Now that spring is almost upon us, I thought that perhaps it might be a good time to float the idea of another meeting of local bloggers and blog readers. If you’re up for it, or if you have ideas concerning format or venue, leave a comment. If it wouldn’t be too terribly formal and business-like, I was thinking that we might want to spend at least some of the time discussing how we cover local politics, share information, promote each other’s work/projects, etc. (Along these lines, I have it from a very reliable source that our Mayor here in Ypsi has said publicly that “blogging (doesn’t) make a bit of difference” when it comes to how the city is run. I, for one, would like to change her mind, and I think a good first step would be working with other local bloggers to make sure that at least one of us is at every city council meeting that’s open to the public, taking notes.) Other than that, I’d just be happy drinking and chatting with folks.

Leighton, can you get us a deal on Pabst if we do it at the Elbow Room? How about a blog-friendly band? How about a two-stage event, starting at Frenchies and then winding up at the Elbow? Hell, how about an official “Blog Day” in Ypsi where all the restaurants and bars have special deals for bloggers and their families? Seriously, how about a panel or two? We could invite Juan Cole to speak. We could have our own little SXSW right here on the banks of the majestic Huron. We could even make us wristbands and badges for ourselves. Just think of the possibilities.

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  1. Posted March 15, 2005 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    For people who can’t wait, there’s a blogger meetup tomorrow (Wed. the 15th) in Ann Arbor. Leopold Bros. is no Elbow Room, but they’re usually pretty fun.

  2. Posted March 15, 2005 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    The “blog letters” in support of the Cool Cities DTE grant didn’t make a bit of difference?

    It’s funny how different city government is in Hamtramck. About a week after we moved in, the Deputy Mayor sent us an email welcoming us to town. City council meetings are on Channel 12. Every Tuesday night, people of all sorts address the council about whatever they like, for as long as they like. (Can’t do that in Ypsi unless you’re a lawyer for Marsh Plating.)

  3. Posted March 15, 2005 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    I think what the mayor meant was that “Blogging doesn’t make a bit of difference to ME.”

    She also has referenced a strange “Silent Majority”, from whom she gets most of her impressions on what the city should do, apparently via some sort of telepathic transmission (as they’re SILENT, remember?).

  4. Posted March 15, 2005 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Farmer’s got a point. It’s not the blogging that matters, it’s policitical action that would matter.

    here’s my ypsi todo list:

    1) attend city council meetings

    2) become outraged

    3) try to spread the outrage

    4) get new cannidates to run

    5) get them elected

    6) rinse, repeat

    I got to #2.

  5. Posted March 15, 2005 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I think you can get pretty outraged by just sitting at home and looking at the minutes of the meetings here:

    As an example, pick a specific subject and try to go through all the pdf documents and try to figure out how a decision was reached. Good luck!

    But I do agree with Steven insofar as the issue at stake is really a tiny group of people making the decisions for the rest of us, and the only way to really change things is for a few (or all) members of that tiny group to be replaced with more competent (or at least more empathetic) leadership.

  6. Posted March 15, 2005 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    “… replaced with more competent (or at least more empathetic) leadership.”

    and there’s the rub. compentent leadership is tough to find in good ole Ypsilani.

    Ypsilanti’s going to need them though, those Water Street TIF payments are coming a-callin. There’s no rainy day fund, no room in the budget for anything.

    The DDA managed to spend millions of dollars without putting a bond issue before the people. (TIF)

  7. Posted March 15, 2005 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    i think the time-delay in actually paying for the various projects is precisely the reason the city is doing it, as right now it makes them look pretty good and when the shit hits the fan they’ll all be conveniently retired from public service; thus the next group to take control will have an even more difficult time of it, and I hope whoever blogs in ypsilanti then will keep all this in mind (not that the bloggers matter, of course).

    Speaking of Ypsilanti, one thing that keeps coming up again and again as a financial difficulty/excuse is something called the ‘Headlee Amendment’, which limits taxes collected by local govt (among other things); I don’t completely understand the details but it would SEEM like something our town and others should be vehemently lobbying for the repeal of (which I don’t think they are). I’d be interested to hear someone’s take on the matter that knows more about it.

    Alternately, I’d love to hear some alternative theory of why Ypsilanti is/was hurtling towards bankruptcy (as this is supposedly the reason so many gambles are being taken by the current council/mayor).

  8. Kevin Dole 2
    Posted March 15, 2005 at 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a blog proper, but I’d be enthused about such a gathering.

  9. mark
    Posted March 15, 2005 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps eventually we can run our own candidates, but for now I’d be happy just shining a light on those that are already in office. (People, it’s been my experience, tend to do a better job when they know they’re being watched.) As there’s not really a local press to speak of, at least not one, in my opinion, that feels the need to ask difficult questions, we need to make one. I personally can’t commit to doing it alone, but I’d be more than happy to sign up to cover a meeting a month for a community endeavor like the one I’m picturing. If we get maybe a dozen people willing to pitch in, maybe we can launch something. Then, it’s just a matter of publicizing the site, which I think that I can do fairly inexpensively

  10. mark
    Posted March 15, 2005 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    … And I should add that people wouldn’t need to necessarily be bloggers to participate in something like I’m describing. I just think that existing bloggers are a good place to start. Ideally, however, a project like this would attract people from all segments.

  11. Posted March 16, 2005 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    I find Mark’s comment about there “not being a local media…we need to make one” inspiring if a bit daunting. Daunting as far as doing so responsibly, in an ethical manner that will win readers. I also like his idea of sharing out the coverage of council meetings; I’d be willing to sign up to such a plan.

  12. Posted March 18, 2005 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Oh god, you won’t puke in the Elbow’s sinks again, will you? We could have it on an off night so you don’t have to go deaf listening to a band… or have it early on a night with bands.

    We could play videos of City Council Meetings. Hot.

    I could give a speech on why Hen Fah *really left Ypsi (it involves cockfighting).

    *not really.

    On local media, supposedly the Courier is going to graze similar subjects.

  13. Teddy Glass
    Posted March 18, 2005 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Leighton, you aren’t suggesting that Mark is the fellow you mentioned over at Ann Arbor Is Overrated the other day who was seen scooping vomit out of the sink at the Elbow Room and back into his own mouth, are you?

    (You have to follow that link and then scroll down into the comments until you reach 10:35 PM on March 15.)

  14. Posted March 18, 2005 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    What Mark suggests is not impossible, and the bloggers can be the conduit to reform in the city.

    As I see it, we have two parallel grassroots groups working for reform. There are the folks who watch the city council and the folks who watch the school district. I’m from the latter. Our movement created the school board majority that led to the superintendent’s resignation. (I’m currently working to make that a supermajority in the next election, and I think we’ll defeat the incumbents in the next one, too.)

    We also have a few people with a foot in each camp.

    What we need to do is bring the energy from the school supporters over to the city side. Consider the chicken/egg issue with Ypsi redevelopment: you can’t grow the city without good schools, and you can’t grow the schools without a solid city behind them.

    So you need to reform them both at the same time. Now that Zuhlke is gone, there will be no fear of retribution for innovative ideas to bring students back to the schools. I believe you’re going to see a whole lot of creative energy unleashed very soon as the teacher’s union takes advantage of the power vacuum in the administration as well as the support of a reform-minded school board.

    The same thing can happen in the next city elections. Mayor Farmer isn’t running. Certain council seats will be vulnerable. And there are certain council members running for mayor who need to be defeated.

    Let’s get some of that vision thing and decide who needs to be elected and who needs to go. The Ypsi establishment won’t even know what hit them.

    Am I smoking Utopian crack? If I am, somebody please smack me because I think it’s do-able.

  15. blaw
    Posted March 19, 2005 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Hello. I’m interested in finding out more about local politics and such. My husband and I moved to Ypsi from Ann Arbor last summer and we’ve been busy taking care of our new baby ever since. (so Mark, it’s really nice to see that there are other babies in Ypsi– not that we need to start a playgroup or anything socially confining like that…) I’d be happy to go to meetings with people and just learn who everyone in City Hall is. Or a Planning Commission meeting. And to also meet some other folks in the area. (I missed the recent book group– and have Lakoff sitting on my shelf too.) I just finished my grad program in urban planning so I may as well put it to some use. I’ll refrain from commenting on the Water St. project since we were told in school that economic development is a good thing.

    Anyways, one of the things I noticed on the web-site is that it is hard to find direct contact info for your City Council person. I’m in Ward 3 and Brian Filipiak represents me (as well as LaRue), but other writing to him at City Hall, I’d have to Google him to find him at EMU and maybe send him an e-mail there. Plus some audience members would be nice since the minutes from the 02-15-05 meeting were kinda sad when the mayor (p. 13) wanted to share her comments from the State of the City address and the rest of Council told her no, wait until there’s an audience.

  16. Ingrid
    Posted March 19, 2005 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I think that Brett’s comments above are exactly on point. Of course, the City should be lobbying against the evil combination of Proposal A and Headlee which limits an older already developed urban area from collecting additional property tax revenue.

    While the worst is still to come, our city services are already starting to suffer. I’m still very concerned about last summer’s limits on EMS services provided by our firefighters and the reduction of their staffing hours. Firefighters are significantly faster than HVA.

  17. mark
    Posted March 19, 2005 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    So, let’s all plan on meeting… I don’t want to be too ambitious relative to setting an agenda, but, at the very least, I think that we could put together roster of bloggers and blog-readers here in Ypsi that would be willing to cover school board and city council meetings. And, I’m sure that we could find someone willing to set up a site where we could each post our notes, have discussions, etc. Like I said when I started this thread, it could result in a big, ugly mess, but at least we will have tried… I

  18. Posted March 21, 2005 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Teddy, see Mark’s Plunger Post, I think you’ll have your answer.

    I hope we don’t get on the Mayor’s bad side, she could use the Force.

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