partisan candidate for the City Council races shall be Monday at 5:00 p.m.The deadline to file as an independent candidate is August 5, 2009.

    There was a news article suggesting that Leigh Greden may face three challengers in the Democratic primary with LuAnne Bullington being the latest to announce her opposition against Greden.

    In the Fourth Ward, I have heard no announced candidates other than Marcia Higgins and Hatim Elhady. Does anyone have any other information about other posssible candidates in the Fourth Ward?

    Has anyone heard anything recently about what Mr. Elhady may be doing currently to advance his campaign for the Higgins seat?

       —John Dory    Jun. 20 '09 - 09:47PM    #
  142. Currently I have been initiating meetings with 4th Ward constituents and communicating with constituents of other Wards whom are interested in my campaign. My nominating petitions are set to be filed.

    I have a solid campaign committee and supporters, whom are just as enthused and eager for change as myself. Everything that a campaign needs to reach its primary goal will be set in the near future.

    Thank you to all my supporters and of course volunteers and will be volunteers, I cannot do this alone and only with your help can WE get to where we need to be.

       —Hatim Elhady    Jun. 23 '09 - 12:39AM    #
  143. The Ann Arbor News’ story on the primary indicates that Mr. Elhady is running as an independent.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Jun. 23 '09 - 01:14AM    #
  144. Moving to the 4th Ward as of the first of the month, from downtown, where I’ve been priced out of. Based on my limited knowledge of the area I’m moving to it seems like Mr. Kestenbaum’s analysis is spot on though.

    As a new constituent, however, I am interested in hearing Mr. Elhady’s plans expanded upon, and if he plans to seek the endorsement of local democratic organizations given his plans to (last I’d heard) run as an independent.

       —Jeremy Peters    Jun. 23 '09 - 01:45AM    #
  145. Mr. Elhady: Do you have a campaign website or other information source so that your positions, endorsements, and contact information can be viewed?

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 23 '09 - 01:54AM    #
  146. Hi Mark,

    My campaign website should be up very soon. The contents of it will be all that you mentioned and hopefully more.

    Thank you

       —Hatim Elhady    Jun. 23 '09 - 10:28PM    #
  147. Here is a collection of some published observations in prior election years relative to City Council member Marcia Higgins:

    In the October 30, 2003 edition of the Michigan Daily, in the article “Ward War I and IV”, it was noted:

    “The current incumbent running for re-election in this Ward, Republican Marcia Higgins, is not very responsive to students. Higgins’ opponents are all community members running on a platform centered on fresh ideas and empathy to student concerns, something the council has been lacking in recent years.”

    In ArborUpdate on November 8, 2005, it was opined by juliew on the “Ann Arbor Ballot Roundup” thread:

    “…I don’t think Higgins is very good for Ward 4 and I really don’t think she is good for the Council as a whole…”

    On July 2, 2007 in the “Top of the Snark” thread of the Ann Arbor Is Overrated blog, poster Rodney Smith imparted the following observation:

    “I can’t get over the gall of one Marcia Higgins, attempting to give employers a loophole. I come from a country where living wage is mandatory. I find the concept of paying less than a living wage to any employee reprehensible.
    Silly me, I thought the days of slavery and indentured labor were a thing of the past.”

    I would recommend all registered voters of the Fourth Ward in November to ensure they go the polls and seriously consider the alternatives for the council seat currently held by Marcia Higgins.

       —Mark Koroi    Jun. 25 '09 - 07:16AM    #
  148. The August primary is fast approaching and I would like to see ArborUpdate establish a question and answer format for the candidates running in the various wards for City Council as they did last year.

    Would anyone else also want to see a repeat of last year’s format?

       —Kerry D.    Jul. 6 '09 - 03:26AM    #
  149. although it hasnt appeared as an explicit issue in this thread ,a substantial number of people, having just experienced the unnecessary and frivolous kerfuffle around the attempted ( and resoundingly failed) israel bashing at the coop, wonder whether a similar stealth effort to innappropriately intrude international politics into the city council’s chambers may be part of some candidates/supporters’ agendas.

    this concern is particularly sparked by the presence of a notable “ex-army officer” early in this thread , who while “missing in action” lately, is a known 1-issue warrior ( hint: screen name = the smallest segment on an ear of corn)

    anyway…just askin…

    theodore d. katz, aka

       —goilem    Jul. 7 '09 - 11:10PM    #
  150. Have the Progressives of Washtenaw or People Against Corruption organizations issued any endorsements yet?

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 8 '09 - 12:28AM    #
  151. Very curious to see who POW endorses this year. Their endorsements have a reputation as a bellwether for election results. Last year they endorsed 4 candidates and went 0-4. Around which candidates’ necks will they place their noose this year?

       —Marvin Face    Jul. 8 '09 - 12:43AM    #
  152. Progressives of Washtenaw endorsed Sheriff Jerry Clayton last year, who won resounding victories in both the primary and general elections.

    They also endorsed Eric Gutenberg, who won a primary victory slot and was narrowly defeated by Chris Easthope in the November district court judge election.

    Ann Arbor Democratic Party chairman Conan Smith is often a contributor to their website.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 8 '09 - 12:56AM    #
  153. I think only a “heavy hitter” candidate such as Jean Carlberg or Joan Lowenstein, for example, could probably beat Leigh Greden this August in the primary, however I see no such candidate on the ballot in the Third Ward – and that is a shame.

    Luanne Bullington was previously beat by a better than 2 to 1 margin by Greden in a primary contest. That is not to mention that much of the opposition to Greden will have votes drained to Steve Kunselman, who has done little to promote his own candidacy. I see very little chance of Greden losing this August even though he deserves to.

    Leigh Greden is clearly the most powerful City Hall figure next to the Mayor. He chairs the budget committee and is owed political favors by many. He has fostered close ties with many key figures in county and city government and has a tight-knit network in his own ward. It is next to impossible for any but the most well-known political figures in the city to oppose him. He has the current endorsement of Congressman Dingell, John Hieftje, Joan Lowenstein and many other luminaries.

    Greden’s political career has no doubt taken a hit by the recent e-mail hubbub, but be rest assured, he is crafty and has all the right connections to be returned to his City Council seat.

    Is there anyone who doubts this assessment?

       —Jerry Gilbert    Jul. 11 '09 - 04:05AM    #
  154. Jerry,

    The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Greden is on his way out. As we say at UM hockey games:

    “See Ya!”

       —UMGrad1234    Jul. 15 '09 - 04:31AM    #
  155. The only City Council candidate on the ballot for the August primary that has no website that I can locate is Steve Kunselman.

    Has he done anything to actively campaign for the Third Ward seat held by Councilman Greden?

    Is LuAnne Bullington doing anything to actively campaign for that seat other than establiuhing a website?

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 18 '09 - 03:55AM    #
  156. Check out the Golden Pandy Store at No, I have no idea who put this together. I discovered it when I got a T shirt in the mail today with the slogan

    Ann Arbor
    our lights are dim
    and our hearts are strong

    There is a wide variety of real products available, including a Golden Pandy jumbo tote bag and a Golden Pandy mouse pad.

    I’m not making this up. I couldn’t. Muahahahaaaa!

       —David Cahill    Jul. 18 '09 - 08:59PM    #
  157. I wish there were little statues. Maybe someone wants to get some of these, spray paint them gold, and set up a booth at the Artisan’s Market?

       —MattH    Jul. 18 '09 - 09:58PM    #
  158. Re Post Nos. 156 & 157: Those shirts are absolutely hilarious!

    Does anyone know who creates those?

       —Junior    Jul. 19 '09 - 12:01AM    #
  159. Just to let everyone know that there is going to be a live forum at CTN studios on South Industrial Road for Wednesday evening.

    Ward Three City Council candidates are set for 7:00-7:45 p.m. and Ward Five contenders scheduled for 8:00-8:45 p.m.

    Make sure to attend!

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 22 '09 - 01:56AM    #
  160. In ten very short days we shall have the very first “litmus test” on the electorate’s reaction to the e-mail controversy.

    Do not forget that because of ward voting only Third Ward voters will be able to decide whether or not to retain down-but-not-yet-out incumbent Leigh Greden as their elected representative.

    Do not underestimate Greden; he has a close-knit network within the Third Ward that he can count on to deliver him substantial numbers of votes.

    The only hope the challengers have will be to mount an aggressive campaign of door-to-door electioneering, telephone calls by the candidates, and a heavy media and postal ad blitz.

    My sympathies have bended toward the challengers due to the disgust over Greden’s recently disclosed conduct, but he is a representative, unlike the Fourth Ward’s invisible Marcia Higgins, who “brings home the bacon” to his Third Ward constituents, so expect Greden to continue to enjoy substantial support.

    In some ways the Third Ward race reminds me of a race several years ago when a heavily-financed effort against Congressman John Conyers by a young Melvin Hollowell failed in the Democratic primary when Detroit’s well-respected and well-meaning Ombudsperson Marie Ferrell-Donaldson also filed to oppose Conyers. In the end, Conyers ended up getting only 50% of the primary vote, but Hollowell and Ms. Ferrell-Donaldson split the remaining vote, thus guaranteeing his being returned to his Congress seat.

       —Junior    Jul. 25 '09 - 10:35PM    #
  161. Re #148: The July 25th deadline has now passed for candidate responses to the questionnaire propounded by Arbor Update.

    Do we have answers from the respective candidates to be published?

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 27 '09 - 05:09AM    #
  162. Mark –

    We were a few days behind our original schedule in getting a set of questions out to the candidates, so pushed back the response deadline a bit too.

       —Murph    Jul. 27 '09 - 03:56PM    #
  163. Re: 155 Yes, LuAnn is doing direct mail and door-to-door, and is answering questions posed to her through her website (at least mine).

    Also, there is (supposedly) a candidate forum for the Third Ward at the Mallett’s Creek library at 7:00 tonight.

       —Peter Schermerhorn    Jul. 29 '09 - 12:47AM    #
  164. I’ve heard from someone who went that the Third Ward candidate debate was a standing room only affair….50+ people in attendance. Lots of pointed questions from the audience.

    Kunselman pounded Greden on the emails and ethics, and is running as the incumbent who’s honest and honorable. It was suggested at the debate that the number of commuters being used as a basis for Greden’s proposed city income tax is pure fiction, inflated by perhaps 1/3rd. In the updated tax study posted by The Chronicle, there is no footnote indicating where the commuter numbers in the study came from.

    The AADem Third Ward co-Chair Heidi Herrell and AADem Chair Conan Smith sent out no notices about the event to Third Ward Dems, though the group sponsored the event. Fortunately, looks like the word got around anyway.

    Andrew Cluely from WEMU was there.

    Glad to hear Bullington is answering questions. I downloaded lit from her web site in PDF format.

       —UMGrad1234    Jul. 29 '09 - 04:38PM    #
  165. “The AADem Third Ward co-Chair Heidi Herrell and AADem Chair Conan Smith sent out no notices about the event to Third Ward Dems, though the group sponsored the event.”

    Actually, Heidi Herrell sent out an e-mail notice about the debate to third ward Dems on July 20. According to the AADems website, Barbara Petersen is their Vice Chair for Communication. A party-wide notice would fall under her list of duties, not Conan’s.

       —just a voter    Jul. 29 '09 - 04:55PM    #
  166. Here is a letter to the editor from’s Sunday print edition. Sorry, but it’s not available electronically, at least so far as I could find, so I couldn’t just link it here. Jack Eaton is with the Ann Arbor Alliance of Neighborhoods.

    The Ann Arbor News coverage of the City Council e-mails makes clear that the council e-mails were more than a few isolated instances of childish communication. Those of us who have read hundreds of pages of these e-mails have found that the council members involved engaged in a pattern of behavior that violated the public trust.

    Council e-mails show that Council Member Leigh Greden and his council majority had private e-mail discussions of issues, votes on contentious matters and electoral politics. Council members who did not follow the script of the Greden majority were excluded, called insulting names and targeted for elimination in the upcoming election. Compliance is rewarded, independence will be punished.

    The City Council will face many challenges in the next few years and the decades to come. To have the very best City Council, voters need to encourage independent thinking and replace those who have followed the majority without question.

    In the August primary, 3rd Ward voters have the opportunity to replace the ringleader of the council cabal, Leigh Greden. I hope they replace him as a message to all elected leaders that this is unacceptable behavior.

    In the 5th Ward, Mike Anglin is being targeted by a handpicked opponent who has promised to be less of an obstruction. Mr. Anglin’s obstructionism has consisted of being truly independent from the majority will. Mr. Anglin deserves re-election.

    Should you wish to keep up on this issue, please go to

    —Jack Eaton, Ann Arbor
       —David Cahill    Jul. 29 '09 - 06:09PM    #
  167. Re Post #164: Last I heard, Steve Kunselman’s wife was a co-chair, along with Ms. Harrell, of the Third Ward Democrats, so I would find it highly improbable that she would not want to ensure that as many Third Warders as possible received prior notice of that forum.

    Conan Smith’s wife was an opponent of Leigh Greden in the hotly contested Democratic primary in 2006 for the State House seat she currently occupies, so I believe there is no reason Conan would have an interest in giving some special advaantage to Mr. Greden in not affording adequate advance public notice of the forum.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 29 '09 - 09:06PM    #
  168. I was told there were Third Ward Dems at the meeting who had not received any notice about the debate from the AADems, but who had received other notices from the group.

    Could have been an email glitch, I suppose.

       —UMGrad1234    Jul. 30 '09 - 06:10AM    #
  169. Re: #155 – Kunselman’s website is

       —Peter Schermerhorn    Jul. 30 '09 - 04:33PM    #
  170. I am no longer the Third Ward chair of the Ann Arbor City Democrats. The Third Ward co-chairs are Sue Eukland and Heidi Herrell

       —Letitia Kunselman    Jul. 31 '09 - 01:14AM    #
  171. Re Post#170: Thank you for the update, however the website still lists you, albeit erroneously, as a Third Ward co-chairperson.

    It looks as though the Ann Arbor Democratic Party Infomation chairperson needs to get more on the ball.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 31 '09 - 01:41AM    #
  172. Each of the five primary candidates are now on You Tube.

    For what its worth, Leigh Greden has, by far, the most hits for his You Tube presentation with Scott Rosencrans a distant second. Greden, as of this post, has more hits than Bullington and Kunselman put together.

    It is clear that voters are listening to him.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 31 '09 - 06:54AM    #
  173. Mark,

    It could be LEIGH GREDEN watching himself 1000 times. Hits are not counted by individual IP address. They are counted by how many times the link is clicked. So, maybe, the only person listening to Greden is….Greden.

       —UMGrad1234    Jul. 31 '09 - 07:49AM    #
  174. Greden is the focus of extreme controversy city-wide. My guess is that his hits reflect that fact.

       —David Cahill    Jul. 31 '09 - 04:13PM    #
  175. Oop! I checked both the Greden and Bullington videos on YouTube. Each said they had “0 views”.

    What am I doing wrong?

       —David Cahill    Jul. 31 '09 - 07:58PM    #
  176. On YouTube you have to actually activate the video to get the latest tabulated vote total. Since the videos are only about 24 hours old the initial screen still shows zero for each candidate; one must then activate the video and the current total will be displayed.

    As of now, Mr. Greden has 134 hits for his four-minute presentation while the four other primary candidates each total less than half of that total.

       —Mark Koroi    Jul. 31 '09 - 08:50PM    #
  177. Leigh Greden is the only City Council candidate who does not disclose his family members on his website.

    Does he have children or is he married?

    Is he related to Dr. John Greden, the world-renowned Ann Arbor psychiatrist.

    Also, there has been talk about Mike Anglin’s opponent being supported heavily by certain interests who are vehemently opposed to Anglin. Who would that be? The mayor? Pro-development forces?

       —Jerry Gilbert    Aug. 1 '09 - 03:32AM    #
  178. Jerry,

    Why don’t you just give Leigh Greden a call and ask him? I am no Greden fan, but your question seems somewhat prurient.

    As for Rosey, he’s one NINE Boards and Commissions. Those appointments don’t just multiply like rabbits. The Mayor appoints you to them. Leah Gunn supports him—that’s code for other people support him.

    The Mayor endorsed Greden, but then left town a week before the election. No stumping for Leigh by Hizzoner. Leigh has Ward 4’s Steve Rapundalo skulking door-to-door for him. Chris Taylor? Not to been seen talking up Leigh in Burns Park—though Eva Rosenwald of the July 30th letter to the editor is Taylor’s wife. In fact, the Great Stager has letters from only endorsers in July 30th. Nary a letter in support of Greden from a single Third Ward resident who just thought to write a letter in support of Greden’s candidacy.

    The most egregious example of staging was from Diane Giannola’s letter to the editor. Giannola was a appointed to the AHP Committee on Greden’s resolution in March 2009; she lives in Ward 4, and is one of his campaign organizers.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 1 '09 - 05:09PM    #
  179. UMGrad1234:

    I find your prior analogy of Leigh Greden to the Shakespearean character Iago to be of interest.

    On the positive side, Iago, confidante to Othello, was a competent officer and one who approached problems with a keen and sound analysis. On the negative side, he was amoral, deceptive, although he had a friendly and trust-inspiring personality and gained the confidence and trust of the noble and honest Othello.

    To those who wish to put Leigh Greden in a more positive moral light, one could contrast him to the wise and trusted counsellor Gonzalo of the “The Tempest”. This is because besides being a councilman, Greden’s most effective role locally has been to manage political campaigns and become a Democratic Party hack, although sometimes tagged with the “Democrat in Name Only” moniker, as was so effectively hung around his neck by the fair-haired and lovely Rebekah Warren in 2006.

    Greden is an elitist. He hails from a wealthy family, attended the finest private schools, and has impeccable academic credentials, second only on City Council to the Harvard-educated Tony Derezinski. He is currently employed by Miller Canfield, Michigan’s largest and oldest existing law firm, whose clientele is primarily banks, industrial corporations, and other Fortune 500 entities. His practice is geared to representing the interests of employers in actions filed by workers claiming a violation of their rights. In contrast, Michigan Democratic Party chairman Mark Brewer, a graduate of Harvard Law School, represented workers who were injured or whose right were violated by employers at the Detroit firm of Sachs Waldman. It is easy to understand his natural disdain for someone with a blue-collar background, such as Mike Anglin, whose background is in construction.

    On the positive side, Leigh Greden is a hard worker and one whose political skills border on genius. He can be credited with placing Chris Easthope into his judgeship, arranging the financing for the police/court project and being the primary force and advocate behind the proposed city income tax – something that has aroused the attention and ire of the highest levels of the Michigan Republican Party. He is certainly not an intellectual lightweight as say Marcia Higgins, whose educational, work, and political accomplishments border on being non-existent. Greden is a man of power and privilege whose ultimate aspirations are joining the fraternity that walks through the corridors of power in Lansing or Washington D.C.

    On the negative side, he does not have nor will he ever likely have the social grace or charisma that the Mayor, Joan Lowenstein, Chris Easthope, or Tony Derezinski have exhibited that have endeared those officials to their constituency. Many a citizen have left the chambers of City Council grinding their teeth after presenting issues to City Council, only to notice Greden staring emptily into his computer screen, and pecking away at his keyboard with no hint of reality on his face.

    On one additional point you are correct, UMGrad1234, and I see no need to add to it factually: Greden’s constituency is not the grass roots of the Third Ward or Joe Six-Pack, it is the leaders of city government and his own self-perpetuating ruling circle. You show a profound understanding of Greden in this aspect.

    His career as an elected official will be at a crossroads next Tuesday. If Greden wins expect his fortunes to move upward as the current public outrage will subside in two years and Greden will keep his place among the power brokers that hold sway over municipal politics. If not, expect him to be the next Wendy Woods, an also-ran whose future will be as a political hack getting municipal board or commission appointments and who will no more wield significant influence over Ann Arbor politics as he did in his heyday.

    I would urge all Third Warders to get out and vote Tuesday.

       —Junior    Aug. 2 '09 - 12:07AM    #
  180. Junior,

    If Greden is defeated, Marcia Higgins will go next. For them to be appointed to Boards, ala WW, Council will have to vote on it. Hizzoner’s rubber stamp Council would, one imagines, go the way of the T-Rex. Hieftje’s shameless sale of board seats (in exchange for campaign donations) and stacking of boards and commissions with his political hacks has had a profoundly adverse impact on the city.

    Newcombe Clark to the DDA is as scummy an appointment as we’ve seen since Giannola’s appointment to the Historic Commission.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 2 '09 - 10:17PM    #
  181. Apparently Judge Easthope gave Greden $100 for Greden’s City Council campaign (see

    Are judges allowed to contribute to partisan candidates? Does anyone know what the rules are for judges and partisan campaign contributions?

       —bfranklin76    Aug. 3 '09 - 06:08AM    #
  182. Judges don’t give up their citizenship and can contribute as private citizens.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 3 '09 - 06:30AM    #
  183. Good question. Canon 7 of the Michigan Code of Judicial Conduct governs political activities of judges and states at Section A(1) that a candidate should not hold office in a political party or make speeches on behalf of a political party or nonjudicial candidate or publically endorse a candidate for nonjudicial office.

    Section A(2) allows a judge to attend political gatherings, speak to such gatherings on his own behalf or on behalf of other judicial candidates, or to contribute to a political party.

    There is nothing in said Code specifically authorizing nor forbidding Judge Easthope, in my opinion, from donating to a partisan City Council candidate such as Mr. Greden.

    I have been at a number of party conventions where justices and judges have attended and given speeches, but they are careful to limit their comments to judicial races.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 3 '09 - 06:46AM    #
  184. As Vivienne pointed out, judges can contribute to political campaigns just like anybody else.

    Just run the names of some sitting Washtenaw County judges through the secretary of state’s elections database. You’ll find lots of contributions.

       —bhall    Aug. 3 '09 - 09:40AM    #
  185. You are absolutely right.

    Most of the donations have been to Republican Party organizations. A number were to Clifford Taylor and other conservative state supreme court justices.

    Judges Shelton, Francis, and Easthope are the only two jurists who can be safely described as Democrats. Nancy Francis mainly because her nephew is the Ann Arbor Democratic Party chairman.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 3 '09 - 10:21AM    #
  186. Ha! Nancy Francis’ credentials as a Democrat go way back and have nothing to do with her nephew’s activities. She is one of the two daughters of Al Wheeler, and distinguished herself as a caring and sensitive juvenile court judge before being removed from that position by a chief judge appointed by then-Governor Engler (she still serves on the probate court, but with different responsibilities).

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 3 '09 - 04:28PM    #
  187. has just published an article containing an accusation by Leigh Greden that he is being victimized by deceptve campaigning by the Bullington camp, which allegedly has distributed campaign materials implying an endorsement by that online news service.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 3 '09 - 09:45PM    #
  188. Um….Mark….Leigh Greden being “victimized?” Thanks for the laugh. Good free advertising for Bullington and Kunselman.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 3 '09 - 10:14PM    #
  189. Vivienne-

    You are right on the button. Nancy Francis has been an outstaninding Democratic and citizen even before Conan was born…Lol. I don’t mean that in a negative way but to say somehow she’s where she is because of her connections to her nephew is absurd.

    Thanks for injecting a sense of history.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Aug. 3 '09 - 10:36PM    #
  190. In a comment on another article, Alan pointed out the anti-Greden display ad on page A5 of Sunday’s print edition of It is a classic! It was published by a group calling itself “Ann Arbor Citizens for Better Local Government” with “M. Winkelman” as its treasurer. Check the ad out if you still have the paper.

    The elections staff at the County Clerk’s office says this is not a registered committee. However, a committee need not be registered to print an ad. It has 10 days to register after its formation and/or after it spends money.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 3 '09 - 11:10PM    #
  191. Albert Wheeler is anathema to local Republicans because he, more than any other Democrat, is responsible for tipping the balances of control over local government toward the Democratic Party of what had been a Republican stronghold for many decades. Conan Smith is the respected standard-bearer of that legacy within Ann Arbor.

    At the county level, I would consider Judge Francis and Judge Shelton to be the most respected figures on the bench.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 3 '09 - 11:42PM    #
  192. When citizens step forward to serve on boards and commissions, they should be encouraged, rather than maligned by anonymous posters. I am proud of the work I have done on City Council, Parks Advisory, Solid Waste Commission, and the Environmental Commission and will continue to do so on Planning Commission. Why the need to demean someone that steps forward to serve as a “political hack”? I’m working and putting in volunteer hours to make this community a better place for my grandchildren and the other children of the village. Show us what you’ve done!

       —Wendy Woods    Aug. 4 '09 - 01:02AM    #
  193. Amen, Professor Woods! Many of us thank you for your continued service to this community.

       —scooter62    Aug. 4 '09 - 01:23AM    #
  194. Wendy,

    Are you trying, seriously, to say that Hieftje has not stacked our Boards and Commissions with his political zombies? Seriously? The DDA? Planning?

    Let’s encourage people to participate. So….how did you get on your board? Did you fill out the online application and submit it? No? Did anyone on Planning get there by just filling out the application to serve on a Board or Committee?

    When people like Diane Giannola get appointments to boards, with absolutely no professional experience to back up the appointment, then the appointment was gotten through political cronyism or favoritism. Neither benefits the citizens.

    It’s the ugly truth, and it’s time to make some substantive changes in who and why people sit on our city’s boards and commissions. Hieftje is taking campaign donations from people and THEN giving them Board appointments or reappointments. Read the campaign finance forms and the list of our city’s board and commission members.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 4 '09 - 01:27AM    #
  195. So Wendy, so what about Rene Greff and Dave DeVarti on the DDA? While I don’t agree that most people who are serving on local boards are ‘political hacks’, it’s very troubling that folks who do try to serve, but aren’t in lockstep with the mayor, are pushed out.

    I haven’t taken the time to compare the campaign donation list to board membership. But I’m guessing you aren’t happy with our good mayor on many issues, since you did run against him.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Aug. 4 '09 - 01:47AM    #
  196. I agree with Wendy Woods (who does not bear the title Professor to my knowledge) that she should not be called a political hack because of her service on boards and commissions. She is a person of serious and thoughtful demeanor who has shown a devotion to service, and though I have sometimes not agreed with her decisions (and supported her opponent in her last race for City Council), I would suggest that people serving either in elected or appointed office should not be subject to gratuitous name-calling.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 4 '09 - 02:13AM    #
  197. This is a phenomenon that extends to all levels of local and county government – the correlation of campaign contributions and real or appearances of benefits toward the donors.

    Doug Shapiro’s appointment to the Michigan Court of Appeals was preceded by thousands of dollars in donations to Democratic Party interests. What motivated his generous donations?

    Timothy P. Connors’ initial appointment by Governor Engler as a district court judge in 1991 was almost immediately followed by a $1,000.00 donation by Connors to the Michigan Republican Party. Connors went on to make contributions to campaigns of Chief Justice Clifford Taylor up until 2008; it was the state supreme court that had appointed Connors chief judge of the circuit court previously.

    Governor Granholm recently authorized a $100,000,000.00 settlement in the sexual abuse cases brought against the Michigan Department of Corections represented on the plaintiff’s side by a number of attorneys. That case was filed in 1996 and was delayed largely due to appeals by the state. Richard Sobel was trial counsel for plaintiffs in the two multimillion-dollar jury verdicts in the case. Sobel’s firm, Sobel & Rowe, had for several years(while the MDOC cases were pending) its law office address coincide as the office for the Committee to Retain Judge Connors. Molly Reno was a contributor of $100.00 to the campaign committee of Timothy Connors’ wife in her run for a district court judgeship while she, Reno, was an attorney of record for the plaintiffs in these cases. All this information is verifiable by Secretary of State campaign finance records.

    Joan Lowenstein has made more monetary donations to Democratic Party interests than any other Ann Arbor resident. She also sits on at least one city board and has applied to the governor’s office for a probate court judgeship previously. What motivated these donations?

    Judges Archie Brown and Ann Matson donated heavily to Republican Party interests and were Engler appointees. Was this some sort of “quid pro quo”?

    There should be close public scrutiny made of the appearance of close relationships between campaign contributions to those with appointing power or judges and those making the donations.

    I certainly do not mean to imply that those donations and favors referenced above gave rise to any improper influence, but the issue of appearance of impropriety or possible impropriety by the public can give rise to an erosion in public confidence toward government in general, which we should strive to avoid.

    By the way, I concur with scooter62 in thanking Wendy Woods for her years of public service!

       —Annette Gilbert    Aug. 4 '09 - 02:26AM    #
  198. Umgrad,

    Since you always seem to spout nonsense with no facts to back it up, I feel I need to correct some of your misinformation.

    First of all I did fill out an application for my board positions. I represent a CITIZEN on the boards that I am on, not an architect, not a planner, not a historian. There are no requirements that any commissioner has to be a professional planner or architect to be on the commission. The role I fill is the one that you and many of other curmudgeons keep pushing for, a citizens voice on the commissions. The city does not benefit from having all of one profession deciding issues for the city, which is why we have seats for the citizens on the commission. I am interested in helping the city through public service. I approached the mayor and asked about commissions, he did not approach me. I have a Master’s degree in business administration/project management and a Bachelor’s of science degree. Is that not enough education for you? Do I have to be a PhD. to be able to form a conclusion based on facts and data?

    Secondly, I don’t think I have ever given money to Hiefje’s campaign. Check the campaign finance reports. I volunteer on many Dem campaigns and actually give little money to only a few candidates.

    Stop making up lies and spreading misinformation that you know is purposely false. I am not an elected official who you can legally slander, defame, and libel for fun (which you do to the politicians often).

    I am a citizen who can be swayed by a good argument, but will never be swayed by intimidation, bullying or threats.

       —Diane    Aug. 4 '09 - 03:04AM    #
  199. Diane Giannola? The Diane Giannola of the “Greden has integrity” letter to the editor? LOL. ‘Nuf said.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 4 '09 - 03:11AM    #
  200. Diane,
    Your logical and reasonable comments have been missed…
    No matter who you are and who you may support tomorrow, I, for one, thank you for your balanced comments to this blog.

       —scooter62    Aug. 4 '09 - 03:30AM    #
  201. Yes, “Diane” is and has always been Diane Giannola. No surprise to many here, I’m sure.

    I’m glad she’s back!

       —David Cahill    Aug. 4 '09 - 03:33AM    #
  202. Does anyone know how quickly the results will be posted here tomorrow? Do we have to wait until Wednesday morning?

    I truly have no idea and I will probably use this site as my results source unless someone can point me to another site.


       —scooter62    Aug. 4 '09 - 03:56AM    #
  203. Last August, to my recollection, the county clerk began publishing the first returns before 10:00 p.m. and by 11:30 p.m. almost all precincts were listed.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 4 '09 - 04:35AM    #
  204. “I am not an elected official who you can legally slander, defame, and libel for fun (which you do to the politicians often).”

    I would not defend someone making factually false statements against you. But as an appointed official, any such claim is held to the same standard as an elected official. The courts do not view your position as any different than someone elected to a public office.

       —John Q.    Aug. 4 '09 - 08:10AM    #
  205. Well, it’s now voting day in some parts of town.
    So, after much procrastination here’s several related, but long delayed, comments-in-progress, all rolled up into one screed at the last-minute:

    In today’s vote, Greden will probably win, based upon the likelihood of Bullington and Kunselman roughly splitting a majority opposition vote. This assumes both challengers have invested long hours on their respective campaigns, with much time spent going door-to-door to visit likely primary voters in the ward. However, if one challenger has worked hard while the other one has taken a more part-time approach to their campaign, then all bets are off as to the final results of 3rd Ward polling.

    It’s baffling that Greden should face two other 3rd Ward candidates instead of just one — both of whom have run previously in the last few years. As one conjecture, maybe Bullington, who entered the race rather late, has become convinced that Greden is destined for third place and that Kunselman (who last year received support from many of Bullington’s 2007 voters) represents her real opposition. Another conjecture is that Kunselman isn’t sufficiently supportive of the long-proposed “Full Greenway” project, such that the Friends of the A2 Greenway as well as the local branch of the Sierra Club decided they’d rather have a true advocate running this year in the ward to represent them, even at the risk of bailing out Greden from a tough reelection battle. Should this second scenario be anywhere close to reality, then Kunselman again pays a stiff price for being too independent-minded amid two warring factions. On this occasion, though, his penalty is delivered from the supposed “liberal” camp.

    Beyond today’s 3rd Ward vote, this brings to mind my biggest gripe over the last few years regarding local A2 civic activists who label themselves as ‘progressives.’

    The large majority of the on-the-ground civic activists opposed to the current Council majority hail from the energetic Full Greenway organizing effort. Those civic activists who consider themselves progressive and who don’t support this greenway conception, or who are no better than lukewarm toward it, comprise a modest percentage of opponents. As a result, among these progressives the ongoing, ambitious campaign for a complete greenway has become like the apocryphal large elephant wandering around the room. Seemingly few, if any, of the non-Greenway progs in town wish to publicly acknowledge the elephant, let alone discuss its qualities in detail or question its relevance. As a fairly weak minority within a well organized opposition mostly built around the greenway advocacy, this shouldn’t be all too surprising.

    Yet, if Ann Arbor were to build out the Full Greenway as envisioned — and not just add an additional downtown-area park space here & there — it would carry a cost that by comparison makes the overdone City Hall expansion seem like a down payment. For example, it’s been estimated to cost $3 million to turn the First & William parking lot into a park. Now extend this leveling and natural reconstruction in both directions so that a one block wide swath of greenspace runs from Stadium Blvd. on the south side directly north to Argo and Bandermer Parks on the other end. This would take out not only paved parking but a great many older buildings, a railroad, and utility infrastructure.

    Instead, let existing zoning rules gradually create a park patchwork akin to a downtown greenway over the full course of this century. As I understand, many downtown structures near the underground Allen Creek cannot be rebuilt once they come down, due to flooding concerns. Let this change occur gradually and ‘organically,’ rather than engage in a vastly expensive urban renewal project which will create spectacular debt for the city, drive out still more lower middle class residents and homeowners, and create unanticipated issues, such as unsafe “dead zones” along parts of the lengthy greenway. And I don’t think it would be entirely unfair to compare the Full Greenway to the Hastings St. “urban renewal” debacle in early 1950s Detroit.

    Full Greenway supporters also hope to use the limited percentage of Greenbelt funds dedicated to land purchases within Ann Arbor to help underwrite a portion of the cost. These funds, if available, should be spent instead on enhancing/expanding our already existing natural greenway within the city: the Huron River.

    Mortgaging the city’s financial future to build a second greenway north-south through downtown to please a group of central area homeowners does not represent an acceptable progressive stance. If a candidate is truly progressive and cares about affordable housing, the needs of low-income residents, increased social support services, expanded access to medicine, and investment in mass transit, then they will have the courage and sense of ethical responsibility to publicly & loudly say NO to the Full Greenway and do so with the same forcefulness that they extended to the new City Hall addition. Otherwise, through their silence they passively sign off on a long-term reconstruction project that will effectively strangle future civic funding for socially progressive initiatives on the local level.

    This is not merely a rhetorical matter, since it’s conceivable that today’s A2 City Council majority will in the years ahead become a minority. If today’s marginalized opposition were to become the controlling majority in the very near future, I’d fear that everything done to the city budget would be geared toward making the Full Greenway a reality as soon as possible. Fiscally, that would be the one and only new major policy initiative. There just wouldn’t be room left over for others of significance. Today’s non-Greenway progressives would find themselves politically far too weak on their own to stop such a process, at least at the Council level, requiring that they ally themselves with developers and anti-tax libertarians. Now is the time to finally stop being so quiet about the greenway proposal and to clearly speak one’s mind on the subject.

    On the other hand, the GO Ask Voters initiative — if I understand its intent correctly, and if it’s eventually voted on and passed — may require that any major Full Greenway expenditure (proposed by a future Council majority) get sent to the ballot for city voter approval. If so, I doubt greenway advocates could win a citywide public ballot on the matter, especially once the huge financial outlay becomes apparent. Even if this assessment of the GO Ask initiative’s impact is correct, however, it would at best only apply a useful band-aid to fix one big symptom of major dysfunction among the progressive/greenway “alliance” of convenience.

    Right now, active progressives in this year’s Council campaign publicly wail about incredibly stupid emails sent back and forth by members of the current City Council majority, as if this one issue should be the only one that really matters right now. And, yes, a short while ago they carried on angrily about the new construction at Fifth and Huron. But in the long run you can’t get by based on your opponents’ scandals alone. Where are the specifics for a comprehensive progressive outlook for the city’s future? Where’s The Beef Boca? Could it be that the limited number of independent progressive activists fear a falling out with the Full Greenway folks if they say too much about what they want for Ann Arbor’s future? I suspect greenway organizers know they have the upper hand in this relationship, due to their greater numbers and superior organizing. On a side note, Eve Silberman’s one-page article in the August print edition of the Observer acknowledges the Council email foolishness but goes on to discuss some other issues.

    So, if you’re a self-labeled progressive politician, please get specific about what YOU want. Let’s have lots of details. Don’t try to slide by, merely repeating buzz words like “transparency” and “email” over and over as if they’re meditation mantras. In this overwhelmingly Democratic city — but one caught between the Council majority and the Full Greenway advocates — it sometimes feels as if we’re being asked in every Democratic city primary to vote for one of two competing factions of moderate Republicans. Consider it an annual August WWF title match squaring off the Milliken Republicans versus the small town, small “r” republicans. On the bright side, though, I’ll have to admit this sure beats choosing between the likes of Cheney and Falwell.

    On a final note, not everyone who has some issues with the current Council Minority is in the pocket of this crowd.

       —yet another aging boomer    Aug. 4 '09 - 05:16PM    #
  206. Here is my modest analysis of today’s Democratic primaries in the Third and Fifth Wards, done while the polls are open. (Be sure to vote if you can!)

    Turnout is always low in off-year primaries. In August, 2007, here were the results:

    Third Ward

    LuAnne Bullington 396 (37%)
    Leigh Greden 678 (63%)
    Write-In 4 (0%)

    Fifth Ward

    Mike Anglin 989 (60%)
    Wendy Woods 671 (40%)

    This year, without regard to the candidates or the issues, I would expect turnout to be lower than in 2007. In the past two years the local economy has declined even further. Many people who voted in 2007 have moved away, lost their jobs, or are so discouraged that they are no longer interested in local politics. There will be no increase in any city services regardless of who wins. The fight will be over which employees get fired and which services are cut. Such a situation does not motivate people to get out and vote.

    Looking at the candidates and issues, the e-mail scandal might cause turnout to be depressed even further, as some people think “this is disgusting” and are alienated from the political process. On the other hand, the e-mails might make some people who might not otherwise vote angry enough to come out and vote.

    The other big issue is the proposed city income tax. Such a tax was crushed by a 2-1 margin in Ypsilanti two years ago. A current online poll on the proposed Ann Arbor income tax by shows that among the 741 people who cared enough to cast a vote, the income tax is going down by 58% no, 27% yes, and 13% undecided. This is virtually the same margin as in Ypsilanti. If the anti-tax majority is afraid enough of the proposed tax to come out and vote when they would not otherwise do so, then this factor may raise turnout.

    In the Third Ward, Greden is the incumbent. He has spent much of his time helping Third Warders get services from the city. His excellent performance on “constituent services” should normally mean that he would be re-elected easily. However, this is not a normal election. Greden is the principal culprit behind the e-mails. His campaign is saying “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” However, if Bullington and Kunselman succeed in hanging this issue around his neck, his normal support may collapse. Also, Greden is the principal advocate of the income tax. Bullington and Kunselman both oppose it. If this issue also weighs Greden down, it is possible that he could finish third. A high turnout means that Greden will probably lose, thanks to the tax issue. My guess is that either Bullington or Kunselman will win. I think Kunselman has a small edge because of his name ID, due to his previous service on the City Council.

    In the Fifth Ward, Anglin is the incumbent. Both he and Rosencrans have lots of supporters. The e-mail issue is not a factor here. If the anti-taxers come out in support of Anglin, he will win.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 4 '09 - 06:32PM    #
  207. Yet Another,

    If City Council wished to issue General Obligation Bonds (such as those issued for the library lot underground parking garage, contrary to what I heard Leigh Greden tell voters at the Third Ward debate), backed by the full faith and credit of the city (i.e. backed by the city’s ability to levy taxes), should the proposed Charter amendment be adopted, voters would, indeed, be asked to approve any such General Obligation bonds.

    The library lot is a perfect example of what the GO Ask Voters Charter amendment would accomplish.

    First, we would have had much clearer education of voters and an explanation of the project. What we had were elected officials telling voters the library lot bonds will be paid by parking revenues, but not clearly saying that should parking revenues fall short, taxpayers will be expected to make up the difference in order to make the bond payments.

    So, it’s a pretty good exercise, then, for an individual taxpayer to ask yourself whether you knew Council put you on the hook, financially, for the library lot bonds, and whether you would have voted for or against funding the project.

       —Patricia Lesko    Aug. 4 '09 - 06:59PM    #
  208. Yet Another,

    I also wanted to thank you for the other part of your comment concerning progressive politics in Ann Arbor. I think you’ve broached a topic that needs to be talked about in the wider community that is our city, and one that we talk about at our house on a regular basis.

       —Patricia Lesko    Aug. 4 '09 - 07:10PM    #
  209. If I were a betting person, I would wager Leigh Greden to win in the Third Ward for the the reasons cited by YAAB above. I also think Councilperson Greden will likely receive less than 50% of the total vote.

    If Leigh Greden does lose, it will be a huge embarrassment to the Mayor and his supporters who have put tremendous efforts into re-electing and keeping Mr. Greden in office.

    The real close election I am expecting in the Fifth Ward. Both Mike Anglin and Scott Rosencrans have waged vigorous campaigns and enjoy significant support.

    On the positive side, I have noticed a large spike in the last 24 hours of YouTube hits for the candidates, which shows me that voters are taking an interest in this election.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 4 '09 - 08:14PM    #
  210. Anglin campaign HQ at the Firefly Club says that with about half the vote in, Anglin is winning by a 3 to 1 margin.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '09 - 04:34AM    #
  211. Dave DeVarti, with the Kunselman campaign at Dominick’s, reports that with all precinct results in, Kunselman has won by six votes.

    Of course these are merely preliminary returns.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '09 - 04:43AM    #
  212. Dave; Does that include absentee ballot tabulation?

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:01AM    #
  213. I’m not Dave but I think it does. The absentee ballots are shipped to the correct precinct for each voter. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

       —suswhit    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:05AM    #
  214. suswhit is right. Absentee ballots are loaded into the machines before the polls open.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:10AM    #
  215. The Chronicle is beating on results.

       —John Q.    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:11AM    #
  216. The first precinct reports are beginning to trickle in on the County Clerk’s election webpage at

    Kunselman and Anglin with a large lead.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:12AM    #
  217. That’s Kunselman with a thin lead and Anglin with a large lead.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:29AM    #
  218. I’m thinking the Greden ad was worth at least 7 votes…lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Aug. 5 '09 - 03:30PM    #
  219. Greden wasn’t the only one who suffered a significant defeat last night in the the 3rd Ward. The Friends of the A2 Greenway and the local Sierra Club also flopped. And, unlike Greden, they’re not even in a position to request a recount.

    Not only did their endorsed candidate finish third, but Kunselman still pulled out a narrow win despite the concerted effort of greenway activists to take their core 3rd Ward supporters away from him this year. While Bullington polled respectably well for a third place finisher, Kunselman nonetheless survived the political punishment that her endorsers sought to inflict on him, given that he has shown insufficient dedication to the Full Greenway cause. Now the greenway-ers appear increasingly marginalized in the southeast part of town. Their support is hardly a necessity to win a 3rd Ward Democratic primary.

    Meanwhile, they do retain their base of strength in the 5th Ward. At this point they can fend off ‘Council majority’ candidates in odd-numbered years, when there are no state or congressional races on the ballot to bring out additional mainstream Democrats.

       —yet another aging boomer    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:00PM    #
  220. “The Friends of the A2 Greenway and the local Sierra Club also flopped.”

    From someone who doesn’t have a foot in either camp, this sounds like someone pushing an agenda, not an objective view of what actually transpired among voters. I’m sure there are voters for whom the Greenway is their number one issue. For many people who voted yesterday or would vote in a larger election, this issue is one of a number that would come into the decision-making process. To imply that most voters would vote for a particular candidate to make a statement either way on the Greenway is a bit much.

       —John Q.    Aug. 5 '09 - 05:27PM    #
  221. I think yaab ignores how grass grows from the roots up. Mike’s supporters, including but not exclusively, Greenway and Sierra Club supporters, have worked extremely hard since Mikes first term and will continue to do so. The outreach into other wards is a natural extension of what began in the 5th Ward and should continue to grow because of their hard work.

       —Rick C    Aug. 5 '09 - 08:17PM    #
  222. YAAB – Rather than look at the local elections as geenway folks versus others, I would suggest looking at them as elections between those that do not support the ruling orthodoxy on council and those that do. The opposition is a very loosely knit group including social progressives, greenway environmentalists and “good government” folks appalled at the way council conducts their business, especially their lack of transparency and intolerance for dissent (Groome-ing of colleagues who do not follow the “script”). Interestingly Steve Kunselman was originally supported by those supporting the orthodoxy back in 2006, but was subsequently opposed by the same people when he failed to sufficiently toe the council majority line. This year’s Third Ward race was typically viewed as two outsiders versus the leader of the orthodoxy. The two outsiders split the outsider vote and Greden almost was able to sneak in because of it. The Greenway may not be the issue in the Third Ward it is in the Fifth, but LuAnne certainly didn’t run on the issue nearly to the extent she did on others. The bottom line in my estimation is that the outsiders and the orthodoxy have split the contested local primaries 5 to 7 since Kim Groome left town:

    Outsider victories:
    2006: Ron Suarez
    2007: Mike Anglin
    2007: Sabra Briere
    2009: Steve Kunselman
    2009: Mike Anglin

    Orthodoxy: wins
    2006: Steve Kunselman
    2006: Chris Easthope
    2007: Leigh Greden
    2008: Sandy Smith
    2008: Tony Derezinski
    2008: Chris Taylor
    2008: Carsten Hohnke

    In any event this is a much better situation than in the early part of this decade when there were few council primaries or general elections of note and a small group of people decided who would represent on council. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2010.

       —Tim Colenback    Aug. 6 '09 - 01:22AM    #
  223. Tim,

    2009 isn’t over yet either vis a vis the November election for 4th Ward rep. I think you’re going to get to add another ‘outsider’ soon.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Aug. 6 '09 - 02:14AM    #
  224. Re Post #223: I agree 100%.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 6 '09 - 02:17AM    #
  225. All,

    Here is a question: Could Greden be down but not out? Could he run as an independent in November? Also, could the ghost of Greden live on in the form of a ballot proposal to implement a city wide income tax?
       —Chuck L.    Aug. 6 '09 - 02:56AM    #
  226. “social progressives”

    Socially progressive in what way? How has that affected their work on council?

       —Bruce Fields    Aug. 6 '09 - 02:56AM    #
  227. Re Post#225:

    As to your first question, the deadline to file as an independent unaffiliated candidate expired today at 4:00 p.m., so if he did not file by today he is time-barred from presenting any petitions as an independent.

    My own personal spin on the election is that Greden may have a reasonable shot at voiding a Kunselman victory with a recount. Remember last year Vivienne Armentrout gained a net of five votes against Carsten Hoenke in the recount of he Fifth Ward Democratic primary. It is certainly not too much of a stretch that Leigh Greden could gain six or more votes in a recount given the large number of ballots cast yesterday (he could even recruit Math Man to assist him in the recount LOL).

    As to the broader issue of whether a person can run in the primary election and later as an independent for the same seat, I do not have an answer. You may want to call the City Clerk or check the city ordinances on that question.

    As to your second question, Leigh Greden will continue to sit as a City Council member until November and is free to propose any new matters before City Council and can try to submit an income tax proposal for consideration to see if it can be approved for a ballot initiative. As a practical matter, however, I see this issue of having a great chance of going nowhere given the fact that many voters who voted against Mr. Greden gave his support of a city income tax as a reason for opposing him; I doubt other City Council members would risk their careers voting for such an isssue when it directly led to Greden’s electoral loss.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 6 '09 - 04:28AM    #
  228. Steve Kunselman was originally supported by those supporting the orthodoxy back in 2006, but was subsequently opposed by the same people when he failed to sufficiently toe the council majority line.


    A Cliff Notes analysis related to the 3rd Ward contest:

    Kunselman didn’t sufficiently toe the line with the Council majority during his earlier full term. Hence, he wound up with Taylor as an opponent when seeking reelection. And hence, this summer when making his comeback, he had to compete against a Council majority incumbent.

    Likewise, Kunselman hasn’t sufficiently toed the line of the greenway groups in town, either. His approach to expanding downtown greenery is far more limited, deliberate and patient (I’m not always with him on issues, but absolutely agree here). Hence, he found himself up against a second strong opponent this summer, one willing to embrace the standard plank of Full Greenway Right Now and who thus gained the local Sierra Club stamp of approval. The Club’s endorsement & support guaranteed a heavy split in the Greden opposition vote.

    My point, and I do have one, is that within the local Democratic Party we have two predominant A2 sub-Parties: the one often referred to in this blog as the Council majority, and another (loosely organized?) one in which greenway groups maintain a very strong influence. Both subgroups represent competing orthodoxies, but of course no more than one can hold a majority at a given time. (Note that I dare not apply the “socially progressive” designation to any faction in which the greenway-ers represent a major influence — discussed that before and will again in a later follow-up.)

    This state of affairs presents significant obstacles for an ideologically independent candidate within the local Democratic primary. When you do not fairly carefully toe the line of either organized faction, the typical result is that you can confidently count on receiving support for your campaign from neither while getting electorally hammered by both.

    Hence, with the passage of 24 hours I’ve come around to feeling that it’s not hyperbole for you to call Kunselman’s victory last night the biggest Council upset in 30 years. Not just because he narrowly edged by Greden; that alone doesn’t quite earn the 30-year category. What makes it so impressive is that he managed the feat of pushing past an influential 3-term incumbent while simultaneously fending off a greenway-endorsed second opponent. Both of his defeated opponents had competent, veteran, organizational backing from their respective orthodoxies.

    * * * * * * The glass half-full viewpoint: Kunselman has pulled off an amazing electoral achievement at the local ward level. A glass half-empty view: he represents the exception that proves the rule.
       —yet another aging boomer    Aug. 6 '09 - 07:41AM    #
  229. Yet Another,

    Greden put Kunselman on the first time, and then when Kunselman didn’t toe the line, Greden recruited Taylor and helped him take out Kunselman.

    Kunselman and Bullington came together to work against Greden. There was an agreement, I think, that they did not campaign against each other, but rather hit Greden from both sides on different issues. Kunselman focused on Greden’s ethics (the emails), and Bullington focused on Greden’s actual voting record, undermined his political “accomplishments.”

    Thus Greden’s recent whining to the press about BOTH of his opponents having run “negative campaigns” against him. They both ran against him on his own record. It was a clever strategy to blast Greden out of office, to counteract his long list of endorsements—he ran on his endorsements, after all. His defeat is, to be sure, a sharp stick in the eye to Dingell, Hieftje, Leah Gunn, and the rest of that crowd.

    Anyone who endorsed him in local politics should be sweating right now. I’ve heard School Board member Susan Baskett can expect to be challenged for her seat as a result of her endorsement of Leigh Greden.

    Politics in Ann ARbor is gonna get more interesting….

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 6 '09 - 04:36PM    #
  230. The shock waves of Leigh Greden’s upset loss continue to reverberate throughout Ann Arbor in general and City Hall in particular.

    To think that a three-trem incumbent City Council member could be endorsed by Hieftje, Dingell and numerous other Democratic Party heavyweights and lose with only 36% of the vote illustrates just how far the Democratic Party establishment has fallen in A2.

    A coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats, local Republicans, anti-tax activists, and other civic groups opposed to corruption and waste in local government will now rule the roost in Ann Arbor.

    The ruling political clique that gave us the Police-Court project, the Dreiseitl masterpiece, police manpower cutbacks, crumbling roads and bridges, a freshly-minted city income tax proposal, and who did not lift a finger to relieve home foreclosure victims is now reaping what it has sowed.

    Somewhere Ron Weiser is smiling, knowing that the denizen of his hometown have finally seen the light.

    And Leigh Greden is lying prostrate amidst the rubble of his grandiose ambitions to tax and spend local residents into oblivion.

    Ahhhh them mavericks on City Council who are basking in the warm afterglow of Tuesday evening’s historic events.

       —John Dory    Aug. 7 '09 - 03:46AM    #
  231. They both ran against him [Greden] on his own record.

    There was an agreement, I think, that they [Kunselman and Bullington] did not campaign against each other….

    I would assume so. It’s not uncommon for two or more candidates facing an entrenched incumbent to refrain from campaigning against each other. Further, such agreements can happen tacitly without any need for direct talks between otherwise competing camps (similar to Noam Chomsky’s “conspiracy among people who never meet,” which describes members of a particular social class instinctively recognizing common interests without discussion).

    However, this doesn’t mean for a moment that Kunselman received warm, caring treatment from the greenway-dominated faction. In a straightforward manner, they hammered him very hard merely through the candidacy filing of a third entrant who promptly received endorsement & campaign support from the Sierra Club. Not a single ill word needed to be exchanged in order for great damage to occur to his campaign.

    This directly led to a huge drop in Kunselman’s potential vote tally. The third candidacy very nearly derailed what would otherwise have been a comfortable, secure victory margin. It left him having just six votes to spare, with a recount still to come. There isn’t any credible possibility that Bullington took more votes away from Greden than from Kunselman.

    Each of the three candidates brought into play a limited subset of voters personally loyal to them who wouldn’t have gone to the polls otherwise. Nonetheless, Kunselman and Bullington were primarily, so to speak, competing over the same growing pool of Greden opponents. This remains true regardless of how many kind words they shared for each other’s campaign. The Bullington campaign began late, months after Kunselman first stepped forward, and thus holds responsibility for the situation they created and for the unexpected hope they provided Greden. Her campaign rolled the dice big time, recklessly betting that she could win a plurality despite aggressively dividing the incumbent’s opposition vote while leaving Greden’s core vote unified. In the end it narrowly missed delivering Greden an unwarranted August holiday gift package, complete with bows & ribbons.

    Should Kunselman have lost by six votes instead of winning, then the Sierra Club, regardless of their original intent when endorsing Bullington, would have made the de facto point that, for everyone involved in the opposition, it’s much safer when they support a ‘unity’ candidate. To satisfy the local Sierra group, such a candidate must find true religion in the Full Greenway. Anything less smacks of disloyalty and infers nefarious political intent.

    This is the kind of circumstance I don’t want to see happen, one which can turn a Dem primary into a Tweedledee vs. Tweedledum affair. That is, the presentation of a false choice between city hall additions & underground structures & City Place on one side vs. massive Full Greenway expenditure on the other side. Whichever direction it goes, financial excess remains the order of the day, with the troubling result that potential funding increases for social services and programs of all kinds gets choked off. What we seem to have in town is squabbling between Democratic Party factions over whose pet construction projects get to consume the city budget and add to G.O. bond debt. In any given time frame, fiscally speaking, one of the factions wins, most of the rest of us lose.

    Kunselman and Bullington came together to work against Greden. …hit Greden from both sides on different issues. Kunselman focused on Greden’s ethics (the emails), and Bullington focused on Greden’s actual voting record, undermined his political “accomplishments.”

    It was a clever strategy to blast Greden out of office, to counteract his long list of endorsements….

    As a means to come down hard on Greden for his actions, decisions and ideology, yes I’d agree that it’s effective to critique him from multiple sides. And if by chance we were living in a more civilized country with a parliamentary democracy based on proportional representation (dream on, dream on…), or at least IRV, your strategic scenario indicated above would also make great tactical sense during an election as well, besides offering a means to efficiently amplify political messages to voters. However, to apply this as an electoral strategy in a winner-take-all situation… that’s quite wacky, to speak politely.*

    You’re suggesting that two Greden opponents running against him at once is better than one? To paraphrase former local activist Tom Hayden, then why not have 3, 4, 5, many Greden opponents show up on the same ballot? With enough opponents on hand, you could you justify organizing a huge, all-inclusive, outdoor, first-Tuesday-in-August election night victory picnic party under the lights at Veteran’s Park (just be alert for the occasional fly ball). So, the more of his opponents you can pack onto a single ward ballot, the smaller Greden’s share of the vote will become, and the more likely you are to defeat him. Right?

    * One clever, nasty exception is when the third candidate in a primary deceptively runs a “me, too!” candidacy, outwardly mimicking the talking points of either the incumbent or the a challenger, in order to draw away some of their support and thus strengthen the remaining candidate to whom he/she claims to be most opposed. I’ve wondered at times if we’ve seen this locally (but not during this particular election round at any rate).

       —yet another aging boomer    Aug. 7 '09 - 05:44AM    #
  232. I don’t think a “full on greenway” is as much of a motivating issue for most voters even in the 5th ward as much as transparency, ethics and inclusion in the public process has become.

    At this point in time, a Greenway, full on or not, is a somewhat nebulous concept, even to greenway supporters. The idea of a greenway along the Allen Creek is still developing. The Greenway movement in Ann Arbor is not just about the greenway, but they have become the most active and vocal in the growing local movement to change the political atmosphere of Ann Arbor. I would dare say that some of the recent “outsider” election wins began with the pro greenway/anti parking structure protests at 1st and William several years ago.

    The common issue that mattered to both Steve and Luanne’s supporters was Greden. She may have had more support from greenway supporters but he had a broader appeal because most voters probably assume that he would support one in some form in addition to their desire to oust Greden.

       —Rick C    Aug. 7 '09 - 08:09AM    #
  233. YAAB: Your electoral analysis is sound, but you miss a couple of other sneaky strategies where a candidate’s presence benefits a presumably like-minded candidate against others.

    (1) One challenger relentlessly attacks the incumbent, but is otherwise unknown or unqualified, and gets few votes; the serious challenger benefits without being tarred as a mudslinger.

    (2) In Wayne County politics for decades, a candidate would secretly recruit a relative with the same surname to also get on the ballot as a non-serious candidate. Then the serious candidate would petition for a ballot designation, a few words under the name to distinguish him/her from the identically-surnamed relative. No matter what the content of the designation, it would look like a judge’s incumbency designation, and be a magnet for votes.

    Fortunately, the Court of Appeals put a stop to this some years ago.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 7 '09 - 09:30AM    #
  234. “A coalition of fiscally conservative Democrats, local Republicans, anti-tax activists, and other civic groups opposed to corruption and waste in local government will now rule the roost in Ann Arbor.”

    No but I’m sure for the city’s remaining Republicans, it’s the stuff dreams are made of.

       —John Q.    Aug. 8 '09 - 01:07AM    #
  235. The Board of Canvassers yesterday certified the City Council election results. Luanne Bullington received 2 additional votes.

    Leigh Greden has until Monday to file his promised recount petition.

    Contribution records downloadble on reveal that Greden family members have made sixty-four donations to various political candidates and committees for the last several years that total in the tens of thousands of dollars.

    These donations underscore the extent of political connections and clout wielded by the Greden family.

    These totals do not include donations under the jurisdiction of the Federal Elections Commission, which may be downloaded at

       —Annette Gilbert    Aug. 8 '09 - 04:37AM    #
  236. Won’t you all look silly when Greden wins in the recount. Sound and fury signifying nothing.

       —Marvin Face    Aug. 8 '09 - 05:06AM    #
  237. You are correct, Marvin. Leigh Greden could very easily erase that small deficit in a recount.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 8 '09 - 05:51AM    #
  238. Honestly, there were not that many votes, to expect such a reversal on recount. Likely the people who counted the first time were pretty careful.

       —emilia    Aug. 8 '09 - 02:24PM    #
  239. Larry,

    You missed another trick from the Wayne County school of election out-come rigging: have a nobody with a sir name similar to a somebody on the ballot to draw votes away from the somebody. It happened to Maureen Taylor in 2006 when a Maurice Taylor was placed on the ballot. Maurice Taylor never did an interview, never appeared at a candidates forum and was for all practical purposes invisible except on the ballot. Detroit has at-large non-partisan elections with the end result being that name recognition is everything since there are a huge number of candidates with no practical way for people to identify what they are really all about (no party labels to clue people in.) Hopefully, the attempt to end the at-large voting will be successful and Detroit will return to a ward system.
       —Chuck L.    Aug. 8 '09 - 10:36PM    #
  240. Discounting overt fraud, here are a couple vote tabulation problems I can think of:

    (1) A machine somehow not tallied — if it were accidentally skipped over, or could not connect to the County server

    (2) A stack of absentee ballots not scanned

    (3) An ambiguous ballot not read correctly by the machine

    Larry, can you help us out? What might cause our robotic election overlords to exhibit human-like fallibility?

       —Matt Hampel    Aug. 8 '09 - 11:00PM    #
  241. I’m not Larry, but I’ve worked elections as a precinct worker as well as having lived through a recount.

    Machine not tallied – wouldn’t happen. There is only one per precinct and that would be hard to overlook.

    Stack of absentee ballots not scanned – highly unlikely, though one or two might be mishandled. They are brought in during the day and meticulously entered into a record book. Numbers have to add up at the end of the day.

    Ambiguous ballot – that is where changes can happen. People may not mark the oval properly but well enough that it fits the rules for a manual count as a vote.

    Since this was a very simple election (only one race being tallied), some other types of problems, like people trying to vote in both parties’ columns, wouldn’t have happened. But with three candidates, there might be some partial erasures or other errors that would cause a ballot to be rejected by the machine but could be captured by manual count.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 8 '09 - 11:31PM    #
  242. The commonest errors normally happen on Election Night, when transcription mistakes are most likely to occur, as election staff have worked a long day.

    Now that the City Board of Canvassers has looked at the election records and certified Kunselman’s win by the same margin (6 votes), it is highly unlikely that a Greden recount would be successful in changing the outcome. Maybe Greden will be gracious enough to recognize this, and not ask for a recount.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 9 '09 - 12:14AM    #
  243. Re no.192: Good grief! Who woke up Wendy? She has not posted on AU in years.

    In all seriousness,Wendy, if you are still in the Fifth Ward, you should run against Carsten Hoenke next year. You could probably beat him.

    De-Gredenization – noun – the process of removing Leigh Greden and his unpopular ideas and practices from the City of Ann Arbor. The etymology is from de-Stalinization, which referred to eradicating the influences of another unpopular political figure.

    When November rolls around and the custodian staff begins removing Greden’s nameplates off of city materials at Guy Larcom, Leigh will be no doubt give a big farewell hug to his closest and most intimate friend – his Apple computer furnished to him by the city; he cannot take it with him – look what’s happening to Monica Conyers.

    The Ann Arbor Historical Commission should move to have that computer with accompanying laptop, screen and mouse appropriated and placed on public display in either a museum or other public place – perhaps in Guy Larcom. That computer has led to one of the most profound political shifts in Ann Arbor municipal history and should be preserved for posterity as an example how misuse of computer resources can lead to serious political repercussions.

    Leigh Greden’s value and lesson to all is that of an example that horsing around on a computer can lead to severe and adverse consequences. It is an example no one should repeat.

       —Junior    Aug. 9 '09 - 12:45AM    #
  244. None of the candidates have answered the City Council questionnaire item on boycott against Israel. They are supposed to answer to us. Please do answer to us. Don’t just let Israel nuke Gaza and Iran.

    Want to know how Holocausts happen? Watch your elected officials enforce silence on the issue of the Israeli army Holocaust against Palestine.

       —Blaine Coleman    Aug. 9 '09 - 06:19AM    #
  245. [off-topic, removed]
       —goilem    Aug. 9 '09 - 02:40PM    #
  246. “ right on” to #236…the miniscule margin separating the ‘victor’ from the “vanquished “ in greden-kunselman has prompted a totally disproportionate( and conceivably quite reversable) outpouring of jubilation from “greden hatas”.

    amusingly i sort of recall the names on some such AU posts overlapping with those who, against all reason, tried to discount the recent coop board election results, which were a true blow-out.

    guess some of these folks…and not cleopatra..are the true
    “queens (and kings) of denial”

    p.s. i personally think both candidates are fine.

       —goilem    Aug. 9 '09 - 05:03PM    #
  247. [removed]
       —Do the right thing!!    Aug. 9 '09 - 11:41PM    #
  248. to moderators: should you want a more reasoned ,consistant rationale for deleting posts than your current , seemingly random one ( where fevered crazy ones..e.g.#244.. sometimes stay up while understandably snarky but on point rebuttals to them get deleted, e.g.#245)you might consider invoking GODWINS LAW

    this is an internet- based principal that stipulates that the longer any contentious conversation goes on the more likely it is that Hitler,the Nazis and the Holocaust will be invoked, usually with damage to such original substantive points as might ( or maybe not!)be made.

    perhaps “GODWINED” might replace“off topic removed “ in your censorship vocabulary and eliminate carping posts like this one.

    theo d.katz

       —goilem    Aug. 10 '09 - 01:58AM    #
  249. The recount will be an opportunity to examine and carefully consider every one of the ballots, with representatives of both candidates at each table. If there are ambiguous ballots, the Board of Canvassers will rule on them.

    With benefit of human examination, a ballot which the tabulator thought was overvoted or undervoted might turn out to be a vote for a candidate. However, there are very few of those. Based on the number of ballots cast and the totals for the candidates, almost every single ballot had a tabulated vote.

    A recount of this race is surely justified, but a change in the outcome is very unlikely.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 10 '09 - 04:14AM    #
  250. Re #249: Given the lesser number of votes tallied in the August 5, 2008 Fifth Ward Democratic primary for City Council that resulted in a net five-vote gain for the challenger Vivienne Armentrout against Carsten Hoenke, would not a pro rata extrapolation of that gain applied to the total vote tally in the recent Third Ward race render it reasonably foreseeable that Leigh Greden could net a gain of some six or seven votes in a recount?

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 10 '09 - 05:21AM    #
  251. Re #250: You have been misspelling Mr. Hohnke’s name.

    I don’t know where you obtained the numbers for your vote count comparison. According to the county election website, Ward 3 had a total of 1397 votes cast in 2009. My records show that after the recount, there were a total of 3338 votes cast in the council race, but 3163 in the Democratic primary. (The difference was write-in votes and votes for Republican John Floyd, in a different primary.) An additional 388 ballots were cast that did not include votes in the council race. So if your proportional vote change extrapolation worked, Greden could expect at most 2 more votes.

    Of course, it doesn’t really work that way. There are so many ways that those two elections are not similar that unless there were a mechanism inherent in the voting technology that would cause a certain rate of error, there is no reason to draw any comparisons at all between the two.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 10 '09 - 07:44PM    #
  252. In the comment above, I should have said “after the recount in the 2008 5th Ward race”.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 10 '09 - 07:46PM    #
  253. Vivienne is quite correct here. The fact that this was a standalone primary means that fewer votes are loose.

    There were 1415 ballots cast in the 3rd Ward. Of those, Bullington had 381, Greden had 505, Kunselman had 511, 4 had Democratic write-ins, and 10 had Republican write-ins. It is very unlikely (though not impossible) that some of those votes may turn out to have been miscounted.

    The ballots which are the big potential for gaining votes in a recount are the ones on which no vote was registered by the tabulator. This includes blank ballots, undervotes, overvotes, and so forth — things which may arguably turn out, on examination, to have been misread.

    But the known votes add up to 1411, out of 1415 ballots cast. Hence, the number of ballots offering a significant potential for gained votes is only four.

    In Vivienne’s recount, according to her message above, the comparable pool of uncounted ballots was 388. Probably all, or almost all, of the five vote gain came out of the 388.

    If 5 votes were found in 388 uncounted ballots, the comparable number for this recount would be about 1/20 of a vote in four ballots.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Aug. 10 '09 - 09:47PM    #
  254. Oh, yes sorry about the misspelling; I have seen Carsten’s name misspelled many different incorrect ways.

    I also had the wrong number of total votes for the 2008 Democratic primary Fifth Ward race.

    The uncounted ballot pool seems to be the most plausible explanation why there is an opinion forming that Mr. Greden’s shot at a successful recount are slim.

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 10 '09 - 10:25PM    #
  255. I just got back into town and learned the big story – that Leigh Greden, the vocal advocate of a city income tax got unexpectedly voted out of office.

    This was not a very big surprise to me and several others “in the know” as I was aware of massive efforts by anti-tax activists from inside and outside Ann Arbor and from all political persuasions to defeat Mr. Greden and send a message to all city leaders that those who support out-of-control taxation will be targeted for defeat.

    It looks as though that at the recent special City Council session the only council member expressing support for a November of 2009 ballot proposal for the city income tax was Steve Rapundalo – who will not effectively be up for re-election for two years.

    Anti-tax activists will be closely monitoring the A2 tax situation and will be ready to target politicians like Councilman Greden for removal from office.

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 16 '09 - 01:12AM    #
  256. [removed]
       —Blaine Coleman    Aug. 16 '09 - 08:17PM    #
  257. [removed]
       —goilem    Aug. 17 '09 - 02:48AM    #
  258. The August 9,2009 edition of the Michigan Daily contained an editorial by Robert Soave entitled “Corruption Loses” which compares and analyzes the recent Detroit and Ann Arbor City Council primary elections and concludes that the electorate is fed up with allegations of unethical and illegal behavior by elected officials.

    Her’s the link:

       —Mark Koroi    Aug. 17 '09 - 04:37AM    #
  259. Have any websites been established by any of the candidates in the November election?

       — Jerry Gilbert    Aug. 19 '09 - 03:51AM    #
  260. The Washtenaw County Board of Canvassers is meeting to oversee a recount requested by Leigh Greden on Friday, August 28,2009 at 9:00 a.m. in the Third Ward City Council race.

    Check the Office of County Clerk section of the Washtenaw County website for details.

       —Junior    Aug. 22 '09 - 11:47PM    #
  261. What I have noticed is that City Council has been extensively becoming a “pay to play” body where vested interests in the City of Ann Arbor must pay “tribute” in one way or another to reap benefits to the powers that be or else be singled out for retribution. Take the proposed cutbacks in police personnel, whose union did not lavish campaign funding on City Council members who were on the Budget Committee as the Firefighters’ PAC did (and who were not targeted for cutbacks). Marcia Higgins was the single largest beneficiary of that PAC’s donations. Leigh Greden also got generous PAC monies from them.

    Look at the registered campaign committee contribution records documenting donations from mayoral appointees (who are likewise approved by City Council)and you see flows of cash contributions to the Mayor and City Council as well as the Washtenaw County Democatic Party. Its not as blatant as Monica Conyers at Zeidman’s Pawn Shop, but it is there.

    There should be an ethics ordinance passed that bars these abuses.

    I am looking forward to citizen questioning of Marcia Higgins at a pre-election public forum about these large campaign committee contributions and how it may have influenced her conduct.

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 24 '09 - 03:37AM    #
  262. The Statement of Organization of the campaign committee of independent Fourth Ward City Council candidate (and Marcia Higgins opponent) Hatim Elhady has been filed with the County Clerk.

    It discloses Ask Voters First and GO Ask Voters activist Karen Sidney as the committee treasurer.

       —Kerry D.    Aug. 24 '09 - 04:21AM    #
  263. As Kerry D. notes in #262, this statement of organization filing is on the Washtenaw County campaign finance server; a copy has been made for the Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Aug. 24 '09 - 08:52AM    #
  264. Re no.261:

    Yes, there are situations where campaign donations have a close temporal proximity to board or commission appointments in Ann Arbor.

    Take the case of Marta Manildi.

    Marta Manildi is a principal in the law firm of Miller Canfield and works in its Ann Arbor office; Miller Canfield also employs Councilperson Leigh Greden in the same office.

    On April 1, 2009 Miller Canfield’s political action committee donated $500.00 to Greden’s campaign committee for his August re-election bid. On April 21, 2009, Marta Manildi donated $250.00 to Greden’s campaign committee.

    On June 15, 2009, Manildi commenced a term on the Ann Arbor Housing Commission pursuant to appointment by the Mayor. I have located no prior board or commission experience in Ann Arbor by Manildi; her Miller Canfield website biographical sketch shows no experience in housing or real estate law, but rather in estate planning and business agreements.

    Did the above political contributions have any bearing on her mayoral commission appointment?

    Perhaps Ms. Manildi, the Mayor, or Leigh Greden should try to explain?

       —Annette Gilbert    Aug. 26 '09 - 02:52AM    #
  265. I’ve been reading lately about network analysis as applied to social interactions (see Science July 24, 2009); also Scale-Free Networks: A Decade and Beyond, et seq.}. It would be an interesting (and lengthy) study to compare donations to various candidates in this context. Not necessarily to detect conflicts of interest, but rather networks of interest and affiliation. “Six degrees of separation” stuff. A big project and one I don’t want to take on, unless we have a very big snowstorm this winter that doesn’t affect internet service.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 26 '09 - 04:46AM    #
  266. I think many assume that the line runs from the campaign contribution to the appointment. But in most cases, the money flows in the opposite direction. People give to candidates because they agree with them on the issues, or they know them personally or professionally. I would be more surprised if contributions didn’t come out of the MC offices for Greden. In turn, the elected officials appoint the people they know or who gets recommended to them by their fellow councilmembers. The appearance is that money drives the process but in this case, it’s likely that Greden made a pitch for a co-worker. If you removed the money, would other people get considered? Perhaps in a few cases. But you would likely still see the same names and faces being appointed, contributions or not.

       —John Q.    Aug. 26 '09 - 09:43AM    #
  267. I agree with John Q. that money is not likely the determining factor in appointments, but rather affiliation. There is a lot of information in those entrails, though, about what those affiliations are and where the power is flowing. Endorsements are similar.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Aug. 26 '09 - 04:45PM    #
  268. The Mayor rakes in between 30-40 percent of his campaign donations from those whom he appoints to Board and Commissions. Take away that money (“money is not a determining factor” says John Q.) and you’ve got an incumbent with 30-40 percent less money. In the Mayor’s case (and Greden’s), he often ends up loaning himself money on top of donations.

    Of course there’s political synergy, but when someone makes a donation and THEN gets appointed to a Board or Commission, the lines between pay-to-play and simply pay to support a candidate get too blurry. It’s clear our Mayor and Council are incredibly ethically challenged. Tracing the connections between donations and political appointments/political favors is how graft gets exposed.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 26 '09 - 10:05PM    #
  269. My point is that eliminating the money isn’t going to change who gets appointed. Money is a powerful symbol of “corruption” to many people but I think some of the comments here are reading too much into those donations. Criticizing who gets appointed is fair game but I don’t think that the money is a factor in the process of selecting who gets appointed.

       —John Q.    Aug. 26 '09 - 11:26PM    #
  270. John Q.,

    I don’t think we’ll ever know until we have a complete overhaul of campaign donation ethics rules.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 27 '09 - 02:18AM    #
  271. [removed]
       —Council Video!    Aug. 27 '09 - 04:19AM    #
  272. [removed]
       —joumana    Aug. 27 '09 - 09:05AM    #
  273. Re no. 264: Just another tidbit of information on the link between the Miller Canfield firm and Leigh Greden. In 2005 through 2006 the Miller Canfield political action committee made several donations to the Leigh Greden for state representative campaign committee totalling over $4,300.00. They have also made $146,000.00 in donations in recent years to the Michigan Republican Party.

    Greden lost in a landslide in the 2006 Democratic state representative primary by a candidate alleging Greden was allied with Republican interests.

    According to Secretary of State records, McKinley Associates founder Ron Weiser, who has an Ann Arbor address, donated $330,000.00 last month to the Michigan Republican Party. McKinley Associates has a Miller Canfield principal on its board of directors.

    There is a lot of cash that is being contributed by Miller Canfield-linked sources that are traceable to Republican interests.

    Why would Democratic Mayor Hieftje want to appoint a Miller Canfield principal to a commission position?

       —Annette Gilbert    Aug. 28 '09 - 04:33AM    #
  274. Annette, let me understand your allegation here.

    Are you’re saying that we should suspect Marta Manildi is a tool of Republican interests because one of the principal lawyers at the firm that she works is on the board of a company founded by someone who give a lot of money to Republicans?

    If that’s your allegation, that seems like grasping at straws to me.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    Aug. 28 '09 - 06:22PM    #
  275. Amen to #274. Indeed, it is remarkable that this thread has run up to that no. It is also remarkable what a large fraction of the comments have been intemperate outbursts of paranoia and venom stemming from internecine Democratic warfare, with a dash of single-issue fanaticism. It reminds me of Texas politics; Tom DeLay would feel at home in the ambiance. In the context of a local primary in which ideological differences among the candidates are vanishingly small, the poisoned atmosphere raises disturbing questions about the dedication of some of the participants to the ideals of democracy.

       —Henry Brysk    Aug. 29 '09 - 01:49AM    #
  276. With regard to the ideals of democracy,today’s recount of the Third Ward votes showed Kunselman still victorious over Greden by the same vote totals, 511 to 505.

       —David Cahill    Aug. 29 '09 - 03:32AM    #
  277. There is a lot of cash that is being contributed by Miller Canfield-linked sources that are traceable to Republican interests.

    For entertainment value on a rainy weekend, let’s play a quick game of Follow the Money with our special guests Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone (also known affectionately as Michigan Independent Political Action Committee). Let’s trace their campaign donation links to Republican interests.

    For a state level view of their Republican election activities, take a look here.

    Note that — thank god — Diane Hathaway’s now distracted by a state job and won’t be available for city committee work anywhere in the state. Based on 2008 figures, she’s more Republican than Mike Cox and Terri Lynn Land combined! Likely 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cherry got himself a cool MC grand.

    As for federal elections the following Republican candidates received four-figure sums from 2007 through June 2009 via the Miller Canfield PAC:

    John McCain — $6000
    Carl Levin — $5550
    Mitt Romney for Prez — $5000
    Mark Schauer — $4000
    John Dingell — $2000
    Gary Peters — $1500
    Carolyn Kilpatrick — $1500
    Hillary Clinton for Prez — $1500

    (based on haphazard addition from the various forms)

    In the first of two Detroit mayoral campaigns this year, Ken Cockrel (the son of a radical lawyer who effectively made himself a thorn in the side of Detroit’s power structure during the 60s and early 70s) received significant funding for his campaign from elements such as these: Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters; Operating Engineers Local 324; UAW Michigan Volunteer PAC; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Miller Canfield PAC.

    (As for MC-PAC giving to opponent Dave Bing, not so much. Not until he beat Cockrel. Then MC ponied up to buy shares in his current fall campaign for a full four-year term.)

    With its earlier support for Cockrel, Miller Canfield finds itself deeply in bed with prominent labor unions, those dark forces which actively seek to disrupt our stable, serene American work culture. Plus, MC’s support for Diane Hathaway links them closely with MEA troublemakers, as well as AFSCME, AFL-CIO, and with the UAW once more. As citizens, just what can we do to break up MC’s insidious relationships with this card-carrying cabal of on-the-job malcontents?

    Donation numbers games aside, it’s likely fair and accurate to suggest that the majority of campaign dollars from the Miller Canfield PAC go to Republicans and conservatives. Still, it’s not nice to simplemindedly cherry-pick numbers just so you can score a political point with a tenuous relationship to reality, at best.

    Anyway, we will all be far better off when all election campaigns must use public financing only. That will limit the continued ability of the wealthy to lean heavily on politicians though contributions. It will also make clearly unacceptable any relationship between campaign money and city appointments. Expect Congress to enact full, comprehensive election reform sometime during the same week we finally get single-payer national health care.

       —yet another    Aug. 29 '09 - 04:50AM    #
  278. Re no. 274: Marta Manildi and Paul Dimond are both principals in the Ann Arbor office of Miller Canfield; Dimond is the chairman of the board of McKinley Asssociates. Both have a history of giving to Republican Party interests, according to secretary of State records.Both donated to Leigh Greden’s 2006 campaign committee in his run for state representative as did the Miller Canfield PAC.

    Albert Berriz is currently CEO of McKinley Associates who has a long history of heavy donations to Republican Party candidates and efforts. He made a large donation to Greden in the Democratic primary in 2006.

    If we examine the campaign committee filings of Greden in his 2006 run for thr State House, you will notice over $59,000 in contributions from individuals or political action committees that are clearly Republican and/or pro-business in orientation. Despite this heavy financing Greden only received 39% of the vote against Rebekah Warren. Prior to that election many saw it as a toss-up. Others who were better informed predicted a sizeable margin of victory for Warren.

    The point I was trying to make is that Leigh Greden has been essentially a deal-maker rather than an ideologue when it comes to his political duties. This is one of the key reasons his campaign tanked in 2006 as Ann Arbor has an issue-oriented electorate rather than one who supports various political dealing.

    Rebekah Warren has always been known as a person with strong positions on issues such as abortion, civil rights, and education and is not afraid to go toe-to-toe with anyone on those issues. Leigh Greden, on the other hand, has shown only a lukewarm interest and pays little other than lip service on such matters that Ann Arborites have shown passionate interest in.

    Leigh Greden’s focus as a politician has been on establishing political relationships and developing political neworks to advance the causes of his political allies and himself. He has expertise in setting up a campaign organization, garnering endorsements and raising funds for candidates and causes. He is a dealmaker who can negotiate political support. Greden’s skills and style fit far better in the wards of Chicago rather than Ann Arbor. Greden’s campaigns are long on funding and endorsements and short on substance and commitment to traditional Democratic Party values.

    Rebekah Warren went on to be re-elected to her State House seat in 2008 and has distinguished herself with her commitment to values that Ann Arbor citizens have cherished over the decades. Rebekah is someone that Ann Arborites can feel secure as one who will passionately advocate for their interests. She is one who many believe will go on to higher office.

    Leigh Greden’s future as a political figure in Ann Arbor is questionable. Most will remember him for his inane e-mails rather than statesman-like qualities. The e-mail controversy itself is a product of Greden’s prediliction to wheel and deal under the table rather than to engage in respectable public advocacy for a cause.

    I personally feel that Greden could best use his talents outside the realm of being an elected official. His talents would probably best be served in a position as a political consultant or party professional at the state or federal level. He has excellent organizational skills and political instincts. I do not believe Greden has any significant political future as an elected official in Ann Arbor.

    Elected officials such as Mike Anglin and Steve Kunselman have long impressed the Ann Arbor electorate with their integrity and commitment to their constituents. I do not believe that Ann Arbor citizens will again be fooled into electing the likes of Greden, Hohnke, and Taylor in blind observance of endorsements by the Mayor or other prominent officeholders.

    From now on proven integrity will be a prerequisite for any person to be victorious in election to the City Council.

       —Annette Gilbert    Aug. 29 '09 - 05:08AM    #
  279. Henry,

    Maybe Tom D. would feel at home because we have a bunch of Democrats who govern like Republicans. We have a Mayor who runs on his Republicrat platform based on his steady destruction of the city’s full-time workforce. Lower paid contract employees who are not eligible for benefits have then been hired to fill the “streamlined” jobs. It’s a scam worthy of the Wal-Mart Klan. Mayor and his Hieftje Eight have spent the past half a dozen years pushing boondoggle public-private partnerships (like the LDFA and SPARK) with the zeal of a bunch of Bushies. Hieftje and his email buddies have come up with 101 ways to line the pockets of developers with the money of the taxpayers.

    Marcia Higgins and Stephen Rapundalo called themselves Dems to get elected. They both have voting records of which any Republican would be proud. I would argue that the ideological differences between many so-called Democrats on Council and those who will step forward to replace them will become increasingly clear.

    We got rid of the guy who only cared about money and buildings. We’ll get rid of Marcia Higgins next. Her fervent support of the city income tax proposal in this time of economic hardship, and her bungling of the Stadium Bridge fiasco (that cost us almost $1 million in lost federal money) will be just two of many reasons voters will cite when they send her packing.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 29 '09 - 05:23AM    #
  280. Annette,

    We can only hope political “endorsements” in local races start to be seen for the ridiculous pay-back tripe they are. It’s a tight little clique: John Hieftje, Commissioner Janis Bobrin, County Commissioner Leah Gunn, School Board Trustee Susan Baskett, John Dingell, Chris Taylor, Margie Teall, Marcia Higgins, Joan Lowenstein, et. al. need to be held accountable for their support of Greden.

    Their endorsements of their political pal were a brazen challenge to the power of the city’s voters.

       —UMGrad1234    Aug. 29 '09 - 05:47AM    #
  281. Marta Manildi and Paul Dimond are both principals in the Ann Arbor office of Miller Canfield; Dimond is the chairman of the board of McKinley Asssociates. Both have a history of giving to Republican Party interests, according to Secretary of State records… Albert Berriz is currently CEO of McKinley Associates who has a long history of heavy donations to Republican Party candidates and efforts. He made a large donation to Greden in the Democratic primary in 2006.

    According to a public campaign donation database and advocacy site, A2 Housing Commission appointee Manildi is, on the federal level, a “tool” of Barack Obama, Carl Levin, Mark Schauer, David Nacht and Gary Peters, while Dimond has sent money to Obama and Schauer. Berriz, however, does look to be the real Republican deal; and for some reason, I find it kind of touching that he gave a heroic, post-election check to the slowly sinking Norm Coleman.

       —yet another    Aug. 29 '09 - 06:26AM    #
  282. Re: #277 and the detective work done by yet another . . .

    Not to quibble, but by all accounts, John Cherry is currently the DEMOCRATIC Leutenant Governor and potential / prospective DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE, not GOP candidate for Governor.

    I think that shows Miller Canfield giving to candidates representing both parties. Not judging anyone’s giving, you understand, just making a correction for accuracy.

       —Sabra Briere    Aug. 29 '09 - 06:01PM    #
  283. Re #177: As I was attempting to download around the date of the primary election the YouTube video of Leigh Greden, I inadvertently downloaded a video of Greden’s dad I thought was interesting since he had not disclosed family members during his campaign. Check out

    I would also like to point out that, per Secretary of State records downloadable at, Marta Manildi and Paul Dimond both earlier in their careers gave substantial donations to Republican candidates.

    The Miller Canfield law firm granted partnerships to both Spencer Abraham after he left his advisor position to V.P. Dan Quayle in 1993 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and to Steve Markman in the interval between his tenure as U.S. Attorney in Detroit and his ascension to the Michigan Supreme Court. The firm represents big business interests natinonally and internationally and derives the bulk of its fee revenues from such interests. I cannot name one single Democrat other than Leigh Greden affiliated with that firm that is an elected officeholder.

    The Miller Canfield PAC represents political opportunism rather than ideological adherence in its campaign donations to Democratic candidates.

    Yes, it is true that McKinley Associates CEO Albert Berriz donated $1,000.00 to the state representative campaign committee of Leigh Greden in 2006, however the flip side to Greden would be electing a liberal Democrat whose commitment to abortion and other left-wing causes are abhorrent to conservative Republicans.

    What we are seeing in Ann Arbor is a decline in influence of the Democratic Party at the county and local levels. Mike Anglin and Sabra Briere have advocated fiscal conservatism as their primary theme and have become the darlings of anti-tax activists and local Republicans such as John Floyd.

    Sabra Briere, the “Queen of Broadway”, had an established background as a leader in the ACLU and who was committed to the pro-choice movement. She had previously been chair of the Ann Arbor Democratic Party. But, shucks, the Republican Party has had pols in their ranks such as Colin Powell and Arlen Specter who have likewise espoused such beliefs and were tolerated.

    Mike Anglin has had a background as an independent businessman whose fiscal conservatism ahs won him respect from local Republicans. His landslide victory has given him a mandate in the Fifth Ward as well as in Ann Arbor as a whole.

    It must be tempting to both Briere and Anglin to contact Ann Arbor Republican Party Chairman Jim Hood and request membership. Local Republicans have been tickled pink over the courageous stands of these two that has brought so much consternation to local Democratic Party leaders. Briere and Anglin have risen to the point of being unbeatable and unquestioned leaders of all Ann Arborites. They are not stooges of Stu Dowdy’s Washtenaw County Democratic Party or Conan’s AA Dems.

    Here’s to you, Queen of Broadway and Mr. Gump.

       —Junior    Aug. 29 '09 - 09:15PM    #
  284. So, we have now progressed from questioning the integrity of a majority of the City Council to condemning ALL of them. They have committed the unpardonable sin of allowing themselves to be distracted from the true faith into concentrating on such dull irrelevancies as the functioning of city services and how to pay for them, neglecting essential matters such as instructing the President on foreign policy. Since all the local officeholders have been unmasked as closet Republicans, part of a right-wing conspiracy, the next step is to field a Jihadi Party against them. That might also help the Republicans reconquer Lansing, providing the true believers with the bliss of standing outside the tent and pissing in (as LBJ put it), their favorite stance.

       —Henry Brysk    Aug. 31 '09 - 06:07AM    #
  285. [removed]
       —Council Video!    Sep. 5 '09 - 04:36AM    #
  286. The October 30, 2003 Michigan Daily covered the Fourth Ward candidates seeking the seat held by Marcia Higgins relative to the Greenbelt proposal in the article “A2 City Council Hopefuls Discuss Urban Sprawl”; see

    That article carried the interviews of the three challengers to Marcia Higgins to her seat in the 2003 election. That article contains a rare snapshot of the Fourth Ward’s “Invisible Woman”. The author not unsurprisingly noted in conclusion:

    “Higgins was unavailable for comment.”

    The anti-citizen “Gang of Seven”‘s myth of invincibility was forever shattered last August 4th with Leigh Greden’s defeat in the City Council primary election; Greden was endorsed by Marcia Higgins, among other Gang of Seven members. The Republican turncoat Higgins is currently facing the embarrassing prospect of the formation of a “Democrats for Elhady” group that shall support Higgins’ independent opposition candidate despite Marcia being not only on the Democratic Party ballot but also a member of the executive committee of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party.

    Opponents of the Gang of Seven look to the general election in November hoping that Ann Arbor voters in the Fourth Ward will continue the electoral trend of holding an incumbent engaging in electronic mail shenanigans accountable by voting them out of office as was so pointedly done to Leigh Greden.

    As I have posted earlier to those opposing the Marcia Higgins incumbency in the Fourth Ward, continue to fight the good fight and in the end Marcia’s seat may be restored to a “bozo-free zone” status.

    I continue to salute you all. Cheers!

       —Kerry D.    Sep. 7 '09 - 06:38AM    #
  287. First Ward City Council candidate Mitchell Ozog has apparently become the first to establish a campaign website for the November election.

    Here’s the link:

    It already has received in excess of 460 hits and discloses 28 endorsers to date. Mr. Ozog also has a Facebook listing for his campaign.

       —Mark Koroi    Sep. 8 '09 - 02:27AM    #
  288. “Higgins was unavailable for comment.”

    That pretty much sums up the last nearly decade of her time on Council.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 8 '09 - 04:02PM    #
  289. From Mitchel Ozog’s webpage:

    “I am former Precinct Delegate Ann Arbor City 1st Ward Precinct 10.”

    Eh…as a Republican…Guess Mr. Ozog wants that part of his past kept out of the discussion.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 8 '09 - 04:05PM    #
  290. Congrats to Leah Gunn on her new position as Treasurer for Marcia Higgins’ Council campaign…

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 9 '09 - 09:41PM    #
  291. Thank you, Alan. I am proud to be a strong supporter of Marcia Higgins. We have been friends and colleagues for a long time.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 9 '09 - 11:37PM    #
  292. I won’t be voting for her but I do respect your public service and work on the County Board, and agree with MOST of your decisions. Lol.

    Good luck!

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 9 '09 - 11:58PM    #
  293. MOST ain’t all that bad, Alan! Thank you. :-)

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 10 '09 - 02:54AM    #
  294. Today’s A2Politico reported that the City Council Rules Committee, chaired by embattled incumbent Fourth Ward candidate Marcia Higgins, has come up with new strictures on the use of electronic mail correspondences during City Council meetings. The characterization was dismissive:

    “Marcia Higgins and her Council colleagues have just stood before the public and imposed an honor code on themselves brought to you by a bunch of people who have shown time time again that they have no respect for the oath of office they took…”

    Here’s the link for the full article:

       —Mark Koroi    Sep. 10 '09 - 05:41AM    #
  295. It is reported that Hatim Elhady will kick-off his campaign next week for the Fourth Ward City Council seat currently occupied by Marcia Higgins.

    Elhady is a University of Michigan student who recently completed his bachelor’s degree and is applying to graduate school. He is running on a platform of fiscal conservatism and pro-environmentalism.

    This race has evolved into a battle for control of City Council. The “maverick” elements such as GO Ask Voters First are backing Mr. Elhady; Karen Sidney of that group is acting as his campaign traesurer. The opposing side is what has been variously called the “Hieftje Eight”,“Gang of Seven” or “Council Party”. Based upon the results of the last council primary election there has been considerable speculation whether or not this opposing side may be on its way out of power and replaced by the so-called maverick elements.

    One thing that may go against Elhady is the reluctance of U-M students or recent alumni to get elected to City Council. Eugene Kang ran a close race against Rapundalo and three minor candidates who were students or recent alumni of U-M collected 48% of the vote against Higgins in 2003, so even though doing well, those opponents could not beat their incumbent opponent.

    Even though Greden lost in the primary he faced opponents with extensive experience as public or party officeholders whereas Elhady does not have that experience.

    Mr. Elhady also may be hurt by the fact he is not ruuning on a party ticket.

    Elhady also faces the prospect of running with a foreign sounding name. Barack Obama was believed by many political observers to be impossible to attain a U.S. Senate seat due to voter aversion to such “foerign” names, but Obama of course proved the pundits in error by winning, so Elhady could conceivably do the same.

    Elhady’s chances at victory may depend on the level of endorsements he can garner and the vigor of his campaign activity, incuding bulk mailings, literature drops and pounding the pavement meeting residents in all of the Fourth Ward’s precincts. If he can garner impressive endorsements and conduct a vigorous positive campaign as descibed above, my prediction is that he will, more likely than not, defeat Higgins this November. He cannot, however, run as the “Anybody But Marcia” candidate, which is the term some have humorously used, but must emphasize his own abilities and positions as the cornerstone of his campaign.

    Marcia Higgins’ performance for the last ten years has been a running joke in Ann Arbor. Failing to correspond with constituents, inaccesible to residents regarding neighborhood issues, and failing to effectively advocate for the Fourth Ward and for Ann Arbor citizens as a whole for the last ten years clearly merit a change by her removal this November. Her role in the electronic mail controversy has only lowered her esteem among her constituency that much more. Her change from Republican to Democrat was seen by many as opportunism and a corresponding lack of character. I need not go into specific incidents of the long list of complaints of A2 residents about Higgins because they have appeared on a regular basis in the media and on blogs over the last ten years.

    Mr. Elhady deserves the support of the Fourth Ward electorate this November.

       —John Dory    Sep. 13 '09 - 12:14AM    #
  296. John Dory states that Elhady “… cannot, however, run as the “Anybody But Marcia” candidate…” but that is all that his post and previous ones offer in support of him. There is no other basis for jumping on a bandwagon for a student who has no track record in Ann Arbor politics and has only proffered a few bromides as to what he stands for. I am disturbed by the lack of respect for political institutions that is implied by this attitude.

       —Henry Brysk    Sep. 17 '09 - 12:11AM    #
  297. Mr. Brysk makes a good point. Beyond that why would voters elect someone with no experience whatsoever? What city boards or commissions has he served on? What task force has he sat on? How long has he lived here?

    I look around the state and at the county budget and what is going on in other cities and believe Ann Arbor is doing pretty well. For the most part good decisions have been made. Some council members messed up with Greden at the center of it but he is gone now and rightly so but even with losing Pfizer and the tax dollars and the state making all the cuts they have to the local budget A2 keeps plugging along.

    She may not be flashy but Higgins does appear to work hard. She is heading up most of the A2D2 work for instance. What exactly does this young man bring to the table, not in comparison to Higgins but he, himself?

       —David Lewis    Sep. 17 '09 - 12:45AM    #
  298. Several videos of Hatim Elhady addressing City Council during the Public Commentary period have recently been uploaded on YouTube.

       —Mark Koroi    Sep. 17 '09 - 09:06AM    #
  299. Re no. 297: “….why would voters elect someone with no experience whatsoever?”

    The response to that is that politics is like prostitution: experience is not necessarily a virtue.

    I would rather choose someone at random walking down Main Street to sit on City Council than having some of the clinkers that we have seen elected in recent years. Marcia Higgins is one of the most blantant clinkers we have had.

    Would Mr. Elhady be a more accessible and visible representative of the Fourth Ward than Higgins? Most likely, as would 99% of Ann Arbor citizens if they were seated on City Council.

    Hatim Elhady is a recent U-M graduate with experience in the State Depatment so he is no idiot. As for Higgins, well….

    “….but Higgins does appear to work hard….”

    Really, she could have fooled me. I have heard that she routinely disregards correspondences from constituents. Ask the residents of the Rosewood Avenue neighborhood when they had traffic noise and congestion problems a few years ago; some have reported Marcia was nowhere to be found, despite the pleas of those distressed homeowners.

    Mr Elhady has appeared before City Council during Public Commentary and has articulately and intelligently set forth issues and positions.

    Marcia Higgins has routinely avoided interview requests by journalists.

    Why did Marcia filp-flop and become a Democrat suddenly after the 2003 City Council election after being a Republican for so many years? Mr. Elhady has voiced a commitment to liberal causes and declared himself committed to many important issues.

    The most salient and embarrassing aspect of her involvement in the e-mail controversy is that she exhibited atrocious spelling and grammar in her e-mails.

    It is very ironic that we will have to turn to someone less than half Marcia’s age to find someone with a higher maturity level than Marcia to sit on City Council.

    Hatim Elhady deserves our vote this November.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Sep. 19 '09 - 02:39AM    #
  300. Re#296 and 297: You two gentlemen are correct that Mr. Elhady does need to effectively convey to voters his qualifications and positions. I have not seen a website up yet although he has said he would do so. We do not want to replace Marcia Higgins with another Marcia Higgins-like councilperson.

    Given the general election in November is only about 45 days away I am wondering if Arbor Update plans to prepare another candidate questionnaire as it has in previous local elections? Given that we have two new faces entering the political arena this fall – Hatim Elhady and Mitchell Ozog – I would believe that voters would be interested in learning the positions of these two relative newcomers to City Council politics.

       —John Dory    Sep. 19 '09 - 09:58PM    #
  301. An independent candidate, without party identification and without the exposure of a primary, has a particular duty to fully disclose his positions and qualifications. Mr. Elhady has so far failed to do so, which exposes him to the risk that he will be judged (by default) by who his most vocal supporters are and what THEY advocate. The coyness of his supporters in dribbling out information is disquieting: He should be cut some slack because of his foreign-sounding name (a meaningless circumlocution; how many of us have Anasazi names?); there have been several variations on this, all disclaiming knowledge of his actual ethnicity. He is supposed to have had some State Dept. experience, but we are not told in what capacity. Is this a subliminal message that he is expected to steer the City Council to become a forum for foreign policy initiatives instead of attending to local governance? The combination of evasiveness and scarcity of details by the surrogates raises suspicions. Mr. Elhady can clear them up by answering for himself. As a politically active student, he can be expected to have had organizational affiliations, on-campus and off-campus, and he should reveal those as well.

       —Henry Brysk    Sep. 21 '09 - 07:12PM    #
  302. “An independent candidate, without party identification and without the exposure of a primary, has a particular duty to fully disclose his positions and qualifications.”

    The same can be said for Marcia Higgins.

    “The combination of evasiveness and scarcity of details by the surrogates raises suspicions.”


       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 21 '09 - 09:23PM    #
  303. Good Afternoon All,

    Youtube link #1:

    Youtube link #2: —Armentrout’s Blog

    Let me reassure everyone that my racial background does NOT have ANY influence on the issues I would tackle as an Ann Arbor City Council person. My issues are not built around students or my race, they were born from OUR needs as 4th Ward residents of Ann Arbor.

    * I support having weekly office hours for constituents. I believe in listening to the constituents before I jump ahead to make a decision on behalf of them. (Youtube link #1)

    * I oppose a city income tax.

    * DAM IN! I oppose the removal of the Argo Dam.

    * I support restructuring the city employee pension & retirement plan, and implementing the recommendations of the Mayor’s 2005 blue ribbon retirement benefit committee.

    * I support a city-funded skatepark.

    THANK YOU to ALL of the concerned Ann Arbor residents for taking the time out of your day to make OUR city a better place to live in. For this I respect you all.

       —Hatim Elhady    Sep. 22 '09 - 12:44AM    #
  304. Hatim is referring to my post in which I speculate about his November race and provide links to previous comments he has made. He kindly provided a snapshot for me to use on that post.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Sep. 22 '09 - 01:11AM    #
  305. oh my.

       —Marvin Face    Sep. 22 '09 - 01:11AM    #
  306. Henry Brysk has posted many fierce comments in support of Israel. Now he is posting equally fierce comments against the only candidate with an Arabic name.

    I do not see Mr. Brysk take that tone with any other candidate. Therefore, it can only be racism on his part.

       —Brysk's Tone    Sep. 22 '09 - 01:49PM    #
  307. re brysk has simply raised legitimate concerns given the support for elhady by the worst jew-bashers in town, as witnessed by their advocacy of the BIG proposal at the coop ..happily mr elhady ,per 303, above may be able to allay such concerns.

       —blaines tone    Sep. 22 '09 - 02:23PM    #
  308. Under a new screen name (moderator: I did not give permission for the misuse of my name), we have the usual mode of political discourse as defamation and lies from a familiar source. I have not “posted many fierce comments in support of Israel”; indeed, I have never been a Zionist. I have condemned the indiscriminate mass murder of Jews, as advocated by Hamas, Hizbollah and the rulers of Iran (anywhere in the world, including Israel). Undoubtedly, I was sensitized to this issue by the fact that I am a Holocaust survivor, which also taught me that calls for extermination should not be dismissed as mere rhetoric. As to Hakim Elhady, I have not uttered “fierce comments against” him; I have taken a wait-and-see attitude toward his candidacy; I stated that, lacking a track record, he needed to be more forthcoming; he has responded, and he should do more. I did express displeasure at the tactics of his would-be surrogates. It is Blaine Coleman who first brought up Elhady’s ethnicity, as a reason to vote for him (on the racist assumption that it implied Elhady’s support for Coleman’s extremist agenda). Elhady’s has wisely stated that his ethnicity should not be an issue; I fully agree.

       —Henry Brysk    Sep. 22 '09 - 07:51PM    #
  309. I fully agree also that Mr. Elhady’s ethnicity should be a non-issue, however this is beginning to remind me of the 1988 Dearborn City Council race where the first serious Arab-American candidates received major media attention as if it were an Arabic political version of Jackie Robinson.

    Yemeni-Americans have recently been elected to the city council of Hamytramck and have been contenders for the State House and the Dearborn City Council. Their political interests have been represented by the Yemeni-American Political Action Committee, who has been quite influential in Hamtramck and Dearborn political circles.

       —John Dory    Sep. 23 '09 - 04:51AM    #
  310. Re No. 290. I see that Marcia Higgins has not reappointed her longtime campaign treasurer but replaced him with Leah Gunn. Wise move.

    Leah, can you give the public idea when we can expect Higgins to have a campaign website? Does she plan on appearing for any debates. Has she articulated any positions she intends to advocate on City Council in her next term?

    The election is less than six weeks away and I have not heard nor seen anything that she is running an active campaign.

       —Annette Gilbert    Sep. 24 '09 - 02:19AM    #
  311. [off-topic, removed]
       —Candidates' positions    Sep. 24 '09 - 12:42PM    #
  312. A2Politico is reporting that Marcia Higgins has declined the League of Women Voters’ invitation to debate Hatim Elhady.

    First she votes against disclosing her (and other Council Members’) secretive emails, now she refuses to debate her opponent. What is she trying to hide?

       —Jack Eaton    Sep. 25 '09 - 06:46AM    #
  313. Once again, all I’m asking for is simple website from Mr. Elhady clearly explaining his issues on positions, in depth. Until then, as interested as I may be in possibly voting for you now that I am a resident of this Ward, I will not, as you’ve not had to participate in a primary, nor really outlined your positions on issues other than a few terse statements and going to City Council to speak.

    I’m an out and out Democrat, as anyone who knows me to be can agree, and I just don’t know why you wouldn’t run in the Democratic primary if you’re looking for Democratic votes. If you can prove yourself further (and I’m looking for some really large scale in-depth statements on a bevy of issues) to be a progressive to me, you’ll likely get my vote.

    Until then, I’ll vote alongside the party designation that I’ve come to trust across my past 29 years on the planet.

       —Jeremy Peters    Sep. 25 '09 - 09:45AM    #
  314. Leah, if you are on this thread, is this true about Marcia Higgins not being part of the League of Women Voters’ debate?

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 25 '09 - 02:17PM    #
  315. [removed]
       —Boycott Israel    Sep. 25 '09 - 06:56PM    #
  316. Higgins’ apparent flight from the debate is truly stunning. In the past, the League has gone ahead with the debate even if only one candidate shows up. I hope it sticks with this policy.

       —David Cahill    Sep. 25 '09 - 07:06PM    #
  317. It’s not that stunning. She’s counted on apathy and indifference to be reelected. It’s easy to run an organization or city when there are plenty of dollars and times are great. The true test of a weak manager is when a crisis hits. Ms. Higgins just isn’t up to the task.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 25 '09 - 07:39PM    #
  318. @ Jeremy (#313) – Wouldn’t an open debate of issues conducted by a highly esteemed organization such as the League of Women Voters provide you with exactly the explication of positions that you have requested? The incumbent seems like she wants to dodge any side-by-side comparison.

    The Elhady web site is coming (and maybe a Higgins one, too). There is a lot of time to learn about Mr. Elhady. The contrast between the candidates won’t be hard to discern.

       —Jack Eaton    Sep. 25 '09 - 08:08PM    #
  319. In response to Alan Goldsmith’s Post no. 314, directed to me, “Is it true that Marcia Higgins will not be debating at the League of Women Voters?” Yes it is true. Here is the reason why: Marcia’s 31 year old daughter, who lives with her now, is in the last phase of Stage 4 colon cancer. The debate is scheduled for October 22, which is the third day of her daughter’s next treatment of chemotherapy. Marcia made the decision that she should be with her family that day. I completely support her decison. It is unfortunate that her opponent and his small group of supporters have chosen to engage in the blood sport of character assassination, especially at a time when it is not only insulting to Marcia, but also to her family. Marcia will not engage in character assassination because the City deserves better.

       —Leah Gunn    Sep. 25 '09 - 10:03PM    #
  320. Lee, considering her daughter’s health problems, will Marcia be campaigning at all to retain her seat? If she can’t take an hour off for the debate, how much is she planning to do? What about her door-to-door work?

       —David Cahill    Sep. 25 '09 - 10:18PM    #
  321. “If she can’t take an hour off for the debate, how much is she planning to do?”

    I suspect some of you will never understand just how heartless that question is…

       —scooter62    Sep. 25 '09 - 10:30PM    #
  322. @ Jack

    Sounds great. I would love to see a debate between the both of them. I’ve been waiting to hear exactly that since he declared for the race months ago. I am ultimately skeptical of progressives who chose not to run within the process, and so all I want to do is be able to evaluate him fully before I make a decision. Why not just reschedule it to accommodate Higgins’ schedule?


    Why not simply reschedule the debate if Marcia is unable to attend for what seems a highly valid reason? What I don’t get is the heartless attack on her. Really? That is insanely cruel.

    I expect more out of the residents of Ann Arbor. Like or dislike Marcia (I’m not the biggest fan admittedly), it is simply wrong to say something like that. What ever you may be angry at her for, litany or no, there is absolutely no place for that in politics or political discussion. Personally, call me what you like, levy whatever charges you like towards me, but family is, and should always be off limits – in Higgins’ case including her just decision to be with her family during a difficult time. To claim she is ducking the debate is callous at best.

    I rarely choose to get involved in discussions in these forums for the exact reason of the heartless charge levied against Marcia. [Still shaking head.]

       —Jeremy Peters    Sep. 25 '09 - 10:57PM    #
  323. Leah,

    Thank you for the update. My prayers and thoughts are with Ms. Higgins, her daughter and her family.

    You shouldn’t take my attacks on Ms. Higgins political decisions and actions over the last several years as an attack on her wishes to be with her daughter.


       —Alan Goldsmith    Sep. 25 '09 - 11:20PM    #
  324. Politics is a Darwinian process. Yes, it is really bad news about Marcia’s daughter. But the fact remains that if a candidate can’t campaign, for whatever reason, then his/her opponent will likely prevail. That is the brutal reality.

       —David Cahill    Sep. 26 '09 - 12:55AM    #
  325. I agree with David.

    If Marcia Higgins is unable to meaningfully able to campaign she will likely not win this November.

    I also agree with Mr. Peters.

    The League of Women Voters should change the debate date to accommodate Marcia Higgins. My sympathies to Marcia and her family.

    Mr. Elhady declared his candidacy in April yet has no campaign website. Why not? It would likely help voters understand who endorses him and what his positions are. He promised a campaign website in June yet we are less than six weeks from the election and we have no website. Mitchell Ozog’s was up in July and has hundreds of hits.

    Same with Sabra Briere. No campaign website. She only got 46% of the vote in 2007 against two fellow Democrats. It is not a stretch to suggest that Ozog could beat her this fall.

    Re Post No. 289: Yes Mr. Ozog was a Republican precinct delegate. he also spent time in detention in Poland as an anti-communist Solidarity activist. Many if not most Eastern European immmigrants gravitate toward the Republican Party due to its hard line against Communism.

    I am disappointed that only Mr. Ozog has bothered to put a campaign website among the City Council candidates this fall.

       —Kerry D.    Sep. 29 '09 - 06:00AM    #
  326. Look for Sabra’s website soon. She met with her webmaster on Sunday. She has been going door to door for several weeks.

       —David Cahill    Sep. 29 '09 - 06:55PM    #
  327. I saw the Ozog website. He appears to have an interesting background.

    Does anyone have any further information or opinions about him?

       —Annette Gilbert    Sep. 30 '09 - 02:19AM    #
  328. Does anyone have a complete schedule regarding the upcoming League of Women Voters debates?

    Will they be uploaded to the Internet for viewing?

       —Kerry D.    Sep. 30 '09 - 05:00AM    #
  329. From the League’s official website:

    Thursday, October 22, 2009 7 – 7:30 pm Cable Television Network (CTN) Studios
    2805 S. Industrial Hwy
    Ann Arbor, MI 48104 Ann Arbor Candidate Debates. There are two contested elections for Ann Arbor City Council Nov. 3.
    Ward 1: Sabra Briere (D, incumbent) and Mitchell Ozog (no party affiliation, challenger.) 7-7:30 pm

    Ward 4: Marcia Higgins (D, incumbent) and Hatim Edhady (no party affiliation, challenger). Debate cancelled because Ms. Higgins is unable to attend.

    The debate (Briere/Ozog) will be broadcast on CTN Channel 9, with repeat broadcasts from Oct 22 until Nov. 2.

    To suggest questions to ask the candidates, send to Deadline is Friday, October 16th. The League cannot promise to use all questions submitted, but we try to do our best.

       —Sabra Briere    Sep. 30 '09 - 06:15AM    #
  330. [removed]
       —Boycott Israel    Sep. 30 '09 - 11:07AM    #
  331. Who decided to cancel the debate?

    It was my understanding that if one candidate chose not to appear, the League would allow the other candidate to appear and field questions.

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 1 '09 - 01:40AM    #
  332. I found this website through an incoming link to my blog:

    Hatim Elhady for City Council

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 2 '09 - 07:01PM    #
  333. The site looks pretty good. I’m impressed.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 2 '09 - 09:30PM    #
  334. Can I make a suggestion Mr Elhady? I would remove the video links from your website. The ones where you address Council during public comment. They are really hurting your cause and are pretty cringe-worthy. I’m not sure I know what to say after seeing those videos on his website. I felt incredibly embarassed for him the deeper he got into his speaches. He is clearly out of his element here and appears to have only a rudimentary understanding of the issues.

    Since I don’t live in that ward, I’m going to have to put my trust in my fellow citizens to inform themselves about Mr. Elhady. I can only surmise that his backers’ strategy has to be: hope that he stays as invisible as possible up until election time.

       —Marvin Face    Oct. 2 '09 - 11:53PM    #
  335. The Elhady website contains no endorsements but it does have photos with Sabra Briere, Jack Eaton, Eric Lipson,and Mike Anglin.

    I did not know if Sabra Briere was intending to endorse Hatim with the photo op or was Mr. Elhady endorsing Ms. Briere.

    A rudimentary website but better than nothing.

    He should have established a campaign website three or four months ago.

    As far as “a rudimentary understanding of the issues”, this is the level I would expect from a 21-year old political novice. But Ann Arbor’s Jeff Irwin and Hamburg Township’s Joe Hune have had successful elected office careers after filing to run at 21 years old.

    Is he a better candidate than Marcia? The jury’s out.

       —Kerry D.    Oct. 3 '09 - 02:10AM    #
  336. Elhady’s message is moderate and subdued. I think his tone fits the outlook of Fourth Ward voters.

    Politics in the First, Third, and Fifth Wards are much more vigorous? militant? overwrought? crazy?

       —David Cahill    Oct. 3 '09 - 05:22PM    #
  337. David, I am assuming you an Sabra are endorsing Mr. Elhady.

       —Junior    Oct. 3 '09 - 10:24PM    #
  338. Of course, I cannot speak for David, but I do know he and Mr. Elhady have not met.

    I don’t endorse in City Council races. I don’t endorse anyone in City Council races. Whoever wins the election, I’ll be working with. I don’t believe the City can afford any rancor on Council.

    I’ve met Mr. Elhady to discuss the issues facing Council. Last year, I met all the candidates except Christopher Taylor. I found meetings like this really helpful the first time I ran two years ago.

       —Sabra Briere    Oct. 3 '09 - 10:49PM    #
  339. I cannot recall you ever issuing an endorsement in a City Council race.

    In August, I was surprised that your name did not appear on Mike Anglin’s list of endorsements, but I assume your policy of non-endorsements was responsible for this omission rather than any less than favorable view on your part as to Mr. Anglin. Although Mr. Cahill’s name did appear on the Anglin website an an endorser.

    Let us know when you have your campaign website up and running.

       —Junior    Oct. 3 '09 - 11:18PM    #
  340. Ms. Briere, if you are not endorsing Mr. Elhady, then why do you allow your picture to be used on his website where it is insinuated to be an endorsement? One usually asks people for permission to use their photos in this manner. If Mr. Elhady did not ask permission it is a glaring example of his inexperience and lack of common sense.

       —bcorman    Oct. 3 '09 - 11:33PM    #
  341. Bcorman seems to have very strong negative feelings against Elhady, without knowing the first thing about him. Why? Could it be… his name?

       —Abdullah    Oct. 3 '09 - 11:37PM    #
  342. I believe the snapshots with Councilpersons Briere as well as Mike Anglin stand on their own.

    Obviously Sabra Briere met with Mr. Elhady, discussed matters with him and was aware there of photos being taken. This shows to me she recognizes his candidacy and is interested to hear his views. It does carry with it some acknowledgment implicit legitimacy of his candidacy without necessarily amounting to an endorsement.

    However, David Cahill has made some positive statements regarding Mr. Elhady’s campaign website and I assume he is, to some degree, supportive of Hatim’s campaign. Sabra Briere and David Cahill always seem to agree on issues so I assume that Sabra views the Elhady candidacy in a similarly positive light.

    The Mike Anglin photograph with Hatim seems to imply more as it is a posing for a photo opportunity by shaking hands and thereby at least implying an endorsement.

    At Post No.146 Mr. Elhady promised an endorsement list as part of his website but currently there exists no such disclosure. By following through with his promise he could have avoided the current confusion.

       —John Dory    Oct. 4 '09 - 12:20AM    #
  343. I completely disagree. You do not allow someone to use your picture knowing that people will infer that it is an endorsement and then go on the record stating that you are not endorsing ANYONE. Sort of sounds disingenuous and not all that “transparent” to me.

       —bcorman    Oct. 4 '09 - 12:31AM    #
  344. A joint photo is a long way short of an endorsement.

    I have a photo of myself with Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land, taken at a county clerks’ conference — county clerks and the Secretary of State are co-workers in election administration. I suppose something like that could have landed on a campaign web site. But few people would be silly enough to conclude that either of us endorses the other.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 4 '09 - 07:02AM    #
  345. I’d like to know how Fourth Ward voters feel about Elhady’s candidacy. Of these folks, who has talked with him?

       —David Cahill    Oct. 4 '09 - 04:38PM    #
  346. I am pleased to announce that the Marcia Higgins web site is up and running as of this morning.

       —Leah Gunn    Oct. 6 '09 - 03:39PM    #
  347. I have added the Higgins website to the report on my blog.

    I’d like to comment that until very recently, it was unusual to see websites for local (city) elections. We had them in the 5th ward in 2007, but they were relatively limited (static) for both candidates. Does anyone recall seeing them in earlier elections? It is both a reflection of how much electronic communication has been important and of the increased sophistication required for these campaigns. (The required level of funding has also gone up.)

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 6 '09 - 03:59PM    #
  348. I started my campaign web site when I ran for county clerk in 2004. My opponent did not have one.

    The site was completely redesigned for 2008, but since I ended up being unopposed, the information is still mostly from the 2004 election.

    Yikes, the picture of me on the main page is ten years old now.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 6 '09 - 11:43PM    #
  349. [removed]
       —Abdullah    Oct. 7 '09 - 08:18PM    #
  350. The Michigan Daily in its October 5th edition did a story on Mr. Elhady in which Mike Anglin is quoted as saying Hatim Elhady will bring a focus to City Council that is not present now.

    Sounds like an Anglin endorsement to me.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 8 '09 - 01:26AM    #
  351. I am a Fourth Ward voter and a Democrat. I have endorsed independent candidate Hatim Elhady because he shares my values and I believe he will advocate neighborhood-friendly positions on Council.

    Hatim contacted me a couple of months ago because the neighborhood activist he was working with suggested that we might have common interests. From the first introduction I was pleasantly surprised by his command of the issues and his pro-neighborhood views. But, what impressed me most was that he asked me about what issues I cared about and actually listened. He then explained how his positions affected my concerns.

    In the months since I first met Hatim, I have watched as he developed positions on additional issues. I have witnessed a deliberative process that includes gathering information, considering differing views and working through to a position. So, although I do not agree with every position he has taken (instant runoff elections, for example), I respect the due diligence and collaborative method he uses to come to a conclusion.

    I understand that Hatim has made a similar impression on the Georgetown neighborhood group. He met with them and listened to their concerns and openly discussed his views of their concerns. His ability to actually listen and his desire to seek solutions is impressive.

    I arranged the meeting that Hatim had with Council Member Sabra Briere and former candidate Eric Lipson that led to the photograph on his web site. We discussed issues and election strategy. After the meeting, we took photographs and I asked for endorsements.

    Mr. Lipson offered his endorsement. Council Member Briere explained that she never endorses Council candidates. She did, however, authorize the campaign’s use of her photograph. Similarly, in separate conversations Council Member Mike Anglin gave permission for the use of his photograph.

    I would not read too much into the authorization of the use of the photographs. I would point out that those photographs arise from Hatim working with the good-government, neighborhood advocates on Council. In fact, he is already working closer and better with those Council Members than any of the Greden crowd has.

    His willingness and ability to work with the best members of Council give me reason to believe that electing Hatim to represent the Fourth Ward will improve Council’s responsiveness to the voters.

       —Jack Eaton    Oct. 8 '09 - 06:43PM    #
  352. Bcorman’s legitimate and civil question (#340) whether photos of notables on Elhady’s website were intended as authorized endorsements has led to an interesting exchange, including some fancy footwork by some of these notables. Remarkably, there was no response from Elhady himself, only from putative surrogates who do not claim to be authorized to speak for him, what the CIA calls plausible deniability. The first such response (#341) was an attack asserting in effect that asking Elhady to explain himself amounted to anti-Arab prejudice. If Elhady wants to be taken seriously as a candidate, he cannot remain invisible.

       —Henry Brysk    Oct. 9 '09 - 07:30PM    #
  353. Brysk and others are correct that to some extent the authorized endorsement by name and the authorized use of a photographic image have merged at a practical level. There is another public act, namely donations (which become public record), that is also not a formal endorsement in a traditional sense. Often people do make donations but don’t choose to offer the use of their name as an endorsement. I myself have made a small donation to Elhady, as I revealed on a blog post where I also said some nice things about him, but I demurred from having my name used as an endorser. Why? Because there is a fine semantic line to be crossed here which many of us appear to be having difficulty in defining, but yet exists. (Some other day I will deliver my rant about the practice of endorsements in general.)

    But why should this be the major focus of examination of this or any candidate? AU’s commenters seem to be obsessed with this and with the presence or absence of a website. And since when does a candidate running for office in a particular ward become accountable to (often anonymous) blog readers? I’d urge examination of the record of the incumbent, the statements of the challenger (he is actively campaigning to the people who are actually supposed to vote), and listening to what he has to say at the LWV debate (yes, it is going forward without the participation of the incumbent, as has been done in previous elections). He is not “invisible”.

    And no, I’m not speaking for him and have not discussed this with him or his campaign.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 9 '09 - 08:23PM    #
  354. What grudge does Mr. Brysk have against Elhady?

    Mr. Brysk knows nothing about Elhady. Elhady makes perfectly acceptable speeches at City Council. His education and training are perfectly fine.

    His depth of interest in neighborhood matters are exactly what you would expect of a City Council candidate. He was born and raised in Detroit— he can’t be more American than that, if Americanism is what Mr. Brysk is after.

    If it sounds like I’m endorsing Elhady, I’m not. Honest to God, I don’t care who gets elected. But the ugly slant against Elhady, based on no real issues at all, well, that bothers me.

    Why is the name Elhady so frightening to Mr. Brysk, and what voters is he mobilizing on that basis?

       —Grudge    Oct. 9 '09 - 09:04PM    #
  355. “If Elhady wants to be taken seriously as a candidate, he cannot remain invisible.”

    Well in that case, what about Marica ‘Invisible’ Higgins? Not talking about the last ten weeks—the last ten YEARS.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 9 '09 - 09:28PM    #
  356. Why was comment #349 removed? It is unusual that no reason is given. Did anybody see it before it disappeared? (I know I should probably just shut up about the opaque and aggressive moderation, but it breeds speculation and makes me uneasy.)

       —Michael Schils    Oct. 9 '09 - 10:03PM    #
  357. Comment 349 was probably asking the candidates for their position on the City Council campaign to boycott Israel. All of those comments are removed.

       —Grudge    Oct. 9 '09 - 10:21PM    #
  358. Here is more information about the LWV debate.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 10 '09 - 12:19AM    #
  359. I take exception to the defamation against me in comment #354. Why is it that anyone who asks Elhady to clarify details of his campaign is immediately savaged as a bigot? Elhady’s name does not frighten me, nor am I worried whether he was born in the US (I myself was not). I have not taken a stand to oppose his candidacy, but have stated (and repeat) that a candidate without a record needs to make an extra effort to explain himself on controversial issues, beyond favoring motherhood and apple pie. He is ill-served by the offensive attacks by his pseudonymous supporters, and he needs to disavow them if they do not speak for him. Elhady once stated that his ethnicity should not be an issue (and I agree) but it is only his supporters that are bringing it up, insisting that it entitles him to immunity from any questions. He needs to speak for himself.

       —Henry Brysk    Oct. 10 '09 - 01:40AM    #
  360. Local political observers have opined Marcia Higgins is in for a tough race for re-election in November. She has faced only two serious candidates in the general election – a then-unknown Larry Kestenbaum in 1999 and Ann Arbor Republican Party Chairman Jim Hood in 2005 – and won by razor-thin margins in each race. Those elections involved no major divisive political issues; there is a different scenario at this juncture.

    Marcia Higgins was a key player in the electronic mail controversy that has resulted in a lawsuit against the City of Ann Arbor that is pending in the circuit court. Leigh Greden was swept out of office last August and voters cited the e-mail controversy as a key factor in their decision to oust Greden, despite his apologies to constituents. Unlike Greden, Ms. Higgins has offered no public apologies. I believe that Fourth Ward voters will likewise choose to hold Higgins accountable at the polls this November either by voting for her opponent or not voting at all. I certainly cannot fault voters if they choose this course of action as such accountability is a necessary and desirable option to ensure officeholders toe the line.

    The other major issue is the proposed city income tax ordinance. This issue was the second major reason Third Ward voters gave in voting Greden out of office, as he was an advocate of such an ordinance. Higgins has not committed one way or another on this important issue. Why not? Her opponent has publically declared his opposition to such a tax. Higgins has taken on an uninformed non-position on an issue that is crucial to many Ann Arborites.

    Moreover, unlike the defeated Greden, it has also appeared that the Mayor and his cronies are not supporting Higgins in this election, but are running away from her as fast as they can due to perceptions that she may have become a political liabilty.

    The consensus is that, at best for Higgins, it will be a close election in November. At worst, it will be a comfortable victory for Mr. Elhady at the polls. Some are comparing it to the Anglin-Woods race in the Fifth Ward a few years ago where he beat Wendy Woods by 20% of the votes cast.

    Does anyone dispute this analysis?

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 10 '09 - 01:51AM    #
  361. Higgins also faced a serious challenger, Eric Lipson, in a 2005 primary.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 10 '09 - 02:01AM    #
  362. Hmm. According to the LWV’s website (updated October 3) the debate between Higgins and Elhady is back on.

    Does anyone have definite word on this? Is Higgins going to be able to debate after all?

       —David Cahill    Oct. 10 '09 - 02:19AM    #
  363. Eric Lipson, an alumnus of University of Michigan Law School and a former Ann Arbor Planning Commissioner, is endorsing Hatim Elhady.

    Has Larry Kestenbaum or Jim Hood expressed any preference in this Higgins/Elhady contest?

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 10 '09 - 02:23AM    #
  364. My understanding is that Elhady will answer questions from the LWV though Higgins will not be there. This is consistent with past practice. When I had a Republican opponent and many other Democratic commissioners also were opposed in the general election, the Republican challengers declined to debate. We had a panel of Democratic incumbents (commissioners) who answered questions even though no “debate” was held.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 10 '09 - 03:21AM    #
  365. It appears that I may be the only one here without a horse in this race now that Armentrout, Briere/Cahill, Anglin, Lipson, et al have endorsed Elhady (yeah, yeah, “I don’t ‘endorse’”…whatever. Semantics). Frankly, I very much look forward to the LWV event if it ever takes place. I used to believe that Mr Elhady had exposed himself as green to the extreme but he has somehow snowed some gullible people to take photos with him and donate money to him.

    While I have offered Mr. Elhady some advice previously concerning his 150 bpm speeches, I have now resigned myself to considering the entertainment value.

    Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying.

       —Marvin Face    Oct. 10 '09 - 04:19AM    #
  366. #360 Jerry- I dispute your analysis.

    Larry and Jim were well-respected opponents. Larry was a Dem activist who’d served on the Ingham County Commission; Jim comes from a well-respected family with decades of ties (his father served on Council). But Hatim is an unknown with no community or political experience who recently moved here. To say that he will run as close a race as these established candidates is sort of an insult to Larry and Jim. Hatim may get the “anybody but Marcia” vote (which I personally think is rather small) but do you really think that Larry and Jim got that? Did they not get votes in their own right?

    Hatim is an unknown with little to say about most of the issues except for what some have fed him to say. He appears to not have any in depth knowledge about the city in general, past issues or future issues.

    To think that he will win is laughable.

       —bcorman    Oct. 10 '09 - 06:21AM    #
  367. I don’t have a clear handle on what will happen in the 4th Ward this year, and I’m skeptical that anyone else does, either.

    In all modesty, I ran a pretty good race in 1999. I’d be happy to share copies of the brochures I used. I think I would have won if the weather hadn’t been so bad on Election Day.

    Had I been elected, the Democrats would have had a two-thirds “supermajority” and the ability to override vetoes by then-mayor Ingrid Sheldon.

    At that time, the only thing Ingrid had ever vetoed was the four-way stop sign on Dhu Varren Road, but everybody knew that the real issue was a living wage ordinance (for city contracts).

    Hence, living wage activists worked on my campaign, and the Ann Arbor News strongly endorsed Marcia.

    The News also portrayed me as a pro-density pro-development extremist, notwithstanding my years on the Historic District Commission.

    In retrospect, I’m relieved that I didn’t end up on city council.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 10 '09 - 04:13PM    #
  368. Re comment#357:
    Prior to the Democratic primary, AU included the “Boycott Israel” campaign among the questions for candidates and even devoted a whole thread to it. Clearly, the moderators consider it a valid issue and would allow it to be posed to candidates that did not participate in the primary. I agree, in the spirit of fairness, even though I believe that the Council has no business dabbling in foreign policy.

       —Henry Brysk    Oct. 10 '09 - 07:19PM    #
  369. I see that Fourth Ward candidate Hatim Elhady has obtained the endorsements of Eric Lipson as well as the Sierra Club at the local and state levels. These are valuable endorsements.

    My personal belief is that Mr. Elhady’s chances at victory are substantially enhanced by the quality and quantity of endorsements he can garner. The fact that the maverick elements in city politics e.g. Karen Sidney, Mike Anglin, Sabra Briere etc. have given their support is a positive thing.

    I have also noticed that Mr. Elhady has been meeting with a number of local civic groups and has been actively campaigning on the University of Michigan campus to encourage student voting, sothat is a plus on his campaign efforts.

    At Post No. 160, above, I described the August 4th primary election as a “litmus test” as to the electorate’s reaction to the electronic mail controversy that some have dubbed a “scandal”. The electorate in the Third Ward in voting Greden out of office told interveiwers that the e-mail issue was a factor in voting against Greden as was Greden’s support of the City Income Tax.

    Clearly Higgins was a major figure in the e-mail story that was pounded home by the Ann Arbor News, so I have every reason it will also be an issue among Fourth Ward voters that will harm Higgins in the general election. The lawsuit that was instigated by Noah Hall against the City of Ann Arbor for Open Meetings Act violations and other charges will likely cost the City hundreds if not thousands of attorney fees in litigation.

    Higgins also has not enunciated any position on the City Income Tax, which is not consistent with her role as a representative of the Fourth ward on City Council to addvocate for their interests.

    Many residents are supporting Elhady due to the fact that a victory for him would reduce the political power of what has been termed the “Mayor’s Club”, the “Council Party”, the “Hieftje Eight”, or the “Gang of Seven”, thus reducing the influence of that group to a 7-4 majority with several vulnerable members facing re-election next year.

    Jerry Gilbert and bcorman make good points above; I especially concur that I have the utmost respect for both Larry Kestenbaum and Jim Hood; I would like to see Jim run next year for Teall’s seat. I however believe at this point I give an edge to Elhady largely due to the voter fallout over the e-mail issue; its a proven vote-killer and it will likely harm Higgins’ re-election efforts.

       —Junior    Oct. 10 '09 - 11:04PM    #
  370. I find it interesting that Larry Kestenbaum, arguably the most visible Fourth Ward elected figure, and Mayor Hieftje, clearly the most powerful elected Democrat from Ann Arbor, have failed to voice any support to the re-election candidacy of Democratic Party nominee incumbent Marcia Higgins. These non-endorsements speak volumes of how Higgins is being viewed by fellow Democrats in Ann Arbor. This is in addition to what has already been pointed out on this thread: that many prominent Democrats, including Sabra Briere, Mike Anglin, Vivienne Armentrout, and Eric Lipson have expressed support for the Elhady candidacy.

    I am happy to see that the fallout of the e-mail controversy has been deemed a material issue by the voters. Not only has Higgins and her e-mailing cohorts on City Council exposed the City of Ann Arbor to potentially hundreds of thousands in legal fees, but this pending lawsuit has the potential to invalidate many actions approved by the City Council since this is a possible remedy available under the Open Meetings Act.

    The really political aspect of the lawsuit is the fact that Engler appointee Archie Brown is sitting as the circuit judge hearing the lawsuit. He has longstanding ties to the Republican Party and in the past has not hesitated to toe the ultraconservative line while stepping on the toes of local interests. A prime example being the instance where he essentially put an end to the practice of allowing gay and lesbian couples to adopt children in Washtenaw County, causing a stir in Metro Detroit’s LGBT community.

    Couple this with the fact that the plaintiffs in the Open Meetings Act lawsuit have retained the Hooper Hathaway firm to sue the City of Ann Arbor. Why that law firm may ring a bell is because they formerly represented the City of Ann Arbor while Republican Mayor Ingrid Sheldon held office in the 1990s. The firm maintains close ties to local Republican Party interests as does Judge Brown. This means that Judge Brown has the discretion to examine City Council actions (adopted by Democrats) and invalidate them on the grounds of violating the Open Meetings Act.

    That Circuit Court lawsuit is pending and may take years before resolution in the courts. Judge Brown could award the plaintiffs their legal costs incurred if they prevail in this suit alleging Open Meeting Act violations in addition to other damages.

    Third Ward voters have already held Leigh Greden accountable for his role in this e-mail scandal. It is now time to likewise hold Marcia Higgins accountable.

    Vote for Hatim Elhady this November.

       —John Dory    Oct. 11 '09 - 11:13PM    #
  371. [removed]
       —Grudge    Oct. 12 '09 - 11:04PM    #
  372. There is a palpable absence of leadership currently existing in Ann Arbor City Council.

    It is indeed telling that Marcia Higgins, a 10-year incumbent, has not one major endorsement other than Leah Gunn that is disclosed on her website despite the fact she sits on the executive committee of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party and, on the other hand, a 21-year old political tyro, her independent opponent, has already garnered the support of Mike Anglin, Eric Lipson, and several other prominent and respected Democrats.

    It shows everyone its time for change in the Fourth Ward.

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 13 '09 - 05:10AM    #
  373. I cannot think of a more critical time to support a candidate with experience over one with none.

    It also appears clear to me that Ms. Higgins has a significant family issue that she is dealing with presently. It seems that her campaign is suffering, including the ask for endorsements. She has been the Council point person for the A2D2 project and has done a fine job. She has my vote.

       —CDBF    Oct. 13 '09 - 06:43AM    #
  374. Ms. Higgins should be judged on her last ten years, not last ten weeks. Having said that, the last decade of her time on council has been a failure. Experience with failure isn’t the kind of experience we need.

    The Mayor has been to busy hugging trees to voice his support for Higgins. Lol.

    It’s time for a change.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 13 '09 - 02:31PM    #
  375. Alan wasn’t engaging in hyperbole, at least about the Mayor as tree-hugger.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 13 '09 - 04:40PM    #
  376. Alan, I don’t understand how you can say that the last ten years have been a failure. We are the most fiscally sound city in the state. The city has been able to sustain most of their services in an extremely tough recession while other municipalities and even our own county has had to SLASH their budgets. Your standards are way too high if you call the job our council has done over the past 10 years a failure.

    If Ann Arbor is considered a failure what are the other municipalities in this state considered?

    Expecting perfection is fantasy.

    These are tough times and tough decisions need to be made. We need someone on council who can stand up for what is in the best interest for the city rather than a person who kowtows to a few people (the vocal minority).

    It takes leadership to vote against very vocal constituents who may misunderstand the facts and not realize that their opinion is not correct for the situation. In my opinion Marcia Higgins has that leadership.

    I want to have an experienced person on council represent me rather than an inexperienced person who just recites bullet points fed to him.

       —bcorman    Oct. 13 '09 - 05:08PM    #
  377. bcorman,

    Ann Arbor has done well due to the fact it is a college town; other towns in Michigan have been devastated by the collapse of the auto industry. Ann Arbor has done well despite the City Council not because of it. This town is run by developers (people with their fingers in the cookie jar), I want this town run by people who live here and have to live with the consequences of the decisions that are made. If you’re part of the gang of eight, you got your hands in the cookie jar and it’s time to go.
       —ChuckL    Oct. 13 '09 - 07:24PM    #
  378. Vivienne, on the bright side, the mayor at least wasn’t riding around on a tank with his helmet on backwards. Lol. Bu the picture did look pretty goofy.

    I wish Marcia Higgins would release some talking points. Her website isn’t any help and don’t even bring up her lack of making herself available at public forums. You call her great work on the Stadium Bridges ‘leadership’? The Court-Police Building? The ash tree replacement program? City income tax? Is she a Republican or a Democrat? It’s funny how the mayor invited her into the Democratic Party and now is absolutely silent on whether he even supports her this year.

    All I know I’ve never seen her campaign in my neighborhood and I’ve been in this ward for 15 years. I didn’t called Council a failure—I called Ms. Higgins a failure.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 13 '09 - 07:27PM    #
  379. “I want to have an experienced person on council represent me rather than an inexperienced person who just recites bullet points fed to him.”

    As would most voters. The question is whether Marcia Higgins is the person whose views “represent me”. I think there’s a block of voters who would say “No”. That’s an interesting idea that Marcia Higgins should get full credit for everything that has gone right in the past 10 years but none of the blame for missteps and mistakes?

       —John Q.    Oct. 13 '09 - 07:43PM    #
  380. I am not saying that Marcia should get full credit, but she also not get full blame for every problem that ever comes up in the city.

    If the city council has made so many wrong decisions in the past, then the city would not be doing this well, plain and simple; there would be some major effect that is quite noticeable. The fact is we ARE the most fiscally sound city in the state.

    To try and change our process or elected officials when we are doing so well as a city has a higher likelihood of us falling from good to poor than rising from best to perfect.

    To say that our city is doing well but if other decisions or the opposite decisions would make us “better” than great or “perfect” is rather speculative and not based any real fact or reasoning.

    If you can blame the elected officials for the bad times then shouldn’t they get credit for the good times? If their actions cause the bad times than their actions also create the good times. But of course that logic would not be able to support you bias against Marcia.

    So I want a representative to represent me but also do whats right for the city when needed, regardless of the criticisms from a few naysayers.

    Marcia does represent me and will get my vote. I can count on her to do the right thing on my behalf for the city. I don’t believe Elhady understands what the role of an elected official is(as illustrated in his youtube videos!).

       —bcorman    Oct. 13 '09 - 08:17PM    #
  381. Clearly the question is whether you do think the city is “doing so well”. Higgins has been part of the prevailing coalition, so can take credit or blame depending on your perception of the direction the city has gone and the priorities chosen.

    Rene Greff made some interesting comments about Higgins in an interview on A2Politico today. She’s not endorsing Elhady, though.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 13 '09 - 08:46PM    #
  382. It is amazing to me that anyone can actually claim with a straight face that the city is NOT doing well.

    Politics aside, to claim failure just shows ignorance and that you are not paying attention.

    If many of you don’t want to have Marica Higgins represent you, fine, but don’t blame her for a “failure” that does not exist or future problems that have not occurred but you feel might happen one day.

       —bcorman    Oct. 13 '09 - 08:54PM    #
  383. Every time I drive over the Stadium Bridges, located in the 4th Ward, the only word that comes to mind is failure.

    Ms. Higgins should have taken the lead roll in this issue, and she didn’t. And if you call jacking up my water bills to cover ‘police protection’ of the water treatment plant a ‘success’…then I guess you got me there.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 13 '09 - 09:05PM    #
  384. Eh, lead ROLE

    But of course, thanks to Marcia, not much will be rolling over the bridge in the very near future.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 13 '09 - 09:07PM    #
  385. “Rene Greff made some interesting comments about Higgins in an interview on A2Politico today. She’s not endorsing Elhady, though.”

    First, I admit that I didn’t go to the blog referenced above because I don’t want to drive up the 14 page views per week that it gets now.

    Second, everyone in town knows Rene is viewed as a loose cannon so I don’t think that anything she could possibly say would be viewed as “interesting” or surprising. She’s always seems to be under someone’s skin. With that said, at least she hasn’t endorsed Elhady. Although now that i think about it…maybe i wish she would.

       —Marvin Face    Oct. 14 '09 - 12:20AM    #
  386. I wanted to see how Marcia’s positions have evolved over the years since her days as a Republican member of the council. Rob Goodspeed’s candidate profiles from 2003 are still available online via cached pages. But alas, even then, Marcia was unavailable for comment.

       —John Q.    Oct. 14 '09 - 12:26AM    #
  387. Marvin (and others), I think it would be worth you time to read Greff’s a2politico interview. It is a landmark in local journalism.

    A2politico claims over 1,000 unique visitors per day. Its home page shows the number of visitors on at any given time. That figure hovers around 10-20 per hour, every day.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 14 '09 - 12:55AM    #
  388. Oop! That should be “10-20 at any given time, every day.”

       —David Cahill    Oct. 14 '09 - 12:57AM    #
  389. Landmark in local journalism? LOL LOL
    Only if you compare it to the National Enquirer.

    I read it…it is just a biased complaint form a former disgruntled board member.

    My interpretation is that the DDA had gotten drunk with power and when put in their place by the council, the DDA threw a tantrum. Rene Greff is expressing sour grapes.

    I actually think that the article does not make her look very good.

       —bcorman    Oct. 14 '09 - 01:09AM    #
  390. First Ward City Council member (and candidate) Sabra Briere’s website is finally up.

    The Contact Sabra link doesn’t work yet. You can reach her at I hope.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 14 '09 - 05:48PM    #
  391. At a meeting of the Michigan Student Assembly last night with an unusually high number of members of the public present, a speaker raised the issue of the candidacy of U-M student Hatim Elhady for Ann Arbor City Council and recognized the exceptional amount of support he was receiving not only from students but from civic leaders in Ann Arbor at large.

    The speaker concluded by urging Assembly members to support his candidacy by encouraging all students registered in the Fourth Ward to vote. This was met with widespread applause by all present.

    It appears that University of Michigan students are supporting the candidacy of Hatim Elhady.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 14 '09 - 10:02PM    #
  392. Is anyone out there supporting candidate Mitchell Ozog or has any opinion regarding him.

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 15 '09 - 04:23AM    #
  393. Is anyone out there supporting candidate Mitchell Ozog or has any opinion regarding him?

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 15 '09 - 04:23AM    #
  394. While not willing to hazard a guess on the outcome of the Fourth Ward council race, I’m nonetheless confident that the final result will not be determined any of the following:

    > Email-gate
    > Construction on the library lot
    > The new city hall building & sculpture
    > The incumbent’s experience
    > The Fourth Ward debate, or lack thereof
    > The Stadium bridge, or lack thereof
    > A political alliance with the mayor
    > Or a political alliance with his opponents
    > Endorsements from politicians or students
    > UM Argo-nauts making more waves
    > Hugging huge oak trees

    The contest will instead be won by whoever builds the best rapport with residents while out in the streets knocking on a lot of doors throughout the area’s neighborhoods. The winner will have made the most lasting and positive impression over the course of many one-on-one encounters with the Fourth Ward’s deciders. The impression left behind will have been so strong that some of these residents actually choose to join the small cult who’ll make the pilgrimage to the local polls early next month.

    In contrast, other common electioneering activities — such as mailings, door hangers, and election eve calls & emails to known supporters — will play secondary support roles. They are helpful but take a back seat to the many hours of door-to-door meet & greet. As for “new media,” the primary purpose for developing a nice web site is to satisfy the expectation that a candidate should have one; it helps provide a professional appearance, similar to a well-written & designed campaign brochure.

    Meanwhile, the presumed “issues” in the ward, as debated here and elsewhere, won’t matter much at all in comparison to how voters respond to direct meetings with one or both candidates. The practiced talking points which each contender repeats in person to individual Fourth Ward residents may ultimately mean little. In fact, the key to a winning campaign could be how the candidates conduct themselves during those times on their door-to-door visits when they stay quiet and say not a word.

    That is, the real test will be how well each of them can listen.

       —yet another    Oct. 15 '09 - 04:59PM    #
  395. A candidate who is on the wrong side of the issues as seen by the majority of voters almost never wins, no matter how much of the above they do. The ground work is important to all campaigns but the perception that a candidate is out-of-synch with ward voters will trump a good ground game every time.

       —John Q.    Oct. 15 '09 - 06:18PM    #
  396. Regarding #394 and #395: you are both right. I thought “yet another” was very insightful, yet ultimately the voters must trust the candidate to do the right thing, whatever that is.

    Now let’s speculate on what effect the other items on the ballot (the WISD millage and the city charter change) might have on the 4th Ward race. Will these pull out a different group of voters than those who would otherwise vote, and will it influence the tilt?

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 15 '09 - 06:39PM    #
  397. Yes, a bigger turnout will favor the challenger as it will dilute the circle of the Higgins supporters that have personally benefitted from her incumbency e.g. firefighters union members.

    Door-to-door electioneering played a key role in the lopsided upset win of Mike Anglin over Wendy Woods in 2005 and will likely propel Hatim Elhady into getting more votes.

    Don’t forget Eugene Kang’s respectable showing in 2005 with the same type of student support that Hatim Elhady has.

    I predict an Elhady victory in November.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 15 '09 - 08:31PM    #
  398. I just got a robocall in opposition to the two charter changes. The call didn’t identify who was paying for it.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 15 '09 - 10:31PM    #
  399. Vivienne, what did the call say?

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 16 '09 - 02:13AM    #
  400. A candidate who is on the wrong side of the issues as seen by the majority of voters almost never wins … the perception that a candidate is out-of-synch with ward voters will trump a good ground game every time.

    The personal characteristics and communication skills of a particular candidate can trump “the issues” time after time in local (or small district) elections where “retail” campaigning is possible. When voters meets a candidate and get a sense that this individual shows integrity, intelligence, respect for others, along with understanding/empathy for residents’ interests and concerns, they will begin to overlook differences on political issues. It’s in these situations that a genuine capacity to listen really matters.

    Through consistently developing good one-on-one rapport while out in the ward talking to residents, an effective candidate becomes more in-synch, issues notwithstanding, and builds support. That won’t always be enough to get people to change their vote — or even enough to get them to vote — but it can, and does, swing the difference.

    David Bonior and Howard Wolpe come to mind as two examples in Michigan of liberal politicians who repeatedly won reelection in their congressional districts despite regularly being perceived as “out of touch” with majority opinion in these Republican-leaning areas. Each was also said to engage in a personalized campaign style that gave emphasis to frequent direct contact with voters as individuals or in small groups. Wolpe’s (and possibly Bonior’s) eventual failure in a campaign for governor was attributed in no small part to an inability to transition his “retail’ campaign style from the district level to a statewide contest.

    On the other side of the political spectrum, one politician who did master this kind of transition was Ronald Reagan, who applied his lifelong training and experience as an actor. Some surveys showed that among voters in 1980 and/or 1984 there were a surprising number quite willing to vote for Reagan despite being opposed to most of his views on prominent issues (which became clear when they were asked about these issues as separate questions). It seems they felt comfortable with the mass media image of straight-talking Uncle Ronnie — more so than with candidates Carter, Mondale, Jesse Jackson or John Anderson, with whom they shared more common ground on issues.

    In regard to Reagan, one is reminded of a quote from the 1950s passed along numerous times by senior journalist Daniel Schorr:

    In “Staying Tuned,” his 2001 memoir, Schorr recalls asking a producer when he first arrived at CBS what it took to succeed in television. The reply: “Sincerity. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

       —yet another    Oct. 16 '09 - 03:22AM    #
  401. The Ann Arbor Chronicle has a report about the calls.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 16 '09 - 03:21PM    #
  402. Has any current City Council candidate engaged in bulk campaign mailings or You Tube videos?

    Is Marcia Higgins or Mitchell Ozog doing anything at all to campaign other than putting up a website?

       —AnnetteGilbert    Oct. 17 '09 - 03:37AM    #
  403. I support Hatim Elhady for City Council because he represents fresh ideas and a commitment for listening to the needs of constituents, which has been lacking in recent years in the Fourth Ward.

    Jack Eaton’s prior post is dead on correct and illustrates why we need to have Mr. Elhady replace Marcia Higgins on City Council.

       —Kerry D.    Oct. 19 '09 - 04:49AM    #
  404. Today’s paper says that many meetings’ emails will be released. They may show that a great many decisions were made outside of City council deliberations, which is a violation of the law. Who will prosecute? And how do Higgins and Elhady view the secret email communication between members?

       —Calaban    Oct. 19 '09 - 05:27AM    #
  405. Don’t forget, the Ann Arbor League of Women Voters is holding debates on Thursday October 22 for City Council First Ward and Fourth Ward candidates.

    The debates will be held at the Cable Television Network (CTN) Studios, 2805 S. Industrial Hwy. and televised on Comcast Channel 19.

    According to their web site:

    “Ward 1: Sabra Briere (D, incumbent) and Mitchell Ozog (no party affiliation, challenger.) 7-7:30 pm

    “Ward 4: Marcia Higgins (D, incumbent) and Hatim Elhady (no party affiliation, challenger). 8-8:30 pm

    “The debate will be broadcast on CTN Channel 19, with repeat broadcasts from Oct 22 until Nov. 2.”

    As previously noted on ArborUpdate, Council Member Higgins is not expected to attend, due to her daughter’s serious health problems.

       —Jack Eaton    Oct. 19 '09 - 11:37PM    #
  406. There’s an interview with Hatim Elhady posted here:

       —Yale89    Oct. 20 '09 - 12:19AM    #
  407. The Hatim Elhady organization is conducting a campaign blitz in the Fourth Ward as Mr. Elhady has knocked on hundreds of doors of Fourth Ward residents and blue lawn signs touting his candidacy are springing up.

    The Marcia Higgins campaign has been all but non-existent and invisible.

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 21 '09 - 02:28AM    #
  408. When did lawn signs become a good indicator of a person’s ability to fairly and thoughtfully represent constituents? Based on what I am seeing here and what I have heard and read elsewhere, the campaign against Marcia looks like a disgruntled group of people told Marcia to jump, and were ticked off that she didn’t ask them ‘How high?’. Ann Arbor voters should be smarter than to fall for these kinds of tactics, and it is frankly disappointing to see them so easily swayed by snarky sound bites. You will not find a harder working city council person than Marcia Higgins. She is somebody who spends the time trying to look at all sides of an issue. If you have a question regarding an issue, or if you would like to express an opinion, Marcia is willing to listen. She will give you a respectful hearing, even if she doesn’t share your opinion. During her tenure on council she has spent a great deal of time drilling down into the inner workings of the City so that when issues arise, she either knows how they may effect various departments, or she knows how to quickly find out. This call for change seems more like a call by a handful of people to push out the person they cannot push around in favor of somebody who will owe them, big time. Is that in the City’s best interest?

       —urkiddingme    Oct. 22 '09 - 07:04PM    #
  409. I am anonymous. I don’t care to give my name, nor do I want to held accountable for what I say. Therefore, my opinion should carry very little weight. I have that in common with “urkiddingme”, who just posted.

    You may notice that “urkiddingme” is unable to point to any serious initiatives that were created, and pushed through to completion, by Higgins. Instead, see a lot of vague language about how she really, really knows all the poeple in the city government.

    OK, then, she is part of the good old network, one of “us” city government hangers-on. That is the unspoken claim made for her by the anonymous “urkiddingme”. You know, it’s almost like she’s being advertised as more than one of “us”, almost like “one of us fellow whites”, always willing to listen to white concerns.

    Why does that whiff come off of “urkiddingme”? Because of his/her inability to specify what on earth Higgins has stood and fought for, policy-wise, and gotten done, policy-wise. If Higgins has done nothing (as she has), then why be so hard on the new guy, who already has done things even outside of City Council.

    The new guy, Elhady, takes a great interest in city policy, neighborhood policy, Argo dam policy, talks about policy all the time, meets with hundreds of neighborhood people, and has seized chances to become part of policymaking as high up as the State Department, and from Detroit to Europe.

    This is no endorsement of ANY of those policies, and certainly no endorsement of the State Department.

    But when you look at a young go-getter, with all that energy, all those vocal policy interests, all those hundreds of campaign meetings with neighbors, all that eagerness to dive into municipal business, you have to contrast it with Higgins’s record of, uh… what?

       —Anonymous    Oct. 22 '09 - 07:38PM    #
  410. Anonymous-your young go-getter is lacking some very important things, namely competence and tact.

    Wanting something is not leading, complaining is not action.

    Understanding that decisions a city councilmember makes will be tough, hard, and at times completely correct yet extremely unpopular with some residents is what the job is about.

    All I hear from the so-called “Elhady campaign” is whining about decisions they don’t like, false accusations about Marcia’s performance (anyone who pays attention sees how hard she works) and the desperate action of playing the race card.

    I don’t like Elhady because plain and simple he has no character. He is a puppet being used by this “anti-everything” group in Ann Arbor that ignores facts and purposely lies in order to fool the public.

       —bcorman    Oct. 22 '09 - 08:14PM    #
  411. Again, we see no specific complaints against Elhady’s policies, nor any knowledge of them. You seem to wear your ignorance of his policy positions as a badge of honor. So again I have to ask, why such anger against a young man who has done you no harm? There is no possible answer except for a very strong racial hatred against a young man you don’t know and don’t want to know.

    Like “bcorman”, I don’t want to be held accountable for my comments. That is why both of us post anonymously. You should accord our opinions no weight. Instead, listen to what the candidates say. (But only one of them is making himself heard on any policy issues.)

       —Anonymous    Oct. 22 '09 - 08:21PM    #
  412. Wish I had a Marcia Higgins for Council lawn sign to post on the Stadium Bridges.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 22 '09 - 08:43PM    #
  413. Anonymous – I have not said anything against Mr. Elhady other than he will be indebted to those who are pushing so hard to get him onto council in place of Ms. Higgins. It is frankly baffling how you can draw the conclusion that my desire to see an experienced, honest, reasonable, responsible, hardworking person remain on City Council so she can continue to provide these great qualities to our City is in some why racially motivated.
    BTW Mr. Goldsmith – it is interesting that you have decided that Ms. Higgins is solely responsible for the condition of the Stadium Bridges. She must be a very powerful person indeed.

       —urkiddingme    Oct. 22 '09 - 08:47PM    #
  414. I know what you mean when you can’t name a blessed thing Higgins has created and pushed through, yet you call her “experienced, honest, reasonable, responsible, hardworking”.

    You mean, “listen, she’s white, she’s one of us.”

    You’ve had several chances to name anything, anything at all, she has created and pushed through City Council, in all these many years.

    But you can’t.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 22 '09 - 09:03PM    #
  415. Mr. Elhady is very driven on a long menu of city and regional policy issues. Higgins isn’t, at all.

    Elhady’s long list of issues is below, and I am not saying I agree with him. But look at what he has already taken on:

    Neighborhoods First & Transparency for the 4th Ward

    * I believe the public must have a say before Council issues Requests For Proposals (RFPs) to developers for the development of public-owned land. * I will establish weekly office hours so we can talk about the direction you’d like to see Ann Arbor take on the issues that impact the Fourth Ward. * I will send out a monthly electronic newsletter to keep you involved and updated.

    Oppose City Income Tax

    * Such taxes encourage sprawl by encouraging people who work in the city to lower their tax burden by living outside the city. The recent city-sponsored study claims that up to 70,000 people commute daily into Ann Arbor, but this data has never been independently corroborated. It has been suggested that the number of commuters who would be subject to any such tax is inflated by perhaps more than one-third. A city income tax would shift the tax burden from businesses to individuals. * It hurts renters. About half of the 47,000 residences in Ann Arbor are rental properties. It’s unlikely landlords would pass along any property tax savings due to the city income tax to renters by lowering their rents.

    DAM IN!

    * Over 44,000 people each year rent boats at Ann Arbor’s canoe liveries. Argo Pond hosts the University of Michigan rowing teams and our high school rowing teams. * The Argo Dam has the potential to generate hydroelectric power. As reported by the, the VA Hospital receives incentives from the federal government for using renewable energy. Matt Naud, the city’s environmental coordinator, has said the hospital is doing a feasibility study for hydroelectric power.

    Fiscal Prioritization

    * I want to work to restructure the retirement pension and VEBA healthcare boards by implementing the Mayor’s 2005 Blue Ribbon Committee report’s recommendations (requires a Charter amendment). At the moment, city employees sit on the boards and determine their own pension increases and benefit levels. To better reign in these costs (retiree pensions and health benefits are one of the city’s largest budget line items), the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Committee members recommended that the boards be reconfigured. * I will work to see that city budgets allocate tax dollars to programs and services for the health, safety and welfare of our residents. Services must come before incentivitizing new development and indebting taxpayers further for public-private development projects. City debt has doubled over the past four years. * I want to rebuild our city’s human capital. So-called “streamlining” of city staff hasn’t saved taxpayers money. Today, Ann Arbor employs 300 fewer city staff than in 2000, but we spend more on employee compensation than ever before. That’s because our city has simply replaced “streamlined” employees with an unhealthy (and expensive) dependence on outside consultants and independent contractors. Use of consultants and independent contractors has impacted the quality of customer service the City can provide to residents. * I believe we should continue on the path to reduce spending through collaboration with county officials in areas such as IT, legal services, and public works. * Restructure solid waste franchising and funding to ensure city tax dollars are not wasted.


    1. Establish a bipartisan oversight committee.


    2. Set up a special revenue fund for the solid waste millage.


    3. Keep the solid waste enterprise fund.


    4. Make sure the special revenue fund compensates the enterprise fund the going rate for services.


    Environment * I support the Greenway and support the Greenbelt Iinitiative. The over-burdened Allen Creek watershed is currently in critical condition, it is necessary to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff as much as possible in order to safeguard Fourth Warders and their homes. My support rests, primarily, then, on the belief that we need careful risk management of Ann Arbor’s floodplain. Secondarily, a greenway would provide the downtown area with much-needed green space. * I believe in order to support an expanding greenway we must keep development away from the City’s Fourth Ward floodway and the city’s floodplain. * I support Ann Arbor’s current building height limit

    Airport Expansion

    * I oppose the extension of the airport runway. * Up to date there has not been any serious safety issues. MDOT and the FAA have cited a non safety purpose for runway extension. * Runway extension without weight restrictions for B-II, critical aircraft, could lead to more airport traffic, thus increasing the noise level for surrounding neighborhoods.
       —Anonymous    Oct. 22 '09 - 09:19PM    #
  416. There you go again…..the race card.

    You do know that every time you use the race card or harp on the fact that someone is an anonymous poster, whether they are or not, that you basically concede that the other person made a real point.

    As for arguing her record with you, it is futile. If I said the sky was blue you would argue that no, it is actually green. And you would use a silly argument that since sometimes on a rare occasion in a thunderstorm about once every five years, the sky turns a shade of green during a tornado, that the sky cannot actually be blue. You would use that silly logic to justify your lies in order to pass them off as truths while declaring that saying the sky is blue is deceptive.

    No thanks…ya know the sky is actually blue regardless if your color blind.

       —bcorman    Oct. 22 '09 - 09:32PM    #
  417. So Ms. Higgins and Ms. Teall, aren’t responsible for championing the bridge replacement in their ward that has been on the radar as an issue since 2001?

    Guess I’m confused about what a council rep is supposed to do.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 22 '09 - 09:47PM    #
  418. You might try to compare the two candidates on the issues, and on the record.

    Or, like Higgins supporters, you might clam up and say:

    “As for arguing her record with you, it is futile.”


    Yes, she has no record, after all these years, and no interest in any issues, after all these years.

    Mr. Elhady, on the other hand, takes a deep, publicly-held interest in a long menu of issues vital to the city and the region, with the energy and (at his young age) a certain sophistication and experience that comes from working at a relatively high level for U.S. governmental bodies in Europe.

    Again, I am not endorsing his policies or U.S. governmental bodies in Europe.

    But compare the two of these candidates.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 22 '09 - 09:53PM    #
  419. Are any of you anonymous posters residents of the Fourth Ward?

       —David Cahill    Oct. 22 '09 - 11:01PM    #
  420. I can tell you two good reasons to listen to nothing which I have to say: first, I am posting anonymously, and second, I have no concept of where these wards begin and end. But I still have a right, I think, to notice a very full platform of policy issues held by Mr. Elhady, and a very empty one held by Ms. Higgins, who has spent 10 years doing essentially nothing on the City Council.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 22 '09 - 11:17PM    #
  421. Anonymous, a quick search on the city website turns up many resolutions Ms. Higgins has sponsored or co-sponsored ranging from, keeping the public access channels in place so that people with basic cable would still have access to them, to directing the city to take measures to meet the MDEQ standards on the Argo head race, to petitioning the Washtenaw County Drain Commissioner to improve Allen Creek Storm water controls along Stadium Blvd to reduce down stream flooding and improve water quality, to directing the City Attorney to prepare a comprehensive review and plan for revision of the City’s zoning and planning ordinances… this was from a quick search on She has also served on numerous committees both internal to the City and public facing committees that include community members as well – you can look those up too. Perhaps these are not issues that you care about or support, though it appears that you don’t support Mr. Elhady’s positions on topics either as you make a disclaimer at the end of each post. Perhaps this is just a semantics argument for you? To say that Ms. Higgins has no record is false, and as the information is publicly available it leads one to wonder why you would say otherwise? Also, I am still not sure what leap of logic takes one from supporting the incumbent to being a racist?

       —urkiddingme    Oct. 22 '09 - 11:42PM    #
  422. I suppose I am one of the “anti-everything” Elhady supporters mentioned above. Actually I support the Allen Creek Greenway, repairing Stadium bridges (as a bridge or grade level street, just something that’s not falling down), and a central park on top of the underground library parking lot. I also support putting city residents before land speculators and that leads me to support new representation in the 4th Ward.

    Marcia Higgins’ web site devotes a whole page to her “Accomplishments”. After 10 years on the Council she lists the following 7 accomplishments (with my parenthetical comments):

    1. Is working with Georgetown residents on issues with Georgetown Mall.
    (after talking to Higgins and Elhady, Larry Horvath, from the Georgetown Neighborhood Association endorsed Elhady)

    2. Sponsored legislation to create Dicken Woods.
    (in the 5 years since this action, she has lost the support of our neighborhood. Jack Eaton (me) of the Friends of Dicken Woods endorsed Elhady)

    3. Worked with Allmendinger neighborhood on preservation of street trees, noise and traffic issues.
    (see next comment)

    4. Worked successfully with Iroquois residents to protect traffic calming program
    (I am unfamiliar with the efforts described in 3 and 4, but when Eric Lipson sought Higgins help with traffic calming on his residential street between Packard and Industrial, he found Higgins to be uncooperative and unhelpful. Lipson has endorsed Elhady)

    5. Led successful effort to “down-zone” Lower Burns Park neighborhood
    (yup, she did this. Oddly, no one screamed NIMBY when she protected this burns park area from student housing)

    6. Led the public process for downtown rezoning; ensured all voices were heard
    (A2D2 is an incomplete project. If it passes with the current voluntary design guideline process, then the voices that were heard were disregarded)

    7. Co-sponsored legislation creating Germantown historic district study committee
    (Higgins voted against a December 2008 resolution to create a Germantown Historic study committee. At the eleventh hour – summer 2009 – she supported a study committee for a smaller district. By waiting that long, the she and the Council exposed the City to a law suit from the City Place development. A supportive vote, or a timely amendment in Dec. 2008 would have avoided the potential liability)

    Seven bullet points from ten years of service. Excuse me for not being impressed.

    During that time, Higgins was also deeply involved in the budget process that placed higher priority on consultants and unnecessary public building than on public safety staffing. The police department has gone from 200 officers to 125 and the fire department is about to lose 14 firefighters.

    The Stadium bridge project is the matter most in need of leadership in our ward. Yet, a memo from City staff indicates that the project planning was held up by our 4th ward representatives Higgins and Teal. See: That delay led to the City’s failure to have a “shovel-ready” plan to submit for Federal stimulus funding.

    I like Higgins as a person, but being likable is not the sole qualification for serving on Council. Elhady is charming and likable. I find him responsive, hard working and believe he will represent the interests of fourth ward voters. I think he will have more than 7 “accomplishments” after he has served for 10 years.

       —Jack Eaton    Oct. 23 '09 - 12:01AM    #
  423. I am a person who thinks that the city needs people on council who do treat it like a large business because that is what it is in my opinion. Money comes in, services need to be provided, budgets need to be set and met or trimmed depending on what is going on and how much revenue is coming in. Having members on council like Marcia is the only way to provide some balance for what I have seen as a pretty left leaning group. Maybe you would rather that person not be from the fourth ward and I am sure you will vote accordingly.

    I wonder, do the data indicate that we are less safe with the current law enforcement staffing? Or will be be less safe with fewer fire fighters? Sometimes more is simply more, but because we are talking about police and firefighters, the reaction tends toward the notion that fewer of them must mean we are less safe. The knee jerk response to my argument is usually – do you want to find out when it is you who needs one, and the answer is obviously no, but it would be difficult to prove. Do we know? Are calls for help going unanswered? I haven’t heard or read about anything indicating that. If they are, then I am clearly off base.

    I don’t think Marcia’s lack of campaigning or her incomplete web page should be seen the measure of her accomplishments. As has been stated above, her daughter is quite ill and that has undoubtedly and rightfully been focus of her attention during this election cycle. Not an excuse, just another thing to take into consideration.

       —urkiddingme    Oct. 23 '09 - 12:38AM    #
  424. Now I see your motivation. You see Marcia as a reliable Republican (recently calling herself a Democrat). Her inertness is something you see as business-like, like a CEO or something. You see Elhady as “pretty left leaning” although you know, and say, simply nothing about his positions.

    Elhady has given no indication of “leaning” anyplace, except on various city and regional issues about which you are still uninterested in examining his positions. Again, why the automatic hostility to Elhady, when you know, and say, nothing about his actual policy positions?

       —Anonymous    Oct. 23 '09 - 01:24AM    #
  425. I have heard a plethora of pro-Higgins posters for months on end give everyone a vague endorsement that Marcia Higgins is “hard-working”,“reasonable” et cetera. It turns out that many of these posters are either anonymous or who are exposed later as political allies of Higgins. The best example of this was the ubiquitous “Diane” who was suspiciously always quick to rebut any anti-Higgins post on this blog. That Diane turned out to be Diane Giannola, who serves with Higgins on the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Committee. I suspect “ukiddingme” is another political insider with some “dog in the race.”

    Higgins’ “accomplishments” border on being laughable. such as co-sponsoring a resolution congratulating Congressman Dingell. Congratulate him for what? For losing the fight to Henry Waxman to retain his chairmanship of the House and Energy Committee and winding up with the asinine consolation prize of being named “Chairman Emeritus”. How about his financial acumen in investing in $1,000,000.00 in General Motors stock? What about GM giving his young wife Debbie a buyout to send her packing from her executive position? What about his primary endorsements of Sheriff Minzey and Leigh Greden, who got 39% and 36% respectively in their embarrassing losses? Yeah, Marcia, that is someone who merits “congratulations”. Glad you are spending time working on such goofy resolutions.

    Marcia was the sole person on City Council who voted against a resolution calling for withdrawal of troops from Iraq and when confronted about it stated she actually supported the measure but wanted to vote in alignment with her constituent’s political views? Really? Are Fourth Warders really war hawks? I do not think so.

    I support Hatim Elhady in his quest for a City Council seat because he has shown a commitment to listen and communicate with residents and articulate well-reasoned positions on issues of public interest.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 23 '09 - 01:57AM    #
  426. Elhady could never be considered left leaning. He purposely chose NOT to run as a democrat. He declared himself a candidate before the deadline for the democratic primary occurred.


    I don’t care if the rhetoric that Elhady spouts off on a given day sounds liberal or not, if he can’t even get himself to CALL himself a democrat, all the liberal rhetoric he spouts is just that, rhetoric. He is just saying these things to get elected.

    As for all of you who keep saying Marcia is a Republican, she runs as Democrat and votes with her fellow democrats on council.

    Who is “more of a real democrat” seems to be the argument here in Ann Arbor these days, but all democrats should agree that the litmus test for a democrat should be the guts to call yourself one. If that is not there, then it usually shows ulterior motives.

    So I find it amazing that there are elected officials in Ann Arbor that don’t recognize this. If they want to support an independent over a real democrat, who is the selected democratic candidate chosen by an uncontested primary, then I think that shows where the values of those elected officials lie, and it is not with the democratic party.

       —bcorman    Oct. 23 '09 - 02:03AM    #
  427. You have to credit Mr. Gilbert for using his real name. Whereas, the anonymous “bcorman” tries to imagine that Mr. Elhady “spouts off” “rhetoric”! This is pure fantasy from the bankrupt campaign of an inert Council fixture. Elhady has never been heard using rhetoric, or spouting off.

    There are enough of Mr. Elhady’s City Council speeches on video for you to know that he is more deeply concerned with city and regional policy than anyone running this year. Contrast that with Higgins, who resembles Casper the Friendly Ghost. She simply isn’t there.

    The next time you accuse Elhady of saying something you dislike, be prepared to quote him. But you have made it clear that you don’t care what he says, or what he does. You care about his name.


       —Anonymous    Oct. 23 '09 - 02:27AM    #
  428. What did people think of the First and Fourth Ward debates yesterday evening on CTN?

       —David Cahill    Oct. 23 '09 - 05:05PM    #
  429. #425-Jerry Gilbert-I don’t understand your implication? Yes, I serve on the WCDP exec cmt, as does Marcia, but exactly how does that discredit my opinion? I am one of the few people, if not the only one on this string, who actually LIVES in the 4th ward. My opinion is based on how I feel the ward and city should be represented. Marcia represents me; I support her as a candidate and as a democrat. You bash on those who are anonymous and then bash on me because I am not and imply that we do not have “real opinions”. I do not know if “Jerry Gilbert” is YOUR real name but I would guess that you do not live in the 4th ward. That fact makes my opinion more valid than yours.

    While I am also heavily involved in the Democratic Party and do support all democratic candidates in general, I do not go all out for just any candidate. Some candidates I take a much more vested role in and there are definitely some democratic candidates I would and have done nothing for besides vote for them because of no better democratic candidate alternative.

    Marcia Higgins is a candidate that I choose to go all out for. I believe in her candidacy and appreciate her willingness to do a good job, make hard decisions, and stand up for the silent majority in the face of controversy. Whether you want to recognize it or not, that I am willing to go all out for Marcia is meaningful.

    So, yes, Marcia Higgins is the person I want to represent me. She has the experience, the know-how, the ability, and using the words of bcorman above, the tact and the character that is needed to be a councilmember. And this is said by an actual 4th ward resident.

       —Diane    Oct. 23 '09 - 05:36PM    #
  430. “I am one of the few people, if not the only one on this string, who actually LIVES in the 4th ward.”

    Not the only one Diane. And if you think the ‘silent majority’ (a Nixon era phrase…) is for Ms. Higgins and how she’s served the city the last two years, you might want to walk around my neighborhood and chat with folks. Start asking about the Stadium Bridges, the ash tree replacement mess, city income tax, the police cutbacks, and the list goes on and on.

    This year will no doubt be like the last ten—no door-to-door campaigning by Ms. Higgins either, no regular contact with the voters, no webpage or email list updating the ward on city issues, etc.

    Her list of ‘acomplishments’ on the campaign website did make me chuckle though.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 23 '09 - 07:14PM    #
  431. Not a political insider. Not a member of any party. I happen to think that Marcia is doing a good job. I am a city resident and tax payer and the “choice” in my ward is non existent.

       —rukiddingme    Oct. 23 '09 - 07:49PM    #
  432. Diane worked hard on Leigh Greden’s ill-fated re-election campaign and tried to trivialize the e-mail scandal.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 23 '09 - 08:19PM    #
  433. Here we go again. Once more, the Full Downtown Greenway raises its head — this time appearing the environment section near the end of a detailed summary in #415 covering Hatim Elhady’s policy issues. I’m going to give extra emphasis to this one issue — over the wide range of other concerns Elhady covers, many of them worthwhile — because it maintains the clear capacity to cripple a good deal of what he would seek to advance as an elected councilperson. An enormous greenway expense can bleed the city’s budget dry while leaving many more worthy causes to starve and wither on the vine. It will undercut basic services, the city’s limited social programs, as well as any new initiatives.

    Construction of a full downtown greenway exposes the city to a great new spiral of debt that will make the current excesses of the new city hall building & artwork look like child’s play. Should a future City Council majority approve a full greenway, we’ll then have to rely on something like the GO Ask Voters initiative to set up a ‘firewall’ which prevents this spectacular cost diversion from going forward until it’s subject to a citywide vote and the transparent scrutiny that would entail. If the new city hall addition needs a hillside of G.O. bond money, then the massive full greenway requires a small mountain.

    A socially responsible stand for Elhady would be to call for limits on building height while supporting a restricted, judicious allocation of additional downtown open space. Also, a sensible, lower-cost greenway option allows for an un-development process to play out gradually over the course of this century via restrictions for the north-to-south central city areas which fall within the reach of Allen Creek flood waters. Careful risk management of Ann Arbor’s floodplain does not call for pouring tens of millions into buying and tearing down all kinds of buildings along a long swath in central Ann Arbor. Putting the lid on pork delivered to property speculators & developers doesn’t mean just handing it over instead to the full greenway lobby, some of whose members would see their near-downtown home values rise with a lot more city-created open space nearby.

    In addition, Elhady can advocate for a different kind of downtown planning beyond zoning questions: identify goals for the types of services, businesses, and community enhancements we want to see, and ways to go about achieving them. As one quick example, if the library lot does wind up with a conference center (or something similar) on top, why not also consider adding a grassroots community center nearby, similar to the one envisioned by local resident Al Haber? These are not mutually exclusive ideas.

    In stark contrast to Allen Creek, when Elhady discusses the merits of Argo Pond, he takes on what I see as a genuine greenway issue, because the Huron River, as it flows through town, constitutes the impressive full greenway we already have and should nourish — the one that deserves the city’s attention. I urge him to place his focus on the river (and on fending off the long-term prospect of Gelman/Pall dioxin-flavored drinking water — why is this not a relentless focus for our energetic greenway activists?). Meanwhile, our greenbelt program, supported by Elhady (and not to be confused with greenway), provides an invaluable contribution to sprawl control.

    A wrong stand taken on an issue or two should not invalidate a candidacy. I’m no big fan of the narrow, “single issue” mindset. In Elhady’s case, he does needless damage to his candidacy and reduces his appeal through campaign statements which embrace the full downtown greenway project. However, this does not mean that one should run out the door on Nov. 3 to vote for Higgins. What it could lead to, however, is a more apathetic attitude toward the ward vote, and ultimately a decision to join the great mass of city voters who’ll choose to stay away from the polls on that Tuesday.

    Expanded city & social services: YES!
    Affordable housing & mass transit: YES!
    Full downtown greenway: NO.

       —yet another    Oct. 23 '09 - 09:00PM    #
  434. There is a lot of information about what Elhady pushes for, and stands for, and articulates in public. There is almost no information about what Higgins has pushed for, and she’s been on Council since the 1990’s.

    If you want government off your back, and the Stadium bridge falling on your head, maybe you do prefer a Council member who will just take up space from the 1990’s until it’s time for Social Security.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 23 '09 - 09:04PM    #
  435. #432 David

    LOL That is because it is a trivial matter! There has been no OMA violations, no matter how much you want there to be one.

    David, would you feel the same way about this issue if Sabra was actually involved in discussions by email during a council meeting? Would you hold her up to this same standard that you have been insisting is so unethical?

       —Diane    Oct. 23 '09 - 11:37PM    #
  436. Well, it is “trivial” enough to cost Greden his re-election, threaten Higgins’s re-election, spawn a change in City Council rules, and give birth to FOIA requests for e-mails sent or received during literally dozens of Council meetings. And who knows what will happen in the pending underground parking structure lawsuit, which involves OMA claims?

    Diane, do you speak for Marcia when you say that there has been no OMA violation?

       —David Cahill    Oct. 23 '09 - 11:52PM    #
  437. 4th ward represent.

    Here’s a nice Ann Arbor Observer piece on the old ward system which talks about public buildings used as ward buildings; I think the Mary Street polling place is the only public ward building still in public hands.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Oct. 24 '09 - 01:37AM    #
  438. Its good to hear from Diane Giannola again. Even if most Fourth Warders disagree with her views.

    I kind of think of her as an unofficial public relations spokesperson for the city administration. Her viewpoints on this thread provide a balance to the vehement anti-Higgins posters we have had in recent months, most of whose opinions I embrace.

    I believe we should all listen to Diane, but remember she is a mayoral commission appointee, a member of the Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Committee, a Fourth Ward Democratic precinct delegate, and a person who identified herself as a “friend” of Leigh Greden when the Ann Arbor Chronicle and other media covered the Greden-requested recount.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 24 '09 - 04:46AM    #
  439. I was hoping for a discussion of Mr. Elhady’s positions on the issues, because I see no sign that Ms. Higgins has had any, from 1999 until today. (Not counting those times she rides along as a cosponsor of somebody else’s ordinance.)

       —Art Siengenthaler    Oct. 24 '09 - 06:03PM    #
  440. Ahhh the Stadium Bridge, that ode to dilapidation!

    If there was ever an object that symbolized Marcia Higgins’ ten-year tenure as a City Council member, it is that bridge, replete with visible rusting reinforcing rods, cracked and crumbling concrete.

    I propose that the bridge be re-christened the “Marcia Higgins Bridge” since her indifference over the years to its needed maintenance was clearly a factor in the creation of this eyesore. Now that would be a resolution worth voting for!

    Yes, Marcia Higgins is not going door-to-door this campaign season; the Invisible Woman is remaining invisible.

       —Junior    Oct. 24 '09 - 07:47PM    #
  441. Re Posts Nos.428 and 435:

    I was pleasantly surprised at Mitchell Ozog’s fine performance. His courageous background as a Solidarity activist in his native land of Poland certainly gives him credibility as a candidate committed to the citizens of Ann Arbor. I am unaware of the support he has in the First Ward to get elected but he seems to be someone with a sincere commitment to the Ann Arbor community. Win or lose, I would welcome Mr. Ozog’s input in future political activities in Ann Arbor.

    I did not see Mr. Elhady’s performance.

    Regarding Open Meetings Act violations, this is a matter that will be argued by attorneys for the plaintiffs and the City of Ann Arbor. The fact that the city currently has hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential exposure in attorney fees and damages is in and of itself disgusting as the City Council should have exercised reasonable care to ensure there would be no question of its compliance with applicable law. Other cities and townships are not facing lawsuits over OMA compliance, but Ann Arborites will continue to pay throuugh the nose attorney fees to defend its councilmembers’ asinine conduct. Marcia Higgins was a major player in this e-mail nonsense and I cannot believe the Fourth Warders will not make it as serious as an issue as Third Warders already have in cashiering Leigh Greden last August.

    Diane Giannola is an undying supporter for Higgins because she is in a position to benefit from her ties to such people as Greden and Higgins, amongst other local political insiders. The average John Q. Citizen in the Fourth Ward can only lose with another term of Marcia Higgins.

       —Jerry Gilbert    Oct. 25 '09 - 03:30AM    #
  442. Revenge of the Judy


    A week before the election, Judy McGovern is trying to compare Marcia Higgins’ track record of ignoring constituents over the last 10 years with Hatim’s recent policy of answering questions via email. Judy never bothered to state whether she tried to interview Hatim via email or not; apparently, she feels doing so is below her. Marcia is the insider’s insider and so has no use for responding to constituent’s email questions. We know she knows how to use email due to the gang of eight email scandal. She could have offered to answer questions via email as well which would have been a vast improvement over her non availability in this election cycle.

       —ChuckL    Oct. 25 '09 - 08:15PM    #
  443. For those wishing to compare the 4th Ward candidates, each has a web page.
    Hatim Elhady’s web site is
    Marcia Higgins’ site is

    Today, ran an article comparing the two, which can be found at

    The Ward 4 League of Women Voters debate is being re-broadcast on CTN 19 on Sunday at 9:30 pm, Tuesday at 4:30 pm, Wednesday at 8:30 pm, Thursday at 3:30 pm, Friday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 10:30 pm.

    Additionally, the 4th Ward neighborhood group South Maple Neighbors has a pro-Elhady comparison of the two: (scroll down to the heading “Neighborhood Friendly”).

    Anyone who cannot find enough information to make an informed comparison is spending too much time here.

       —Jack Eaton    Oct. 25 '09 - 10:21PM    #
  444. Yes, Chuck. If there was any one person you can pinpoint who has nailed the gang of eight and dealt them irreparable political damage it is Judy McGovern. She took down Leigh Greden and will probably take down Higgins in the general election.

    The general election is only nine days away and it appears in many ways the Hatim Elhady candidacy is historic.

    Mr. Elhady was the first City Council candidate ever in the Fourth Ward to put up a campaign website.

    Like Eugene Kang, Hatim is a student who has widespread and enthusiastic support among fellow U-M students and who will undoubtedly, as in Eugene’s case, comprise a substantial percentage of his voter constituency.

    Unlike Eugene Kang, to Hatim’s advantage, he has been able to effectively recruit and utilize for his campaign many influential officeholders, civic leaders, and special interests to aid his campaign organization. These would include Mike Anglin, Vivienne Armentrout, Sabra Briere, Jack Eaton, Eric Lipson, the GO Ask Voters movement and the Sierra Club. These supporters and endorsers have been invaluable to establishing Mr. Elhady’s credibility in the eyes of the public.

    Even though Mr. Elhady has been downplaying it, it cannot be ignored that, if elected, he will be the only person of color on City Council, and the last since John Roberts was defeated by Sabra Briere in 2007. Ann Arbor’s image as a progressive community is belied by the fact that minorities such as blacks, Hispanics, Far and Middle Eastern individuals comprise probably one-third of the population of the City of Ann Arbor, yet have no representation on City Council.

    Eugene Kang received a respectable 45% of the vote against incumbent Steve Rapundalo, who was fairly well-respected by his constituents.

    The difference in the instant election between Hatim Elhady and Higgins is that Higgins has been criticized for years for her poor performance as a City Council member inasmiuch as allegedly being invisible and ineffective. Secondly, Higgins is embroiled in the same e-mail scandal that brought down Leigh Greden; voters in that race expressly cited that scandal as one of the reasons they voted against Greden, who attempted to mitigate the political fallout by e-mailing contituents with an apology and showing up at a debate and promising that it would not happen again. In contrast, Marcia Higgins has made no public statement apologizing for her involvement in a controversy that has landed the City of Ann Arbor in a major lawsuit over alleged Open Meetings Act violations.

    Of the four City Council candidates, Mitchell Ozog, Sabra Briere, and Hatim Elhady have uneqivocally stated their opposition to a city income tax; Higgins has been completely silent on the issue even though it has been discussed for almost on year on Arbor Update alone. Again, a lack of leadership on the part of Councilperson Higgins on a key issue facing citizens of the Fourth Ward.

    Mr. Elhady has spent days engaged in door-to-door meetings with residents and discussing their concerns; many residents now proudly display candidate Elhady’s blue lawn signs on their property. Many are relieved that this young candidate has taken the time to hear their concerns.

    There has been some question as to why Hatim Elhady ran as an independent as opposed to running in the Democratic primary against Higgins. He stated early in his candidacy that due to the fact that very few students vote in the August primary, he felt that his best bet at beating Higgins was to forgo the August primary and run as an independent in November. In fact, most of his key supporters are local Democrats.

    The Fourth Ward is currently a battleground and a victory for young Mr. Elhady may go well beyond the Fourth Ward and signal the confirmation of a definite shift in the politcal winds that the so-called gang of eight will be out of power by the end of next year.

    I believe that there is no doubt that Mr. Elhady’s efforts and the efforts of his campaign organization have made the race with Higgins competitive and I agree with the posters UMGrad1234 and David Cahill (who both predicted the Greden upset loss) that Hatim Elhady will be victorious on Election Day – for all the reasons stated above.

    I thank young Mr. Elhady for his candidacy and urge all registered voters in the Fourth Ward to ensure they make it to the polls on Election Day.

       —John Dory    Oct. 25 '09 - 10:27PM    #
  445. Judy McGovern wasted her years on the A2 New with softball coverage of city government and it’s only because of web based reporting coming of age that the council issues were ever brought to the forefront. It’s why Higgins is going to lose, it why Greden lost and it’s why it’s going to be a bit more difficult for anyway elected to public office in the future to fly below the radar when they screw up.

    And I so LOVE ‘I’m a horrible writer and couldn’t get the story so let’s do a blame the subject and I didn’t get an article’ article.

    That’s what happens when you get paid by the word. Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 25 '09 - 10:48PM    #
  446. Judy McGovern has delivered a “hit” on Hatim Elhady in an article in today’s Ann Arbor Chronicle that is also highly sympathetic to Marcia Higgins.

    It sounds more like a pro-Higgins editorial than a neutral journalistic report.

    I suspect that there is some amicable relationship between Judy McGovern and Higgins that has skewed her reporting in that issue.

    Note how previously McGovern studiously avoided Higgins involvement in the e-mail scandal and focused her barbs at Leigh Greden.

       —John Dory    Oct. 25 '09 - 11:03PM    #
  447. Re: Higgins, Elhady, McGovern, Stanton…

    Marcia Higgins’ politics don’t exactly thrill me. A old-school moderate Republican by disposition, she seems to fall a bit to the right of former Rep. Gov. Bill Milliken (which, ironically, places her to the left of many national DLC Democrats, including triangulator-in-chief Bill Clinton). On local matters, for example, it’s hard to feel enthusiasm for a councilperson who, for one thing, doesn’t like bike lanes. That’s already one spoke against her…

    The comments that follow have little to do with any investment in the outcome of the 4th ward vote (at this point I think I no longer care one way or the other). It’s the ways in which we’re going about getting there that cause concern. This journey is getting ugly.

    It’s easy to understand why Elhady was happy to speak in person to Stanton’s piece is clearly a pro-Elhady editorial presented as an article. Most of it focuses exclusively on inappropriate email during meetings and Higgins’ role. Near the end, the Stadium bridge and a few other issues warrant a passing mention. Thus, most issues directly affecting ward residents don’t count, only the email messages matter.

    In contrast, Ann Arbor Chronicle’s McGovern would have challenged him to think on his feet and respond to nuanced questions (based on her experience reporting local government) in reply to his initial answers. The followup could easily have pushed him past the practiced talking points and into previously unexplored political territory. He would have been expected to show knowledge on a range of local government matters — not just in those specific areas favorable toward his campaign strategy.

    Hence, his decision to strictly avoid this kind of press interaction takes a page straight out of the George W. Bush media playbook. Bush’s handlers would happily accept live interviews by highly sympathetic, right-leaning reporters, while blowing off requests from anyone inclined to do probing, intelligent followup questions (like Helen Thomas). White House staff knew it was a big roll of the dice to let George W. think & speak on his feet.

    In fairness to Elhady, Higgins might have limited her interaction with Stanton for roughly similar reasons. Both candidates give the distinct appearance of seeking to avoid a challenge. They won’t parry with knowledgable interviewers who can throw a curve.

    Then there’s the matter of Higgins’ daughter and her severe medical condition. Earlier this year, it was noted (see #129 from ‘Junior’) that Mike Anglin missed some committee meetings due to a health emergency in his own household. The Rosencranz campaign sought to exploit and exaggerate Anglin’s absences for political gain during the primary; this tactic blew up, causing well-derserved damage to the challenger’s credibility.

    Now, I can’t help but believe that Higgins, a supporter of Rosencranz, finds herself on the receiving end of a very brutal political payback. Her opponents, most of whom defended Anglin, express open glee over Higgins’ inability to campaign full time due to her daughter’s leukemia battle. They even use this severe health condition as a strategic talking point to demand Higgins’ departure from city council and the election campaign.

    Become ‘the change’ that you want to see in the world around you. This means that it won’t cut it when you treat others horribly just because you’re convinced your (electoral) cause is just. You’re simply being horrible — nothing more than that. Must various partisans on both sides of the council wars closely follow tactician Karl Rove’s warped interpretation of “by any means necessary”?

       —yet another    Oct. 26 '09 - 05:07AM    #
  448. “yet another” – yet another over-the-top piece of speculation. Do you write fiction in your day job?

       —John Q.    Oct. 26 '09 - 09:36AM    #
  449. Yet Another made yet another very similar comment about this on the Chronicle, but omitted the “brutal political payback” and “open glee” parts. I’d like to see some citations for those claims.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 26 '09 - 03:46PM    #
  450. Hi,

    I feel it might be useful to cross-post what I put up at the If not, I apologize for the repetition. However, there need be absolutely no speculation about the incident.

    POSTED SUNDAY October 25th: I’d like to clarify exactly what happened. I’m helping Hatim Elhady coordinate his campaign. Chuck and Dave are absolutely correct. Hatim was perfectly willing to be interviewed by this site. His suggestion was to do it via email. It was the same method used when he was interviewed by the AAObserver, by Eve Silberman. The editor of the AAObserver, John Hilton, ultimately, made a different decision than did Dave Askins and Mary Morgan.

    Hatim did the League of Women Voter’s debate (alone) live. He recently did an “Other Perspectives” interview live, both of which are being broadcast on CTN. He was interviewed by The Michigan Daily (link to Daily article) for a feature, and plans to be interviewed by their editorial team when they are ready to make their endorsement decisions. He has been interviewed live by Ryan Stanton of (for a video interview Stanton is preparing), and Stanton covered the League of Women Voters Debate live and wrote up Hatim’s particiation here: link.

    Many weeks ago, Hatim and I sat down and planned out a media strategy, and obviously that strategy was predicated on giving access to him to news outlets where we felt the audience reach maximized the time spent on the interview., for instance, reaches 10x the unique visitors that A2Chronicle does. AAObserver reaches 7x the readers. The Michigan Daily is distributed campus-wide and is the only daily left in town.

    Something else happened though that is important to note: When Hatim offered to answer Ms. McGovern’s questions via email, she became upset, angry and hung on up him. When he told me this, my advice was for him to contact Mary Morgan and Dave Askins, and explain that McGovern’s behavior was the impediment to his participation. Hatim asked for The Chronicle to assign the interview to a free-lancer who, for all intents and purposes, wasn’t angry with him. Dave Askins sent a several paragraph reply in which he, basically, told the candidate that McGovern’s reaction at not getting a face-to-face interview wasn’t an issue. Her disrespectful treatment of Hatim was outweighed by her reputation as a respected professional. Dave explained, quite clearly, that his Chronicle covers “live” events.

    Well, then, the why didn’t McGovern/A2Chronicle cover the League of Women Voters debate, where Hatim was covered live by

    McGovern’s coverage above is biased and based on the simple fact that she didn’t get the kind of interview she wanted from the candidate. Elhady has a media strategy and a media campaign mapped out to maximize media coverage of his campaign. He’s treating his campaign professionally and very seriously. That may be new for Ms. McGovern.

    Her coverage above is condescending and disingenuous. Her assumption that Elhady got “bad advice,” is presumptuous and even somewhat ageist. He’s young, but not naive.

    She writes, “It’s not about me. It’s not about The Chronicle.” But it was, unfortunately.

    I can tell you that her unprofessional behavior lost her the interview, and the A2Chronicle’s owners’ unwillingness to recognize that their free-lance writer had crossed a line with a candidate whom they wanted to interview, lost the site that opportunity to have complete coverage. They should edit this post to make very clear that Hatim never refused to be interviewed and to edit out McGovern’s potshots. There’s a difference between “stepping on toes,” as she admits to doing above. Good journalists do that all the time. This piece isn’t stepping on toes to get a great story, it’s blatantly biased “pay-back” for his insistence on dictating the terms of his own campaign media strategy. Terms McGovern didn’t like.

    When new people run for Council, they come with new ideas and new strategies!

    Hatim’s campaign is planning a meet-the-candidate event at the Mallett’s Creek Library branch. We’re waiting on the library staff to finalize the scheduling. We’ll let Ward Four residents know the exact time and date. We’ll send out notice to media, as well.

       —Patricia Lesko    Oct. 26 '09 - 06:44PM    #
  451. I would encourage Mr. Elhady to go through the interview with Ms. McGovern. I would be the first to acknowledge her biases but I think it’s not worth giving your opponents an issue, even if it’s trumped up, to go after you by asking for someone else to interview you.

       —John Q.    Oct. 26 '09 - 07:02PM    #
  452. Give an interview to a biased reporter? Why bother? There are other places to give interviews to, and other reporters without her biases. She just succeeded taking the Chronicle down a notch in credibility.

       —Robert Smith    Oct. 26 '09 - 07:18PM    #
  453. There’s an easy way to deal with this. Let Dave or Mary do the interview.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 26 '09 - 07:31PM    #
  454. Vivienne – It sounds like the point is that these are back room conversations which have been either overheard or the person who heard them was so appalled at having heard them that they have passed them on. There won’t be any citations on that, because it is intentionally off the record.

    As for ‘why bother to participate in an interview with a biased reporter?’ Why not? That is like saying I am not going to talk to anybody who doesn’t like me or agree with me. That does NOT bode well for service on City Council. Just watching the meetings should tell you that. It seems that these days that the only way to ask a question or make a suggestion is either at the top of your lungs or by opening with statements about how stupid, dishonest, (or both) the person you are addressing is because they don’t agree with you. What happens when somebody trots out this kind of rude and unnecessary behavior toward Mr. Elhady live and in person (and you know it will happen)?

       —urkiddingme    Oct. 26 '09 - 07:51PM    #
  455. You are all hypocrites. Elhady is running on a platform of openness, communication and transparency. Lesko and Elhady have both admitted that their strategy was not to talk to all of the press which is basically saying you do not want to speak to the public at all times, only when they can control things.

    Does not sound very open or transparent now does it?

    And for all you Chronicle bashers, rumor has it that Lesko/Elhady’s strategy to ignore the press included more newspapers/new sites and was not specific to the chronicle.

    How on earth many of you can defend this is completely mind blowing. Everything that you have blogged about transparency,openness, and honesty is all meaningless if you can’t see the forest for the trees.

    So if you want to believe that “poor me, my feelings got hurt excuse” about interviewing with Judy McGovern, I say tough @#$%. How on earth would Elhady deal with an upset ot tough constituent? The job takes tact and patience. If Elhady is too young or immature to deal with one tough reporter then how will he perform in the role of councilmember?

    This is a VERY VALID QUESTION that all voters should ask themselves.

    There is no defense of this.

       —bcorman    Oct. 26 '09 - 07:54PM    #
  456. Rumors about back room conversations have no credibility. They are impossible to prove or disprove. Any of us could make similar allegations about anyone.

    I’m pretty sure that the only other exclusion was a similar request to the Observer to do the Q&A approach, which they complied with.

    I agree that the approach to the Chronicle was a strategic error, but not that it is the definitive word on the candidate’s character. He has been open and accessible in a number of forums. None of us will probably ever have the complete picture of this particular incident, but in the long term it is not important.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 26 '09 - 08:19PM    #
  457. The attempt to equate speaking with a reporter to speaking with a constituent is as wrong as it is deliberately dishonest. While the press has an important role to play in our democratic process, no candidate has an obligation to speak to any or all of the press. In contrast, all candidates and council people should make every effort to speak to all residents and voters. Until someone shows evidence of Elhady evading questions from residents, all we are seeing here is people trying to create controversy where none exists.

       —John Q.    Oct. 26 '09 - 08:32PM    #
  458. It is absolutely true that both candidates should face up to hostile media and answer their questions.

    It is equally true that hostile media should fairly quote what people say, in context.

    Of course, the media, including our most beloved local media, often print what they want to print, and delete entire issues from their coverage.

    Why? Because they have the power to shield themselves, and the public, form any issue or viewpoint that they don’t like.

    You can be sure that Higgins and Elhady will do the same, whichever one lands in office, once you hand them that power.

    For example, I can’t remember a single critical interview with Higgins, because she simply won’t allow it.

    Elhady will be the same in that respect, but he has more desire to tackle policy, and more energy to do so.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 26 '09 - 08:38PM    #
  459. This controversy, in my opinion, has damaged the credilbility of Judy McGovern, David Askins, and the Ann Arbor Chronicle than Mr. Elhady.

    By allowing this biased article to be published as an example of neutral reporting deviates from acceptable journalistic standards.

       —Annette Gilbert    Oct. 27 '09 - 02:50AM    #
  460. There is a lot of focus on Mr. Elhady because he has been meeting with hundreds of people, putting his long policy agenda out there for public consideration. So when he asks one media outlet for email questions, sure, that’s a mistake, and it gets publicized.

    Later, he’ll learn to say the magic words, “please keep this part off the record, but I can tell you blah-blah-blah.”

    And he’ll learn to say, “you can quote me on this: ________”.

    But until then, Higgins will make no such mistakes. Why? Because she does nothing, stands for nothing, and has been invisible for 10 years while collecting a paycheck as a Council member. How could she be interviewed, or refuse an interview, when there is simply nothing she could talk about?

       —Anonymous    Oct. 27 '09 - 03:08AM    #
  461. Video presentations of 2:05 each were uploaded to YouTube yesterday of City Council candidates Hatim Elhady and Sabra Briere.

    Elhady has close to 100 hits on his video and Briere about 15.

    The other two candidates opposing Elhady and Briere I did not see on YouTube.

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 27 '09 - 04:50AM    #
  462. John Q, I don’t think urkiddingme or bcorman (or anyone else) tried to do what you thought.

    Annette, the piece was presented as a column, not as neutral reporting.

    Let’s take a little more care in our comments about our fellow community members. Personalizing this won’t do anyone any good. Shame and derision are a waste of time.

       —Steve Bean    Oct. 27 '09 - 07:43AM    #
  463. In my opinion, the obvious slant of the McGovern piece was uncharacteristic of The Ann Arbor Chronicle regardless of whether it was “presented as a column”. I was also surprised that editor Dave Askins chose to involve himself in the comment section by saying Elhady misrepresented the telephone conversation he had with McGovern. Why couldn’t she respond herself, if what Elhady was claiming about her behavior was not true?

    Unless The Chronicle wants to become the “FOX News” of Ann Arbor media, it should refrain from publishing material like this.

       —Michael Schils    Oct. 27 '09 - 09:07PM    #
  464. I am pleased to announce a meet-the-candidates-event for the 4th Ward City Council election. The Fourth Ward is runs from Pauline and Maple Road on the west to Packard on the east. The exact area can be found in a map on this site:

    As you may know, this year the 4th Ward Council race is between incumbent, Democrat Marcia Higgins and challenger, independent Hatim Elhady.

    The election is next Tuesday, November 3, 2009.

    The event is:

    Meet the Candidates Night
    Friday October 30, 2009
    Starting at 6:30 p.m.
    Dicken Elementary School Media Center
    2135 Runnymede Blvd.
    Ann Arbor MI 48103

    Please join us for an opportunity to hear from the candidates for 4th Ward Council seat.

    Neither the Friends of Dicken Woods nor the Dicken Elementary School endorse or support candidates for public office. This event is for informational purposes and does not constitute support for any candidate.

       —Jack eaton    Oct. 27 '09 - 10:58PM    #
  465. I find it incredible that Leah Gunn denies receiving the email sent to her several weeks ago by Elhady’s manager Pat Lesko, asking both Gunn and Higgins to pick a convenient time and date for a “meet-the-candidate” event.

    Ms. Gunn, does Higgins also claim to have not received the email? Because if she in fact DID receive the email, it wouldn’t make much sense for you to feign as if you weren’t aware of the communication, seeing that there would be no reason that Higgins wouldn’t have told you about it, right? I bet you didn’t think of that when you posted your denial, eh?

    Politicians with forked-tongues are why the citizens’ use of the FOIA is so necessary. Of course, a simple FOIA request will show who is telling the truth here.

       —Michael Schils    Oct. 28 '09 - 09:43PM    #
  466. Higgins is still missing in action.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 28 '09 - 09:53PM    #
  467. As I was driving through Ann Arbor today, I noticed a number of campaign lawn signs. A number oppose a PUD propsal and incumbent Sabra Briere has rather uniquely designed lawn signs scattered through the First Ward. Some in the First Ward actually have both Briere and Anglin lawn signs. Mr. Elhady, on the other hand has standard navy blue lawn signs that have been printed.

    What really surprised me is that I have never seen a Marcia Higgins sign anywhere this campaign cycle. Did her committee ever authorize the printing of any? Does anyone have an answer as to why a five-term incumbent would not have any signs conspicuously posted?

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 28 '09 - 11:16PM    #
  468. Silence is golden. And indeed these are the golden years for Higgins. Five terms on city council, and never a trace of her anywhere.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 28 '09 - 11:19PM    #
  469. Elhady’s campaign was discussed at a recent Michigan Student Assembly (MSA) meeting. Despite his support at the Assembly, it appears that last night the MSA banned any more such community comments. There is a story about that comment ban in the Michigan Daily, Oct. 28th edition.

       —Anonymous    Oct. 28 '09 - 11:22PM    #
  470. From one of Larry’s comments in the August primary election results thread:

    From a public participation standpoint, making low-turnout odd-year August primaries the real decision point for city elections is a disaster. We could fix that either by (a) using IRV and doing away with the primary altogether, or (b) moving ALL primaries from August to May, when everyone is in town.

    And later on in the same discussion (emphasis mine):

    One big advantage of IRV is the cost savings of having one election instead of two. And the one election would be in November instead of August, with all wards voting at once, and greater participation.

    In an odd-numbered year, the November election shows far greater low-turnout potential than even the widely-ignored August primary preceding it, due to virtually nonexistent competition between political parties. This fall, however, modest voter interest has been secured through the addition of a few referenda on the Nov. ballot, notably the WISD request. It doesn’t make sense, though, to need a possible hot-button referendum just to persuade more than a few handfuls of locals to show up and vote.

    By rolling the primary and general elections into one November vote, the IRV scenario quite substantially boosts odd-year turnout while insuring that successful November candidates — whether Dem., Rep., independent or write-in — will need much more in order to win than merely the votes of their extended circle of friends, acquaintances, and neighbors down the street. The current situation, now an antique relic of once-upon-a-time partisan competition, does not represent any real exercise in voter representation, although the intense apathy it engenders does provide a great opportunity for guerilla-attack candidates promoted by very small, but well-organized, groups and factions.

    Which, as an aside, prompts me to ask: have any last-minute write-in candidacies emerged, particularly in the wards where only one name will appear on the Nov. ballot?

    It should be noted that instituting IRV does not guarantee greater voter strength for incumbents due to higher turnout among mainstream voters. For example, had this August’s primary in the 3rd ward been carried out under IRV, the incumbent Greden would likely have lost big instead of falling just six votes short of victory. With none of the three candidates receiving a majority of votes cast, and with strong likelihood that most of challenger Bullington’s supporters would have delivered their hypothetical second-choice vote (tie breaker) to the other challenger, Kunselman, the incumbent’s reelection bid would have drowned under a cascade of challenger votes during the runoff round.

    IRV will greatly increase overall voter turnout in odd-numbered years. It can legitimize third, fourth and fifth candidates on a ballot who demonstrate a respectable base of community support within a given ward. Candidates with similar appeal will no longer routinely cancel each other out but instead can sometimes help one another. IRV also frustrates “guerilla” candidates with a very small base who seek to game the system and benefit from November’s overwhelming voter apathy in odd-numbered years.

       —yet another    Oct. 29 '09 - 03:14AM    #
  471. Hmmmmm…eight days before the election and Marcia Higgins’ campaign website finally starts getting the first endorsements trickling in. She pulled ballot petitions in January and it took this long to land these endorsements.

    It’s no big surprise that the two Fourth Ward Democratic Party chairman would want to publically endorse Higgins, as is disclosed on her website. That is because a Higgins loss means that the Democratic Party would lose its four-year monopoly in governing City Council, and for that to occur on their watch would be an obvious embarrassment. Endorser Diane Giannola is likewise a Democratic Party insider from the Fourth Ward who would support Higgins for the same reasons.

    The big endorsement recently landed by Higgins is that of the Mayor. Why would the Mayor want to endorse Higgins only seven days before the election? I speculate due to intense lobbying from Democratic Party insiders using the argument that a non-endorsement is damaging to Higgins. The Mayor has litttle to gain from such an endorsement and if Higgins loses would be another blow to his prestige, much like he suffered in the Greden upset loss after allowing his photo and endorsement to be placed on the ill-fated website. Higgins was the same person who ran against Hieftje for mayor in 2002 and could not pull 25% of the vote.

    Margie Teall is the only City Council person endorsing Higgins. Why haven’t Hohnke, Derezinski.Smith, Taylor, or any other member expressed support?

    Higgins has one last chance to convince voters. It will be at the Meet the Candidates forum this Friday. If she does not appear, I believe she can write-off her chances of re-election.

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 29 '09 - 04:18AM    #
  472. yet another: I stand by all those prior comments.

    The deadline for registering as a write-in candidates was last Friday. No one filed the necessary paperwork. Therefore, no write-in votes will be counted.

    I should say that I strongly disagree with the (relatively new) requirement that write-ins register eleven days before the election.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 29 '09 - 06:21PM    #
  473. I don’t see how IRV can work as long as we also have county- and state-wide (or Federal) primaries in August. Also, that is one of the dates available for ballot measures. The state law now allows only 4 possible dates a year for any vote, and various municipalities are likely to use August from time to time.

    Also, it seems to me that IRV would require some serious reprogramming with our current vote-counting technology. And it would apply only to local candidates (I really don’t see state-wide campaigns going that way.)

    A better alternative would be for Ann Arbor to go to a non-partisan system. I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that the partisan system doesn’t work when everyone simply becomes a Democrat of convenience. That would make the November election the runoff between two candidates, on the nonpartisan portion of the ballot.

    Parties could still endorse candidates, so partisan labels would not disappear. This is routinely done in many communities.

    There is an interesting discussion of the issue on the Other Perspectives website – former (Republican) mayor Ingrid Sheldon admits to advising people to run as a Democrat though they lean Republican.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 29 '09 - 06:59PM    #
  474. @Mark

    I’m no huge fan of either, but your bias for Elhady clearly shows thru. As regards signs, I don’t know where you’re looking, but Higgins has signs along Stadium, so your point about her not having signs is, well, false. I saw them when not specifically trying to look for them, so they seem pretty conspicuous to me.

    I personally endorsed Higgins (not that that means much of anything), as I heard zero response to my questions about why Elhady didn’t run in the primary. If I missed it, my sincere apologies. I like my Democrats tested in a primary battle, not attempting to come off as one, and running as an independent for either political means (whether that be deciding to run too late to get into the primary or not actually being willing to run in the Democratic primary for other reasons).

    If Hatim can answer this one question for me, I may reconsider. Till then, I like my Democrats in the Democratic column.

       —Jeremy Peters    Oct. 29 '09 - 07:20PM    #
  475. Mark [471]. Although they are not listed on her web site as endorsers, other Council members have contributed to Higgins’ campaign. A recent campaign finance statement is posted here:

    The report includes the following contributions from fellow Council members:

    Leigh Greden – $250
    Greden for Council – $100
    Margie Teal – $150
    Anthoney Derezinski – $100
    Stephen Rapundalo for Council – $100
    Christopher Taylor – $100

    Also of interest:

    Leah Gunn – $250
    Friends of Leah Gunn – $100
    Joan Lowenstein – $100
    Jean Carlberg – $50

    No real surprises here. She is supported by those with whom she shares similar views.

       —Jack Eaton    Oct. 29 '09 - 07:25PM    #
  476. “If Hatim can answer this one question for me, I may reconsider. Till then, I like my Democrats in the Democratic column.”

    Why are you voting for Higgins?

       —John Q.    Oct. 29 '09 - 08:44PM    #
  477. Jeremy:

    My recollection back in April or May was that Elhady declared himself an independent for the expressed reason that very few students vote in August and that was a key support base. He felt he had a better shot at beating Higgins in November when far more students would be available to vote.

    If you look at Marcia Higgins history she only became a Democrat folowing the 2003 election when she won as Republican with only 52% of the general election vote against token opposition.

    As for the Higgins signs, I did not drive by Stadium, but it would not surprise me because her campaign HQ is in that area.

    The concept of Democrat in Name Only candidates in Ann Arbor is not new. Steve Rapundalo ran for mayor as a Republican and is now a Democrat.

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 29 '09 - 09:06PM    #
  478. “but Higgins has signs along Stadium…”

    Did her campaign staff put one on the Stadium Bridges yet?


       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 29 '09 - 09:51PM    #
  479. I sent in my Democratic Party membership renewal the same day I mailed a check to the Ehhady campaign and so far I’ve been able to sleep at night supporting an ‘independent’.

    Higgins is a BAD Democrat and has done nothing to earn my support and I too wish someone had faced her in the August primary.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 29 '09 - 09:57PM    #
  480. The “Anybody But Marcia” movement in the Fourth Ward will, indeed, give substantial votes to Mr. Elhady, but I believe that he is a competent candidate.

    I also find it interesting that all of the “Council Party” members have financially contributed to Higgins, but only Margie Teall has stuck her neck out to actually endorse her publically, possibly due to the other pols’ perception that Higgins is a political liability and should not be associated with as far as an endorsement.

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 29 '09 - 10:50PM    #
  481. Also, Diane Giannola gave $50.00 to Higgins.

    I have heard rumors that if Higgins wins she may resign, and that the “Council Party” will appoint Giannola to take Higgins’ place.

    I have also heard that Giannola says there is no way she wants to join City Council.

    Higgin’s campaign finance report says she spent $357.68 on signs. That’s not very much; hence their scarcity.

    I remember that in the August, 2007 primary Sabra spent about twice that for her First Ward signs. Thanks for the compliment on the design – Sabra designed them herself. We are re-using them for this election cycle, saving a bunch of money, paper, and wire.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 29 '09 - 11:20PM    #
  482. Hatim emailed me back today in response to my question and I will say I am reconsidering, slowly. I still don’t feel he has quite the grasp on local issues that I’d like, but I’m open until I get into the voting booth. He’s getting closer to my vote (and the withdrawl of my endorsement of Higgins, obviously) but hasn’t quite proved it as of yet. I’ll see what I think after Friday’s event (if I’m able to get out of work in time).

    I’ll definitely agree with those who say the Primary dates need to be changed. Like it or no, the student population comprises a huge part of the overall population of the city.

       —Jeremy Peters    Oct. 30 '09 - 12:20AM    #
  483. Jeremy, How can you be so sure it was Hatim who emailed you back? It was probably the puppeteer not the puppet you were talking to.

       —bcorman    Oct. 30 '09 - 12:35AM    #
  484. David, I saw Briere signs that had the house painted over, and a tree is now featured.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 30 '09 - 01:21AM    #
  485. I noticed on Elhady’s web site that he thinks that a city income tax would result in people moving out of or setting up house outside of the city in order to lower their tax burden. I previously speculated that the reverse would be more likely. One of us must be confused. Fourth warders might want to ask him about it. You might want to ask Marcia, too. She has nothing about it on her web site.

       —Steve Bean    Oct. 30 '09 - 03:39AM    #
  486. “Let’s vote Marcia Higgins and the rest of these bozos out of office.”

    On March 8,2009 I made that statement on a different thread as a clarion call to Ann Arbor residents to revolt against bad government.

    I would not have foreseen at time that such citizens as Noah Hall would unearth an e-mail scandal, that both Leigh Greden and Marcia Higgins would champion putting City Income Tax on the ballot, and that Hall and various businesses would embroil the City of Ann Arbor in a major Open Meetings Act lawsuit. Nor would anyone have foreseen that Hatim Elhady would electrify U-M students and maverick City Council elements into running a credible campaign to oust Higgins from her 10-year grip on her City Council seat in the Fourth Ward.

    Leigh Greden has been voted out of office. Marcia has run a “bass-ackwards” campaign that gone nowhere. The anti-citizen Gang of Seven appears to be crumbling and are rightfully concerned about their future.

    The mavericks such as Karen Sidney, Patricia Lesko, Mike Anglin, Lou Glorie, and John Floyd exude quiet confidence and await Higgins’ day of reckoning next Tuesday. Citizens are lining up behind these activists and want change in city government with respect to ethics and fiscal responsibility. There is an air of optimism among the man in the street that the Gang of Seven will be gone soon.

    We are now in the home stretch, Higgins is staggering and Friday may be her last hurrah to regain the voter confidence she once had.

    We have fought the good fight and in the end voters will make the difference Tuesday as they did in August with the supposedly invincible Leigh Greden.

    I salute you all. Cheers!

       —Kerry D.    Oct. 30 '09 - 04:54AM    #
  487. I am voting for Elhady in Tuesday’s election for one reason and one reason only: I want to send a very clear message to everyone on City Council that in my view “emailgate” was a serious violation of the spirit of the Open Meetings Act. I was extremely disappointed that after Greden was voted out he continued to minimize the seriousness of his conduct and the issue. Mayor Hieftje was exactly right when he observed that the voters may have wanted to see some more remorse. The easiest way to send this message is to vote Marcia Higgins out.

       —Fred zimmerman    Oct. 30 '09 - 04:39PM    #
  488. Fred, I appreciate your viewpoint.

    I agree that there needs to be accountability for those involved in the e-mail controversy. Citizens need to voice their displeasure at the ballot box.

    Its now up the circuit court to pass judgment as to whether Open Meetings Act violations occurred.

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 30 '09 - 07:08PM    #
  489. A query: is the court considering the matter of the council emails? The only vehicle I am aware of is the GLELC lawsuit, and the last I heard that was still in settlement talks, not in court.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 30 '09 - 08:12PM    #
  490. A few responses to earlier comments on implementing IRV in future local elections:

    I don’t see how IRV can work as long as we also have county- and state-wide (or Federal) primaries in August. Also, that is one of the dates available for ballot measures.

    The suggestion is, initially at least, to use IRV in city elections during odd-numbered years only. Also, I’ve assumed that, in such years, any required August county or state ballot measures would go ahead without local candidates appearing on the ballot. (Larry previously noted the possibility of the state eventually moving the primary to May.)

    Also, it seems to me that IRV would require some serious reprogramming with our current vote-counting technology. And it would apply only to local candidates…

    You and Larry and others previously touched on (see comments #38, 41-45 & 51) the topic of potential technical hurdles. IRV looks do-able, using less-than-optimal older counting methods for now — there’s room for improvement. And yes, IRV for city candidates only.

    A better alternative would be for Ann Arbor to go to a non-partisan system.

    Agreed! And there may be more than one way to do this. First, a once-a-year, IRV-based, first-Tuesday-in-November vote in odd-numbered years for Ann Arbor city candidates (say that ten times quickly) implies non-partisan to me.

    Alternately, a non-partisan August or May city primary can be held for multiple candidates under IRV (or without IRV) with a runoff between the top two finishers held in November. But keep in mind that our odd-year, August city primaries generate notoriously miserable turnout. These particular primaries work against meaningful democratic participation, as time-after-time nearly everyone votes decisively with their feet to stay away from the polls. So, through resolute non-action, over 90% of registered voters deliver a non-vote to a non-candidate named “Nobody.” Lest we forget, all mid-summer elections also disadvantage students and vacationers. The absentee ballot option does help, but falls well short of providing an adequate fix for low turnout.

    So, why go out of our way to maintain partisan, odd-year August and November city elections, which, during the current one-party era, act as a powerful deterrent to voter turnout? Hence, a strong preference for a nonpartisan, November-only IRV free-for-all, where voter turnout will move up closer to totals achieved during even-numbered years.

    Parties could still endorse candidates, so partisan labels would not disappear. … the partisan system doesn’t work when everyone simply becomes a Democrat of convenience.

    Nonpartisan local contests will substantially reduce the attraction of convenient Democrat status to A2’s conservatives. (Writing this brings back memories of state GOP hard-liners angrily accusing Bill Milliken of being conveniently Republican.) In a non-IRV election context, however, election endorsements from prominent Dems will still carry a high premium. When implemented, IRV takes a step toward leveling the electoral playing field, so that endorsements from minority local parties — Libertarian, Republican, Green, Tory, Pastafarian, whomever — carry more relative weight than they do now, due to IRV’s second-choice vote option and the probability of multi-candidate contests.

    That’s it for now. I’ve run out of hyphens and dashes.

       —yet another    Oct. 30 '09 - 08:24PM    #
  491. yet another’s main concern seems to be that people get elected in odd-year primaries who are using the system skillfully. If IRV is a workable local system, it would presumably be implemented via charter change. Making such a change to apply only to off-year elections looks “partisan” in its own right. Politics is a game of strategy and tactics. Every situation advantages one or another candidate.

    Maybe instead we should move all council elections to odd years. Or to even years. If the mayor were elected in odd years together with the entire council, there would be an opportunity to focus on this city without the distractions of other races. If only even years, the city could save a certain amount of money on mounting elections and the supposed advantage to challengers (and that is surely the objection) would be minimized.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 30 '09 - 09:50PM    #
  492. Mark — I carefully said “in the spirit” of the Open Meetings Act because I recognize that the legality is a separate issue.

    Regardless of what the Circuit Court says, I would like our elected representatives to actually give their undivided attention to participating in the meetings that we elect them to attend, rather than displaying the sort of small-minded cliquishness on display in the transcripts.

       —Fred zimmerman    Oct. 30 '09 - 10:09PM    #
  493. Vivienne’s suggestions are good ones. Nonpartisan city elections would move the decision point to November. Moving the city elections to even-years-only would save the cost of odd-year elections. On the other hand, moving city elections to odd-years-only would build turnout in odd Novembers.

    Lengthening the mayor and council terms to four years, and changing them to odd-years-only, would make Ann Arbor city elections exactly like most of the other cities in the state.

    A hundred years ago, most cities had annual partisan elections. A hundred and forty years ago, pretty much all cities did. But nowadays Ann Arbor is just about the only city in Michigan to have this antique arrangement.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 30 '09 - 10:11PM    #
  494. Non-partisan elections are bad because they would allow the Republicans to hide behind the “protective coloration” of non-partisanship. They also deprive the voters of the most important piece of information on how someone in office will vote on a host of issues: their partisan identity.

    There are few real non-partisan political activists.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 30 '09 - 11:02PM    #
  495. “Non-partisan elections are bad because they would allow the Republicans to hide behind the “protective coloration” of non-partisanship. They also deprive the voters of the most important piece of information on how someone in office will vote on a host of issues: their partisan identity.”

    Or they can just put on their Halloween Democrat masks and run.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Oct. 30 '09 - 11:21PM    #
  496. I do not support the idea of having nonpartisan city elections. I lived in Kalamazoo for 15 years and had first hand experience with nonpartisan City elections. It doesn’t cure anything. Nonpartisan elections just modify the problem.

    Ann Arbor can cure the Republi-mocrat problem by having Democrats do a better job of policing their party. I think we are seeing the beginning of that process right now. Next year will tell for sure.

    Just as every democratic council candidate claims to be the friend of neighborhoods, every nonpartisan candidate will say whatever is necessary to be elected. Changing from partisan to nonpartisan elections will not change the caliber of candidates. That is a separate issue.

    Remember – Fourth Ward candidate event at Dicken Elementary School tonight at 6:30.

       —Jack Eaton    Oct. 30 '09 - 11:48PM    #
  497. There could be a whole new set of complications with nonpartisan elections. However, one of the first questions to ask any candidate would be for their party self-identification. Party endorsements would also be an indicator, though that is a two-edged sword. I imagine that in some recent elections the Council Party would have gotten all these, and/or local Party meetings could turn into brawls over some specific issues.

    But they would shift decisions substantially into November elections.

       —Vivienne Armentrout    Oct. 31 '09 - 12:38AM    #
  498. I was present at the Meet the Candidates Night at Dicken School and both Hatim Elhady and Higgins appeared.

    Jack Eaton acted as master of ceremonies and propounded questions presented by the audience. They were asked the expected questions about Argo Dam, Stadium Bridge, and the electronic mail controversy. Both seemed comfortable with the questions and responded thoughfully. Marcia Higgins, though, slightly hesitated when discussing the electronic mail issue and declared that she opposed Mike Anglin’s proposal to release all e-mails without cost for public inspection and felt the city should try to get the matter behind them. She believed that FOIA requests would eventually disclose whatever e-mails have not already been made public and hinted that “interesting” things might be discovered in the e-mails that have yet to be publically disclosed.

    At around 7:30 p.m., about one hour into the event, Higgins announced she had to leave due to her daughter’s illness and proceeded to depart the event hall accompanied by Margie Teall, Leah Gunn, and Diane Giannola. Mr. Elhady proceeded to speak to the audience for a brief period and later mingled with the audience.

    For those that appeared to have a preference, Higgins supporters present primarily were prominent Democratic Party officials and public officeholders. Most of Mr. Elhady’s support were from grassroots neighborhood activists.

    I feel the event’s results were a plus for both candidates.

       —Mark Koroi    Oct. 31 '09 - 05:56AM    #
  499. Could people who were at this event please add to Mark’s coverage?

    How many people altogether attended? Which people were clearly defined as the Higgins team? Which people were clearly defined as the Elhady team? Subtracting these cheering sections, how many others were there?

    Pretend you are a reporter (not a columnist) for or the Chronicle. Please give us a detailed report on the debate.

       —David Cahill    Oct. 31 '09 - 04:00PM    #
  500. David, probably about thirty persons showed up for the event, which I understand (anybody correct me if I am wrong) was supposed to last from 6:30- 8:00 p.m. Not a big crowd, but still substantial for a Friday evening. Marcia Higgins appeared wearing a purple jacket and Hatim Elhady sported a tie and sweater. They sat at a table while the host, Jack Eaton, sat to their left and asked questions on various issues.

    Patricia Lesko was there and encouraged attendees to submit questions on index cards. Those cards were presented to Jack Eaton who read them aloud to the two candidates who were given the opportunity to respond. Lesko passed out campaign literature to the attendees and a large campaign banner supporting Elhady was draped over a window; no one passed out any literature for Higgins nor were any Higgins signs displayed. Candy was also distributed. Patricia Lesko was the only Elhady volunteer present.

    There was a table where Commissioner Lee Gunn, Ms. Teall and a third person was sitting. That third person was later described to me as Diane Gianolla. Mrs. Gunn spent the discussion paying close attention to the candidates, however Teall spent most of her evening there looking out the window , talking to Gianolla or otherwise not paying close attention. These three came and left with Marcia Higgins and could be defined as her “team”.

    The only other declared supporter of Ms. Higgins that I noticed at the function last night was Fourth Ward Democratic chair Greg Hebert. He stayed on after Marcia left and spoke with residents. Libby Hunter was present and was the subject of interest of attendees as the singer before City Council.

    The answers given by the candidates to the questions presented to them yesterday were not much different than their respective previously disclosed positions. One of the new areas of discussion I heard raised, however, the issue of making contractors rather than the city pay for damage that may be inflicted on streets in the construction process.

    Candidate Elhady emphasized better constituent communications and the establishment of office hours in furtherance of that goal. Marcia countered that town hall meetings have given citizens appropriate input in the political proceses and that one such meeting had over 250 attendees from he public.

    As stated above, Councilperson Higgins stated she had to conclude her stay at the function because of her daughter’s condition; she became visibly emotional as she mentioned this and left toward the exit. No more questions were asked after this point and Mr. Elhady continued addressing the attendees in narrative fashion. He later went into the audience speaking to residents and shaking hands for about another half hour; his family members were also present.

    Overall both candidates did a reasonable job of advocating their respective positions. For Higgins, it was certainly better than not appearing at all. Although, judging by the number of citizens who stayed on to meet and speak to Mr. Elhady, it was clear that he was someone they wanted to speak and listen to.

    Judging by the interest I have seen the Fourth have in Hatim Elhady by speaking to residents, civic leaders, and others, there is no doubt I have that substantial numbers of voters will turn out Tuesday in support of Hatim Elhady. The real issue that I have heard raised is whether his filing as an independent as opposed to a party ticket will result in a Higgins victory; that is the position of the A2 Dem insiders.

       —John Dory    Oct. 31 '09 - 09:50PM    #
  501. It is accurate that many prominent Democratic Party activists and officeholders are supporting the independent candidacy of Hatim Elhady.

    In the Fourth Ward, yes, Leah Gunn is backing Higgins, but Larry Kestenbaum has not expressed any support for Higgins, nor have Councilpersons Sabra Briere or Mike Anglin, who appear in Elhady’s campaign website.

    Talk to Larry Horvath, Jack Eaton, or Eric Lipson, civic leaders who all reside in the Fourth Ward; they have endorsed Elhady.

       —Junior    Oct. 31 '09 - 11:56PM    #
  502. Thanks for the great report, John!

       —David Cahill    Nov. 1 '09 - 01:14AM    #
  503. There is a quarter-page display ad for Elhady on page A5 of today’s print edition of It begins:

    “Hatim Elhady”
    The name sounds “Different.”
    So did “Barack Obama”

    Ward 4 voters: Judge the candidate not by the spelling of his name, but by the content of his platform.

       —David Cahill    Nov. 1 '09 - 09:03PM    #
  504. Re Post No.475:

    The latest campaign finance disclosures filed with the County Clerk indicate that Hatim Elhady has a slight edge in contributions with about $3,400 collected compared with Marcia Higgins’ committee receiving about $3,300. As noted by Jack Eaton above a large percentage of Higgins’ receipts is coming from current or former City Council members or their committees (Greden’s mother, Renee, also donated $100.00 to Higgins).

    What I have found impresssive is the level of grassroots support Mr. Elhady is receiving by way of financial contributions from Fourth Ward citizens. The vast majority of his contibutions have come from Fourth Ward neighborhood activists or ordinary residents. The most prominent name I have seen on his list of contributors was Washtenaw County Democratic Party Executive Committee member Luanne Bullington. There has been an overlap of names when comparing his list of contributors to the list of Sabra Briere’ committee, including both receiving large contributions from businessman Dennis Dahlmann.

    To think that a student could generate more campaign contributions than a five-term incumbent City Council member is astonishing.

    Sabra Briere is the top fundraiser in Ann Arbor thus far with about $4,500 in contributions to her campaign committee. Her opponent Mitchell Ozog has not filed any contribution disclosures.

       —John Dory    Nov. 2 '09 - 12:21AM    #
  505. Late yesterday evening, while stopping by to visit this site, I felt amazed and privileged to stumble across a rather long and unique stretch of dialogue that appeared among the new comments. It was the wholly unexpected, mostly one-on-one exchange that occurred between Hatim Elhady and Marcia Higgins.

    Before I proceed further, occasional AU readers may need a reminder that they are the two opposing candidates who will appear on the city’s 4th ward ballot this week. These readers are not always aware, since in recent months the two individuals in question so very rarely ever posted to interactive local news sites.

    Nonetheless, as the pumpkins outside still glowed orange in the evening, there they were — online. By replying quickly to each other’s comments, they covered a range of topics that have been brought up here previously and a couple that haven’t been, making a decent effort to give sufficient measure to each without getting bogged down for long on any particular one.

    To a degree that may surprise some, they kept their 4th Ward exchange quite civil and respectful, even when tackling controversial topics such as city income tax, the library lot, line item budget cuts, and, of course, emails during meetings. They held a constructive brainstorm over possible future uses for the retail burial pit at Georgetown. Judging from the overall polite tone of interaction, it was clearly dam in, damn out.

    A few of us who also happened to be online at Arbor Update posted a few comments of our own while this one-on-one evolved. However, both Elhady and Higgins were very clear in telling their respective surrogates (as diplomatically as possible) to shut up and go away for the duration, so as not to distract the focus of their developing conversation.

    They gradually become comfortable with responding directly to one another in something approximating real time, rather than indirectly as before, under the limitations imposed by candidate forums or press coverage. It was as if Arbor Update were allowing us to watch them text one another — a live, exclusive political IM chat for public broadcast over blog.

    The dialogue did heat up toward the end as they began debating the Stadium Blvd. bridge issue, holding off this one hot-button topic until last. Higgins and Elhady tussled a little back and forth over spending $22 million on comprehensive reconstruction and the reasons for delay until now. They wrestled over what level of work is needed as the city waits for an answer on possible receipt of up to $21 million in federal stimulus funds. The variables in the issue were many, and a controlled tension arose between them.

    Then I woke up.

    In the faint light of early morning, the pumpkins outside looked dark and cold.

       —yet another    Nov. 2 '09 - 03:47AM    #
  506. Hatim collected more campaign donations at the meet the candidate event. I just finished walking 4-9, a significant portion of the area, and spoke with about 30 people. Of those, 22 said they are planning to vote for Hatim (or had already by absentee ballot). Several mentioned the email scandal as a reason for voting Marcia Higgins out of office (including two voters who were upset that she has never apologized), and others mentioned that it seemed “time for a change.”

    These were exactly the same kinds of messages I heard when I knocked on 750 doors in Ives Woods and Burns Park during the Ward Three race (where Greden lost hundreds of votes).

    One never knows, but it is interesting to be hearing the same kinds of voter feedback as I did in Ward Three.

       —Patricia Lesko    Nov. 2 '09 - 03:56AM    #
  507. Noticed a very complete account of the Elhady and Higgins live event in the Ann Arbor Chronicle, complete with photo and comments. At Elhady and Higgins article

       —Dan Gersten    Nov. 2 '09 - 03:57AM    #
  508. The Michigan Daily is expected to announce their endorsements in the City Council races tomorrow.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:22AM    #
  509. A 2-part “Other Perspectives” interview by Nancy Kaplan of Hatim Elhady has just been uploaded onto YouTube.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:46AM    #
  510. Michigan Daily endorses Elhady and Briere.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Nov. 2 '09 - 11:50AM    #
  511. Here are two insightful comments posted after the the daily article listed above. Maybe more thought should have been put into their endorsement:

    if i am not mistaken, on one of his own websites elhady, among other legitimately praiseworthy credentials, lists his membership in SAFE…a student group that hosted a notorious holocaust denier, and has been joined at the hip with the very people against whom the MSA passed its recent amendent to restrict meeting hi-jacking, and who consistently try the same stuff at city council meetings…..

    Both the DAILY and Elhady have again shown their ignorance about the law and City government. Elhady advocates for an April primary election, but that is not allowed under State law. Elections can only be held in February, May, August, and November, and partisan primaries for November elections (which we have in Ann Arbor) occur, by State law, in August. In other words, Elhady’s proposal for an April primary election is illegal. Yet the DAILY cited Elhady’s support for an illegal April primary election as a reason to support him. Once again, we see that the DAILY staff and editors are too naive to deserve any role in shaping City government.

       —S. Ross    Nov. 2 '09 - 07:17PM    #
  512. “In other words, Elhady’s proposal for an April primary election is illegal.”

    You’re kidding, right? By that logic, anyone advocating for any change in any law is voicing support for an illegal action because the action that the person wants to see happen is not currently permitted by law. I would love to see what that person would have said about Martin Luther King Jr’s. advocacy against Jim Crow Laws or anyone else who has stepped up to voice their opposition to laws that they view as wrong.

       —John Q.    Nov. 2 '09 - 08:22PM    #
  513. John Q. A city councilperson has no more authority to change state law over any other lay person. Yes, anyone can advocate for change, but to say “elect me” and I will make this specific change happen is disingenuous. It is not easy to do and to imply that “I” can do it easily, just by suggestion or resolution to the city council is out and out false.

       —S. Ross    Nov. 2 '09 - 08:29PM    #
  514. “It is not easy to do and to imply that “I” can do it easily, just by suggestion or resolution to the city council is out and out false.”

    Can you document that claim? Otherwise, that’s your disingenuous spin of his position.

       —John Q.    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:15PM    #
  515. S. Ross has made a mistake which I hope was innocent. Let me help.

    First of all, Hatim Elhady as ONE web site (

    S. Ross writes, “if i am not mistaken, on one of his own websites elhady, among other legitimately praiseworthy credentials, lists his membership in SAFE (Students Allied for Freedom and Equality )…a student group that hosted a notorious holocaust denier, and has been joined at the hip with the very people against whom the MSA passed its recent amendent to restrict meeting hi-jacking, and who consistently try the same stuff at city council meetings…..”

    Elhady served on the Executive Board of the Multicultural Council at Bursley Hall. He became a PULSE (Peer Utilizing Leadership and Student Experience) health adviser in South Quad. He acted as Chair of the Minority Affairs Commission (MAC) in the Michigan Student Assembly, and as Vice-President of Marketing for the University Activities Center. He also assisted in admissions recruiting for the University of Michigan. He has worked for the U.S. State Department and, as a result if elected will be the only Council member with top-level security clearance from the U.S. government.

    Elhady was never a member of SAFE.

    Yesterday while walking Ward 4, I ran into some friends from Beth Israel synagogue who made a point to note that they were pleased to see a Jew working on Elhady’s campaign. They haven’t been the first synagogue members I’ve run into who’ve said this. I’ll be at Temple Beth Emeth tomorrow (it’s a polling place in Ward Four), and am looking forward to telling my Jewish friends who vote there that Hatim Elhady is not a Council member with an international political agenda any more than Jewish Council member Joan Lowenstein was.

    As the Elhady ad in the newspaper said yesterday, let’s judge the candidate on his platform, and not on the spelling of his name.

    Hope this sets the record straight for S. Ross and others.

       —Patricia Lesko    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:25PM    #
  516. Patricia Lesko- I did not write the “safe” quote, it came from the comments section of the Daily article as I stated above. It is someone else claim.

       —S. Ross    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:31PM    #
  517. John Q.

    In the DAILY editorial it says: “As a student, Elhady understands that restrictive election laws negatively impact students’ abilities to participate in city government. As an acknowledgement of this, he wants the primary election moved back to April, when students are still around.”

    When running as a candidate you say things that represent yours views and what you want to accomplish in office. Why is he saying this if this not something he wants to accomplish in office? He is not running for state office, but local office. Why would the Daily endorse him based (partly) on this issue if this is not something the students believe that Elhady would work on and accomplish as a councilmember.

    Most likely, the Daily would have endorsed him no matter what, considering he is one of their own, but the journalist/students should have a more justifiable reason for their endorsement then saying that he is promising something they all want to hear but knowingly can’t be delivered by a councilmember.

    He might as well promise them free tuition and world peace.

       —S. Ross    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:34PM    #
  518. Re Post #511: “…(Elhady) has been joined at the hip with the very people against whom the MSA passed its recent amendment to restrict meetng hijacking, and who consistently try the same stuff at city council meetings…”

    Can you provide any proof to back this up? I have seen nothing that supports this.

    Many of his volunteers and contibutors are civic leaders who happen to be Jewish, such as Patricia Lesko, his campaign manager (and former People’s Food Coop director), and former Planning Commissioner Eric Lipson.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:35PM    #
  519. “Why is he saying this if this not something he wants to accomplish in office?”

    Have you voiced the same criticisms of candidates who have stated they’ll seek more state or federal funding for “fill in the blank” activity? As a city official, one can’t guarantee state or federal funding for anything. But I think the reasonable person understands that someone making that statement is talking about what activities they see as a priority and that they’ll work to find state and federal funding for that activity or they’ll work with state and federal officials to direct more funding to that activity. Elhady’s position is no different and a reasonable person would understand that a council person can not change a state law. Your interpretation of the Daily’s interpretation of his comments is completely unreasonable.

       —John Q.    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:46PM    #
  520. John Q,

    Even using your logic it shows that Elhady is not up for the job then. If changing the state voting laws is his highest priority then that shows he does not what the job entails. The budget is the most important issue and should be considered such.

    It is just simple pandering.

       —S. Ross    Nov. 2 '09 - 09:54PM    #
  521. *************************
    “if i am not mistaken, on one of his own websites elhady, among other legitimately praiseworthy credentials, lists his membership in SAFE…a student group that hosted a notorious holocaust denier, and has been joined at the hip with the very people against whom the MSA passed its recent amendent to restrict meeting hi-jacking, and who consistently try the same stuff at city council meetings…..”

    I guess S. Ross didn’t feel the need to parrot this racist comment/post when he was contributing to the Ann Arbor Chronicle website today. I’m not sure who ‘S. Ross’ is but posting such BS and hate and then hiding behind ‘oh it was a comment I read online’ make me sick.

    Amusing what crawls out from under the rocks the day before the election.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:09PM    #
  522. Re Post #521: I agree. I just went through Mr. Elhady’s campaign website and while there are a number of organization memberships disclosed, I see no metion of a membership in SAFE. Perhaps S. Ross could provde a link to his/her alleged source.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:22PM    #
  523. I wasn’t being racist. It was up for a discussion point. If people get to highlight links to articles that are biased, then interesting comments should also be up for discussion. I find the second comment much more interesting and that is why I am arguing that point.

    I thought his was a blog open for discussion from various viewppoints, but I guess not. It is just for one sided viewpoints that speak to the choir.

       —S. Ross    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:32PM    #
  524. I did the same and there was no mention of ‘SAFE’ on the webpage. Wonder why S. Ross didn’t bring this ‘information’ to his Ann Arbor Chronicle post on the election? I guess he decided not to shovel that sewage into the bucket for the Chronicle’s higher toned audience.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:35PM    #
  525. “I wasn’t being racist. It was up for a discussion point. If people get to highlight links to articles that are biased, then interesting comments should also be up for discussion. I find the second comment much more interesting and that is why I am arguing that point.”

    I read on another webpage that one of the posters here has sex with chickens and is a Klan member. Oh, I’m not saying it’s true…just putting in on the table for discussion. Lol.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:39PM    #
  526. “If changing the state voting laws is his highest priority then that shows he does not what the job entails.”

    Again, no citation of this claim that it’s his highest priority.

    “I thought his was a blog open for discussion from various viewppoints, but I guess not. It is just for one sided viewpoints that speak to the choir.”

    Welcome to AU. For those of us who post regularly, there’s an understanding that if you’re going to come and make such claims, you better be able to back them up. If you’re going to repeat unsubstantiated claims made by others, you better be able to justify them as if you made them yourself. To date, you’ve failed to provide any factual basis for the claims you’ve made. Keep digging that hole.

       —John Q.    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:42PM    #
  527. As county clerk, I have long advocated that even and odd year primaries be changed to May, as many other states have already done.

    New federal legislation (just approved) mandates a long lead time for ballots to be available for voters in military service overseas.

    The August primary date (plus 14 days for certification, plus time for party nominating conventions, plus an undetermined amount of time for recounts and challenges) makes it difficult for Michigan to meet the federal deadline.

    Indeed, before the bill’s timeframe was shortened by an amendment, it would have been literally impossible for Michigan to have ballots ready in time.

    A May primary date has the added advantage of not being in the middle of summer, when many people (not just students) are out of town.

    County and local clerks, who understand the election calendar, would love to see this change, but we can’t convince the Legislature all by ourselves.

    I don’t endorse Mr. Elhady, but I very much welcome his support for changing the election calendar.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    Nov. 2 '09 - 10:58PM    #
  528. The interview on YouTube with Hatim Elhady now shows 153 hits; the only other candidate to interview with that media source, Sabra Briere, has 33 hits.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 2 '09 - 11:37PM    #
  529. The newcomer here, S. Ross, seems to be in full mudslinging mode. In the comment section of the Chronicle article, Ross accuses Elhady of being sexist. The proof Ross offers? Both of the reporters to which Elhady chose not to give live interviews are female!

       —Michael Schils    Nov. 3 '09 - 12:09AM    #
  530. I support the candidacy of Hatim Elhady as I believe it will be historic in many ways. He will be the first Arab-American and first person of the Islamic faith to sit on City Council. He will also be the first student in over thirty years to sit on City Council. It gives students a deserved voice in city affairs.

    Hatim Elhady’s averments about improving communications with constituents struck a chord with me. I believe a Council member should be accessible to residents.

    I also believe Marcia Higgins should be held accountable over her role in the electronic mail controversy, for which she has not apologized.

    I have talked to many residents in the Fourth Ward who say that its time for a change. I concur with Ms. Lesko’s statement at Post No. 506 that the electorate appears to be leaning toward Hatim Elhady.

    I deeply appreciate the hard work he and his volunteers have exhibited to make the Fourth Ward race as competitive as it has been.

    Good luck tomorow, Hatim!

       —Lillian Dwyer    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:12AM    #
  531. Michael, S. Ross didn’t make an accusation or offer proof, for that matter—he/she raised a question (and put it in context, something your comment didn’t do.)

    John Q., your comments seem considerably testier than in the past. I hope the old John Q. returns after the election.

    On the subject of the primary date, don’t you think Elhady could have been much more clear about it if he had said he would work to influence state government on it, rather than leaving it open to the (reasonable) interpretation that S. Ross noted? I think the old John Q. would have been objective enough to see it that way, but maybe I need to find something to substantiate that.

    On commentary on the candidates/election in general, it’s interesting that it’s been more focused on communications and political points than on public service or policy proposals.

       —Steve Bean    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:12AM    #
  532. We know Elhady has public service and policy proposals. Does Higgins?

       —Dan Gersten    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:43AM    #
  533. Is anyone willing to go out on a limb and predict the winner of the Fourth Ward race tomorrow?

       —Jerry Gilbert    Nov. 3 '09 - 05:01AM    #
  534. I predict Hatim Elhady will be elected as the Fourth Ward’s new representative on City Council tomorrow – by 10-20 percentage points.

       —Lillian Dwyer    Nov. 3 '09 - 05:54AM    #
  535. Is Steve Bean also posting as “S. Ross”, which is why Steve is now defending Ross, and we’re no longer hearing from Ross?

    There you go, Steve. Now I have absolutely no proof of this, which is why I’m not actually accusing you. I’m just putting the question out there for discussion.

    Steve, do you now see how disingenuous this manner of “just raising a question for discussion” is?

    The person posting as “S. Ross” copied and pasted part of a comment presumably by someone else which falsely claimed that Elhady indicates on his own website that he is a member of SAFE. Clearly, “S. Ross” repeated and made no effort to confirm this false information in an attempt to smear Elhady by tying him to a purported extremist group.

    Steve, you may have no problems with this kind of mud-slinging “discussion”, but some of us do. Your rush to defend “S. Ross” is curious. Perhaps you should let him speak for himself (or herself), you think?

       —Michael Schils    Nov. 3 '09 - 06:01AM    #
  536. I predict a surge in voter turnout in the Fourth ward over the 2005 election by 15 to 20% and a probable Hatim Elhady victory over Mayor Pro Tempore Marcia Higgins.

    I do not think that Steven Bean, Ann Arbor’s esteemed Chairman of the Environmemtal Commission, would stoop so low as to post under a silly pseudonym – but let him respond himself.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 06:08AM    #
  537. Mark, if you read my comment more closely, you’ll see that my “question for discussion” wasn’t serious. I only included it to make a point. For which I now see from your feedback that I was quite unsuccessful.

       —Michael Schils    Nov. 3 '09 - 06:36AM    #
  538. Actually, I was being facetious – and equally unsuccessful.

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 06:38AM    #
  539. Let’s start a Committee to Draft Steve Bean for City Council next year in the Fifth Ward.

    He could likely beat Carsten Hohnke.

       —Lillian Dwyer    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:13AM    #
  540. ohhhh…ok, Mark, now I get it. (Slaps self in head.)

       —Michael Schils    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:18AM    #
  541. Sorry to interrupt this “West Willow incident” reunion between Michael and Mark but I predict a pretty resounding win for Higgins tomorrow. I believe that for Elhady to win, turnout would need to be very low (similar to when Briere won). With the schools millage on the ballot, the turnout will be higher and those folks will likely vote straight ticket democrat because most have not been following this race.

    I also think that most voters see through the smokescreen thrown up on this and other blogs by Elhady supporters. Nice try, though.

       —Marvin Face    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:40AM    #
  542. Just got an email from the U of M College Dems endorsing Higgins and reminding students that it’s a contested race and to be sure to go out and vote tomorrow. I’ll leave further analysis up to you.

       —Jeremy Peters    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:58AM    #
  543. Dream on Marvin—Elhady by a landslide! What smokescreen? Sounds like sour grapes and conspiracy theories to me!

       —ChuckL    Nov. 3 '09 - 08:27AM    #
  544. After all of this, I still have not heard that Higgins has any platform, after 10 years on city council.

       —Dan Gersten    Nov. 3 '09 - 08:44AM    #
  545. Frankly, the real big question mark is how successful Mr. Elhady is at getting out the student vote.

    Eugene Kang in 2005 drew large amounts of student precinct votes and was beaten handily by Steve Rapundalo outside of U-M. If Mr. Elhady is doing as diligent of a job on campus as in the neighborhoods, he should do very well.

    Eugene Kang did not have the benefit of a scandal such as the e-mail controversy plus the incumbent supporting an unpopular City Income Tax – both proven vote killers for Leigh Greden.

    Marcia Higgins has never been able to get great plurality victories in contested races and got 52% and 50% in 2003 and 2005, respectively, where no scandal or major divisive issue was apparent.

    All this portends a decisive Hatim Elhady victory tomorrow.

    The only question I have is where is Elhady having his Election Night victory party?

       —Lillian Dwyer    Nov. 3 '09 - 09:03AM    #
  546. A partial cross-posting:

    After writing most of a comment just posted at the Chronicle, I then read today’s accusations (above) made by S. Ross against Elhady. These, going beyond S. Ross’ attempt yesterday at AAC to smear Elhady as sexist (and maybe ageist as well), are far nastier than any individual comments made against McGovern and her election column either here or in the column’s comments section over at AAC. (My last summary on the McGovern commentary is here)

    Candidate Higgins and/or her supporters should post right away at this site and at AAC to roundly condemn Ross’ malicious personal attacks.

       —yet another    Nov. 3 '09 - 09:30AM    #
  547. Don’t count on it, Y.A.

    The attacks at Post No.511 by “S. Ross” above were even nastier and it is open to speculation who this person is and who they are acting for, although I do not believe Marcia Higgins would herself engage in such underhanded and disgusting smear tactics.

    It is worthy of note I do not ever recall an “S. Ross” posting on AU previously.

       —Lillian Dwyer    Nov. 3 '09 - 09:58AM    #
  548. Today is Election Day!

    Make sure to get out and vote in the City Council elections. There are also ballot propoasls and a millage.

    If you need transportation, contact your ward party chairman or precinct delegate.

    Thank you!!

       —Mark Koroi    Nov. 3 '09 - 11:34AM    #
  549. My predication…it’s going to be close and the school millage being on the ballot will bring out more liberal Dems—and if they aren’t following the 4th Ward election closely, may actually pull the Democratic level, which would help Higgins. The anti-taxers might do the same for Elhady but there will be less of those types here in A2 than out county. In spite of the Ann Arbor Observer’s predication, it’s going to be close. But the 4th Ward Democratic Party machine (lol) was making get of the vote calls and Elhady’s people weren’t—which will matter in a close election.

       —Alan Goldsmith    Nov. 3 '09 - 04:35PM    #
  550. Hi to All. It is time to vote for new The 21st century a new local vision and the leaders for our community so please vote for Mitchell Ozog.

    I believe that the problems our community faces can be solved. I know it will take the hard work of all of its good citizens can and should be leading the way. I hope that I have been able to convince you.

    One more thing – I think the Ann Arbor City official ballot is not right.I have noticed that there is an image of the American flag which points directly to one of the candidates(Sabra Briere). I feel that such image give the suggestion to voters just to vote on this specific candidate. I do not feel that was necessary to introduce the image, unless there is reason for this. However,when using the image, it is fair to refer this to both of the candidates not just a particular candidate.

       —Mitchell Ozog    Nov. 3 '09 - 06:54PM    #
  551. The polls are open! They close at 8:00 p.m. Be sure to vote!

    Sabra says that in Ann Arbor City, the absentee votes (AVs) will be counted at City Hall, rather than at the various precinct polling places. This process means that the reported results should include not only results from each precinct, but separate results from the Absent Voter Counting Boards (AVCBs). I think.

    The AVs were a real horror show before the uniform use of the present Optiscan system. Absent voters got paper ballots that had to be marked by hand with an X. As a result, disputed ballots were common.

       —David Cahill    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:16PM    #
  552. This thread has hit a significant length — we’ve opened up two new threads, one on the proposals and another on the council races.

       —Matt Hampel    Nov. 3 '09 - 07:29PM    #