the ypsilanti property swap

Well, it looks like it’s almost a done deal. According to the “Ann Arbor News,” the city of Ypsilanti has agreed to swap a few 99-year property leases with Eastern Michigan University. Here’s a clip from the “News” explaining the terms of the agreement:

Eastern Michigan University wants to make its campus more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian-friendly, and the city of Ypsilanti wants to add more parking spaces for downtown visitors.

So the city and the university announced on Tuesday a plan to convert a city street near campus into a pedestrian mall and give the city additional parking downtown.

The city will lease College Place to EMU at $1 for 99 years to convert the small street into a pedestrian area. And the university will lease the North Washington Street parking lot to the city at $1 a year for 99 years to provide 60 additional parking spaces in downtown. The plan also includes converting a small portion of Perrin Street into two-way street…

So, what do you think? Assuming it passes the City Council and EMU’s Board of Regents, will this be a creative “win/win” for all parties involved or another colossal blunder? I guess only time (99 years) will tell… I haven’t had the time to start digging around yet (and I haven’t been to a City Council meeting in a long, long time), but I’d be interested to know what exactly the University means by “pedestrian mall,” and what the actual boundaries are… Are we talking about College Place on both sides of Cross, or just on the University side? Does it including the old Credit Union building and any other property, or is it just the street itself that we’re talking about? I suppose it’s conceivable that EMU could develop some of the property (assuming this includes College Place north of Cross) for retail, and keep it on the tax rolls. I suspect, however, that now that it’s in the University’s hands, we’re not likely to see any revenue from it. So, I’m not sure what we’re really getting in exchange for the garbage-filled parking lot across the street from the all-nude strip joint. (Sorry for the snark, but I’ve never liked that parking lot.) On the face of it, it doesn’t sound like such a good deal to me. But, if giving EMU the power to develop that plot as they see fit leads to happier students, and higher student enrollement and retention, and if it gets more students crossing over to the other side of Cross Street and entering into our downtown business district, then it’s absolutely a good deal.

So, what do you think?

Posted in Ypsilanti | 33 Comments

swarming drones and activating the part of the brain that sees aliens

Two stories really freaked me out today. (Actually, three stories really freaked me out today, but I don’t want to think about the third.) The first comes from Metafilter. Here’s a clip:

Scientists discover a region of the brain responsible for feelings of ‘self’ and ‘other’. If electrically stimulated, it causes the perception of an alien being– a shadow person, standing just behind you, mimicking your every move. This could explain strange feelings of being watched, or of strange presences, or ghosts.

The second comes from the “New Scientist” by way of Boing Boing. And, here’s a clip from that one:

MIT researchers are using tricked-out model helicopters, each about the size of a seagull, to demonstrate swarming behavior in unmanned micro-air vehicles (drones). According to Aeronautics and Astronautics professor Jonathan How, they’re focusing on techniques for “persistent surveillance.”

If I were smarter, and more awake, I would find a way to weave all of this together (perhaps even including the “third” story I mentioned above) into some kind of terrifying nightmare scenario that would make you all shit your pants from now till dawn.

Posted in Other | 2 Comments

markos “daily kos” moulitisas to speak in ann arbor

I don’t think I’ll be able to go, but Markos Moulitisas, the man behind the indispensable Progressive website the Daily Kos, is going to be in Ann Arbor promoting his book, “Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics,” Thursday. If one of you is going, I would very much appreciate a report that could be reprinted here at (From what I hear, Markos is expected to speak at Shaman Drum Bookshop from 7:00 to 8:00, and then head over to Leopold Brothers, where he’s supposed to stay until 10:00.) If you have a question that you would like to have him answer, leave it in the comments section, and we’ll see if we can find someone else in the audience to ask it.

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

devos the dominionist

In 2005 I linked to a Rolling Stone article on the Domionist movement in America, and James Kennedy, the leader of their evangelical crusade to take over the United States government. I’d remembered liking the article, but I hadn’t remembered, until reading a comment left on Sam’s site just now, that it mentioned Rich DeVos, the father of our Republican candidate for Governor of Michigan. (note: In the original post, I misidentified Rich as the candidate for Governor. They person running is his son, Dick DeVos.) Here’s the clip:

…While the dominionists rely on grass-roots activists to fight their battles, they are backed by some of America’s richest entrepreneurs. Amway founder Rich DeVos, a Kennedy ally who’s the leading Republican contender for governor of Michigan, has tossed more than $5 million into the collection plate…. And Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino’s Pizza, is a major source of cash for Focus on the Family, a megaministry working with Kennedy to eliminate all public schools.

The one-two punch of militant activists and big money has helped make the Dominionists a force in Washington, where a growing number of congressmen owe their elections to the machine. Kennedy has also created the Center for Christian Statesmanship, which trains elected officials to “more effectively share their faith in the public arena.” Speaking to the group, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay — a winner of Kennedy’s Distinguished Christian Statesman Award — called Bush’s faith-based initiatives “a great opportunity to bring God back into the public institutions of our country.”

The most vivid proof of the Christianizing of Capitol Hill comes at the final session of Reclaiming America. Rep. Walter Jones, a lanky congressman from North Carolina, gives a fire-and-brimstone speech that would have gotten him laughed out of Washington thirty years ago. In today’s climate, however, he’s got a chance of passing his pet project, the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, which would permit ministers to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, effectively converting their tax-exempt churches into Republican campaign headquarters.

“America is under assault!” Jones thunders as his aides dash around the sanctuary snapping PR photos. “Everyone in America has the right to speak freely, except for those standing in the pulpits of our churches!” The amen chorus reaches a fever pitch. Hands fly heavenward. It’s one thing to hear such words from Dominionist leaders — but to this crowd, there’s nothing more thrilling than getting the gospel from a U.S. congressman. “You cannot have a strong nation that does not follow God,” Jones preaches, working up to a climactic, passionate plea for a biblical republic. “God, please — God, please — God, please — save America!”

So, it’s not just that DeVos runs a shady multi-level marketing operation, or that he’s promising to bring Intelligent Design into our classrooms (as was mentioned here yesterday), or even that he’s using his personal fortune to bankroll the likes of Katherine Harris, he and his father are also members of a fundamentalist sect conspiring to put our country under strictly-interpreted Biblical law… I’m not a huge fan of our incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm, but I’m feeling pretty damned motivated to start working on her campaign.

Posted in Politics | 17 Comments

is that a water tower in your city, or are you just happy to see me

Our old friend Steve Cherry, while visiting this year’s Dirty Show in Detroit, happened across this interesting photograph featuring our infamous water tower. Fortunately, he had his camera. (I don’t yet know who’s responsible, but I’m looking into it. Rest assured, however, that charges will be filed… Or, better yet, an invitation to this winter’s Shadow Art Fair will be extended.)

Posted in Ypsilanti | 5 Comments


Sidetrack ad Aubree’s ad BUY LOCAL... or shop at Amazon through this link Banner Initiative Ruth Marks