Category Archives: Ann Arbor City Council

Unsubscribing from a bitter local politics list (before I get kicked off)

I’ve unsubscribed from a local politics mailing list that I’ve been on for a while. Out of an abundance of not wanting to name names, I’m not naming names; chances are there’s one of these in your community too.

The ground rules of this list are almost certainly that of typical politics lists. There’s a list owner, who sets the rules. One of the rules is that the list is a private list, with no reporters on it and no one is supposed to share anything they get from the list to anyone who’s not on the list. Occasionally someone transgresses and they get visibly kicked off the list. A number of small-time politicians are on the mailing list, and it’s run by a former elected official.

I’m not sure how I ever got on the list, but I stayed on it. I didn’t feel like I could contribute anything to it, because if I was outed as a blogger I’m sure I’d be kicked off. And I couldn’t copy anything from it to anyone else (even though I did from time to time).

Small town politics can be very small and very bitter. The straw that broke the camel’s back was whining that there wasn’t enough parking near Farmer’s Market downtown, since apparently walking 5 minutes to an enormous structure nearby wasn’t enough.

Not my clowns, not my circus. My inbox is full enough as is. If I need to read this particular list, I’ll just FOIA the contents of the inboxes of the elected officials that subscribe to it.

(shakes dust off shoes)


About sidewalks

To the Editor:

The question has been asked your correspondent by several citizens: Can the city legally compel the owners or occupants of property in this city to construct, at their own expense, sidewalks in front of their premises?

The city certainly claims ownership of the street from fence to fence, and exercises absolute control thereof. Even if a man desires to plant shade trees on the street in front of his property, the city prescribes the exact distance at which they shall be placed from the property owner’s street line; and notwithstanding the fact that the property owner pays for the trees himself and also for the planting and subsequent care of them until their growth is assured, yet he is denied by the city any ownership in them, and is forbidden to remove or even to trim them, should he at any time desire to do so.

What these people wish to know, then, is, if the city owns the streets and their shade trees and side walks, why the city should not itself build the sidewalks, do all grading and plant all shade trees?

It is undeniable that when a man builds his sidewalk it immediately becomes city property, and he has no more ownership of it than any other citizen. In fact, in a single day hundreds will use it when he uses it once. In short, it is built not for him, but for the public. Then why should not the public pay for it?

The building of sidewalks under the existing ordinance is a heavy burden upon very many citizens, some of whom have been compelled by their circumstances to borrow the money at interest to enable them to comply with the order of the council. This seems to your correspondent to be a matter worthy of deliberate consideration by the city fathers. The claim of these people is that the city, owning the streets, should itself put down all sidewalks, and spread the expense upon he general tax.

It may do no good to open up this question at this time; but the voice of the people should at least be heard in the matter, and this communication certainly expresses it in some degree.


From the Ann Arbor Argus, August 28, 1891, via the Old News archive at the Ann Arbor District Library

January 5, 2014: City of Ann Arbor response to snow non-emergency (11″+ of snow)

From email sent by Ann Arbor City Council member Christopher Taylor (D-3d Ward).


Here is a quick update for you about the snow and the City’s response.

As of 9:00 pm, we have had 11+ inches of snow. We have not declared a formal snow emergency and street parking is unrestricted.

All City facilities will be open Monday and trash collection will run on its ordinary schedule.

Road crews are out working 12 – 14 hour shifts. The day shift had 14 trucks assigned to Major roadways until noon, then dropped down to 12 trucks to accommodate schedule changes necessary to bolster the night shift. Our night shift began at 6pm with a regular staff of 14 trucks assigned to Majors. The Major road staff will start using sand/salt mix around midnight. Additional staff will be assigned to work on locals during the night. Local plowing will begin with Monday and Tuesday trash collection routes, and then continue throughout the City.

The Snow Desk (994-SNOW) will be staffed 7am – 11pm thru Wednesday to answer resident questions and to report concerns.

As ever, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Stay warm and if you must travel, drive carefully.


Christopher Taylor

Hieftje Veto Preserves Crosswalk Law

ANN ARBOR – Mayor John Hieftje promised Monday night to exercise his mayoral veto powers to squash City Council’s amendments to the city crosswalk law, which passed 6-4. The veto will mean that the crosswalk law will be unchanged. 36 people spoke up at a public hearing in favor of the law as written, with only 3 speaking in favor of a change.

More details Tuesday as stories come in from local media outlets.

Ann Arbor News: Ann Arbor mayor using veto power to block crosswalk law changes. Don’t read the comments, which are the usual anonymous MLive drivel.

Ann Arbor Chronicle: A2 Crosswalk Repeal: To Be Vetoed.

WEMU News: Ann Arbor Mayor to Veto Changes to Crosswalk Law. “City Council member Stephen Kunselman says the veto means the poorly crafted and implemented law remains in place. However, nearly 40 people spoke in favor of keeping the law during a public hearing.”

Ann Arbor City Council Preview for December 2, 2013

A preview of the Ann Arbor City Council meeting for Monday, December 2, 2013; based on the agenda printed on Friday, November 29, 2013 at 6:00 p.m.

The hot issue for December 2, 2013 is the proposed repeal of the Ann Arbor pedestrian ordinance. If passed, city rules for pedestrians would revert to the Michigan state laws.

Another preview, with a lot more words, is at the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

INT-1. We have new firefighters, let’s meet them.

INT-2. A review of Fiscal Year 2013 audit results from CFO Tom Crawford.

INT-3. Philip Deletka is volunteer of the month for work on the CERT program. (Added late.)

Public commentary reserved time! 10 speakers at 3 minutes each. Speakers: Tom Partridge, Henry Herskovitz.

CC-1. Here’s who’s on various council committees.

Briere to Planning Commission. (added late)

Taylor to Greenbelt Advisory Commission. (added late)

Briere and Anglin to the Environmental Commission. (added late)

Council rep TBD to Disabilities Commission. (added late)

Someone to LDFA (added late, not reflected in electronic agenda).

CC-2. Council rules.

MC-1. Mayoral appointments and confirmations. Nothing controversial.

PH-2. An industrial development district at 1901 E Ellsworth, which would suit the needs of (Mahindra Genze), an electric scooter company.

PH-3. Running Fit wants to build upwards at 121-123 E Liberty and at 220 S Fourth.

PH-1. Repeal of the pedestrian ordinance, a public hearing. Expect a lot of speakers. Reorganized on the agenda to go third, not first. (39 speakers, 36 against)

A-1. Approve last month’s minutes for council.

CA-1. Approve a $58,000 annual maintenance license for ESRI GIS software.

B-1. Repeal of the pedestrian ordinance, second reading. There are 5 sponsors for the ordinance, and it’s expected to be repealed; but there may be last-minute negotiations that lead to some kind of compromise.

C-1. Traverwood Apartments rezoning, first reading.

DC-1. Council calendar for 2014.

DC-2. Policy for removal of street parking spaces; it’s proposed that a street parking space be valued at $45,000.

DB-1. Running Fit wants to build upwards at 121-123 E Liberty and at 220 S Fourth.

DB-2. Donation of 2.2 acres from Bill Martin adjacent to the Traverwood Apartments proposed development.

DS-1, DS-2. Asbestos abatement in floors 3, 4, and 5 of City Hall.

DS-3. An industrial development district at 1901 E Ellsworth, see PH-2.

DS-4. City-University parking ticket processing contract.

DS-5. “Resolution to Approve a Six Month Extension of the Existing Installment Purchase Agreement with Bank of Ann Arbor to Finance the Purchase of 350 S. Fifth Avenue ($3,500,000.00) (8 Votes Required) (Roll Call Vote Required)” This is a surprise. “Whereas, it is in the best interest of the City to extend the maturity date of the Agreement by six months.” The Bank of Ann Arbor is extending the same terms and interest rate as currently held, with no prepayment penalty.

Ann Arbor City Council meeting preview for Monday, 18 November 2013

The meeting agenda for Ann Arbor City Council is up for the Monday, 18 November 2013 meeting. That means it’s time to do a preview.

As usual this is done strictly in the order of the agenda, with item numbers. For a longer and more thematic look, I recommend the Ann Arbor Chronicle preview. For a preview of the pedestrian safety ordinance discussion, see this Ann Arbor News story.

UPDATE: as of 4:40 p.m. it’s not on the agenda, but Ann Arbor News reporter Ryan Stanton suggests on twitter that the disposition of the Old Y Lot may make it onto the agenda tonight, with council asked to accept the Dahlmann bid. 5:05 p.m. Now on the PDF agenda as “DC-4 13-1467 Resolution to Approve Sale of City-Owned Property at 350 S. Fifth to Dennis A. Dahlmann (8 Votes Required)”.

This will be the first meeting for new City Council member Jack Eaton, who defeated Twenty Pound Carp in the general election in November 2013.

Council will appoint a Mayor Pro Tem, to serve as acting Mayor when there is no mayor available. Traditionally this has gone to the most senior member of council by tenure, and I think that might be Margie Teall; the Chronicle hints that Jane Lumm might have the nod.

MC-1 Mayoral appointments look uncontroversial.

PH-1, B-1 “Pizza in the park”, a waiver of fees for parks activities that provide basic human services, looks like it’s likely to pass based on last week’s discussion.

PH-2, B-2 “DDA Revisions” is probably going to take a long time, as various members of council try to make political points regarding the relative balance of services between the downtown and the neighborhoods. Make popcorn.

CA-1 “The Puck Drops Here” is a 31 December 2013 event (details?) to be held just before the 1 January 2014 Winter Classic NHL hockey game.

CA-2 “Hockey is just like football” as far as parking restrictions and street closings goes.

CA-3 Dawn Farm has agreed to acquire 618 N. Main from Avalon Housing.

DC-1 “Ypsi Township on AAATA board” Council gets to decide whether Ypsilanti Township has a seat on the AAATA transit authority board. It was a matter of controversy when it came up the first time; keep up with the popcorn.

DC-4 “Dahlmann proposal for Old Y Lot” This showed up on the agenda at the last possible moment, to the point where it’s not clear that members of council will get a chance to read it before voting on it; certainly no one had a chance to put their name in for public commentary on this item. I’m hopeful that this resolution will be postponed until next time for a vote.

DS-2, DS-3, DS-4 Easement swaps with the University of Michigan for a new conduit through the Arboretum, and a new survey to settle a disputed boundary between the city and the university.

G-1. The Greenbelt Advisory Commission has minutes to approve from 2011 (!!!).

G-2. The Public Art Commission has minutes to approve from January and Feburary 2012 (!!!)

G-6, G-7, G-8, G-9 The Taxicab board has been very slow to produce minutes; these date back to January 2013.

Not on the agenda yet is a possible purchase agreement for the “Old Y Lot”.