annexing the township

The following comment was just left in another thread by a reader calling himself Applejack. I thought that it might kickstart an interesting conversation.

I recently moved to Ypsilanti from Atlanta — with a year spent in Madison, WI between the two. And I have relatives in high places in Michigan politics. Living in these different cities, and talking to these politicians, (and reading this blog) has taught me one important thing about Michigan politics: charter townships are killing Michigan cities and keeping the state a suburban sprawled mess.

Michigan is the only state in the union with townships that cannot be annexed by growing cities. It creates extra levels of bureaucracy and red tape. It punishes successful cities by keeping tax revenues flowing to the suburbs. and those revenues go to the entrenched interests maintaining this status quo.

Why is this not campaign issue? Why aren’t smart people in government doing anything about this? Are there other people out there who see this the way I do?

Is it true that Michigan is the only state in the nation where cities can’t annex surrounding townships? In all the discussions we’ve had here about City/Township relations over the years, I don’t believe that’s ever come up. I know that we’ve talked about annexation, but I don’t recall anyone ever pointing out that doing so would be considerably easier in the other 49 states.

update: The comments so far have been great. If you have the time, go and check them out. Following are a few examples. The first comes from Murph:

“Is it true that Michigan is the only state in the nation where cities can’t annex surrounding townships?”

Many States don’t even have townships – just cities vs. unincorporated land. That’s the case where it’s easiest for a city to recapture development on the fringe and prevent metropolitan fragmentation. Any kind of local government through a Township structure makes annexation / regional governance more difficult. Some policymakers and historians have argued that younger cities, in non-township states and without a lot of incorporated suburbs, have been able to leverage this increased annexation power to provide better economies, lower poverty and crime rates, better school systems, and reduced racial segregation.

Yes, Charter Townships are (to my knowledge) unique to Michigan, but that institution is not necessarily responsible for fragmentation. Look at cities like Boston, Chicago, or Minneapolis/St. Paul. All of them are every bit as landlocked as Detroit (or Ypsi, if you like), even without Charter Townships – because in those States the areas around cities just incorporate as Cities themselves.

And a lack of Charter Townships in Michigan would have meant exactly that happened here. And, in fact, it did. Look at the Cities of Troy, Romulus, Livonia, Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Southfield. All of these look, geographically, a lot like Townships – because they are. They’re whole Townships, minus whatever part had already been incorporated as a City, that incorporated themselves in order to (generally) prevent further annexation or acquire better taxation powers, things that becoming a Charter Township now achieves. Not having Charter Townships wouldn’t have prevented the current Ypsi City/Township split – in that case, Ypsi Twp would likely now be “The City of Ypsilanti Heights” (can’t have two cities called “Ypsilanti”).

And a Charter Township is not immune to annexation – it just requires that the property owners want to be annexed. If you’ll recall, there was some talk a few years ago by one of the homebuilders (maybe Pulte?) about lining up an annexation from Superior Charter Township into Ypsilanti – because they thought Ypsi’s zoning would be friendlier to their development than Superior’s. If I recall, that involved lining up some other property owner whose property would link the Pulte site to the City, providing the contiguity necessary to petition for annexation. (I believe this is how the Starkweather House became part of the City, in fact, in the 1960s – as part of a plan to develop an apartment complex on that land. The development fell through, but not until after the owner had the land annexed into the City.)

And this one comes from a reader in the Township calling himself Edge of the Sprawl, in response to the idea that we, the City folk, try to impose annexation by force:

…If your militia tries to cross 94, they’ll have to fight their way through more than 50,000 township residents who want no part of your failed economic policies. Turn your efforts to fixing your own city and keep your nose out other communities. You’re wrong about other communities wanting to merge with your police department. Every single one of them rejected the possibility. There will be no further talks. Your city officials just threw more money down the drain on the feasibility studies. The cost of your police services is outrageous – few persons would find that acceptable in their communities.

You can’t annex the township, we’ll never vote for it. Any township official who entangles our tax dollars with any further consolidation of services will be recalled. In 50 years, the City of Ypsilanti may be the porn capitol of Michigan, but the township will be the center of economic prosperity.

If you like the City of Ypsi … good. You can keep it. The majority of residents in the State prefer their Charter Townships.

I really have no idea what the answer is, but one of these days, just for fun, we should start putting yard signs up all over the City saying, “Annex the Township.” I’m sure all kinds of craziness would ensue.

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310 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    And I’m intrigued by the “relatives in high places” comment… Can I guess?

    You aren’t Carlita Kilpatrick, are you?

  2. mark
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m moving this response from a reader named Nameroo over from the other thread:

    Why aren’t charter townships an election issue? Because the smart politicians in Lansing know that the majority of the motivated voting population of their districts live in charter townships because the don’t want to live in cities. Oh, yes, and also because of term limits – most of the current crop of Lansing politicians ARE FORMER CHARTER TOWNSHIP ELECTED OFFICIALS.

  3. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Are we going to join forces in the city, gather up arms, and march out to the township areas to claim what’s ours? Man, that could make for a cool dystopic novel–or a really bad movie like Red Dawn.

    Eh, too many people are voting for their own personal interests–instead of for the good of all.

    Speaking of bad movies, I’m thinking of Diggstown, which involves a rich man who owns a whole town (whatever that means) betting it all on a series of fights between 20 (or more?) men he chooses and a character played by Louis Gosset, Jr–and it’s all a giant con orchestrated by James Wood’s fight-promoter character. Do you suppose we could lure the township into some kind of similar bet?

    Mark, maybe back during the mayoral election, there was somebody who posted about the inevitability of Ypsi Township merging with city government–I think he worked for the city (or maybe it was Steve Pierce). Does that ring any bells?

  4. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Here’s part of a post from Robert II that I found as I was trying to find that post about merging (from so, maybe the idea for the fake downtown ypsilanti isn’t so dead after all):

    “There’s much to link Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, beyond just a common name. But a history of power struggles between leaders of the two communities has kept them at odds. It’s a shame – and, we might add, ancient history – that Ypsilanti Township was rebuffed decades ago when it sought to merge with the city. Now the power has shifted, and the township has no interest in its weaker cousin.

    The township has a significantly larger population, tax base and land mass. They’ve had success in recruiting businesses, most notably in the sizable Washtenaw Business Park just south of I-94.

    In contrast, the city has made cuts in staff and services for several years to balance its budget. Roughly 37 percent of its land is owned by tax-exempt groups, including Eastern Michigan University. Its once strong manufacturing base has withered away. Some storefronts along the main stretch of Michigan Avenue have been empty for years. Even the Depot Town area, a small but bustling retail/restaurant district, is struggling. Just recently, an anchor retail store there – Quinn’s Essentials – announced plans to close next year.

    City leaders see promise in a regional approach, though that promise doesn’t seem to lie in Ypsilanti Township. The city, for example, has joined six other townships in Washtenaw County – but again, not Ypsilanti Township – in exploring the possibility of a regional police authority.

    Meanwhile, its most potentially powerful partnership – one that could help build traffic to the city’s businesses, or capitalize on existing infrastructure to attract more – lies dormant.”

  5. applejack
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    mark:
    Sorry no I’m not a Kilpatrick. I’ll say it’s not quite that high of places. They are frustrated with small-minded township politicians, but being seen as anti-township is as damaging to politicians in this state as being seen as anti-union; two problems that don’t exist in Atlanta.
    I find both to be outdated systems that oppose real progress that threatens their power and influence.
    I’m pretty sure Michigan townships are unique in being un-annexable, but I got my info from wikipedia, so I could be wrong.

  6. Posted June 20, 2008 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    Is it true that Michigan is the only state in the nation where cities can’t annex surrounding townships?

    Many States don’t even have townships – just cities vs. unincorporated land. That’s the case where it’s easiest for a city to recapture development on the fringe and prevent metropolitan fragmentation. Any kind of local government through a Township structure makes annexation / regional governance more difficult. Some policymakers and historians have argued that younger cities, in non-township states and without a lot of incorporated suburbs, have been able to leverage this increased annexation power to provide better economies, lower poverty and crime rates, better school systems, and reduced racial segregation.

    Yes, Charter Townships are (to my knowledge) unique to Michigan, but that institution is not necessarily responsible for fragmentation. Look at cities like Boston, Chicago, or Minneapolis/St. Paul. All of them are every bit as landlocked as Detroit (or Ypsi, if you like), even without Charter Townships – because in those States the areas around cities just incorporate as Cities themselves.

    And a lack of Charter Townships in Michigan would have meant exactly that happened here. And, in fact, it did. Look at the Cities of Troy, Romulus, Livonia, Farmington Hills, Sterling Heights, Southfield. All of these look, geographically, a lot like Townships – because they are. They’re whole Townships, minus whatever part had already been incorporated as a City, that incorporated themselves in order to (generally) prevent further annexation or acquire better taxation powers, things that becoming a Charter Township now achieves. Not having Charter Townships wouldn’t have prevented the current Ypsi City/Township split – in that case, Ypsi Twp would likely now be “The City of Ypsilanti Heights” (can’t have two cities called “Ypsilanti”).

    And a Charter Township is not immune to annexation – it just requires that the property owners want to be annexed. If you’ll recall, there was some talk a few years ago by one of the homebuilders (maybe Pulte?) about lining up an annexation from Superior Charter Township into Ypsilanti – because they thought Ypsi’s zoning would be friendlier to their development than Superior’s. If I recall, that involved lining up some other property owner whose property would link the Pulte site to the City, providing the contiguity necessary to petition for annexation. (I believe this is how the Starkweather House became part of the City, in fact, in the 1960s – as part of a plan to develop an apartment complex on that land. The development fell through, but not until after the owner had the land annexed into the City.)

  7. applejack
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    murph may be right about townships just turning into cities to prevent annexation. and I agree that having townships at all seems pretty silly to me. In Georgia we have state gov’t, county gov’t, and cities. Why have the extra layer of division at all?

    I’ll also mention that the one policy I’ve heard mentioned to do anything about this issue is to let the ten or so largest townships incorporate into cities and then the rest would become annexable; I think. It’s an imperfect compromise, but it sounds like progress at least.

  8. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Hey Dirtgrain,

    If your militia tries to cross 94, they’ll have to fight their way through more than 50,000 township residents who want no part of your failed economic policies. Turn your efforts to fixing your own city and keep your nose out other communities. You’re wrong about other communities wanting to merge with your police department. Every single one of them rejected the possibility. There will be no further talks. Your city officials just threw more money down the drain on the feasibility studies. The cost of your police services is outrageous – few persons would find that acceptable in their communities.

    You can’t annex the township, we’ll never vote for it. Any township official who entangles our tax dollars with any further consolidation of services will be recalled. In 50 years, the City of Ypsilanti may be the porn capitol of Michigan, but the township will be the center of economic prosperity.

    If you like the City of Ypsi … good. You can keep it. The majority of residents in the State prefer their Charter Townships.

  9. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Since folks in the Township seem unaware that their boundaries also extend north of I-94, I suggest we quietly annex everything north of the expressway … they might not even notice.

    I’m only half joking. It seems like it would be more efficient for the Township not to have provides services for those odd lines that snake around Ypsi city. Although they wouldn’t provide a tax goldmine for the city, I know many residents are frustrated that the Township doesn’t do more to police and improve areas that impact the city greatly.

    I live a few blocks from the Township. If it weren’t for a little blue sign, no one would have a clue they’d left town.

    What do you say EoS? We promise to stay out of your cornfields and strip malls and take responsibility for whatever happens in north of 94?

  10. Brackache
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I think the only solution to this problem (and every other problem, if you talk to me long enough) is to turn our city parks into urban militia training grounds and encourage all local residents who fall under the State’s definition of unorganized militia to purchase a battle rifle w/ammo and learn how to use it. We can reform the Ypsilanti Light Guard. Those township folks have a leg up on us when it comes to rifle ownership and marksmanship right now, in all probability.

    This suggestion will be offered by me as a solution to various unrelated problems on an annoying basis.

  11. Marion
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Do you really want Edge of Sprawl showing up at council meetings and voting in your city elections?

    I think she’s better left right where she is.

  12. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I just said north of 94 because I figured your militia would attack our headquarters. When the city goes under, we’ll take it over, make our township borders more contiguous, and demolish all your historic structures and put up big box stores in their place. I’m not really worried about your militia though, the city can’t afford any ammo with their budget. You can all move to Ann Arbor.

  13. applejack
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    I realize that Edge of the Sprawl’s sentiment is probably shared by most Michiganders, but why? How hard is it to understand: this isn’t a zero-sum game. Strong cities create strong suburbs.
    What sense does it make to wish for a feeble downtown? I guess it makes your township LOOK strong by comparison, but it’s a lose-lose situation.

  14. Brackache
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Edge of the Sprawl: there’s where your wrong about the ammo. The militia idea that we’ve all now accepted as a good policy to pursue would be based on historical legal precident for citizen militias: each member would have to buy his/her own equipment. That way, the city pays nothing and gets a body of civic-minded, volunteer, armed law enforcers for free. The budget would have a chance to recover, part of our training duty could be to maintain Riverside and Frog Island parks (again, for free in exchange for training there for free), and the city could save even more. Perhaps part of the training could include local, sustainable crop production in case of some unforseen State or National emergency. iTrust me — it’s really quite genius once you get past it seeming totally insane.

  15. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Applejack,

    The City of Ypsilanti is not a strong city and the township is not it’s suburb. We are separate communities with completely different styles of government. It’s not as if the city has jobs that we commute to from the township. We are strong by comparison, but so is almost every other community in the state.

    Brackache,
    You might be on to something. A good militia would eliminate the need for both police and fire departments. The engineer corp could maintain the roads. I think I’ll suggest it at the next township board meeting. Once they hear of the threat looming from the city it would behoove us to have a well trained militia.

  16. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    I’m not so sure about the townships sitting prettier right now. Property values have crashed in the subs that branch off of Whitaker Road. They’ve crashed here and everywhere, too, but I wonder what the future holds for Ypsi. Township.

  17. nammeroo
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    As disfunctional as some township governments are (witness Augusta Township south of Bemis Road), township government remains the most responsive form of local government in Michigan. Because all township boards are elected at one time, it is far easier for residents to influence township policy than it can sometimes be in cities (Ypsilanti as an example – where it takes a minimum of two elections and two years time to even have the potential of turning over the entire city council).

    Township government works because elected officials (supervisors, clerks, treasurers, and trustees) feel much more responsible to the residents of their community than their more insulated city council counterparts. If you want more responsive government in the City of Ypsilanti, the key would be two year terms for the City Council.

  18. Posted June 20, 2008 at 11:48 pm | Permalink

    Historically, inner city decay has coincided with suburban sprawl. Then following the migration of peoples to the suburbs, economic development and jobs migrate as well to where the people have moved.

    Ypsilanti’s situation is different than that though. We don’t have an inner city decay problem per se. We do have the same problem that is occurring everywhere in Michigan: Economic decay. Our large businesses and manufacturing are slowly decaying. In my time, living in Ypsilanti, I’ve seen Motor Wheel, Exemplar, and Ford/Visteon/ACH close.

    At the same time I’ve seen Ypsilanti follow the rest of the country into a transformation from manufacturing to a service oriented economy. We are undergoing some painful times; but, the future is not necessarily bleak. Hopefully, the old Ave Maria site near EMU will be occupied again, soon, with a great business. With luck the Thompson block renovation will succeed. The possibilities at Water Street are still great.

    In my opinion, annexation of township acreage will not help the City of Ypsilanti. As OEC pointed out, the regions of Ypsilanti Township, most likely to be annexed, are not high value neighborhoods anyway. Tax revenues from these areas would likely be less than the increased expense of providing services to those same area. I find it more likely that one or more of those neighborhoods will eventually desire annexation, than the other way around: The city desiring/initiating it.

    Contrary to EoS’s assertion, though, I think regional cooperation on some services would be good for everyone, both city and township. The point is not to “subsidize” the city, nor should the city pursue “subsidization.” The point is to pursue efficiency. Some services can be more efficiently provided on a regional basis, with cost savings to all parties.

    The city needs to approach regionalization projects with a view towards being a good partner in such projects. The recent AATA funding decision is a good example of this type of good neighbor attitude the city needs to foster. By fully paying the city’s share of AATA service, the city is saying that it is interested in being a good partner, rather than being a strong arming bully, trying to coerce other potential partners.

    Now, another issue, that truly bothers me, is the irresponsible patchwork of land use planning that results from a patchwork of independent governmental entities each devising their own policies. I don’t think annexation of surrounding lands, to maintain city centered growth, is the answer. I think the answer lays at the higher levels of government. The state and county levels of government need to step up and exert some control.

    We need urban and suburban land use planning decisions made from an altitude that is high enough to see the bigger picture. Frankly, I’d love to be able to live in a Michigan that was engineered for economic and transportation efficiency from the beginning. If someone in Michigan had decided, 100 years ago, where cities should be built, what transportation systems were needed between those city centers, and how to provide other infrastructure (power grids, water systems, etc.), Michigan would be an economic powerhouse.

  19. Posted June 20, 2008 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    The City of Ypsilanti doesn’t have a responsive government???!

  20. egpenet
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    “The times … thy are a’changin'” Dylan.

    Where’s Godfroy’s Trading Post now? The Occidental? The underwear factory? The third floor of Hewitt Hall? The Opera House? Cleary College? The Bomber Plant? Kaiser-Fraser? The MCRR? Penn Central? NYCRR?

    (Yawn)

    Ypsilanti has seen it all in its short lifetime … including bank collapses, prok barrel politics which began right here, to sprawl. Constitutions and ordinancesand policies change … and what works now, may not work tomorrow. So, we change.

    What’s working now all over the planet is that in excess of 50% of the globe in now living in or near cities, and that figure is expected to grow quite rapidly over the next decade. If you can’t walk, bike, take public transportation or afford the fuel to get to a decent size city and its services … you are out too far.

    In the meantime, if you live in or near a city and it is struggling, as most cities are in the world … in one way or another … stop bitching and start pitching in. The biggest issue everywhere in the world is that we have been hiring out every little program and paying big bucks and pensions and consulting fees, when a rake or a shovel or an hour of volunteer time from each person on the block would suffice.

    I am unsatisfied with the campaign literature I have been reciving. None of the incumbents or other candidates has offered a plan or the steps, as they seee it, to getting Ypsilanti back on track. They all know the problems, but there are no creative visions or remedies or changes proposed. I get the feeling, however, that there are two camps forming among the candidates, whether they are opposed or unopposed … one camp would make another try at an income tax … and the other camp would propose continued retrenchment.

    I’d like to hear new ideas from all of the candidates. Use the AATA Depot as an example. The YPD Community Policing team did their homework, built their database, I.D.’d the issues, negotiated with AATA and worked out a patrol policy for the Depot … and bingo, bango. Not one trouble call this past week! Not ONE! The neighborhood has cleared out and it’s once again a more secure area.

    Thanks to the mayor and the chief and AATA for working that out. Public transportation is critical as are safe neighborhoods.

    That’s the kind of progress I’d like to hear proposed from our candidates.

    Ypsilanti

  21. egpenet
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    It’s not a matter of annexing anything.

    The City of Ypsilanti is ALREADY “in” the Township. Look at the map.

    The benefit of township government is adequate representation for township citizens. No township would deliberately opt to pay for duplication of services out of spite.

    If there’s a way to save, the townshippers will find it. As they should. As WE should!

    I find some of the chit-chat amusing. But most of this is going nowhere. What it really intersting is that while all this ack-ack (WWII for flack) is going back and forth … I am surrounded by real progress taking place between the city, townships and the county. The times have changed and the issues have changed and the efforts are now being directed at what needs to be done by our leadership.

    At the same time, I’m surrounded by civic organizations that have revitalized downtown Ypsilanti with music, art and retail enthusiasm. (And as far as I know, the DDA is STILL collecting information on all of the new businesses in town. An audit walk is scheduled for next week.)

    It’s happening because individuals are making it happen. People are putting time and money and effort into Ypsilanti downtown, our neighborhoods, Depot Town, the parks, our community gardens, our Farmers’ Markets … and on.

    What is happening is below the radar of the average guy or gal in this town. You gotta come downtown to see it and feel it. You goota be a part of your neighborhood association to taste it. You have to put a silly tee shirt on and march in the parade to enjoy it.

    The commuter train is coming. The Ypsilanti Freighthouse WILL be open once again. The sun’ll come up tomorrow, goes the song. There aree five or six pairs of Orioles nesting in Riverside Park or along the river. Change is happening.

    I once said that they call it Depot Town because people come there to “get on” or “get off.” There’s real excitement there with the changes, anxieties, but real progress, I think. The Freighthouse renovation and the Thompson Block struggle is part or it as well. But it’s worth it. What the CDC is attempting is fabulous.

    So, city dwellers, stop the militia talk. Put down your weapons. We ain’t goin’ into the township to clean clocks. Pick up your plowshares and lets get to work!

    G’night.

  22. applejack
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 1:03 am | Permalink

    EoS: maybe I’m wrong calling Ypsi township suburbs, but it isn’t a city and it isn’t rural either, so it must lie somewhere between.

    nammeroo: I might agree that township gov’t is more responsive to the people in the community, but I still have my doubts about the end result of too much local control. A hundred small gov’ts competing with each other for limited economic opportunities does not result in prosperity for all.
    Cities are much more than the sum of their parts. You can’t take the population of Chicago, spread it out in a hundred little townships all over Illinois and expect the economy to just hum along as before.

  23. applejack
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 1:25 am | Permalink

    egpenet: you mentioned campaign literature, and I was wondering where I can find more information online about elections and the candidates.
    Thanks

  24. Pete Murdock
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    Applejack and any others –

    I am a candidate for City Coumcil in Ward Three of the City of Ypsilanti. You can conact me at votemurdock@gmail.com or (734) 274-4602. Let’s talk.

    Pete Murdock

  25. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    John,

    The problem with regionalization or consolidation of services is that the city residents desire far greater amounts of government services than the township. Any joint effort would require compromise from both sides. The city may compromise and slightly reduce what level of services they desire. In return, the township would pay 2/3 to 3/4 of the costs.

    On the township side, our costs increase because a joint effort would force us to acquiesce to higher levels of service than we need or desire. We would lose local control and have a diminished response from our elected officials. The bureaucracy of the joint ventures would add additional costs.

    The infrastructure of the city is much older, in need of upgrades, and repairs and service in city locations are costlier than the same repairs and service performed in the brand new subdivisions of the township. Fighting fires in taller, older structures in the city is more costly and more dangerous than the smaller, newer buildings in the township.

    Additionally, many in the city would want equal representation in a joint venture. However, the township is about seven times larger, more than double the population, and growing. It’s not a good fit for either community.

    Your example of Ypsi City stepping up and being a good partner with the recent AATA contract is not a strong argument in your favor. The mayor is currently working to strong arm and coerce both EMU and St. Joe’s hospital into subsidizing the city bus service.

    The District Library venture works much to the favor of the city. The land for the Whittaker road branch was donated by the township at no cost to the city and forever taken off the tax rolls. It was built only because of the promise of costly renovations to the small downtown historical structure with limited parking and keeping another small branch open. In addition, Superior Township has now joined the district and can freely use all branches even though they aren’t paying any of the costs of the new building or the downtown renovations.

    Regionalization in this area is code for making Ypsilanti Township carry more than their share of the burden.

  26. Glen S.
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    egpenet: You suggest there is a “camp” of City Council candidates who are in favor of bringing back the City income tax proposal — and another who is opposed.

    Given the overwhelmingly decisive “no” vote last November, the idea that any candidate for public office in Ypsilanti would propose bringing back the income tax issue is absurd.

    Everyone I know, including those who were in favor of the proposal, agrees that the idea of a City income tax is dead — and that we all now must focus our efforts on making City government more efficient, maintaining essential city services, working with our neighbors to develop better regional cooperation, and on encouraging beneficial economic development that will bring new businesses and residents to Ypsilanti.

    This year’s City Council elections are NOT about last year’s income tax election, although some candidates will, undoubtedly, try to spin it that way.

    Instead, this year’s City Council elections will be about deciding who has the right combination of skills and experience to help lead Ypsilanti successfully through the lean budget years ahead.

  27. Posted June 21, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    EoS,

    Your generalizations are way to broad. Given how broad you’ve painted the picture, you are of course correct in some of what you say.

    On the other hand, when one looks at specifics, there are some ideas on the table that seem (to me) to make sense and deserve at least a look:

    1. Consolidated Fire and Police Dispatch. I’m not talking about combined forces, just a central dispatch office that takes 911 calls and non-emergency calls and then dispatches the right department. Probably a good deal of efficiency could be gained in this arrangement to the cost savings of all parties.

    2. Mutual aid agreements. The purpose of these would be to give all participating groups some relief on the front of peak demand planning. Most (Fire, for example) departments can handle the average call and wouldn’t need help from an adjacent town or city. Each government would cover it’s own costs. But each could rely on the others to help when a peak demand situation arises, such as two simultaneous fires or other rare events.

    The District Library IS a benefit to the township. It’s residents have less distance to travel to use the most modern facility in the county. The township offered the site for that specific reason. They did not want the library district to build a new building in the city or on some other less favorable geographical location. By the way, when they did this, the township tried to strong arm the library district into using library district revenues to fund AATA service to the township, something the township should pay for themselves if they want it.

    I would hardly characterize the city (mayor) as “strong arming” St Joes and EMU concerning AATA. Currently the city’s payments to AATA in part fund bus service to those locations, specifically benefitting both without either paying anything in return. If EMU and St Joes (and WCC) paid taxes to the city, then it would be fair for the city to pay for AATA service to those locations. They don’t pay taxes, so why shouldn’t they pay, themselves, for bus service at their sites? The mayor wants to approach theses groups to point out these facts and ask them to put up the good faith money they should put up. The city can now go to them, given that they’ve fully funded AATA, with a good story to tell regarding the cities stepping up to it’s own responsibility in funding AATA.

    The city has new streets, new water mains, and new sewers. Nothing about the city’s infrastructure is run down. A person can always tell exactly where the border between the City and the Township lies as they drive a street. One side is always maintained better than the other, wether it’s pot holes or snow removal.

  28. egpenet
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    My own opinion, Glenn S., is that the best candidates in either camp will be the ones who really understand finances. That’s the ONLY qualification that interests me at this point.

    The circumstances are getting more dire, and the neeed for capital is reaching a critical point. I think some of the candidates, more than others, already lean to the present council’s yearning for a YES vote on taxes. I am almost positive that if those candidates were elected, council would go for it one more time as the city stares into the brink. We’ll see.

    The odds are better in the immediate future that Bernacke will do what everyone thinks he will … which he should NOT do … raise rates this summer sometime. Also, if the predications for a world wide market meltdown issued by the researchers at the Royal Bank of Scotland last week happen at the same time this summer … cold hard cash will be on everyone’s wish list, not just the city’s.

  29. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    A bit off topic, but somebody mentioned that anti-tax campaign. Our property taxes were just raised by city council. I’m not condemning it, but I was wondering where are all those anti-tax people who shouted victory from the rooftops only a short time ago? Or was this expected?

  30. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    John – your post was more specific – specifically wrong on a number of issues.

    1. 911 calls in the township currently go to a central dispatch at the county. Doesn’t the city use this already? If not, why not?

    2. Mutual aid for Fire was discussed. The city balked when it became apparent that the agreement would require full staffing of each department. The city has reduced their fire fighters by 3 full-time positions since the talks broke off. Mutual aid for police is already in effect. When the city needs backup, the deputy patrols in the township respond. We pay for dedicated patrols and the city uses them when the bars let out.

    3. The District Library is a great benefit to the township. Since we pay 75% of the operating costs of all the libraries, it seems only fair that we should have a branch located in the township. What would have been fair is to have had the district library pay the township market price for the land. Your statement, “They did not want the library district to build a new building in the city…” is exactly right. Your thinking, that we should have a district library and all the surrounding communities will pay tax dollars for facilities located exclusively in the city, is the kind of reasoning by city residents that makes more intergovernmental cooperation an impossibilty.

    4. St. Joe’s hospital doesn’t pay taxes to the city. That’s because they are not located in the city. Their employees, for the most part, can’t use AATA to get to work. The day shift starts at 7A, the afternoon shift ends at 11P. Neither shift can rely on a bus to get to and from work.

    5. Streets, water mains, and sewers are a small part of the infrastructure. Your City hall, police and fire stations are all in need of major renovations. The DPW yard is an eyesore. Many of your building assets have been given to non-profit organizations to protect them from being sold should the city go into receivership. Those that haven’t been given away, still rely on fundraising by non-profits for operating expenses.

    6. Yes, in the older parts of the township, there are more potholes. Yes, we are slower at snow removal. Improving these services is not worth doubling the tax rates.

    Dirtgrain,

    The property tax hike to the maximum allowable was expected whether or not the citizens voted for the income tax. It may have taken a little longer with an income tax in place, but was still a necessity due to Water Street.

  31. Posted June 21, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Ed,

    I’m not sure it’s finance that the candidates need to understand. They need to understand economics. What will make businesses in Ypsilanti successful? What does the city need to do to foster new business development and nurture existing businesses? What is it that our citizens need in order to thrive?

    Unless you know something I don’t know regarding the mindset of our citizens, regarding a new income tax proposal, why would anyone think it was even worth trying again. A 2 to 1 vote against the tax proposal is a pretty large margin to think that suddenly the voters would change their minds. I hope all the candidates understand this and will not even talk about income taxes. I think it’s a waste of time, at this point.

    The Federal Reserve will likely not raise rates this summer. That seems to be the current writing on the wall. They probably will raise them before year’s end, though. Inflation is a real threat. Although it’s currently still low by historical standards, it’s creeping up past that historic average pretty quickly. The weak dollar has contributed to the meteoric rise in oil prices this spring. Higher interest rates will strengthen the dollar and moderate oil prices, as well as other commodities.

  32. egpenet
    Posted June 21, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Municipal finance will do, John.

    And the real threat by the way is negative growth and the predicted deflation as world
    currencies, not just the dollar, lose value.

  33. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Dirtgrain,

    I’m not sure it’s worth stirring the old soup, but I’ll go there. All I gather is what I read in media and council minutes.

    It looks like the millage increase passed unanimously with Richardson abstaining (why?) and Swanson absent (does her pay get docked?) and all other members, including anti-income tax Robb, approving.

    All I know is my taxes will increase double what it does for some neighbors earning double what I do. (Already, my family’s city taxes are well over ten percent of our household income.)

    I maintain that many of the folks most opposed to income tax are those with income. As old readers know, I don’t mind paying my taxes. But, it does gall me a bit that I pay, in many cases, far more on my rotting revival than others pay on their immaculate victorians.

    Without mentioning any names, some delightful folk I know, even readers of this blog, with beautiful brick homes backing up to rivers and parks, routinely rail against the high taxes while they pay more than a $1,000 less annually than I in city taxes…

    But, as has been said, the issue is dead.

  34. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 1:26 am | Permalink

    Okay, EoS, you’ve sparked my curiosity. You mention that fixing potholes and plowing aren’t worth the tax dollars. (I do wonder, if your street starts to crumble, if you’ll call to complain.) And, you seem to have a grasp of the infrastructure and other municipal challenges facing older communities. Yet, you seem to think all of us willing to pay extra for living in said communities are a bit foolhardy.

    Are you really not willing to pay to fix the streets in your own jurisdiction but instead build new ones in concentric circles of decay? Are you willing to let everything north of 94 decompose?

    Should we all wise up and leave the old towns and plow under the historic structures? Should anybody live here or anywhere once the boards start to creak?

    Even with the most idyllic city government it will cost more to redevelop old Ypsi city than plant in the greenfields of the township and beyond.

    As you’ve said, old communities cost more. Is there anything in them you’d like to see saved or, when things start to cost more, should we all just save our money and move further out along the edge?

    Should we all vote to let potholes stretch along any block but our own?

    Or, would you like these things paid for, just by anyone but you.

  35. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    OEC, it’s a dead issue in some ways. But it’s good to let people know about the inequality based on the current system. Spread the word. It occurs to me that your main point could have been a stronger selling point of the income tax proposal. I can look up the property tax and assessed property value of any home in Ypsilanti, with the address. If only we had the resources to print out what everyone in a neighborhood is paying to bring home your point–I think that would have changed a lot of minds about the income tax.

    I forget what Michigan law puts a restriction on raising the assessable value of homes from year to year. To me, that should not be a dead issue. It doesn’t seem fair that people who more recently buy houses in Ypsilanti (and other Michigan cities and communities) bear a larger tax burden. And I have to wonder, if the current real estate crash will bring some equality to our property taxes. Will assessed values actually line up with actual market value, as that market value lowers and lowers?

  36. applejack
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    In the text of the law about annexing townships is this: “the state boundary commission may … order a portion or portions of a charter township to be annexed as necessary to eliminate free standing islands of the township completely surrounded by an annexing city, or to straighten or align the exterior boundaries of the city or village in a manner that the charter township and city or village contain uniform straight boundaries wherever possible.”
    So looking at the map here http://www.twp.ypsilanti.mi.us/map/township/township-map.jpg (the gray part being the city of course)
    it seems like the city could make a claim for the patches to the north up to clark rd. since they’re islands, and maybe push west to hewitt rd, or why not golfside? so that we’ve got nice straight lines for borders.
    What do you guys think? Is the boundary commission favorable to this kind of thing? Would it really be worth it?

  37. Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    EoS:

    1. Dispatch. The last I had heard there were talks going to to merge dispatch services. I’m glad you agree that some regional cooperation is a good thing.

    2. I don’t know the real details of those negotiations. Yes they broke down when the city had not filled an empty fire position. I don’t think it was the city that pulled out though (re your “balked” comment). Wouldn’t you be the first to argue that the city has too high of a level of services and should cut back? Wouldn’t you continue to argue that the township shouldn’t try to tell the city how many fire fighters it needs to maintain adequate service? Don’t you contradict yourself here?

    3. I didn’t say the building should have been built in the city. I agree the township location better serves all patrons. The decisions made by the Ypsilanti District Library were not made by the city. The library district is an independent government body. I don’t remember what the issues were specifically. I think the problem was that the library district owned land and had money through the new millage to renovate it’s facilities and build a new one, but not enough money to buy land too. The township got a good deal by donating the land. It’s a wonderful facility. I don’t know what your gripe is; but whatever it is, it has nothing to do with City of Ypsilanti vs Township.

    4. Well then AATA shouldn’t even have a route to that location then.

    5. Yes, the city is financially strapped. That’s been well established, hasn’t it? Are you proposing we should have raised taxes so we could fund all those renovations? I thought your point was the opposite.

    6. By the way, does the township even have a road maintenance department? I thought that fell to the county road commission (I could be wrong.) Does that mean that City of Ypsilanti residents who pay county taxes are subsidizing the township, albeit not enough to fix all the potholes? What Exactly IS the township’s plan for all those new roads, paid for by the subdivision developers, when they are no longer new?

  38. Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Applejack,

    The city should not consider that proposal, except if it is initiated by the areas mentioned. In other words, if some areas of the township petitioned to be annexed, the city might consider and pursue it. But, the city should not initiate anything like that.

    AND, I hope the city will not be foolish and jump to annex a territory. If the residents DO petition annexation, it’ll probably be because they need their roads fixed or some other service. The city will likely take on added costs in excess of increased revenues.

  39. Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I was disappointed that the city had to raise the millage by one mill. I was not surprised by it though. It was done to fund a specific shortfall. I was surprised that we were able to do it because I thought we were already at the upper limit.

    OEC, you make very good points about progressive taxation or lack thereof. Prop A favors older (higher wage earner) people who have been in their homestead longer. I think Prop A is one of the worst laws that was ever passed. Only the state constitutional ban on same sex marriage rivals it as being bad.

    The real problem lies with our politicians: If property taxes increased with the real value of property, and state and local revenues increased accordingly, the offset to property values increasing above some real rate of inflation, should have been that our governments rolled back millage rates to levels needed to maintain government, not expand it.

  40. Rod Johnson
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Let’s get back to the income tax for just one small moment. I’ve read earlier where someone mentioned: “I get the feeling, however, that there are two camps forming among the candidates, whether they are opposed or unopposed … one camp would make another try at an income tax … and the other camp would propose continued retrenchment.”

    I, for one, am absolutely opposed to bringing back the income tax for another vote. Ypsilanti voted and convincingly turned it down. End of discussion. To bring it back up would be a colossal waste of time and resources when we all know what the result of another vote would be. Our time will be better spent figuring out where we go from her rather than retracing old paths.

    Rod Johnson, Candidate – Ward 3, Ypsilanti City Council

  41. Posted June 22, 2008 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    ‘Kay, let’s get back to the income tax then.

    Everyone wants to say the income tax issue is dead. I would like to agree, but you have to wonder about the sincerity of pro-tax people like Rod Johnson and Glen S.
     
    I vividly recall that the literature the pro-tax camp fliered the neighborhoods with said a NO vote was a vote for no AATA busing, closing the Senior Center, closing Rutherford Pool, and reducing police and fire.
     
    None of that happened. In fact, a NO vote apparently meant FULL bus funding. The Senior Center and pool are still operating. City Council even put money in the police budget for two part-time cops. The fire department was even reorganized from three shifts down to two in order to have the same coverage (5 firemen) that we’ve had for since this income tax talk started years ago.
     
    So what happened? Were the pro-tax people so uninformed they didn’t know what they were saying? Or were they simply saying what they thought needed to be said to get their way? The answer to that question is rather damning either way.
     
    It’s fine that people like Rod Johnson is now changing his view and saying he’s against the income tax, but do you really believe it now that we are back into campaign mode? It will be interesting to see what they say next.

  42. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    OEC –

    The city roads used to look like hell. You’ve recently repaved most of them. Now, some of the roads in the township are in a worse state of repair. Our tax dollars do fix the township roads, just not as quickly as some might hope. My point was if we had to double our tax rate to fix the roads immediately (to match your rate of taxation) then it wouldn’t be worth it.

    What the city wants to preserve or not, how they want to spend their limited tax dollars, is not the concern of the township residents. However, when you start talking about annexing the township to grab their tax dollars to pay for city services, then I will speak up. The city is in a bleak financial crisis and needs to find a way to pay for their own essential services. So instead, you put an elevator in the RAC, put Solar Panels on City Hall, drive out profitable businesses to risk taxpayer money on a failed real estate venture and plan a costly rail service. Is there anyone left in the city who thinks rationally? JoF thinks the township should contract with the city for joint fire protection without stipulating that the city continue to employ firefighters???

    The township could repave all the roads in the neighborhoods north of 94. We could even put in new sidewalks and sewers at the same time. It would be paid for through special assessments to the homeowners living on those roads. And we could then raise their property assessments because of the increased value to their homes and capture more revenue. However, these are tough economic times for everyone, and these neighborhoods are already under enough financial pressures. How many families facing foreclosure would it be worth? And now, a few of you think that these neighborhoods will want to leave the financial stability of the township and petition a struggling city to incorporate them just in time for them to be included in the court ordered receivership plans?

  43. egpenet
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    I raise this issue under the egis of “municipal finance.” And I rasie it, because I want to know what will happen if things get truly dire. When and IF they do, I don’t think theree will be any other choice but to raise an income tax. And in such a circumstance, I imagine there would be no more room for a property tax rollback. We’d need every penny.

    The real question I was asking from all of the candidates, perhaps including township relations, is what are your plans, your visions, your recommendations, your programs you will bring to council. Qualifications and experiences aside … Where will you take us? And how will we get there?

    As I originally said … the “impression” I get from the literature is “steady as you go” or “retrenchment” until it all blows over. In any case, my impressions may be wrong.

    Two guys are hanging off from manacles on a wall … their feet off the ground. They’re in rags and have long beards. One turns to the other and says: “OK, now, here’s my plan.”

  44. nammeroo
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    “I, for one, am absolutely opposed to bringing back the income tax for another vote. Ypsilanti voted and convincingly turned it down. End of discussion. To bring it back up would be a colossal waste of time and resources when we all know what the result of another vote would be. Our time will be better spent figuring out where we go from her rather than retracing old paths.

    Rod Johnson, Candidate – Ward 3, Ypsilanti City Council”

    WOW! I am impressed Rod. I had no idea that you had such ability to obfuscate! If I didn’t know how strongly you pushed for the income tax last year, I would’ve thought from reading your post that you were a SCIT member. Rod, the income tax was bad public policy to begin with, and giving those that supported the idea another seat on Council would be even worse.

  45. egpenet
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    OK. The tax is dead … long live the tax.

    So, what are thee new ideas, alternatives, steps … economic development … city-center improvements to atract everyone whose last name isn’t “sprawl” to live here … initiatives with the county, state, EMU … who is in the candidates’ corners they can bring to the table … same names … new names … are we encouraging the “Motor City” program … historic tourism … the creative class … and who’s driving?

    Back to “finances” … sorry JonF … but it’s simply we need the money, so where do we get it and how fast can we get it here and put it to work? No new ideas? New ideas?

    Silence.

  46. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Dammit! Just as I’m reading these latest comments (2:55 P.M.), the doorbell rings. It’s a girl asking me to buy candy to support the Ypsi. Township recreation center. So, stealing the library wasn’t enough for you all. You send your little spies into the city to take more. Not too good for us after all. I told the girl not to worry, that she didn’t have to sell any more candy, as soon the township will be annexed and Mother Ypsi will take care of all. Viva la revolucion!

  47. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    New idea. Let’s send our kids out to the township to sell candy to raise funds.

  48. Posted June 22, 2008 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Ed,

    I am agreeing with you. I only quibbled about your use of the word finance and suggested economics might be a better word. But really I think we think the same thing. We (the city, it’s leaders and it citizens) need to find real solutions to real problems of maintaining services under an atmosphere of slow growth in revenue and accelerating growth in the cost of those services.

    I also agree with you. Let’s hear some real solutions proposed by the candidates.

  49. Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    trusty getto:

    “Everyone wants to say the income tax issue is dead. I would like to agree, but you have to wonder about the sincerity of pro-tax people like Rod Johnson and Glen S.”

    TG, WHY? What have they done or said that makes you doubt their sincerity? I, too, was in favor of the income tax proposal. But now that the voters have so decisively said they don’t what it, I concede to their will. Why would I even suggest to attempt it again, without some overwhelming change in the mind set of the voters. I have no problem accepting Rod Johnson’s sincerity surrounding the income tax. As far as I know, no one has proposed making city income tax an issue for this election. Do you know of anyone who is proposing it be tried again, and is running on that as an issue???

    In fact, Rod Johnson has gone on record, right here on MM, as being opposed to an income tax. He earns a point from me on that, currently putting him on my “vote for” list. None of the other candidates have so far said anything about their current stance on this [non]issue, or any real issue either.

    “I vividly recall that the literature the pro-tax camp fliered the neighborhoods with said a NO vote was a vote for no AATA busing, closing the Senior Center, closing Rutherford Pool, and reducing police and fire.

    None of that happened. In fact, a NO vote apparently meant FULL bus funding. The Senior Center and pool are still operating. City Council even put money in the police budget for two part-time cops. The fire department was even reorganized from three shifts down to two in order to have the same coverage (5 firemen) that we’ve had for since this income tax talk started years ago.”

    TG, why would you twist the facts like this. In the adopted 2008-2009/2009-2010 budget, Police was reduced by 6 positions. Fire was reduced by 3 positions, Rutherford Pool and Senior Center were funded at previous year levels, NOT restored to full funding. At the reduced funding the pool and senior center WOULD have to close if community groups were not pitching in to help with unfunded needs at those sites. While the city administration had proposed in the solvency plan that AATA be cut, the Mayor saw problems would arise if that took place, so he sought and gained support to fund AATA. That funding will come out of reserves. The result of not having additional revenues from a city income tax is that cuts have had to be made. This is what the citizens decided should happen. No one on the pro-tax side lied about what would happen. Everything they predicted about revenues vs expenditures is coming true and reductions in expenditures have become necessary.

    What are the two part time police positions you are talking about???

    “It’s fine that people like Rod Johnson is now changing his view and saying he’s against the income tax, but do you really believe it now that we are back into campaign mode? It will be interesting to see what they say next.”

    Yes I believe it. Not everyone in the world is narrow minded enough to take a position and then never change that position when new facts emerge. What they say next, I hope, will be to provide information on where they stand on the issues facing the city (Income tax isn’t one of them.)

    I’m 100% with egpenet, let’s hear what the candidates think the issues are and let’s hear those candidates propose real solutions.

  50. egpenet
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    For instance …

    1 – What are each candidate’s top three City issues and how will they act on those issues?

    2 – What are each candidates top three issues in their own Wards and how will they act on those issues?

    3 – What is the candidates’ vision for Ypsilanti in five years, and how do they propose to get the ball rolling?

  51. degutails
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    john, et al. – pete murdock is not only against the income tax, he was a founding member of scit. so i think if you haven’t found another candidate against it, you possibly haven’t looked very hard.

    i believe the pool people thought last year that the city wouldn’t fund anything, and were pessimistic about its continued operation. so any funding at all is better than what was broadcast as probable before the income tax vote.

    if i seriously thought that a candidate’s post in the comments section of a local blog meant that he or she was committed to that statement, i’d also be in negotiations to buy a particularly beautiful (and, may i say, walkable) bridge in brooklyn.

    meredith

  52. Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Ed, EXACTLY!

    meredith,

    I know that Mr Murdock was against the CIT and involved in SCIT. But, I’m not going to endorse any candidates based on their history, only. What is his stance NOW, on any issue? And in asking that, I’d much rather hear from him on a real issue, not CIT. I’ve looked at every candidate’s literature and no one has said a thing about it, including Mr Murdock.

    I don’t get your comment regarding statements on a blog. Is electronic communication not a valid tool? A challenge was put out on this very thread suggesting that some candidates are going to push CIT again. Mr Johnson is so far the only candidate that has responded, stating his position on the topic. I think his position is a sound well informed stance. Might it be that the other candidates ARE going to push a re-vote on CIT?

    Yes any funding is better than none. Kudos to our city council and administration for being able to find some monies for the pool. I doubt they would have funded the pool even at the current level if a community group had not come forward to pick up the parts not funded. Why fund something half way if half the money would do no good?

  53. Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Oh, John, I’m so sorry. I just made all that stuff up.

    I most certainly didn’t find it in any of the Council packets, and it was definitely not in the budget. So don’t look there, or, God forbid, you might find some facts that aren’t twisted.

    Why don’t I believe them? Because I’m not gullible. How does that saying go? Fool me once, shame on you — fool me twice, shame on me . . .

  54. applejack
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Apropos to Mark’s comment on the front page about printing up yard signs saying “Annex the Township!”, I’d like to volunteer my time going door-to-door to see how many we can get up.
    And I know the idea is pretty far-fetched at this point, but I think what we need is a grassroots effort to inform Michigan voters about this issue, and I don’t just mean in Ypsilanti. I think most Michiganders would be surprised to find out that we’re the only state in the union with cities that cannot annex townships (and lo and behold our cities are not looking so good right now).
    The only realistic way this can be changed is with an amendment to the state constitution. A few yard signs might begin to get this on the radar of local politicians at least.
    So should we keep it simple with “Annex the township!” or maybe, “Stop the Sprawl: Annex the Township!” ?
    We could print up a couple hundred signs pretty cheap and maybe some pamphlets with more info about the issue.

  55. Let's Get Together
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 2:26 am | Permalink

    You all are silly. Why don’t the five of you get together at a local establishment and TALK?! All 54 posts could probably be discussed in 20 minutes, far less time than it takes to read and respond to them. Or would you all need to debate whether to meet in the Township or the City?! Ugh…

  56. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Applejack,

    Displaying signs like that would only show your ignorance of the State laws. Charter townships provide enormous benefits to the state. Here’s a great link if your interested in increasing your knowledge:

    http://www.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/6/8/7/7/pages268779/p268779-1.php

    Why are you so sure combining with the township would be good for the city? We outnumber you more than 2 to 1 and our views would prevail on every issue?

  57. elviscostello
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    To JoF:
    There is no “merged” dispatch services. Ypsilanti Township now contracts with Huron Valley Ambulance to do all dispatching at a rate of about $16.00 per call or about $64,000 per year. Ypsi Township is the only, all full-time, department currently with HVA, but rumor is that Ann Arbor will be sending their fire dispatch there as well in the next year or two. Understand that when you move to a dispatch service, rather than have “local control”, you give up things. When YT had it’s own fire dispatch, they took information calls to the main governmental building, after hours, dissemenated hazardous weather information to schools, golf courses, government buildings. When no one else was available at YT hall, there was always someone sitting at a fire desk answering the inevitable phone call asking about recycling, fireworks, burning permits, etc… Now, after hours you get an answering machine. That’s the decrease in service, besides the obvious “extra” service that the department would get on emergency scenes, with the dispatcher only having to monitor YT radio traffic.
    Next, negotiations broke down when Ed Koryzno said in the paper that the failure of the income tax would mean firefighter layoffs. You ask, “Wouldn’t you be the first to argue that the city has too high a level of services and should cut back?”
    Since you wrote this in the same paragraph as fire department, I’d like to try and answer.
    No, you do not have enough firefighters. When your department pulls up to a house fire, Marsh plating, etc…they arrive with two trucks and 5 people. 1 person runs the pump, 1 person is the incident commander, who directs the operation, that leaves three. Do you use one to hook a hydrant, or take a chance that you will run out of water with a crew inside? Do you send all three in and if it flashes over, who drags them out? If, god forbid, there are victims inside, do you send them in without a hoseline, to try and get victims out? Come on, tell me what you want to do with your resources? Mutual aid is all well and good, but your neighbors are 3-5 minutes away, and Ann Arbor (that’s a whole other kettle of fish), your automatic mutual aid department are 10 minutes away. You need bodies on the scene on arrival. That is how lives and property are saved.
    You ask, “Wouldn’t you continue to argue that the township shouldn’t try to tell the city how many firefighters it needs to maintain adequate service?”
    Sure, If Township residents are willing to send you 9 firefighters on mutual aid, and you only provide 5 on your own fires, it certainly looks like a good deal for the city. The question is, again, “What is adequate service”? Does the city, or any municipality have a responsibility to provide adequate, effective fire service? If not, don’t pretend that you will. When you decrease your fire department, expect an increase in your house insurance bill that will surpass the tax savings you gain.
    BTW, your major problem is the fact that EMU and the State of Michigan expect your department to provide service, but contributes very little to your fire department.
    Personally, I favor full consolidation. It’s crazy to have Ypsilanti City be the center of the donut, geographically. Let’s consolidate and call it “Woodruff’s Grove”.

  58. Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Dear John:

    By now, you may have noticed that Brian also twisted a few facts over on his blog. He, of course, shows up at all these things and gets to watch and listen firsthand, but I’m stuck with the layman’s approach of reading the paper, perusing local blogs, and downloading the proposed budget off the City’s website.

    You did review the budget before making your comments, John, right? So you must be aware that the “reductions” you speak of are in positions that are currently empty. So you must similarly be aware that in the corporeal, actual world, that taking empty positions out of the budget doesn’t really result in a net “reduction” at all, right? They are eliminated on paper, yet service levels next year remain precisely the same as they are now.

    Or is reality all just too twisted for ya?

  59. Brackache
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    Edge (if I may call you Edge), at the risk of being duecedly upopular with my city fellows, your point of view hits home with me.

    “Why are you so sure combining with the township would be good for the city? We outnumber you more than 2 to 1 and our views would prevail on every issue?”

    If the cities annexed the townships, would the probably more right-leaning, independant, self-sufficient townshippers get to outnumber the left-leaning city vote on city issues? If so, I agree that this annexation might be just what Ypsi needs. However, in the spirit of self-determination, I believe the Townshippers are well within their rights to tell us to fuck off and not spread our delusional failing dependancy/taxation policies beyond our own boundaries. If they don’t want to be Ypsi city, that’s the end of that.

  60. Posted June 23, 2008 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Benefits of One Ypsilanti.

    One Fire Chief
    One Police Chief
    One Building Department
    One DPW
    One Payroll Dept
    One Council/Board
    One Planning Commission
    One Clerk
    Combined Courts with more revenue staying in the community
    … and the list goes on for all the duplicate services and departments.

    Larger police and fire department reduces over time and provides more opportunities for advancement and professional growth. We don’t lose police and fire fighters. In fact, because we eliminate duplicate senior management and chiefs, we can grow the departments which means more officers and firefighters actually on the street for the same money we are spending today.

    We get more say at the County and State level for funding as we speak with a larger voice. We get a larger voice on how money is spent on the Eastern side of the county.

    The Township wold see NO increases in their property taxes. That is because whatever debt and obligations our fearless leaders saddled the City with gets rolled into a special assessment district that ONLY the citizens that live in Ypsilanti pay.

    Yet the City would see an immediate drop in property tax assessments going forward. Township residents would see a reduction in the cost of services and expanded capacity and coverage for police and fire and DPW with real cost savings not increases.

    That combined with a savings in retirement and benefit costs, as well as substantial reduction in fixed costs for both communities (e.g. Liability Insurance is cheaper for one community of 75,000 people that two communities of 22,000 and 53,000.)

    Neither the City or the Township lose power or local control. We all speak as one voice as a community and each vote is worth exactly one vote. No change.

    But what it takes is leaders with vision who can set aside petty differences and quit dragging up old divisive issues for personal and political gain. It will take residents and business leaders who trust each other and realize the final goal will benefit all. We can do it and the time to do it is right now.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  61. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    “The Township would see NO increases in their property taxes.”

    That’s pure and total bullshit, otherwise you wouldn’t have any need to partner up with us.

  62. Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Edge, it is true. Look at the state law. Those debts that the City incurred before a merger stay with the city residents until they are paid off.

    In a merger we don’t need two Fire Chiefs. That saves both communities money. It really works that way. With the exact same budget from both communities, eliminate the Chief and other other duplicate over ehad and there would be enough money to hire two new firefighters or you can take those savings and lower taxes for both communities.

    Now extend those savings acorss all the departments where we have duplication and the savings is in the millions of dollars per year. This is real money folks.

    But this is the problem. People just assume they have the facts, know the information, without doing any research. Instead of attacking each other and screaming B.S., we should be sitting down and talking to each other as people and neighbors and see if this is really true and how it could work.

    I could be wrong, won’t be the first time. But a merger can save money for both communities. We should get together and talk about it. I will buy the first round.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  63. Brackache
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Tax revenue and political control through expanding jurisdiction are like oil to some people. Try making do with less and governing sustainably for shit’s sake, istead of acting like human Hummers. Puke.

  64. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Steve,
    Reduce the city’s per capita spending first, to match the level of spending in the township. That would be good faith evidence that we are one community with a shared vision. Only then could we potentially combine to the benefit of both city and township.

  65. egpenet
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Steve, for rolling the qwindow down and letting in some fresh air.

  66. applejack
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t agree with Steve more, I’d only add that there are a lot of benefits to eliminating redundancy on top of saving money. For example, eliminating all that extra red tape to get things done around here.

    To EoS: the fact that townshippers outnumber city residents is kinda the point: this law was passed in 1947, so for 60 years Michigan cities have been unable to grow outward. Most people don’t choose where to live based on whether it’s technically inside the city limits or not. They want to be near the city, and for the most part they don’t know or care what township/city/village they happen to be in.

  67. Brackache
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Applejack: a lot of people consider whether the property they’re looking to purchase is in the township or the city, due to the township’s lower taxes.

    I myself was unable to purchase an extremely reduced-priced forclosed home in the city due to the insane property taxes alone, and am condemned to an hellish eternity of shameful renting in order to live near my friends.

  68. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

    Applejack,

    Most people choose to live in Ypsilanti because it’s near Ann Arbor, but more affordable. I’ve never met anyone who made a major purchase, such as a home, and who did not carefully consider the community it is located in.

    There’s no redundancy in the township. We have one supervisor, one clerk, one treasurer, one board, etc… And their salaries are significantly lower than their counterparts in the city. We don’t have a lot of red tape – we have a very responsive group of elected officials who answer questions during meetings, engage in dialog with constituents, and follow-up on complaints. Township employees attend the meetings to give specific answers on the spot. Residents get a list of every check written by the township twice each month at the board meetings.

    As we continue to grow, we will have a larger voice in the county and state governments and will be the major player on the Eastern side of the county. With expansion of the airports and construction of rail service, its not out of the realm of possibilities that the township will economically dwarf even Ann Arbor. Charter townships do not limit growth, high taxes limit growth. We are perfectly poised to accommodate growth in the township: residential, business, and industrial. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if all the new businesses incubated by Spark choose to permanently locate in the township.

    You chose to move to a landlocked city with substantial hurdles to reducing your cost of government and attracting new business. Improving the city is the responsibility of those who live in the city. There’s a lot of good in the City of Ypsilanti and a lot of reasons to work with your elected officials to continue to improve the lives of it’s residents. There’s probably a lot of reasons that you were attracted to buy your home in the city. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to convince the township to become like the city. We chose not to live in the city. All the benefits Steve described in his post are available to the township without any need to consolidate with the city. As we grow, we will benefit from economies of scale, but hopefully, never adopt the wasteful economic practices of the city. The fact that township officials act with the selfish interests of township residents in mind is not a practice that should be scorned by city residents, but one that should be emulated by your elected officials.

  69. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

    Steve. Thanks. I agree on principal. (I do enjoy agreeing with you … even if it happens less often than leap year, makes it all the more special.) Although I do have my fears of loss of local control with any merger as Ypsi City would definitely be dwarfed in voting by the Twp., but, practically, I believe in regionalization. Although Brackache may love additional layers of government, I’m willing sacrifice my tax-and-spend impulses to have less layers of bureaucracy and more efficient services for all.

    That said. Maybe EoS is right. Maybe what we, as a region, need to compete with other regions isn’t less local government but more. Maybe we need to look up the food chain to reduce spending instead of down. Maybe we need less regionalization and more layers of localization. Maybe the county should be our common target. What does Washtenaw County really do for us? Maybe we should get rid of county jails, police, recreation, roads, etc. Let’s get rid of YUCA. Maybe every city, or neighborhood, should have it’s own water and sewage plant. (No doubt, the township is subsidizing our water supply, somehow.) Maybe we should all have our own libraries, stocking the same books, sitting on shelves. Maybe it’s time we redefine “block parties.” (OEC is hereby announcing his candidacy for “Block Mayor.”)

    What do you say EoS, should we unite in opposition to the county? Every man for him or herself? First to go, county roads, in favor of “special assessments”?

    (By the way BA, when EoS says “special assessment,” read: if one more than half your township neighbors decide it’s time put in sewers, streetlights, or repave, expect a $10-20,000 tax bill on your porch in the morning … quite the savings.)

    Okay. And, BA. In your neighborhood militia scenario, who runs the prisons. Are offenders kept in our basements? Who feeds them for how long or are they all shot on site?

    Finally, to BA, I’d suggest your lack of purchase was made by mortgage company policies, among other factors, and good luck finding anything in any township within 50 miles you could’ve afforded, at the time. Of course, if there were no property taxes and only income taxes, you’d be snuggling in that home by now…

    Still, thanks for renting to be close to those you love, whatever the cost.

  70. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    OEC,

    The county is the level at which regionalization of services should occur, when necessary or beneficial. They’re the “regional government”.

    Charter Townships in Michigan must follow the township constitution written by the state. There are specific limitations on what taxes are allowed to be levied and how much. Street improvements, other than county roads, have to be paid by special assessment.

  71. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    EoS. So, let’s work together to change the state constitution. I’m told it’s been done before. (After all, that is why the founders made constitutions amendable.)

    Why do we need counties or county roads or other services, at all? Everyone pays for what’s in their front yard. Easy enough.

    Why in hell do we need a county road commission when everybody should be perfectly capable of paying their own way?

  72. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Edge, I agree, spending can and should be cut. But the current leadership can’t seem to do that. For example borrowing another $750,000 for Water Street with no plan or developer on the horizon is crazy.

    However, I hope you understand that there are fixed costs whether you have one or 20 employees that can’t be reduced. When you are a smaller organization, fixed costs as a percentage of total budget are probably three times higher than in the township. That is why together we can both save money.

    However, set a goal that we need to attain before you will sit down with us and have a beer and we will go do it.

    But remember, what you are asking is in some ways telling a drowning man, if you learn how to swim, then I will send out the boat. However, your boat has a leak. And the longer you sit on the water waiting for us to learn to swim, the better chance you are going to end up in the water as well. We are stronger working together.

    Again, a merger will save tremendous money for both organizations and the property taxes in the township will not go up because of the debts of the City.

    My offer to meet face to face and talk as neighbors and friends is still open and as I said before, I will buy the first round. I don’t know what else I can do to talk face to face as neighbors, but if there is something else you want me to do before we have a beer or a coke together, just let me know.

    Cheers!

    – Steve
    482-9682
    steve@ypsi.com

  73. Brackache
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    OEC: the militia idea is not a new idea, it’s the way things used to run. I know our current police and rapemeintheassly (it’s an adverb) humane prison system experimants are relatively new ideas, probably implemented in the mid-late 1800’s, but I’m currently ignorant of the details. Are you going to make me get The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the History of the American Penal System, or would you care to google that info yourself?

  74. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Steve-

    Oh, sure, I get it. Lull me into coming out of my bunker so your militia can ambush me and keep me from sounding the alarm.

    I thought the bar I set was insurmountable – that’s the whole point. You can’t lower per capita costs in the city to the township level. We can expand the township more efficiently through development than through absorbing the city and it’s baggage.

    I’m well aware that the township can’t pay off the city’s existing debts. It’s the high cost of future city government that deters me.

    I’ll have to pass on the face to face. Talking with you won’t change my view. But I’m not in a position of influence where my view matters anyhow. Just thought I would join the discussion of city people to help them understand the situation from the township side. Can’t blame you for trying to get the township to bail you out, but I really can’t see it happening in my lifetime.

  75. Posted June 24, 2008 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Edge,

    Shoot, I will come to your bunker and bring the beer.

    Seriously, if we as neighbors actually meet and talk we will find we have much more in common than we would ever expect.

    It isn’t about a bailout. It is about creating an economic engine to rival our neighbor to the west. That is why we must join forces.

    And the bar you set is not insurmountable.

    Get off the Internet and hit the streets, that is where real change happens.

    It is a standing invite, there is no time like the present to bring about change. Nothing can be lost by shaking each others hand and saying hi.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  76. Posted June 24, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    “Oh, John, I’m so sorry. I just made all that stuff up.

    I most certainly didn’t find it in any of the Council packets, and it was definitely not in the budget. So don’t look there, or, God forbid, you might find some facts that aren’t twisted.”

    This is not a game with me, Mr Getto. There are not just a half dozen people who comment on this blog. In case you’re not aware, a much higher number of people read this blog without ever posting comments. Your fabrications may be funny to you, but someone may read them and take them for facts. You have just convinced me that I can never again use “trusy” in front of your name again.

  77. Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    Mr Getto,

    I have now read Brian’s post and the comment someone left on it. So what you meant when you said:

    “City Council even put money in the police budget for two part-time cops”

    was:

    City council even eliminated one full time position and created from it two part time positions.

    Yes, I did read the budget. Yes I realize that the 6 positions eliminated from the budget were vacant. But that still results in a reduction of budgeted expenditures. Had the new budget left money for those positions, they could have been filled and expenses incurred. As to your assertion that the CIT people lied, the elimination of those unfilled positions was what they predicted would happen. There was no deceit.

    Finally, don’t forget this: Predicted revenues for 2010-11 and beyond are relatively flat, while expenses for current services will rise, outpacing revenues. More budget cuts will be coming in the near future.

    This ONE issue, in my opinion, will be the most important one that the new city council will have to wrestle with. CIT is a dead issue; it is not coming back. Therefore the challenge confronting council is deciding where to further cut expenses to keep a balanced budget.

  78. BrianR
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    John, I appreciate the help you are trying to provide to readers of this site, but you need to get your facts straight first.

    The budget that was passed had money for two part-time police officer positions. It had full-funding for the administrative sargeant’s position as well.

    We didn’t eliminate a position and replace it with two part-time positions. The two issues were indepenedent of one another. Had we never eliminated the administrative sargeant’s position, the funding for the two part-time officers would have still been there.

  79. Posted June 25, 2008 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Ok, Brian, I stand corrected. But that leads me to think I might be confused about much of the budget. Can you please break it down for us, regarding the police part.

    Am I correct now in saying that in the original budget, 6 full time positions were eliminated and two part time positions were created? Is it then true that the Sergent position was additionally eliminated later? So then the current net is 7 full time positions eliminated and two part time positions created?

  80. Posted June 25, 2008 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    It just occurred to me that I still have the math wrong. If the bottom line in the budget is that 6 police positions were eliminated, and the budget includes an addition of two part time positions, then is the 6 figure a summation of (7 full time positions eliminated) + (2 part time positions)?

    Then with the elimination of the sergeant position, the final count is 8 full time positions eliminated and two part time positions added?

  81. degutails
    Posted June 25, 2008 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    “As to your assertion that the CIT people lied, the elimination of those unfilled positions was what they predicted would happen. There was no deceit.”

    What about AATA? What about the Senior Center, closing Rutherford Pool? What about all that silly talk about how our bond rating would go down?

    I’m okay with the idea that the CIT people weren’t trying to deceive. To the contrary, it appears they simply had no clue what they were talking about.

    I’m glad you did the homework, and I’m sorry you’re still struggling to do the math, but it would be really, really nice of you to get that homework done before accusing me of “twisting” facts and putting words in my mouth.

  82. Posted June 25, 2008 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, that last one was from me. Meredith apparently used my laptop earlier today and it “remembered” all the information!

  83. Posted June 26, 2008 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    dang, Mr Getto,

    I answered those questions for you up above.

    1. AATA, Rutherford Pool, and Senior Center were listed as possible places cuts might have to be made. The pool and senior center were funded this year at half of what is needed to run them. The other half is being picked up by volunteers. Critical repairs at the pool are not being made because of lack of funds. AATA was decided at the last minute to be too important to cut and so funds from our reserves will be used to fund AATA this year.

    2. Additional cuts in the budget will be coming in succeeding years. Rest assured you will see the rest of the cuts that were predicted in years 2, 3 and 4.

    3. How quickly did you expect things like deteriorating bond ratings to occur. Don’t some things take more time that six months? We didn’t leap off a cliff last November, we just started down a very steep and long hill. The bottom is still out in front of us.

    Mr. Getto, it is you that hasn’t got a clue. And where you do have a clue you quickly sweep that under the carpet, lest it argue against your own point. You tell the facts that support your argument. You hide the facts that dispute your argument.

    You stated that the city added two half time cops to the budget for a net gain of one.

    I stated that 6 positions were eliminated.

    The fact is that, including the sergeant’s position, 7 positions have been eliminated.

    My math was off by one. Your math was off by eight. So which of us needs a tutor worse? At least my math gets a passing grade. Yours flunks.

    By the way, I have new information concerning the two part time positions that were added: These positions were added at no net increase in the budget to do so. The money funding these two positions was diverted from the police overtime budget. Rather than over stress our regular police forces by asking them to perform inordinate amounts of overtime, the two part time police will take up the slack. Fewer dollars will be spent on paying overtime to full time police. Those funds will instead be used to pay the part time police.

    This new information is important because it points out that no new money has mysteriously been added into the budget. Existing money was simply moved. Kudos to the police administration and city administration for thinking creatively.

  84. BrianR
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    John, I think it’s awesome that you have been the one tapped to represent this campaign.

    This goes back several years, but previous Councils have always wanted to hire part-time police officers. The problem was they couldn’t do it unless the police department was at full-staff. What that means is the YPD wasn’t at full-staff then and hasn’t been at full-staff. All of these reductions you speak of are paper losses. We’ve eliminated all of these positions, but no one ever lost their job. As a result, “full-staff” doesn’t include these unfilled positions anymore. Consequently, we were able to budget for part-time officers.

    That’s the reason we had that massive $1.3M budget surplus. We are finally deciding to eliminate these jobs on paper that weren’t filled. It’s a game of semantics. We eliminated jobs that weren’t filled (4 police officers and 2 support staff). If it serves your cause to say that these non-existant positions are now gone, then have fun.

    We’ve just eliminated an administrative Sgt postion. This is kind of funny as it was never in the budget and the proposal only came forward to Council after an investigation was begun involving the administrative Lt. The rest of Council voted to pay the retiring admin Lt’s health care for SIX years after he leaves. He’s also getting overtime and sick time turned into time served thus boosting his years of service from 21 years and 8 months to 25 years. Quite an amazing buy-out for a cash-strapped City. As an aside, Ford is getting rid of 25% of their salaried workforce in Product Development by August 1st. If I happen to make the cut, I’ve been assured that no one will be paying my healthcare for the next six years. Go figure.

    I’m sure you’ll get some “new” information to respond, but wouldn’t it be a lot better if our elected officials had these debates out in the open rather than through a proxy?

  85. Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) money from HUD could have been used to make needed repairs at the pool and re-open the Freighthouse.

    However the City decided to use the millions we get from CDBG over the next 10 plus years to pay for re-doing the sidewalk curb cuts to resolve a lawsuit over ADA violations.

    The City claims they did nothing wrong in the installation of the curb cuts as part of the $38 million road and water project. However, the engineers on the project approved every curb cut.

    The same folks that sued the city have sued numerous other cities including Ann Arbor and have never lost. They even came before construction started in Ypsilanti to encourage the city to do it ‘right’ but was brushed off.

    So they sued and the city settled rather than going to court.

    But where did the City get the money to settle? Why it was CDBG money. Yet that money was targeted for the Pool and Freighthouse and other parks and recreation projects.

    Why must the Pool and Freighthouse suffer because the City and their consultants screwed up?

    The Engineers and consultants hired by the city and also paid VERY handsomely should be responsible because they approved curb cuts and other public works that were in violation of the ADA. The engineers and their insurance carriers should be held responsible for fixing the curb cuts at their expense. We should not be using taxpayer funded CDBG money to fix curb cuts whose original installation was approved by consultants paid over a million dollars as part of the taxpayer funded road bond.

    But instead the City, in a deal that they hope no one notices, approved redirecting CDBG money for years going forward to pay for the curb cuts to be re-done. All at taxpayer expense.

    Just wait, I bet the city rehires those same consultants and engineers to oversee the re-do of the curb cuts as well.

    It doesn’t make sense. It is no wonder folks in the township are distrustful of our elected officials when they approve stuff like this.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  86. Glen S.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Trusty: Your suggestion that, because some of the most devastating cuts predicted by CIT supporters have not happened YET, the people making those predictions “simply had no clue what they were talking about” is disingenuous, at best.

    As Council continues to triage City services in the face of shrinking revenues, it is only natural that they would attempt to delay the most drastic cuts for as long as possible. Nevertheless, all projections continue to show that balancing budgets in future years will require ever-deeper cuts to a variety programs and services.

    Last fall, Ypsilanti voters chose overwhelmingly to accept the likelihood of these cuts over instituting a City income tax. Therefore, I really don’t understand why we are still debating this… unless it is because some believe they can gain a political advantage by stirring up false controversy, or by trying to keep the community divided over what is now actually a dead issue.

    The voters have had their say, and this issue has been settled. Isn’t it really high time that we all move on… and focus instead on actually trying to address Ypsilanti’s many pressing challenges?

  87. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Glen,

    Why do you endorse the delay in making the necessary drastic cuts in the budget? Why are cuts in necessary services the main focus anyway? Why doesn’t the city eliminate the multiple development authorities and add their tax revenues to the general budget so that they can be used for essentials and not clocks and empty parking lots? Why doesn’t the city consider reducing services such as recycling instead of fire and police protection? The fact that city voters did not endorse an income tax does not mean they want cuts in or elimination of essential services. What are you doing to convince current city leaders to eliminate non-essentials? Who’s really still playing politics and who wants to improve the future of the city?

  88. Glen S.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    EoS: The two ideas you suggest are examples of proposals that at first seem simple and logical, but are deceivingly complex.

    For instance, “development authorities” often allow communities to better leverage the tax dollars that are generated within those districts — such that, rather than a net loss, the benefit to the community (and taxpayers) is actually greater than if the district did not exist. In many cases, creating a DDA or Brownfield Redevelopment District is a requirement to become eligible for many kinds of grants and low-interest loans that would otherwise not be available. That’s why nearly every Michigan community of any size has created one or more of these districts. Likewise, in Ypsilanti, agreements between the City and local DDAs to manage and maintain local parks (such as Riverside) are actually allowing us to maintain important community assets while at the same time reducing the burden on taxpayers.

    Regarding your second point, it is my understanding that having a comprehensive recycling program actually saves Ypsilanti taxpayers money — since the tons of recyclable materials that are removed from the waste stream significantly reduce the amount the City must pay in landfill tipping fees.

    Of course, that is not to mention that the very idea Ypsilanti trying to “save” a bit of money by eliminating recycling — and allowing many more additional tons of recoverable materials to be sent to already overburdened local landfills is, at best, an example of a “false economy.”

  89. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Glen,

    Yes it does seem deceivingly complex. So having a DDA that does not contribute to the general fund, allows the city to obtain grants, such as solar panels on the roof of city hall. Or perhaps grants for other non-essentials, that require matching funds. That the DDA agrees to use some of their tax dollars to maintain a city park can’t really be seen as a reduction of the burden of other city taxpayers. If 100% of the DDA funds were used to pay for city wide essentials, then it would be better for the average taxpayer and the city at large. Anything not used for an essential service is an increase in the burden of the average taxpayer.

    Your point about the recycling leaves out a significant aspect. Yes, money is saved in landfill tipping fees. However it costs the city twice as much per pound to pay to have the recyclable materials hauled away by some agency who will then sell it for their own gain. Additionally, curbside pickups are significantly more costly than having drop-off sites. What about resurrecting the volunteers who used to accomplish this service? Don’t you think it would benefit residents more to reduce the costs of recycling rather than to eliminate firefighters?

    Again, what are you doing to convince current city leaders to eliminate non-essentials? Surely you can get a line item budget listing from your friends that doesn’t hide the fat under obscure categorized listings. Do you really think the budget is bare to the bones?

  90. Glen S.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    EoS: A clarification – I think neither the City nor any DDA was responsible for the solar panel grant. Rather, I believe it was spearheaded by two local citizens (Dave Strenski and Corrine Sikorski) who took it upon themselves to apply for this grant on behalf of Ypsilanti residents.

    Regarding your point about “resurrecting volunteers to accomplish services” – I’ve got to say that I’m always dismayed when people seem to suggest that the answer to all our budget woes is to “just have volunteers do it.”

    Ypsilanti is blessed with many active and committed citizens who eagerly express their community pride by supporting their neighborhood associations, as well as groups such as Friends of the Freighthouse, Friends of the Pool, etc. However, it is neither reasonable nor fair to continue asking a small handful of volunteers to provide an ever-larger share of the funding and labor required to maintain public assets that benefit the entire community. Volunteer support can be essential for spearheading special projects and/or providing funding to bridge budget gaps — but in the long run, if we want to have community services and amenities, somebody is going to have to pay for them.

    Lastly, your suggestion that we eliminate curbside recycling in favor of drop-off sites proposes yet another “false economy.” Having hundreds (thousands?) of people making individual trips to drop-off centers (especially given $4/gallon gas) would simply shift the cost — not eliminate it — and would likewise be less convenient and effective that our present system.

  91. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Glen,

    The operative words were, “such as” – not meant to imply that that specific project was DDA funded. What essential services have been funded by DDA grants?

    Again, what are you doing to convince current city leaders to eliminate non-essentials? Or is it to your/their political advantage to remain adamant that there isn’t the slightest bit of fat in the budget. The mayor himself stated publicly that he wanted the budget cuts to be as visible as possible. (Not an exact quote – I’m just too lazy right now to look up the reference.) Why is this the strategy unless he wants to prove the income tax would have been less harsh? And why isn’t acting in the best interest of city residents the priority?

  92. Posted June 26, 2008 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    John: You actually didn’t answer them, and you still aren’t. You are speculating wildly, just like you did before the CIT vote. It’s a darn shame you aren’t getting the police thing, but obviously more information isn’t helping, ’cause you just seem to get more and more confused. Take a deep breath, step away from it, and come back to it later. Maybe you’ll get it then.

    Glen: I’m talking about this because Rod Johnson wanted to. He said: “Let’s get back to the income tax for just one small moment.” I did, and then the thread grew a life of its own. So, if you want to accuse someone of raising the issue for political purposes, then maybe you ought have that conversation with Mr. Johnson, not with me.

    From my perspective, the CIT is still a very important issue because it shows how out of touch with constituents the majority of City Council has been for the past five years.

    We’ve heard the word “overwhelmingly” many times in this thread with respect to the CIT and why we should just ignore it. Why is it that four of the seven on Council didn’t see this coming? Why would they insist that we spend a bunch of money we don’t have on an election they didn’t think they would win? It’s because they are out of touch with the community and lack the leadership skills necessary to engage Ypsi residents and move us forward.

    Mr. Johnson was a big supporter of the CIT. That’s part of his public record. A record that deserves to be examined and commented upon at length.

    With Pete Murdock, we can talk about how he started the rental inspection program in Ypsilanti. Or we can talk about how he started the curbside recycling program. And we can use these past accomplishments to show us that he’s capable of coming through on his promises.

    Though it’s nice that Mr. Johnson has lived here a long time and held some volunteer and appointed positions, Pete Murdock has lived here longer and has an established record as an elected official and as a resident at obtaining results that have benefited the citizens of Ypsilanti.

    As to focusing “instead on actually trying to address Ypsilanti’s many pressing challenges,” that’s precisely what I’m doing. I’m behind Pete 100% because I think he’s going to do a much better job than Johnson ever would at addressing Ypsilanti’s many pressing challenges.

  93. Glen S.
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    trusty: I believe the only reason Rod Johnson felt compelled to address the income tax issue at all was because of the nonsense being spread around the community about there being a “slate” of candidates committed to bringing the income tax back. I’ll say it one more time: There is NO “slate,” and NO one is proposing to bring back the income tax issue.

    On the issue of experience-, let’s face it — a LOT has changed in the many years since Pete was mayor. In fact, I think it is fair to say that the Ypsilanti of the 1970s and 80s was a fundamentally different place than it is today.

    On the other hand, much of Rod’s experience is much more current, and frankly more relevant to current concerns.

    As Chair of the Community Policing Action Council (COPAC) Rod is in regular communication with both the Police and Ypsilanti’s many neighborhood associations, and has first-hand knowledge of many neighborhood concerns, and works to address many potentially negative situations.

    As Vice President of the Historic East Side Neighborhood Association, Rod continues to be actively engaged with Ward 3 residents, and has continued to demonstrate his long-term commitment to improving our neighborhood.

    And perhaps most notably, as President of the Planning Commission, Rod works regularly with potential entrepreneurs to foster new business development — including, just within the past year — two projects that successfully turned under-utilized, non-taxable parcels into viable businesses that are now creating both jobs and tax revenue (the new Mich. Ave. Walgreen’s and Schoolpictures.com, on the former Ave Maria site).

    I looks forward to Rod having the opportunity to bring these kinds of recent and relevant experience to City Council to help move Ypsilanti forward.

  94. MaryD
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    While I love Rod, and know what a great guy he is, I also am aware of what a great COUNCIL MEMBER and MAYOR Pete Murdock was and what a great council person he will be again. He knows our budget in ways most members of our current city council do not and never will. The only things that have changed since the time he served before is we now have enormous water street debt and less representation.
    It is through negotiation and cooperation that these two entities, the city and township, will realize their goals.

  95. Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Brian,

    Tapped to represent WHAT campaign??? I’ve been addressing misinformation regarding what has transpired regarding city budget since CIT was turned down. If you’re talking about the city council elections, CIT isn’t an issue. I wasn’t aware there was any campaign on CIT. No one I know has proposed it.

    Furthermore, I’m not “campaigning” or even debating. All I want is for the facts to be known. I don’t want only some of the facts stated and I certainly don’t want falsehoods passed off as facts. In fact if I am wrong or have a fact wrong (most of my information is derived from news reports and reading what I find on the city web site) then I hope someone will kindly correct me.

    Brian, you’ve been on city council for 1-1/2 years. Why didn’t you lobby to have those empty police positions filled??

    Regarding the eliminated Sgt position, are you saying that some sort of inappropriate practice was taking place? Not that the answer to that question has anything to do with whether elimination of the position counts or not.

    It’s not a fair comparison between an early retirement package and a layoff package. When Ford bought out people last year, the early retirements included health care. Are you saying that the money being spent on the early retirement buyout for the Lt is greater than his continued salary and benefits would be if he remained on the force?

    Finally, Brian, on your last statement: You are one of my elected representatives. Why don’t you answer your own question, since it is posed to yourself?

    I am a proxy for no one. I make my own analysis of the issues and gather facts concerning it. When I see someone make statements that are erroneous or don’t make sense, then I try to explain the facts the way I see them. My purpose is to see that the facts are all available. I am not infallible. I may get some facts wrong from time to time. I hope I’ll get corrected promptly, since I lust for the true facts.

  96. Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    Regarding the curb cut litigation. At first blush your arguments seem reasonable to me. If what you’ve said is accurate, then, yeah, why weren’t the engineers/consultants liable?

    I don’t know enough about it to comment. Were you present to hear the city attorney’s reasoning? Does anyone know if there was legitimate reasoning that the city was liable rather than the consultants?

  97. Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    Glen and EoS:

    I thought the city actually made money on recycling for two fold reason: lesser fees for landfilling and revenue from selling the recyclable material, the latter being significant.

  98. Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Glen: You are certainly entitled to your beliefs, and I respect that. I’ll also admit that our current council majority may very well be “engaged” with the community. The trouble is, they don’t appear to consistently represent the views of the community, as exemplified by putting forth a vote on a losing issue at significant cost to taxpayers.

    I fully appreciate that you will continue to support your candidates who you feel are “engaged.” I, on the other hand will continue to require of mine somewhat more than that. I want my councilmember to get results. It’s what I believe our community needs, and it’s what Pete has a long, distinguished, proven record of accomplishing.

  99. Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:43 pm | Permalink

    Regarding the need for more budget cuts in the future to maintain a balanced budget: I’m afraid that those cuts in the future will go deeper and deeper. I proposed here on MM before the budget discussions in city council got underway, that the ultimate cuts would be less significant if they were done up front. The budget surpluses in the first year or two would be banked to pay the difference in the out years. In the end the summation of savings would be the same. But if the cuts had been done up front that same number would have been averaged over all the years. Yes the cuts would have been deeper this year, but in the end the cuts wouldn’t be as deep as they will be by delaying doing them now.

  100. Posted June 26, 2008 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Mr getto, break it down for me then.

    What exactly were the cuts that proCIT people predicted? In what budget year did they predict those cuts would occur? Where does the current budget deviate from those budget proposals? Be specific. If some cuts, proposed by proCIT for the first year were not cut in the final budget, were there any cuts in the current budget that were not proposed by proCIT?

    Where am I currently speculating wildly? By the way, I wasn’t involved in CIT except to have a yard sign. For you to assert that I speculated wildly prior to the CIT vote is impossible since I speculated not at all, wildly or not wildly.

    And where am I not getting the police thing? I’m most certain I’ve got the math right now. Rather than making a generalization that I don’t understand it somehow, if you think I’ve still got the math wrong, then show me.

  101. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Permalink

    BrianR,

    Am I to assume that every time TrustyG or Steve Pierce comments we can simply dismiss them as your proxy? It just seems an odd statement. Am I missing something?

  102. Posted June 26, 2008 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    Now, putting a dead issue (CIT) behind us,
    this thread is really getting interesting now. Suddenly current issues surrounding an election for city council members are captivating peoples attention. Good, I’d love to talk about issues that are facing us and debate who the right candidates are to address those issues.

    I have known Rod Johnson for in excess of ten years. For the last eight years I’ve had the pleasure to serve with him on the board of directors for the Historic East Side Neighborhood Association (HESNA). He is an industrious worker. His ideas and opinions are always well thought out and researched. I have always know Rod to be honest and he has the highest standards of integrity.

    Rod has been an excellent representative for HESNA on the Community Policing Action Council (CoPAC). Not only is Rod on top of issues relevant to his neighborhood; but, because he interacts with other neighborhood association representatives on CoPAC, Rod knows the issues that affect every neighborhood in the city.

    Rod’s long time service on the Planning Commission speaks volumes of his exemplary service to the City of Ypsilanti. His actions on the Planning Commission are a matter of public record. His involvement has been responsible for the establishment of new businesses in Ypsilanti, including The Corner Brewery, Standard Printing, Walgreens, and the American Photo Studios ready to occupy the old Ave Maria site.

    Rod is a man with vision and real solutions for the City of Ypsilanti.

    Regarding Pete Murdock’s candidacy, I don’t have much to say. I’ve lived in Ypsilanti for over 16 years. While I occasionally heard his name over those years I never knew him. When I heard mention of his service as Mayor of the city, I never paid any attention since his mayoral tenure was before I was here, or at least here long enough to be interested in city politics.

    The first time I really paid attention to who Pete Murdock was was when Steve Pierce organized the anti-CIT campaign. So, while I acknowledge Pete’s success in that campaign, I don’t know of any other contributions Pete has made to the community.

    I spoke with Pete during the CIT campaign. (That was the first time I had met him.) I was thirsty for reasons to vote against the CIT. I remember asking him several times what the city’s solutions to it’s budget problems would be if the CIT wasn’t passed. Pete’s emphatic response to me was “It’s not my job to come up with solutions.”

    I can’t imagine anyone voting for a person who doesn’t see it as his job to come up with solutions for our city.

  103. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    MaryD,

    If this campaign is going to be about history, both Pete and Rod’s, then the folks of us who moved here in the last 1 to 15 years need to be filled in.

    From what I’ve heard, the 70s and 80s weren’t the best times for Ypsilanti. Maybe Pete laid the groundwork for everything good that’s happened. Maybe the high taxes and empty plants we currently have were his doing. As I said to Pete when he stopped by the other night, it’s like telling me Bush has 8 years experience as president so we should vote for him. Kircher was on city council in those days. I am by no means equating Pete with Kircher, I’m just saying that experience means nothing to me, without context.

    As EgP said, I’d rather have a discussion about the candidates vision for the future. What cuts they’ll prioritize and how they feel about chickens.

    If folks want to make the election about the past, both sides need to talk openly about the past and fill us youngins in.

  104. BrianR
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    The debt payments for Water Street beginning in FYE 2010 and running through 2015 FYE will be $854K, $1.237M, $1.271M, $1.308M, $1.340M, and $1.555M, respectively. At that point, it will be more than 10% of the entire budget.

    The reason I didn’t lobby to fill open positions is because we need every single cent we have to bail out Water Street. Filling a position only to cut it a few years later would be foolish. It’s sort of like when the City got public safety grants as the result of then-President Clinton’s initiative to put 100,000 new cops on the street back in the 1990s. Consequently, the City’s police force swelled to 54, but when the grants ran out, the force had to be reduced because we couldn’t pay for them any longer. And that was the problem. We filled positions knowing that paying for them wasn’t sustainable.

    City Council has budgeted funds to pay the first Water Street payment of $854K. In July, we’ll likely take a giant chunk of the surplus and put it towards the FYE 2011 payment of $1.237M. After that, we’ll likely have to come to the voters asking for a special millage in the neighborhood of 4 mills to bail us out. If the voters don’t approve that, the budget will have to be gutted. After the CIT, I doubt that we could get a millage to pass. We blew any political capital we had on the CIT.

    I didn’t vote to fully fund the buses either for the same reason. Ypsilanti was getting full service for half the price. While some like to call that a subsidy, I think it was a great deal and we should take pride in getting something whole for a reduced price. At the last AATA board meeting, they were kicking around a bill for Ypsilanti’s bus service for anywhere between $250K and $444K depending on a fare increase and reducing overall costs. I think the extra $129K we recently budgeted should go towards Water Street. If we paid an extra $300K, that money would have to come out of our the second Water Street payment. In my view, that would unbelievably irresponsible.

    As far as the admin Lt package goes, for the next six years he will receive health care equivalent to what he gets on the job now rather than the retiree equivalent. That’s the part that’s unheard of nowadays.

    As far as Steve and Cam being my proxies, I’d say Steve not so much. Cam is definitely proxy material, but he needs to work a little harder before earning the title.

  105. Posted June 27, 2008 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Brian: I cried myself to sleep after hearing your cruel words.

    Joking aside, it is kind of telling, though, how when we’ve got the facts right, unlike poor John, the analysis that follows lines right up, eh?

    John: I’m sorry you’re not getting it. It’s all in the news article, budget and comments above. Maybe you ought to call April, or Ed, or Paul. Perhaps they can express things in terms you can understand. The rest of us, we got it the first time.

  106. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    Pete,

    Please educate John about the history of recycling in the city and tell us how you would advocate handling it if you are on council in these cash strapped times. My facts are dated and derived from the limited information former councils used to release to the public. John wasn’t around when things were done differently – it was before his time.

    A substantial amount of recycling used to occur for a cost about 25K – 50K annually. Mayor Homel destroyed the volunteer effort because he thought the city should capture the “revenues” from recycling. Turns out, there was no revenue, but only substantial costs. Within 4 years, the costs to the city rose to nearly 250K. The city didn’t collect enough recycling to interest anyone to bother to bid for the materials. So Ypsi paid Ann Arbor to haul the city’s recycling materials at a cost double what we paid for garbage collection. Ann Arbor collects from multiple communities and breaks even on their costs when they sell some of the materials and divert some from landfill. I was told 10 years ago, that Ypsi should feel lucky that we are able to divert even some of the recycled materials from ending up in a landfill. The majority of communities in the state have recycling programs that end up putting all the collected materials in a landfill. I was told that the recycling program is primarily about education and training residents to think and act green, and that hopefully in the future someone will find a use for these materials and be willing to pay for them.

    Brian,
    What is the current cost of recycling in the city? How much of what is collected is actually diverted from landfills? Do you think it’s possible to reduce costs in this area of the budget? What areas of the current city budget do you see as possibilities for reduction of costs that would have the least impact on the lives of city residents and financial health of the community?

  107. Posted June 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    JoF,

    There was no public discussion of any length about the Curb cuts and litigation. The decisions were made behind closed doors in closed session by Council. Council then emerged and city staff recommended using CDBG money to pay for the curb cuts and settle litigation without incurring additional expenditures from the general fund.

    Interestingly, now some on City Council are backtracking on this decision. They are now claiming that the problem was the state guidelines were wrong and it was the State that misled the City. They claim the fault was not the engineers or the City but Lansing is to blame.

    This is federal law, why was anyone trusting Lansing for guidelines. Especially when the DOJ publishes extensive guidelines including a whole booklet for communities on sidewalk and curb cuts. I sent a copy of these guidelines to the City long before the project was finished and long before CIL and PVA sued.

    One of the questions I asked back in 2003 and 2004. Why was the transition bubbles being painted. The law says it must be a different color. But painting creates more maintenance issues because they need to be repainted. Something the city is NOT doing right now and the CIL and PVA will likely sue over this as well.

    I suggested that the color be mixed into the concrete and then color is permanent even as the concrete wears. It was dismissed saying painting was better and cheaper. Well now we have an ongoing maintenance problem and hundreds of these curb transitions already need painting less than 5 years since completion of the project. There is no budget in the general fund to do this required maintenance.

    This is just crazy and sort of typical to blame someone else and not take responsibility for spending taxpayer money. There were numerous organizations that came to the City and said these curb cuts don’t meet ADA.

    I came to the City after seeing the curbs installed on Pearl (check the SE corner and you have a bone jarring nearly 2 inch lip and the new ramp at NW corner Catherine and S. Huron. It has something like a 15% slope. Try get a wheel chair up the thing, it will be like climbing Denali). I brought this and many other problems with curbing as just a citizen to the then Mayor, the former DDA director, Barr, and OHM. They said they were following the rules.

    When I dug out the rules from DOJ and said they aren’t following the guidelines from the Dept of Justice they said their engineers had approved the designs and that they didn’t have to update every curb approach nor did they have to regrade approaches in existing areas. Both of these statements are not true.

    During this period of time PVA and CIL were already suing Ann Arbor. The City should have been asking questions about whether or not they were following the rules. But instead, they marched on assuming they knew the rules and were in compliance.

    Check out http://www.ada.gov there is a whole section on Accessible Design. There is even a toolkit for state and local government with easy to read info and what Cities must do to be ADA compliant. The toolkit was updated in 2006 and 2007 but there was a previous version up on the ADA website throughout the road bond work. (Check out http://www.archive.org to find out what the ADA had on-line during the road bond project. It is on the right-hand side of the home page.)

    Little did I know then that the Center of Independent Living and the Paralyzed Veterans of America were also having the exact same conversations at the exact same time with the City. They were telling Ypsi what Ann Arbor did wrong and were trying to encourage Ypsi to change what they were doing during the project so the changes could be implemented the first time. CIL and PVA even offered to review designs and drawings to make sure they were compliant and the City denied the offer for help.

    One City official told me at the time, they didn’t want a bunch of lawyers looking over their engineering plans.

    It was when I was on the campaign trail in 2006 that I met one of the folks suing the City and I learned about the numerous meetings the CIL and PVA tried to have with the City.

    The city dismissed the CIL and PVA and continued installing sidewalks and curbing in violation of the ADA. Then CIL and PVA sued and the city settled rather quickly.

    Now millions of dollars in CDBG money (that is taxpayer money folks) is going towards redoing the curb cuts. This is money that was supposed to go to parks and rec and the Freighthouse.

    BTW, the same firm that was hired for the first road bond project that approved all these curb cuts in the first place, the engineering firm the City should have sued over approving improper curb cuts, well apparently that same firm has been rehired by the City to oversee curb cut do-overs and other DPW projects as well.

    sigh,

    – Steve

  108. Andy C
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    This was posted on the “so, what gets cut?” post a few months back by Murph.

    “Not so fast on (cutting) the recycling! As I understand it, the curbside recycling program is actually a (very small) money maker for the City. The city has to pay to have our garbage hauled off, but it sells our recycling, covering the costs of pickup and then a little bit. So don’t touch that curbside pickup – if anything, start charging people for anything more than one can of garbage per week, to encourage more recycling. (and reducing, and reusing, and composting…)

    Also, I believe that solid waste is a separate fund, with a separate millage, from the general fund, so I don’t think any changes to solid waste make a difference here.”

  109. Posted June 27, 2008 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    Andy C.,

    I believe that solid waste is a separate fund, with a separate millage, from the general fund, so I don’t think any changes to solid waste make a difference here.

    Wait a moment!

    Just because it is a separate fund doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at ways to save money. Any reductions in operating costs will go to reducing the overall millage. A millage which is a stunningly high 30.6.

    – Steve

  110. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Andy C.,
    Thank you for letting me know about the previous posts. I read all 190 of them and now have a better understanding of why someone wouldn’t want to revisit the topic on this site. No real info about costs/revenue of the current recycling program in the city other than Murph’s brief comment on his understanding of the process.

    Where are you Murph? You have access to the real budget. Tell us how much revenue the recycling brings to the city?
    Maybe the mayor, who often lurks and sometimes posts, can give us the real numbers. I haven’t paid attention in the last ten years. Maybe the situation has changed significantly.

  111. Posted June 27, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Edge of Sprawl – Mark told me I’d been mentioned. Not sure I can provide you with much more – my information is all second hand from then-DPW Director Bill Bohlen, I believe at a neighborhood association meeting last fall.

    As I understand it, it costs the City about $23/ton for trash pickup. The material picked up for recycling is sold for about $25/ton – combined with the costs not incurred by not picking up that material as trash, the city saves/earns $48/ton through the curbside recycling program.

    Bill cautioned that this is of course not cost-free – we pay the DPW employees who pick up the recycling, we maintain the trucks, etc. In the end, he said that recycling is not a significant revenue stream – but going from a cost of $23/ton to a small positive amount is still a pretty big win, and not just a wasteful service provided to keep the fluffy liberal hippies happy.

    I’d advise that you contact the Public Works department for more detailed information – the above is about all I know of trash and recycling finance in the city.

    Steve notes, paraphrased, that even if recycling saves us money, it doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t try to save more – I can agree with that. Any ideas, Steve?

  112. Posted June 27, 2008 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    Murph,

    Remember this is brainstorming, we need to talk more about these ideas, but you asked for ways to save money. Lets talk about just a couple.

    Don’t buy a rear compactor that requires two or three operators. Since employee costs are the highest controllable cost for waste collection, a side loader and one operator is less costly to operate. One truck with one operator is cheaper to operate that a truck with two operators and a second operator doesn’t mean you pickup twice as much trash or that you pickup faster. Time motion studies will bear this out.

    We should negotiate tipping fees with A2. They tip for far cheaper than the City does with WM.

    Then lets look at cop cars. Why is it the parking enforcement cars were being leased. At least that is what is being reported over at the cop shop. After three years they came off lease and were returned. Yet they had less than 25,000 miles and rarely ever left the city. Great cars barely broken in. But the city for some reason didn’t keep them. They could have been kept as parking enforcement cars or used as VSC cars or shared staff cars.

    Here is another one. EMU did a study on the purchase and resale of cop cars. Great study with real data showing better resale with certain cars which means lower yearly operating costs. Yet the City police didn’t know about this study, then when told about it, said it was too late, they already had ordered their cars. And guess what, the city bought cars with lower resale (higher annual costs.)

    Tasers, the city bought Tasers for all officers but they are not allowed to take them home. However the city does not buy radios for every officer or shotguns for every officer. The City could have saved $20,000 by buying fewer Tasers and each officer checks them out at the beginning of the shift when they get their radio and shotgun.

    There is a chronic problem of leaving things to the last moment then making bad decisions and justifying them because they didn’t have time. Just ask someone about the CDBG City Council meeting called at the last moment this week.

    Here is one that is confusing. Since the City doesn’t have staff to mow parks, the idea the City is proposing is to buy a big honking mower that can be operated by one person. But the equipment costs $250,000. How much would it cost for a part time employee to mow parks with the equipment the City already has. Part time, 6 months, seems like that would be about $30,000 a year. So buying new equipment means the same costs for 8 years of part time help. That isn’t saving money.

    There is even more that we can and should do. Glad you asked for some ideas. Let me know how else we can help

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  113. Posted June 27, 2008 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    Thanks for that last post. Those are all good ideas. I don’t know about the tasers since they’ve already been bought, unless they can be returned and we can get our money back for them … worth looking into, still.

    On the lawnmower, we will need to evaluate the condition of our current equipment, predict when it will need to be replaced, at what replacement cost, and then balance that against the 250,000. Probably the differential is less that 8 years of part time labor.

  114. Posted June 27, 2008 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    EoS, I’m curious. Don’t take this as criticism or that I don’t think you can’t comment on City spending/budgeting decisions. But, I’d like to know

    Why does a township person care so deeply about the specifics of the City budget?

  115. Posted June 27, 2008 at 9:28 pm | Permalink

    Mr. getto,

    I asked you: “And where am I not getting the police thing? I’m most certain I’ve got the math right now. Rather than making a generalization that I don’t understand it somehow, if you think I’ve still got the math wrong, then show me.”

    You responded with: “John: I’m sorry you’re not getting it. It’s all in the news article, budget and comments above. Maybe you ought to call April, or Ed, or Paul. Perhaps they can express things in terms you can understand. The rest of us, we got it the first time.” YET another generalization and baseless accusation.

    But, now I’m tired of trying to show you the truth that cuts have had to be made in the budget and more are coming. The consequences of CIT failure to pass is no longer an issue I want to waste my time on here. We could debate the past forever; but, I’d rather talk about solutions for the future.

    I want to hear the candidates address egpenets questions. He asked some good ones and the answers from the candidates are what we should consider carefully and debate where philosophies differ.

  116. Posted June 27, 2008 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    MaryD

    I respect your support for Pete Murdock, but I wanted to challenge one thing you said in your support statement:

    “The only things that have changed since the time he served before is we now have enormous water street debt and less representation.
    It is through negotiation and cooperation that these two entities, the city and township, will realize their goals.

    I’ve seen a great deal of things change in Ypsilanti in the years I’ve lived here:

    1. Our police changed to a community policing paradigm. Since then gang crime inside the city limits has gone from overtly everywhere to unheard of, if not outright non-existent.
    2. Motor Wheel Closed.
    3. Ford became Visteon became ACH which is now closing.
    4. Exemplar built a new building and then went out of business.
    5. Frieghthouse closed
    6. RAC was created.
    7. New, but non-manufacturing business have moved into town.
    8. Michigan Avenue received a median and was greatly beautified over what it was.
    9. More store fronts are occupied downtown.
    10. Festival of Lights at Christmas time was cancelled.
    11. Sky rocketing medical costs, nationwide.

    The list could go on. Most significant is the erosion of manufacturing in the City, which mirrors the deterioration of manufacturing statewide and nationwide – something completely out of the control of our local governments. The city’s tax base has deteriorated in line with this loss of manufacturing. At the same time, some expenses, most notably medical, have increased far faster than inflation.

    The problems the city faces today are different than the problems the city faced when I moved here. With respect to revenue vs expenditures, the problems are far greater than they were a decade ago, let alone two decades ago.

  117. Posted June 27, 2008 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    JoF wrote:
    >> Why does a township person care so deeply about the specifics of the City budget?

    This is easy. Because we are are interlinked both in our past and our future. Because you should care about your neighbors. You should be informed about what your own community is doing and your neighbors. If nothing else but to learn what works and more importantly what doesn’t.

    Wouldn’t it be great if people inside the City took the time to learn about the Township. Imagine how much better off we would be if more people inside the City took time to learn more about their neighbors in the Township.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  118. Posted June 27, 2008 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Jof,

    You made an interesting comment that the problems today are different then they were 20 years ago. Interesting because that is what Rods campaign keeps saying is that his experience is more relevant than Pete’s.

    I thought it interesting that Rod is now distancing himself from the City Income Tax saying, while Rod was a supporter of the CIT, Rod wasn’t really involved in the campaign. That is like saying I was for it before I was against it. Look how well that turned out for Kerry.

    For those of us that were involved in the SCIT campaign, what was clearly obvious throughout the campaign is just how out touch the current leadership was with the citizens in not understanding how hard people are struggling just to stay in the their homes.

    But if Rod and his supporters are going to take credit for Walgreens, the Kresge lofts, and the old Ave Maria, then Rod needs to also take responsibility for the Water Street fiasco (Rod voted not once but twice on the Water Street plans) and Rod sat in on numerous planning meetings with City staff, planners, and Council.

    I would have never thought to blame Rod for Water Street, but then I wouldn’t have ever thought to credit him for the success of Ave Maria either.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  119. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    John-
    You ask a legitimate question; one which I considered myself. I hesitated to input into the discussion of the city budget as I do live in the township and am not a city taxpayer. Previously I had limited my input to rejecting any consolidation of the city and township. I don’t want to tell the city how to spend their limited tax dollars, just hope they would consider more rational reductions now that their back is to the wall. The consensus of the people on this blog, and perhaps the city in general, is that the only hope for the city is to expand into the township territory. There also seems to be a consensus that the Headlee Amendment, that limits the growth of municipal government to the rate of inflation, is a bad thing. Most citizens ignore local politics, which is sad, because local government has the greatest impact on daily life and is the level of government where the people’s voice should be greatest. By electing friendly people, and then ignoring the impact of their decisions, the cost of city government has spiraled out of control.

    I used to live in the city. I tried for years to convince city council to act more responsibly in fiscal matters and limit tax increases. I have personal experience with the stonewalling practices of Ypsi city government. Elected officials, and city employees acting under the direction of elected officials, keep all the pertinent information from the residents of the city.

    Everybody running for elected office says they stand for “good government”. Ask them how they stand on a particular issue and they’ll turn it around and ask you how you stand. Then, they’ll tell you how much sense your view makes and change the subject. Notice how people campaigning handle the issues. They’ll stand on your doorstep and talk for an hour and tell you everything they think you want to hear. Then they’ll go next door and tell your neighbor something else. You can call them and talk to them on the phone but they won’t put anything in writing. Some will say, “That’s just the way government works”, but that’s not the case in other municipalities. Ask a question at the township board meeting, and board members will give you written copies of all the information they have and ask you to see if there’s information that they haven’t considered and ask for your input. The board packets are posted on the web before each meeting for residents to see.

    Discussing options in a public meeting was frowned upon in the Farmer administration. If there was an item on the agenda, then there was unanimous support. Those with a minority opinion were coerced into keeping it out of the public forum as “consensus” government was the goal. Don’t let the public know there were any chinks in the armor. If you made a suggestion to improve some aspect of city government at a council meeting, they’d tell you your facts are wrong. Ask your representatives for the pertinent information and they’d tell you they don’t have it. FOI the city to get the information, and if they think you can’t afford a lawyer, they’d ignore the request or give you something you didn’t ask for, so that you would still be in the dark.

    If the city does have a forum where they seek public input, they usually hire Joe Ohren to conduct it. He’s smart and congenial and quite capable of manipulating the meeting to reach a pre-arranged result. I’ve been to a number of city meetings that had a large turnout of citizens who wanted to speak. The city required persons with different views to alternate speaking, then cut off the public hearing when less than 5% of the turnout were given the chance to speak. After the meeting, they announce in the press that the residents are equally divided, even when 90% of the crowd shared the same opinion.

    I don’t want this kind of government to expand into the township. I think city residents should be able to get candidates to answer questions in this forum and in public meetings. I’m sure there is a tremendous amount of the current city budget that goes to non-essential services and equally sure that most on council want desperately to keep that information from the public.

    I don’t have any desire to see the city fail. As other people have said on this site, it would not benefit the township if that were the case. I do have a strong sense of community and want both communities to thrive. I have friends and former neighbors who are deeply effected by the poor decisions of city officials. Why is it that the person who shares the most factual information about city government (Steve) is not even an elected official? Why is it that city residents continue to elect the same persons, or proxies of former officials, even when their judgments have been proven to be flawed? What will it take before the citizens of the city demand that their local officials respond to the current crisis with an open and transparent process?

    My question to you John – Why is it that I can know more specifics about a city I haven’t lived in for years than the majority of those who have a stake in the current financial crisis?

  120. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Steve.

    -I thought the city contracted with Waste Management to collect trash? Do we own any garbage trucks?

    -How much was the lease for the parking enforcement cars? What are the long term costs of purchase and maintenance over leasing?

    -What make and model is the higher resale model? Are there other factors (i.e., performance, dependability) that motivated the purchase?

    -I don’t know if there was a reason for this or not (do you?), but $20,000 already spent won’t fix the coming storm.

    -So, you say the city doesn’t have enough staff to mow the parks with the current equipment, and your suggestion is that one, part time person should mow the parks with the current equipment?

    Forgive me, but when you’re interested in attacking opponents, you seem to have plenty of time and motivation to dig into every detail. But, when you’re asked for solutions, we get just brainstorming.

    I.e., “Steve, what would you do to solve the problem?” and the answer, “Well, let me tell you what I wouldn’t do.”

    I’m not trying to be nasty, really, I just find it frustrating that I’ve yet to hear concrete solutions or candid talk of what should be cut from you.

    And, I doubt if you really had a concrete plan to solve the growing budget crisis, you’d keep it hidden under a bushel.

  121. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:55 am | Permalink

    OEC,

    Why aren’t you asking these questions of your elected officials?

  122. Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    EoS,

    Thanks for your response. Like I said when I asked the question, I don’t think you shouldn’t share your opinions.

    As to your last question to me: It’s because you are interested, same as me. It’s no secret that the majority really aren’t interested. I agree with you that it’s a shame more aren’t involved.

  123. Posted June 28, 2008 at 1:07 am | Permalink

    Oh, come on EoS,

    In a lot of cases the elected officials have proposed solutions. In a lot of cases I’ve seen those solutions have been summarily criticized by Steve. BUT does Steve offer counter solutions or does he just nay say?

    My biggest frustration with the antiCIT campaign wasn’t that they were against the CIT. I wanted to be against it too. No, I biggest frustration was that they didn’t offer counter solutions.

    Not until BrianR’s latest post on this thread have I understood what the antiCIT solution was: Raise property taxes by 4 mills.

  124. Posted June 28, 2008 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    I meant to say at the end of that last comment:

    So, I think OEC’s question to Steve well placed.

  125. Posted June 28, 2008 at 1:35 am | Permalink

    Steve,

    Rod didn’t say he was against the CIT idea. He only said that to try and run another CIT campaign would be a waste of time. What he said was he’s dead set against a second try.

    Until the CIT campaign really got under way, I don’t think it was clear that opposition to it was as much as it was. Steve, you know better than most that the last mayoral campaign made a big deal of whether CIT should be brought before the voters. You also know how the electorate voted in that election. Now that the CIT campaign has been waged and votes counted we know what we didn’t know a little more than a year ago when it was decided to put it to the voters.

    Rod is not trying to say “I was always against CIT.”

    Rod claims a personal success in playing a part in bringing American Photo Studios to the old Ave Maria site, Walgreens to the Prospect/Michigan location, the Corner Brewery, and Standard Printing to their current locations. He claims this success because of his role on the planning commission in revising zoning of those sites to accommodate those businesses.

    To blame Rod for losing our developers for Water Street you would have to show where he steered the planning commission and zoning rules in a way that blocked those developers from developing the Water Street site. I’ll have to ask Rod personally if he thinks that could be the case.

    Yes, Rod does think his experience is more current and relevant than Pete’s. Maybe I’ve missed it somewhere; but, I haven’t seen where Pete has shown that to not be the case. Is winning the antiCIT campaign his only contemporary success? Was bringing recycling to the City 20 years ago his most important contribution? What experience does he have with economic development? What solutions does he have for our budget crisis and other issues currently facing the city?

  126. John Delcamp
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Consider this fact:
    The City Of Ypsilanti is facing, and continues to face dire restraints for revenue. What is needed now, more than ever, are city council people who understand the workings of finances and how they are intertwined with county, state and federal revenue and the opportunities these entities present.

    Pete Murdock is an expert in this area, and his seeking election to city council could not come at a better or more needed time. That he would offer his wealth of experience of city government finances to the people of Ypsilanti is truly commendable. I know that Pete dearly loves Ypsilanti, and has come forward to help fill a void in leadership. To elect Pete Murdock to city council, is an opportunity that should not be missed.

  127. Posted June 28, 2008 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    JoF,

    Where are Rod’s solutions for the problems facing the city. If it is to be a rubber stamp vote for the current majority, that majority got us into the mess we are in today.

    What experience does Rod have with economic development? What solutions does he have for the budget crisis and other issues currently facing the city?

    Pete has been a huge champion for bus service leading the charge with Keep Ypsi Rollin. Yet the status quo members on Council criticized Pete’s plan, passed a resolution opposing Pete’s plan, and then voted to cut and eliminate funding for bus service two years in a row

    Only in the last month, now that there is an election coming, those same individuals that voted to cut bus service now say the City needs to write a blank check for bus service.

    Another case of City Council saying “I was opposed to bus funding before I was for it.”

    By the way, the recent AATA budget shows that with no fair increase and given this years cost of service, Ypsilanti’s expected contribution next year is a stunning $471,000. That is $330,000 more than what Ypsi is paying this year. How many more cops are you going to cut to pay for bus service?

    Pete’s plan of a Headlee roll back to permanently fund bus service preserved bus funding and made sure that no cops were cut. The best part of his plan is it asked voters to approve the plan. The voters would get to decide if bus funding was important to them and dedicate monies not currently being collected by City Hall for bus service.

    Rod approved the zoning of Water Street to restrict development to residential condos and eliminate retail on Michigan Avenue. This dissuaded developers including Biltmore and Freed from bringing forth other plans for mixed use, office, and retail development. The City and their experts have now admitted that was a mistake and have changed the plans to allow for a broader use.

    Like I said earlier, I think it is a very weak argument to suggest that Rod was somehow a catalyst for the problems at Water Street. But if folks are going to insist that Rod gets kudos for Standard Printing, Ave Maria et al, then Rod has to take his lumps for similar votes on Water Street and Midtown Downzoning which were huge mistakes in judgment.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  128. Posted June 28, 2008 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Ol E,

    Yes the City owns garbage trucks that are used to pickup recycling and collect trash from parks and other public places.

    The City did an study several years back that concluded purchase was more cost effective than leasing. Especially true for vehicles that have a low annual millage like parking patrol vehicles.

    The City Police have the EMU analysis, I am sure you could FOIA it. But here is one example: An Explorer has a higher resale value than a Dodge Charger. Yet the cost per mile to operate is nearly identical and the Explorer can better accomodate different size officers and can carry more equipment. The problem with the Chargers is the larger size officers can’t fit.

    I always love the argument that saving $20,000 is pointless because the looming crisis of Water Street is millions of dollars. Just because your house is about to be foreclosed doesn’t mean it is fiscally responsible to fly out to Vegas for the weekend. Spend every penny as if it you were your grandmothers.

    Regarding mowing. The current plan proposed by the City is to buy $250,000 in new equipment so that the one person could mow the parks. An alternative would be to hire one part time employee and combine that with the current staff to mow the parks with the equipment we already own.

    It would mean less up front money and we could continue to get effective use from the equipment we have instead of buying new equipment. We can’t sell the old equipment because we still need the smaller mowers to cover smaller pocket parks and areas where you can’t get to with a 10ft wide deck.

    Then as part of regionalization we should look at joining services with St Joe’s, WCC, EMU, and Ypsi Schools that all have large scale mowing operations to work on a joint plan which could save money for everyone. Just like the City did in sharing IT services with the County.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  129. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Steve said: “For those of us that were involved in the SCIT campaign, what was clearly obvious throughout the campaign is just how out touch the current leadership was with the citizens in not understanding how hard people are struggling just to stay in the their homes.”

    Would the SCIT have cost Ypsilanti homeowners more than the recent millage increase?

  130. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    Edge of the Sprawl said: “OEC,

    Why aren’t you asking these questions of your elected officials?”

    The question assumes that he is not–or will not–or that it hasn’t even occurred to him. Is that logically what you were going for–an assumption?

  131. mark
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Just so I’m clear, Dirtgrain, are you suggesting that they knew all along that if the City Income Tax didn’t pass, we’d need a millage?

  132. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I asked about it earlier in the thread, and it seems that they (the anti-tax side) did expect the millage increase. And it is not clear to me that SCIT would have been worse for “people. . . struggling just to stay in the their homes” than our current raised millage. It seems misleading to me for the anti-tax people to post comments like this (“. . . people are struggling just to stay in the their homes”) when SCIT was in theory going to decrease property tax to some extent and compensate with income tax (correct me if I’m wrong, please).

    Our taxes went up anyway, and I saw next to nothing from the anti-SCIT movement about it. Why not? Steve had a two-paragraph post about it on his site that announced a few details about the increase–and with one sentence about how Ypsilanti has the highest taxes in the county (and no specific solutions).

    I’m asking where are they now?

  133. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Oh, again, according to OEC in a post earlier in this thread, Brian Robb voted for the millage increase. Huh? Okay, so maybe he isn’t anti-tax–just anti-SCIT. But it seems to me that the anti-SCIT campaign won on a simple message: tax is bad. Were voters influenced by that message misled by the anti-SCIT movement (and Brian Robb in particular), then, as we got more tax anyway?

  134. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Concerning the city income tax and a Water Street bond millage:
    The city calculated that the average Ypsilanti family with a taxable income of 40k$ per year and a taxable property value of 60k$ would have a tax increase of $21 per month or 7% with the 2007 income tax proposal. Assuming that a Water Street bond millage would be approximately 4 mills, the average Ypsilanti family would see a 7% (4/56 mills) increase in property tax.

    Concerning a future bond or income tax proposal:
    I am against any city council proposed income tax or Water Street bond millage unless all members of city council give it unwavering support. I think any tax increase that comes before the voters should have unanimous approval by city council.

    Concerning the 1-mill property tax increase for 2008:
    The 1 mill tax levy increase was due to a 0.36 mill increase for the voter-approved Water Street bond payment and a 0.64 mill increase for the police and fire pension. The city is negotiating police and fire union contracts with lower pension costs for new hires.

    Paul Schreiber

  135. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Correction: The Water Street bond payment was not voter approved. I apologize for the mistake.

    Paul Schreiber

  136. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    Okay. I apologize for the previous apology. The 0.64 mill increase was for the voter-approved ROAD BOND, not Water Street.

    I’ll try to be more careful in the future.

    Paul Schreiber

  137. John Delcamp
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    SCIT had more to do with protecting the property values of our homes by refusing to allow deterrents from future home buyers than with being anti-any-tax. The number of people who voted against CIT because they did not trust the current city council to spend revenue wisely can’t be determined, but it was a contributing factor in its solid defeat.

    The city council certainly didn’t listen to me when I warned that CIT could not be sold in Ypsi now, (or probably ever). $22K could have just as easily been wasted on another overblown works study. Then, at least, we would have had some nice drawings to look at!

    Ypsilanti is uniquely poised to experience a buyers boom once the economy levels out. Cheap houses in desirable neighborhoods are plentiful. We continue to see remodeling and reinvestment in some of these older homes in spite of the sour job situation.

    Much of the city’s future success rests on our federal governments willingness to invest money within, i.e. revenue sharing for infrastructure and public safety, health care and energy cost relief. That’s why it is so imperative that O’bama win in November, otherwise, it will be the same-old same-old.

  138. Glen S.
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I completely agree with John D. Well… at least with his last two paragraphs.

  139. Pete Murdock
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain –

    The Police and Fire Pension millage and the Street Bond millage are tied directly to the amounts needed to fulfill that year’s obligation for each of those purposes As such they are outside the general fund and any statutory or charter limitations. These millages would have increased regardless of the passage of any City Income Tax and would have been in addition to any CIT.

  140. Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    but offset by 2 mils role back accompanying CIT.

    (Finishing Pete’s sentence for him to be sure it’s complete.)

  141. Posted June 28, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain asked: “Would the SCIT have cost Ypsilanti homeowners more than the recent millage increase?”

    The answer is YES.

    If the City Income Tax would have passed, the 1 mill increase voted in by City Council in May to make up the shortfall in Road bond payments and pension would have likely still happened as those costs were outside the general operating fund and the CIT was planned for General fund expenditures. So the citizens would have had a City Income Tax, the highest millage rate in the county and it is quite possible that in less than 6 months, the City would have undone one of the two mills promised as a roll back.

    It was the City Manager that said at a public forum that if the City Income Tax failed, the city would need a 4 to 5 mill increase in taxes to make the Water Street payments.

    Thanks for recognizing YpsiNews.com for breaking the story about the millage increase. The rest of the local media didn’t report on the millage increase until we wrote about it.

    Regarding alternatives for a millage increase. I and others did suggest alternatives BEFORE it was passed. They could have made up the shortfall by using a portion of the existing reserves. Remember they had a $1.3 million surplus after the City Income Tax vote and over $3 million surplus over the last 4 years.

    According to the City Manager, another option would be the Council could have postponed the road bond increase with the hope that revenue would come from existing and new development like Water Street.

    Remember, the City is hoping for increased revenue from Water Street to pay the Water Street payments. If Water Street comes true, there is no need for the additional 1 mill just passed as there would be enough revenue to make those road and pension payments as well.

    In fact that is exactly what the City just did when they pledged more taxpayer money to borrow $750,000 for Water Street arguing that faster development of Water Street would insure that this and the other millions owed on Water Street would be paid back.

    If this is true, then the millage collected for development in Water Street, which is also collected at the full 30+ mills, would have enough money to make up the shortfall in the Road bond and pension.

    But wait, if we shouldn’t depend on Water Street to make up the shortfall in pension and road bond, then why is the City depending on Water Street taxes pay off the newly borrowed $750,000.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  142. Mark H.
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    The city income tax proposal was voted down by a 2 to 1 margin, and lost in every ward in the city. As a student of American elections, i submit that the following proposition is true: None of the arguments for or against the city income tax were determinative; none of the campaigns for or against it were determinative. The tax had a snowball’s chance in hell of being approved by the voters of this city. Nothing that gets voted down by a 2 to 1 margin ever had a chance; no candidate who lost by such a landslide had a chance. (The biggest presidenetial landslide winners in US history got around 61% of the votes cast, by way of comparision). I am sure that the campaigns had some affect on the vote and on turnout, but certainly not enough to turn a two thirds “no” vote into a majority yes vote.

    Lots of people put their heart and soul into the pro- and anti-tax campaigns, and I commend each side’s civic mindedness. But the real question is, how could the city leaders have thought this proposal had a chance of being enacted? Were they out of touch or what? My analysis here is not based on the merits of the tax, just on its total lack of viability (which was accurately predicted). Capable leaders don;t propose plans that aren’t gonna fly, and they assess accurately what has potential success versus what ideas are lead balloons.

  143. BrianR
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Brian Robb voted for the millage increase. Huh? Okay, so maybe he isn’t anti-tax–just anti-SCIT. But it seems to me that the anti-SCIT campaign won on a simple message: tax is bad. Were voters influenced by that message misled by the anti-SCIT movement (and Brian Robb in particular), then, as we got more tax anyway?

    The message was never that taxes are bad. The message was that this income tax proposal was bad for Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti’s residents.

    I have a very public record. I voted to increase the millage in June of 2007. I voted to do it again this year because we are obligated to pay the debt for the roads as well as the police and fire pension. We could have taken the cost of paying police and fire retirees out of the current police and fire budgets and held taxes the same. As far as the road bond goes, when the voters approved this it’s unlikely they knew what the bond schedule would be or that bond payments usually go up over time. The increase was expected but wasn’t relayed to the voters when this was an issue. Again, we could have taken the cost of the road bond increase out of the DPW budget and held taxes the same.

    I even publicly endorsed the school bond millage during the height of the CIT debate. I’m not anti-tax. The CIT was such a poorly presented plan, it was impossible to support. It disproportionately affected renters as compared to homeowners. It was regressive. (And before anyone argues that property taxes are also regressive, City Council can’t control the State’s model for property tax collection. We can only try and make sure an equally flawed proposal doesn’t get implemented locally.) And it also was never clear how the money would be spent. We were told the CIT has nothing to do with Water Street, but …

    Not until BrianR’s latest post on this thread have I understood what the antiCIT solution was: Raise property taxes by 4 mills.

    After the CIT was defeated, the mayor was on WAAM the next day being interviewed about his defeat and mentioned something to the effect that maybe City Council needed to take a look at Council member Robb’s millage proposal for Water Street.

    Framing the debate is an excellent tactic, but the City Manager was talking about a dedicated millage for Water Street being a possible way to bail out the disaster before I was ever elected. Somehow it’s now become my solution.

    Water Street is a debacle brought on by previous Council’s hubris that we must now clean up. Until now, however, the mantra has been that the lack of progress has been because of a sluggish economy and other factors that were never under Council’s control. The sad reality is the project was undertaken by a group of people acting under the impression that if you bought land, developers would line up to build something there.

    Here we are nine years later saddled with $15.74M in debt that begins coming due in November of 2009. There’s also a $13M Brownfield plan that was approved in September of 2006 that will finish remediation and build infrastructure.

    To begin paying this, there are several options:

    1) Build something.

    The problem with this proposal is that even if we found a developer today, we likely wouldn’t have vertical construction until 2010 meaning the taxes wouldn’t start rolling in until the summer of 2011. Under the Freed plan, the City was still short around $4M for the first five years of the project because tax collection would be dependent upon the build schedule.

    No matter what happens here, we still need to come up with a massive amount of supplemental funding. Under the Freed plan, it was the aforementioned $4M. Freed didn’t want to pay for the land. I don’t see how circumstances have changed for that not be the case in the near future.

    2) Sell the land.

    A lot people think the risk in selling is that someone would sit on the land and not build. Depending on the price, that makes no sense from a business perspective. If the sale price was so low that a speculator could sit on the property, we’d never sell it in the first place. If we don’t want an enormous public bail out of the project, we need around $100M in development over 7 years. Unless we can find someone to pay us $15.74M in cash, we wouldn’t sell it otherwise we could lose control over how long the project takes.

    Again, this scenario isn’t very likely.

    3) Refinance the bonds.

    This is a possibility, but a long shot since a previous Council refinanced once already. That previous Council avoided a few payments because they essentially borrowed them and raised the debt load from $13.1M to $15.74M. This Council could do the same thing, but the interest rate would increase and the debt would increase another $3M or more.

    This is probably the worst solution of them all.

    4) Pay the bonds out of the general fund.

    The City is obligated to pay the debt one way or another, and we will definitely pay it.

    This scenario seems the most likely.

    5) Ask the voters for a bail-out.

    City Council could put a special millage on the ballot just like the road millage and ask voters to fix the mistake. The height of the payments is almost $1.6M. That’s why I threw around 4 mills. The reality is the millage would be tied to the bond repayment schedule and would increase from around 2.5 mills to the aforementioned 4.

    This scenario is unlikely too. As the mayor pointed out, he’d only support it if all of Council was behind it. In order for this to happen, there would need to be a big act of contrition. Council would have to admit they screwed up and made a mistake and was asking forgiveness in the form of $1.6M a year from the taxpayers. I’ve yet to hear this mea culpa from all of Council and don’t ever see it coming.

    There are other solutions like the small developer approach that is being persued now, but it’s just a variation on one of the options listed above.

    This is why it’s so vital to start putting aside all of the money we possibly can to pay the debt. Some day we’ll have development on Water Street, but until we do, we’re going to need more than $1M a year in supplemental funding. To me, it was clear to pay half the bus contract and put the rest towards Water Street. I don’t know what the thinking of some of my other colleagues was as to how we’ll pay for Water Street.

  144. Posted June 28, 2008 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    Keep Ypsi Rolling: I don’t believe I’ve heard of this effort. When did it happen? What was the basis of the proposal? If now council is writing the full check for AATA does that mean they now support Pete on this proposal? But wait, in your next paragraph you argue against funding bus service. Are you for it or against it????

    Is this the only thing Pete has done? John Delcamp mentioned that he has expertise in government finance. Can someone tell us the specifics of that experience, please?

  145. MaryD
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

    JoF,
    To catch up, check out Pete Murdock’s website: http://votemurdock.com/index.html

  146. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Glen S.

    Shall we interpret your lack of response listing the essential services paid for by the DDA or DDA grants to mean that their recent agreement to maintain Riverside Park is the only essential service the City gets in return for the millions of dollars diverted over the years?

  147. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    Thanks. Given that EMU has little need for pursuit capable vehicles, I can imagine why they’d go with Ford Explorers. Given that city cops may have to take curves at high speeds, I can see why they might opt for something less likely to roll over than an SUV.

    Then there’s your “let’s buy new equipment requiring less staff (garbage trucks) to save money” suggestion on one hand followed by the “let’s not by new equipment requiring less staff (lawnmowers) thing.”

    Still, that’s not my point. These may be great ideas. But, you said you were brainstorming. My point is don’t act like spitballing is the same as providing researched solutions. You have the time and resources. If you have a real solution, not some hunches, tell us in detail. And, the next time the police department is about to botch another deal, warn us ahead of time.

    Jof.

    On “Keep Ypsi Rolling.” It was a ballot initiative initially supported by candidates Robb and Pierce to lock in 1.65 (if my memory serves) of our existing millage to cover bus. Problem was, as I saw it, it a) provided no flexibility for future fluctuations in payment b) could be read to require the city to run it’s own bus service rather than contract with AATA because it was c) essentially a cut-and-paste of A2’s language just changing A2 to Ypsi and the numbers.

    Frankly, I thought it was a well-meaning but very sad piece of policy. I think Robb and Pierce thought so, too, as they supported the group early on, but each, disavowed it when running for office. I’m a little stunned, Pete, that you’re attaching yourself to something that was, by most perspectives, so poorly conceived.

    MarkH,

    Courage can be foolhardy. But, I still admire much of Ypsi council for taking the recommendations of public policy wonks like Paul Tait and Joe Ohren seriously. For my money, it was a far braver, riskier thing to do than speculate about tasers.

    Dirtgrain,

    Steve is right that SCIT would have cost Ypsi voters more if you insert “some.” I should come close to breaking even. Others will fair far better, others worse. Unfortunately, we could have had provisions in the CIT that protected the lowest income homeowners. The millage hits everyone, pretty much the same. Although, with rental rates stagnant and/or dropping, landlords may be unable to pass on the increase to their tenants.

    There’s other things, like everyone still reading, I’d like to respond to. But, this is getting a bit unwieldy.

    I’ll end with a thanks to BrianR for being candid. I still have issues over the definition of regressive that we may never resolve, but I appreciate you speaking frankly again.

  148. Pete Murdock
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    The City’s contract for maintenance of Riverside and Frog Island Parks is with the Depot Town Community Development Corporation (CDC)- not with either of the DDAs.

  149. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the correction Pete. Do you know of any essential services provided by either of the DDAs? Is this an area of the budget that might temporarily be used to help repay the debt?

  150. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 28, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Pete,

    If you’re still online. Can you elaborate on your involvement in crafting the language for KYR and whether or not you’d still like to see the initiative passed?

    (I’ve said this before folks, but don’t get me wrong. I’ve met many of these folks, albeit briefly, and like them well enough face to face. I’d enjoy them all as neighbors. I’m accustomed to disagreeing with good friends. I hope we can have these discussions and still enjoy a pint.)

  151. Posted June 29, 2008 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    Ol E,

    You don’t get it. The old garbage truck was worn out. They planned to buy a new one. So why buy a new one that is a rear loader that costs more to operate.

    The park equipment is not worn out so why buy new equipment when there is a cheaper alternative that still meets the goal of keeping the parks mowed.

    I did bring up the thing about Tasers BEFORE they were purchased. The response from the Police Chief, he said it would be too difficult to insure and track which officers checked out which Taser. Seriously, this was the justification for spending $20,000 more for double the Tasers than what is needed to cover a full day of policing. I asked the question, of all the departments in Washtenaw County, how many departments bought tasers for every officer plus spares. No one could answer that question.

    Yet the police department successfully tracks which officer checked out which radio, which shotgun and which car but apparently it was too hard to track which officers had which Taser.

    BTW, you wanted to be notified about upcoming purchases at City Hall. Now that the police have tasers, their next planned purchase are Tactical Rifles similar to AR-15’s. Yet there is a huge debate in the policing and tactical community about the cost effectiveness, reliability, and the tactical necessity of such rifles. Hey it is cool to haul and around and shoot assault rifles, but is this an expense a city of 22,000 residents and 35 officers can really afford given the other budget priorities and shortfalls. Just wait, it will be justified by saying they are using drug forfeiture money but that money could be used elsewhere and before the Council approves the expenditures for Automatic Rifles, the community and the Council should look at priorities to see if this is the best place to spend the drug forfeiture money.

    I can see a whole list of other ideas where that money may be more effectively spent in this community and we ought to have this discussion before money is spent buying patrol rifles.

    By having that discussion, we may determine that buying AR’s is the best thing for the community, but we ought to have that discussion before the orders are placed.

    Then you wrote: “Given that EMU has little need for pursuit capable vehicles.”

    This is just stunning in so many ways. For one, you assume you understand what EMU officers do and fail to understand how they often backup Ypsi and other departments in the area. Secondly the study was not just EMU purchases, it was a study of numerous departments. Third it shows you don’t know the City’s own pursuit policy. Fourth, you don’t know the crash statistics of Explorer versus Crown Vics and Chargers, you are assuming one is safer than the other, the data doesn’t show it. But the data clearly shows, that several officers can’t even fit in the Chargers and these folks are not overwieght, they are just big.

    So this brings about scheduling and resource allocation problems as only certain officers can drive the Chargers. Hey they look cool and they sound great when you wind them up to 6,000 RPM, but was this the best use of public dollars?

    You have to decide that for yourself, but you should be asking your elected officials if they asked these questions before approving the expenditures. They didn’t.

    – Steve

  152. BrianR
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    For what it’s worth, the Keep Ypsi Rollin’ proposal was for 0.65 mils (not the 1.65 as suggested above). One of the things that I missed at the time is that we had 0.71 mils worth of debt retirement falling off the books the same year. It would have essentially been an even trade, but taxes would still have gone up due to the dramatic increases in the Police and Fire Pension millage.

    I even swapped emails with OEC over this stating that I didn’t like the idea the millage collected more than the bus contract. The problem is the bus contract costs are increasing so much year over year, the 0.65 mils wouldn’t have even covered the total cost of the bus contract. If AATA charges us the $444K that’s being kicked around by their board, we still would have been over $200K short with a millage.

    Some Council members didn’t like the idea of changing the Charter. I didn’t like the initial math even though it turned out to be totally wrong. I still don’t think I could support a proposal like this because, like the CIT, I don’t like the idea of the residents of Ypsilanti paying for something that is not their issue. In 2005, the City Council eliminated the Recreation Department because they believed recreation was a County issue. I think transportation is a County issue as well. If our County Commissioners can work on an Ann Arbor to Brighton rail system, they can work on busing to the eastern part of the County.

    Over the past few years, there were three proposals:

    The Robb / Nickels plan called for payment of $135K to the AATA and putting the rest towards Water Street.

    The Schreiber plan called for paying the full contract (whatever that turns out to be) and using Water Street money to pay for at least half of it.

    The Murdock plan called for a millage dedicated to transportation.

    It’s up to the residents to let their elected officials know what kind of services they want. I was being told busing is important, but not the number one service we provide in the City. Again, I don’t know what my colleagues were being told by their constituents. Maybe most of the residents in the City think busing is more important than public safety.

  153. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    A dedicated transportation millage is the long-term solution, but doesn’t solve the short-term bus service needs. Paying the full AATA amount addresses the short-term needs so that the city of Ypsilanti can join with other regional partners (EMU, WCC, St. Joseph Hospital, Washtenaw County, etc.) to plan the long-term solutions. That’s the Schreiber plan.

    Mr. Sprawl,

    I’m glad that you are happy with the Ypsilanti township government. The city of Ypsilanti is trying to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible. The city has meeting agendas, minutes, meeting packets, the fiscal year-end 2008 and 2009 budget with helpful explanations and charts, and city council information letters online at the city website. The city website also has a keyword search engine.

    City council meetings have two audience participation times with follow-up remarks by the mayor in response to audience questions.

    If you have comments concerning the city of Ypsilanti, I urge you to express your views during audience participation or contact me or other city council members.

    Paul Schreiber
    734-277-5446

  154. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Mayor,

    Your transparent budget, although 189 pages, doesn’t provide the information necessary to answer simple questions. What is the total cost of providing curbside recycling to the city? Your 2007/2008 ammended budget shows total revenue for selling recyclables to be $18K. Total expenditures for garbage and rubbish is $1.2 million of which $571K goes to contracted services. You pay wages and benefits of $407K to department employees. Since you contract privately for regular garbage pickup, can one assume that a majority of wages are paid for employees who provide recycling services, or at least a significant portion thereof? Do you think, as the former DPW Director told Murph, that recycling provides a small net revenue to the city? Is there a way to provide recycling services at a lower cost to city residents? Could the city be a little more transparent and break down the costs reported in your budget in a more transparent fashion?

    The Downtown DDA and the Depot Town DDA have a combined revenue of more than 750K annually. They paid 90K for a cool cities catalyst project, 242K for the RAC elevator, and the rest is primarily operating expenses, payment towards previously incurred debts, and “TIFA” projects. Do you think city residents have a right to know what these TIFA projects entail? Are they providing essential services to city residents? Could 750K a year help in the reduction of the water street debt?

    I might speak at a council meeting if I wasn’t cut-off after a few minutes and if audience participation was a dialog between residents and their elected representatives and a person could get an answer to questions such as these. Thanks for the invite anyhow.

  155. Glen S.
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    BrianR said: “I was being told busing is important, but not the number one service we provide in the City.”

    Just to clarify, the City does NOT provide bus service. Rather, it is a service provided by an independent body (AATA), for which the City is charged only a fraction of the cost — with the bulk being covered by state and federal funds, rider fares, etc. Therefore, unlike services such as Police and Fire, which we “own” and operate ourselves (and for which we are, therefore, responsible for the full tab), the benefit that Ypsilanti receives from AATA (vs. what we actually pay) makes it one of the most cost-effective deals we’ve got going.

    Furthermore, City Council’s recent AATA vote was NOT, as BrianR suggests, a vote to “pay… the full contract (whatever that turns out to be).” Rather, it was a vote to affirm the City’s desire to maintain Ypsilanti’s current AATA routes and current service levels; and to provide the City Manager some leeway in negotiating with other partners to try to make that happen. (In fact, since AATA runs on a different fiscal year, I believe the actual amount of the proposed contract will not be known and/or voted on until later this year.)

    Everyone, including, I believe, the Council members who voted for the recent AATA resolution, knows full well that the annual rate of increase jn AATA service fees is likely unsustainable for Ypsilanti in the long run. That’s why I agree with Mayor Schreiber that a dedicated, county-wide (or, perhaps regional) transit millage is a much better long-term solution. That’s also why I’m glad that he and others on Council have been actively working with the County Board, AATA, and others to pursue a more comprehensive strategy.

    However, in order for this to be successful, I think it is crucial that Ypsilanti be seen as a “good faith partner” in negotiating with other potential allies. Does anybody really think we can do that, while, at the same time, asking other communities to continue subsidizing our service in excess of our own current contract agreement? Likewise, does anybody really think that continuing to fail to pay our fair share — while, at the same time, basically “daring” AATA to cut our routes and service — is a smart strategy for building consensus for a County-wide plan?

    It is true that building support for a County-wide plan has moved slower than any of us would like, but the “good” news is that some factors are finally helping to push this idea forward: 1.) The increasing concentration of new construction (and job growth) in downtown Ann Arbor (especially surrounding U-M Central Campus and the Medical Campus). 2.) The shrinking availability of affordable and easily accessible parking in Ann Arbor. 3.) Much higher gas prices, which are likely to hit $5 or even $6/gallon within the next few years, and 4.) An increasing desire on the part of many people (especially many younger professionals) to ditch long commutes and one-acre lots (sorry EoS!) for denser, more compact communities that are closer to jobs, shopping, nightlife, etc.

    I think it is exactly our proximity to Ann Arbor, in combination with our affordable housing prices, walkable neighborhoods, etc., that is already starting to make people take a second look at Ypsilanti as a desirable place to live. (As John Delcamp pointed out earlier in this thread, people ARE continuing to buy and rehab here, despite the lousy economy.) However, in addition to Ypsilanti’s many other positives — continuing access to affordable, reliable public transit is clearly going to be an increasingly crucial “selling point” for future new residents.

    (Right now, for example, I know a Livingston County couple who both work at the U-M, and they are currently looking to buy a home in Ypsilanti in hopes saving money — in part by paring down to only one car, and by driving less, overall. In doing so, they are definitely counting on being able to take advantage of the bus.)

    Again, I don’t see City Council’s recent vote as a long-term commitment to pay AATA whatever they decide to charge — either this year, or in future years. However, I DO think the vote was an affirmation on the part of the City that maintaining quality, affordable public transportation in Ypsilanti (at current levels) is an important priority, because: 1.) We have many seniors, disabled and lower-income residents who depend on it for their basic needs, and 2.) It is likely to play an increasingly crucial role in attracting new residents and businesses to Ypsilanti.

    On the other hand, I fear the alternative proposed by some — playing “chicken” with AATA over the service contract — might mean that bus service in Ypsilanti could end up dying a death of a thousand cuts… gradually diminishing to the point that people would no longer see it as a reliable or practical alternative.

    Not only would this be disastrous for the many Ypsilanti residents who currently depend upon this service on a daily basis; I believe it would also, in the longer run, seriously hamstring our ongoing efforts to attract new residents and businesses to Ypsilanti.

  156. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Mayor,

    I’m sorry, I almost forgot. What percentage of recyclables collected are actually diverted from landfills?

  157. Brackachetucky
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Steve, let’s put the Ypsitucky differences aside for the moment. I am very interested in the AR-15 issue you bring up. They are expensive rifles. Are they really going to be “assault rifles,” as you’ve said, which can switch from semi-automatic to fully automatic, or are they going to be just semi-automatic (and therefore not technically “assault rifles”)?

    How many times have Ypsi’s finest been outgunned by drug dealers with high-powered, high-capacity rifles? Why this purchase now? Is there a real need? Don’t we have a SWAT-type unit already equipped with rifles?

    I would bring up calling up and/or deputizing (I’m ignorant of the legal hoops) a volunteer militia of citizens who already own these types of (semi-auto) rifles and know how to use them, but this is clearly not the time or place for making annoying suggestions that would save the city a hell of a lot of money.

  158. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Glen,
    A county-wide plan for AATA payment of services would only be justified if AATA services were provided county-wide. It would cost significantly more to provide bus service to the cornfields. How would that lower the city’s overall cost? Or do you think we’ll pay the same amount for a bus that runs twice daily that you pay for buses that run every 15 minutes?

  159. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    So are we being mooches when it comes to AATA? Is that cool with everyone?

  160. egpenet
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    All I want to know is … where are we going and how will we get there?

    Our mayor and Councilperson Robb have madee several actions clear. But none of the candidates have put forth initiatives other than status quo. Is there a “vision” for the City in the minds of the candidates?

    Just asking …

  161. rodneyn
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Mayor Schreiber noted above that transparent city government is a high priority for him, and that since he took office the city has taken a number of important steps in that direction. I applaud him for this, and support this 100%. The city HAS become more open with information since Mayor Farmer left office (in terms of transparency, her last term in office had much in common with the current Bush Administration).

    I’m looking forward to seeing that trend continue (and perhaps accelerate) as the results of the upcoming election cycle take effect.

  162. Posted June 29, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    OEC,

    I have to agree with you wholeheartedly. I’d be happy to have a pint with anyone who comments here, that I’ve met. I still have my doubts about wanting to have a beer with a few that I haven’t met yet; but, I’d bet if I met them I’d change my mind.

    I think everyone who comments on MM has something to contribute. I see a lot of intelligent thoughts expressed here. I also think that not a single person on here, including myself, always has the facts right or has the best solution to a given problem.

    The very best thing that happens here is when someone realizes they’ve made a mistake and acknowledges it. Accepting someone else’s idea because it is a better idea is sometimes a hard thing to do; but, it’s really a beautiful thing to see when it happens.

  163. egpenet
    Posted June 29, 2008 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Rod:

    Transparency is a fabulous goal. I agree that Mayor Paul has done a fabulous job so far … especially with regard to appointments, ie. DDA.

    How do you propose to build on that? What will you contribute?

    Same question to Mr. Murdock and Mr. Bodary and Mr. Gawlas and Miss Richardson and Ms. Turf and Mr. Bridges.

    What’s next? What’s the vision … four years out?

  164. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Steve.

    If you have all the bases covered, then by all means, let’s get Explorers and side-serve garbage trucks. (The Explorers may not be as cool as the Dodges, but, as we had those trash trucks in Detroit, I remember watching their big claws catch and release and thinking they were the shit.)

    If you’re better equipped to determine what trash collectors the trash collectors should use, and what equipment the police require than the police, please, educate us taxpayers on our city’s wanton wastefulness.

    And, then, tally the savings, and tell us what else you would cut to balance the budget.

    But, I’d also like to know, what they unintended consequences of any action may be. I.e., I could do without snowplowing on side streets. I did, for years. But, I don’t know what the public safety implications are. I could also do with trash pickup every few weeks, but I don’t know what public health implications are.

    If these aren’t just haphazard ideas, but are thoroughly researched best practices, then by all means. Just give us all the details, down to the penny, like you would expect the city to give you. Start a Website: “www.howypsilanticansavemoney.com” say, and fill us in. Just don’t exaggerate, mislead or leave anything out. Or we will come for you.

    BrianR. .65. That was it. Thanks. And, what cuts to make is messy for this constituent of yours. I could just go with what I use the least, but that’s shortsighted. I.e., I may not need the bus these days, but before I decide where to prioritize it I’d like to know how many residents will lose their jobs if the bus is gone. If it helps you vote, I want the cuts that have the least harm the least number of people.

    Brian/Paul. FYI: I’m sick to bloody hell of millages. (I’m almost ready to borrow one of BA’s assault rifles.) It may be the state’s fault, but we do have ways around it. Please consider, although not my first choice, advocating a regional sales tax, at least. Or, a law that forces everyone who’s owned their home for more than a year to sell it and buy and new one.

  165. Posted June 30, 2008 at 12:10 am | Permalink

    Mr. Mayor,

    RE: AATA

    How many of those other partners (EMU, WCC, St. Joseph Hospital, and Washtenaw County) are currently paying for bus service and what did each partner pay each year, over the last four years.

    Does EMU pay for any AATA service outside of EMU’s 33 circulator which transports students from main campus to the Business School downtown only during the Fall and Spring sessions? If so how much did EMU pay over that same 4 year period and for what services.

    Thanks,

    Steve Pierce
    Ypsilanti, Michigan
    (734) 482-9682
    Steve@Ypsi.com | http://www.YpsiNews.com

  166. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Steve. Is that a rhetorical question? Shouldn’t a news agency be able to provide those answers?

  167. Ol' E Cross
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Oh. And on the millages again. Maybe, someday, folks will figure out it’s harder sell their homes under prop A when new buyers (e.g., brackache) can’t afford to buy them not because the city receives too much in taxes but because they are, essentially, being forced to pay the back taxes for the folks who are trying to sell them the homes.

  168. Posted June 30, 2008 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Brackachetucky,

    The Chief has not said if he wants to purchase semi-auto AR’s or select-fire full autos. Under Federal law the police department may purchase and use fully auto select fire weapons.

    You are correct, AR’s can be very expensive especially if you add on all the tactical gear like ACOG’s, heavy duty barrels, lasers, lights, multiple picatinny rails and more.

    However, Patrol Rifles typically don’t have all the bells and whistles, mostly because the rifles are always being moved from car to building each shift so they have a tendency to get beat up. But to be effective they are going to need at least a red dot sight or scope.

    Most larger departments purchase semi-auto AR’s as patrol rifles. However a number of smaller police departments, to save money, buy surplus full auto weapons from the U.S. government. Some departments will then modify them to semi-auto or leave them as full-auto select fire if they can’t afford to convert them.

    Yes, Ypsi does already have a SWAT team. They call their team SRT for Special Response Team. The County and State Police also have SWAT teams.

    – Steve

  169. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Ed,

    If you can’t get any of the current candidates to discuss their vision and fiscal plans, there’s still time to submit petitions and run an independent candidate in the November election. Deadline is July 17. Wouldn’t it be great to run a slate of candidates with clear, articulated plans for the future of the city that don’t include becoming part of the township?

  170. rodneyn
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Ed,

    I would not want to speak for that other Rod, but I would envision the impact of the upcoming Council elections being primarily that Ward 2 would be ably served by a brand new councilmember, and that Ward 3 would see the return of a former mayor to public service.

  171. egpenet
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Sprawl and that other rod:

    These are tough times and I can understand why no one wants to run. It was tough to get candidates anywhere in town.

    Mr. Johnson’s pamphlet in my door DOES promise to “Scrutinize future budgets carefully to protect essential city services, Partner with neighborhood associations to promote better communications, and to Foster Ward 3 new businesses” … citing Standard Printing’s move to Depot Town, Corner Brewery on Norris and American Photo off Forest. Kudos to Mr. Johnson for a lick to economic development.

    We need new business … so what’s next? The Barfield offices and factory area has been empty. There are other properties. There’s a need and an opportunity to build historic tourism, help EMU alumni “come home” and help Ypsilanti, get pro-business zoning on a fast track, get developers to look up rather than to build out, get on a business recruiting trip to other communities making pitches to move to Ypsilanti for our labor talent and lifestyle … and on.

    We have just about drained ourselves of available resources. We can’t keep begging from each other to keep the pool, freighthouse, etc. going paycheck to paycheck. We need a marketing plan, a brand, a message and then the guts and the financial support to go on the road until the job is done.

  172. egpenet
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Dowtown needs a facade program. Home owners in Ward 3 (who are stuck here) want to rehab and do some historic restoration … we need that help.

    There is … in addition to the old Barfield … a lot of vacant commercial (Motor Wheel) and vacant homes, as well. We need to turn those.

    More ideas for councilpersons running to go after some bucks in Lansing or Washington or from corporate sponsors. Lowe’s and Home Depot are hurting … they could use some good publicity. Put the pitch together and get in the car.

  173. Z man
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    Brackache[tucky]: I just talked to Pete Murdock’s wife who was out canvassing, and I thought of you and asked if the city had a program in place to accept voluntary community policing help to save costs. I can’t remember if she said we did or not, but I do remember her saying that even if you had a State-issued CCW and went through all the training and whatnot, you wouldn’t be allowed to carry it when you’re in uniform as a volunteer, because the city would be liable for a lawsuit if you used it. So there goes that idea.

    You’re better off getting a CCW yourself and going about your business as a private citizen, because you’re still allowed to use it in defence of yourself and others (with all sorts of legal ifs ands or buts), which is kind of like unsung incognito voluntary patrolling.

    Oh, and we don’t accept volunteer firefighters either.

    Hope that helps!

  174. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    “You’re better off getting a CCW yourself and going about your business as a private citizen, because you’re still allowed to use it in defence of yourself and others (with all sorts of legal ifs ands or buts), which is kind of like unsung incognito voluntary patrolling.”

    Who the crap is better off? The last thing I want is untrained gunslingers roaming the streets ever at the ready.

  175. Brackache
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain: I’m sorry you’re fearful and ignorant of firearms and firearm laws, but not everyone else is.

  176. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Steve wrote: “Especially when the DOJ publishes extensive guidelines including a whole booklet for communities on sidewalk and curb cuts. I sent a copy of these guidelines to the City long before the project was finished and long before CIL and PVA sued.”

    Steve, did you blog about this at the time? I searched and found nothing. Did you let us all know about it at the time? I don’t remember seeing any articles about it back then.

  177. John on Forest
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    rodneyn,

    I expect that your crystal ball is opaque. I certainly hope so.

  178. egpenet
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    This is NOT a gunslinger thread … however …

    On a road trip years ago through Texas, I stopped at a Texas-style 7-11 for a soda and some smokes. There was a long line. It didn’t take me long to notice that nearly everyone in line in front of me was wearing a handgun.

    Pity the northern slob who has a holdup on his mind and heads to Texas for the easy pickings.

    Fully stocked gun racks in the pick’em ups, too.

    Lock and load, folks … and have a happy 4th, as Judge Scalia would say.

  179. Brackache
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    Ed, I bet you a whole silver dollar, you throw any thread you want up in the air and I can turn it into a gunslinger thread three times before it hits the ground.

  180. John on Forest
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    Sometimes it sounds to me like you think your ideas are always the best. I think you do have some good ideas or questions from time to time.

    The key to effective and responsible governing is to use good listening skills to gather lists of options – potential solutions – to each problem or issue. The next step is to develop lists of pros and cons for each option, and to investigate interactions of potential solutions with other issues. Next one should lay out all the possible solutions next to each other so they can be compared and ranked. From this process the best, even if not good, solution to a problem can be selected.

    A good governor will not choose his own solution if a better solution is proposed and indicated by the above process to be superior.

  181. John on Forest
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    “A county-wide plan for AATA payment of services would only be justified if AATA services were provided county-wide. It would cost significantly more to provide bus service to the cornfields. How would that lower the city’s overall cost? Or do you think we’ll pay the same amount for a bus that runs twice daily that you pay for buses that run every 15 minutes?”

    EoS,

    A millage for bus service is actually a perfect example how you can get what you pay for.

    For simplicity of the argument, let’s assume everyone has a same value property and that the millage would result in each person paying $100/year. A person living out in a cornfield would pay $100 for bus service. Another person living along side 100 other persons in a township subdivision or in the city would also pay $100 for his bus service. For $100/year the cornfield dweller might get bus service that runs twice a day. For $100/year, a city dweller would pool his money with the other 100 neighbors and be able to enjoy bus service that runs every 15 minutes because the number of riders justified it.

  182. John on Forest
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    Ed,

    Keep hitting them hard, buddy. I think your questions for the candidates are excellent.

  183. egpenet
    Posted June 30, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Locked and loaded.

  184. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    John,
    I can’t agree with your reasoning. Bus service, or any type of mass transit for that reason, is feasible only in densely populated areas. It is not economically efficient in non-urban areas. There are more than twice as many township residents as there are people living in the city of Ypsilanti. It is not equitable for the people living in the cornfields to pay twice the amount for bus service, collectively, than those persons who live in a community where bus service is available. No, I don’t think it would be good to have even twice a day bus routes to and from the cornfields. We bought our homes in a community where we knew there was no bus service, and we have alternative means of transportation. A few buses a day would not eliminate our need to depend on those alternate means of transportation. We can’t afford to pay for a service that we neither receive nor desire.

  185. Mark H.
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    My neighbor, John on Forest writes above that “The key to effective and responsible governing is to use good listening skills to gather lists of options – potential solutions – to each problem or issue. The next step is to develop lists of pros and cons for each option, and to investigate interactions of potential solutions with other issues. Next one should lay out all the possible solutions next to each other so they can be compared and ranked. From this process the best, even if not good, solution to a problem can be selected.”

    I agree. The failure of city leaders – Council, two mayors in a row, and the upper levels of city staff too — to follow that process over time is why Ypsilanti now has tens of millions of debt for the failed state capitalist project called “Water Street.” Consequently, I favor a real change in city leadership. When no investor is willing to put cash into a development is supposed to make money, it’s a signal that the plan is flawed; yet our leaders ignored that clear signal of the market and bet the city’s future on Water Street. Time for a change.

  186. Glen S.
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    EoS: YOU may live “out in the cornfields,” but there are many other parts of Ypsi Township (especially in the North and East) that are every bit as densely-populated as the City, and therefore, where public transportation is both practical and necessary. This is also true of many parts of Pittsfield, Superior, etc. Likewise, since many City residents depend on public transit to get to and from jobs in the townships – those businesses (and the townships) benefit that way, as well.

    Consequently, your suggestion that plans for a County-wide or regional millage are somehow just a scheme to subsidize the City doesn’t really hold.

    Likewise, you suggest the townships don’t need public transit because, as you put it (ironically) “we have alternative means of transportation” — by which, I assume you mean passenger cars, trucks and SUVS. So then, I guess you’re saying there are no seniors, physically disabled, or low-income people in the townships without either access to a car and/or the ability to drive?

    It is important to realize that one of the many benefits of having a public transit system like AATA is that, along with regularly-scheduled routes, they also provide “dial-a-ride”-type services that cater to these special-needs populations. As our population (especially in Michigan) continues to age rapidly, I’m certain that such services will be ever-more in demand – in urban, suburban and even rural areas.

  187. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Glen,

    One size doesn’t fit all. AATA is cost prohibitive to the majority of the township. We can provide for special needs in a far better, more personalized, and significantly less costly manner than AATA. Small pockets of high density populations do not necessitate everyone in the county paying for services that they cannot use and do not desire.

  188. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Edge of the Sprawl: “AATA is cost prohibitive to the majority of the township.”
    Majority? Is that an assumption?

  189. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    No.

  190. Glen S.
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Mark H: I’m sure there are many things we all can agree we wish had gone differently regarding Water Street. However, I find your contention that the project was the result of a “failure” of recent City leadership to be entirely off the mark.

    Amid the constant carping about Water Street, it seems amazing to me that nobody ever seems to ever ask any questions, such as:

    – As Ypsilanti’s heavy industries and other commercial property base (and their tax revenues) began to decline dramatically during the late 1970s and early 80s, why didn’t the City’s then-leaders do more to re-develop and market these properties, and to re-invigorate Ypsilanti’s declining tax base?

    – Where was THEIR plan to help Ypsilanti re-tool itself from a (relatively) resource-rich City based on industrial taxes — to one coping with sharply reduced (in real dollars) tax revenues, and a mostly service-based economy?

    – Why did THEY not see that having so much severely under-utilized land — including 38 acres of prime, riverfront property adjacent to downtown sitting mostly idle, blighted and contaminated; and generating less than $100K in annual tax revenue — was a major drag on the city, and a major roadblock to re-developing downtown?

    Mark, I’m not sure when you came to Ypsilanti, but when I came here in the mid-1980s, many of the City’s tax-generating heavy industries were closing one-by-one; and downtown, with its many vacant storefronts, was considered by many people to be a seedy, somewhat dangerous place that was best avoided. Meanwhile, our streets, sidewalks and other basic infrastructure was in shambles… Despite this, there seemed to be no City plan to stimulate downtown re-development, little attention was paid to maintaining critical infrastructure, and there seemed to be no strategy for redeveloping abandoned and weed-strewn industrial sites, etc.

    As the situation grew more bleak, voters back then decided it was “time for a change,” and over the course of just a few election cycles, implemented a new City Charter and almost completely turned over their elected leadership.

    Since then, downtown has begun and continues to make a remarkable come-back; Significant new developments have turned formerly vacant properties into viable tax- and job-generating enterprises; The vast majority of our City streets and sidewalks have been replaced and/or improved; City staffing levels have been reduced dramatically to reflect our new financial realities, and, YES — the City decided to embark on a major initiative to re-develop the Water Street site, in an attempt to stimulate much-needed economic activity, boost tax revenues, and further foster its ongoing downtown resurgence.

    Again, there is no question that Water Street has not yet worked out the way any of us had hoped. The reasons for this are complex, and, some of them were probably within the City’s control — while many others were not.

    However, I also know that when this project began, many of those who are now the project’s harshest critics were among its biggest boosters. And… I suspect, if it had NOT been undertaken, many of those same folks would be criticizing the City’s lack of initiative as a “failure” of leadership.

  191. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    Wow- That’s the most incredible spin job I ever heard about the city of Ypsi. There’s been so much positive happening it’s a wonder we’re not all out of breath considering all the ongoing downtown resurgence!???

    By the way, what essential services have been funded by DDA grants?

    Again, what are you doing to convince current city leaders to eliminate non-essentials?

  192. Posted July 1, 2008 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    EoS wrote:
    >> By the way, what essential services have been funded by DDA grants?

    Well, there is the over one-half million dollar elevator! I guess when the City pool closes, kids can come downtown and ride the air-conditioned elevator to beat the heat.

    http://ypsinews.com/index.php/200801-political-cartoon-january-24-2008/

    – Steve

  193. Glen S.
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    EoS: You can call it “spin” if you like, but, like a lot of other people, I was around here back then and remember what things were really like — and just how much things have improved in recent years.

    I’m not suggesting that recent City leaders have done everything right, nor am I suggesting they should not be subject to some critical analysis.

    However, I also don’t think that past City leaders — including one who is currently running for City Council — should be given a “free pass” for their failure to deal with major City issues, or for passing them on to current residents and taxpayers.

  194. egpenet
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Yawn!

    Just three questions … candidates, or anyone who’ll listen …

    What’s the vision? What’s the plan? How do we get there from here?

    What’s the vision? What’s the plan? How to we get there from here?

    What’s the vision? What’s the plan? How do we get there from here?

    Certainly NOT by playing the old “Who shot John?” game. Boooooring! Water under the bridge, folks.

    Time for magic markers, foam core boards and tennis shoes … hit the streets with …

    What’s the vision? What’s the plan? How do we get there from here?

  195. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Glen,
    Why the hell should we listen to anything more you have to say? You hid behind Farmer’s skirts, egging her on, because your little group knew what was best for the city. Without even letting the citizen’s have a say in the issue, you risked their money and bought $15.74M in contaminated property that will cost an additional $13M to clean up. This wonderful riverfront is the depository for Ann Arbor’s sewage whenever there is a heavy rain. Exactly how many tax dollars would have to be lost for you to consider it to be a failure? How much more will it take till your appetite for taking money out of other people’s pockets can be sated? Not content with just sucking the city residents dry, you’re now extending your reach into the surrounding townships in the county. Enough already – your vision is flawed. Let someone else clean up the mess that you and your friends passed on to current residents and taxpayers. Please stop telling us how much better the city is now that they have a nearly $39M bill for land that produces no revenue currently, nor is likely to in the forseeable future, since the tax rate is the highest in the county, and there is plenty of undeveloped, uncontaminated land a mile down the road at half the tax rate.

  196. Glen S.
    Posted July 1, 2008 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    egpenet: “Water under the bridge, etc.” … So, you’re suggesting that a former elected official’s past track-record and leadership style is not an appropriate way to gauge his or her potential as a future leader?

  197. Posted July 2, 2008 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Glen S.

    No. I think what Ed was saying (I know he’ll correct me if I’m wrong) is that the past concerning Water Street, is water under the bridge. Ed doesn’t want to keep crying over that spilled milk. Neither do I. There isn’t a thing we can do to change the past. What IS important is to understand where we are going into the future. What is our vision for the future? Do we have plans for the future? What is the road map to the future we envision?

  198. Posted July 2, 2008 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    EoS,

    Your $39M figure assumes more money will be spent (isn’t the current debt a little more than $15M?). But don’t you advocate doing nothing more with Water Street?

  199. Posted July 2, 2008 at 1:01 am | Permalink

    JoF,

    The $39 million number comes from the City as to what they estimate they will need to spend in taxpayer financing to get the $100 million they need to pay the debt back. But the more money they borrow, the higher the value they need in final development.

    As it is right now, the City has paid over $500,000 an acre for what you see today. Making it some of the most expensive real estate in all of S.E. Michigan. And that is before you add in the cost of clean-up.

    If you just leave it as it is, the city says they spend $50,000 a year to secure the property and mow.

    – Steve

  200. Posted July 2, 2008 at 2:20 am | Permalink

    Dirtgrain asked about the ADA and sidewalks:
    >> Steve, did you blog about this at the time? I searched
    >> and found nothing. Did you let us all know about it at
    >> the time? I don’t remember seeing any articles about it
    >> back then.

    I wrote emails to City Council, the City manager, DPW director, and City Attorneys. I spoke at numerous City Council meetings on the matter and I had personal conversations with the former Mayor and council members about the issues of ADA and sidewalks.

    Some things we were effective in bringing about changes. We stopped the practice of the city ripping out the original historic stone side walks. Yet still 1,000s of feet of original stone sidewalk were lost before they changed their mind and would allow homeowners to keep their old sidewalks.

    But no one wanted to listen about ADA and curb cuts. Their engineers and consultants told them they were doing everything OK. That was too bad, because it will end up costing the city millions of dollars to go back and fix and redo the curb cuts.

    To this day, no one has explained why the engineers and consultants that approved the plans were not held accountable and made to pay for their mistakes. Why were more tax dollars through CDBG funds directed to fix the problem curb cuts and why were the same firms that caused the problem re-hired to oversee the project ro redo the curb cuts. Doesn’t make sense.

    The CDBG money should be going to the Pool and Freighthouse, not to sidewalk do-overs.

    – Steve

  201. nearby
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 4:09 am | Permalink

    EOS:
    ——
    I can’t agree with your reasoning. Bus service, or any type of mass transit for that reason, is feasible only in densely populated areas. It is not economically efficient in non-urban areas. There are more than twice as many township residents as there are people living in the city of Ypsilanti. It is not equitable for the people living in the cornfields to pay twice the amount for bus service, collectively, than those persons
    ——

    I think you are very unaware both of where your Township boundaries start and stop and both the makeup and the density of the populations…….

    There is a very large portion of the township that is block-by-block houses of retired folks, as well as high-density apts. All low income.

    We in the city would appreciate it if you would both support and properly fund support for these members of your group.

    Thank you;

    your city neighbors.

  202. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    I would like to hear from some of our city’s leaders on this subject of curb cuts. Did they ever acknowledge the mistake? Did they apologize to the people of Ypsilanti?

  203. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Nearby,

    I’m well aware of the Township boundaries. Sad fact is, we could purchase a reliable used vehicle for every low income family in the township for less than it would cost AATA to provide bus service throughout the Township. However, I’m not advocating for this option. Last time I checked, there was no right of the individual to receive heavily subsidized public transportation options. In case you haven’t already noticed, social*sm doesn’t work.

    John,

    I don’t recall ever saying that the city should do nothing with Water Street. You bought the property – it’s yours. I’ve said that you never should have gone into real estate speculation with the public dollar. And I do think you should be very careful about dumping additional tax dollars into marketing and cleanup of a property that has substantial obstacles for a business to locate there and make a profit. So I do think it’s important that candidates for city government should spell out exactly what they intend to do with the Water Street “project” and to encourage the residents of the city not to vote for any candidate who doesn’t have a rational plan that they are willing to share with all the taxpayers prior to gaining office.

  204. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Mark,
    I agree with your filter in this instance. Social*sm is a dirty word.

  205. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Glenn:

    JoF read me correctly.

    Going forward … What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    Anyone?

    All that water streeeet money has floated down the river and is creating a home for an algae mat in the middle of Lake Erie.

    What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    Pete Murdock knows how State and County government works. He understands budgets. He knows you can’t plan a streets and sewers project and not put aside maintenance funds. He can also adapt, as can anyone, to changing times and circumstances.

  206. Posted July 2, 2008 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Ed,

    And yet, does Pete have a vision? Does he have a plan? Where will he take us from here?

  207. Posted July 2, 2008 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    It still sounds to me like EoS and Steve might be advocating walking away from Water Street. They say “as it is now we owe $15M” $50,000/year would take over 200 years to add up to the additional tens of millions of dollars needed to market and clean up the site. The site, they say is unmarketable. Why do I keep hearing conflicting arguments from them about this?

  208. Glen S.
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    egpenet: The idea that Pete is the “man with a plan” on infrastructure is laughable. After his three terms as Mayor, our streets were in such terrible shape that many residents had to dodge giant potholes just to navigate in their own neighborhoods, and the condition of many of our sidewalks and public parking lots, etc. was a disgrace.

    After he left office, it took a special bond initiative (which he adamantly opposed), and four years of construction headaches just to get us back up to relatively “first world” standards. Consequently, we are all still paying on the bonds for the work that was necessary because of Pete’s failure to adequately maintain basic infrastructure — which is, frankly, one of the most fundamental responsibilities of local government.

  209. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    JoF:

    None of the candidates, those seated and those seeking seats, have expressed a strong vision other than to get Water Street off square three … which is a given.

    The economy and state finances as they are, I can only (rightly or wrongly) assume the majority of candidates appear focused on the upcoming elections and hopes that the spigots will start running once again.

    Rod Johnson has promised to go after new business and get non-tax paying properties onto the tax rolls. That’s great.

    GlennS:

    Pete’s reluctance years ago was in some part based on the fact that going out on a limb with no future budget dollars for maintennace and all of the other factors associated with building infrastructure could be sustained without going into massive debt. Now, here we are. Read your tax bill.

  210. Glen S.
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    egpenet: I think you’re missing my point. The reason the tax burden for this project is so large is because magnitude of the work that was necessary was so enormous. If Pete had implemented a plan for routine maintenance — fixing a few streets each year as funds allowed — we wouldn’t have ended up in the situation where nearly ALL of the city’s residential streets were in critical condition at the same time.

    Likewise, you describe his opposition to the road project as not wanting to “go out on a limb?” But what, then, was the alternative? Was the plan to continue to ignore the problem until our local streets deteriorated to the point they became impassable?

  211. Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Dirtgrain wrote:
    >> I would like to hear from some of our city’s leaders on this subject of curb cuts.
    >> Did they ever acknowledge the mistake?
    >> Did they apologize to the people of Ypsilanti?

    1. Not yet
    2. Nope

    And you should be asking a third question. Why are the engineers and consultants that approved the curb cut plans are they not responsible for fixing those curb cuts rather than bilking more money out of the taxpayers of Ypsilanti.

    Wait if the engineers, consultants, and city officials were held to pay for the curb cut redo, it would mean they were to blame for screwing it up the first time. But what is the city saying, “We didn’t do anything wrong, it was Lansing’s fault because their ADA guidelines were wrong.”

    Why were all these experts that got over $1 million in consulting fees, trusting a single document from Lansing when the issue is a federal law and there are entire course books and week long seminars about ADA compliance plus the Feds have huge libraries of compliance documents to use.

    But then again, they never thought they did anything wrong in Water Street (that was the fault of the greedy developers and the economy), or City Finances (that was Lansing’s fault too) or with $100,000 payout to Dennis Barger (the stripper pole made me do it), or all of the settlements with former employees.

    But I do see some positive changes. Regarding the mess over the first round RFQ for a Water Street broker, after April McGrath took over when the old planner was forced out. April stood up at Council and instead of blaming anyone she said one simple thing.

    April said, “We could’ve of done better and here is what we are going to do.” She then laid out her plan and she did exactly what she said she was going to do.

    Seriously, it almost made me cry.

    No finger pointing, no excuses. A simple recognition that it could have been better and a straight forward declaration that it will be better and that she is accepting responsibility going forward.

    That was a pretty cool day at City Hall.

    – Steve

  212. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    How is it that our state government came to have the wrong information on guidelines for curb cuts? How is it, if that is true, that we lost the lawsuit? Do you think that the engineers puposefully misled on this issue–that they knew the state guidelines were wrong? Is it standard practice to build solely based on state guidelines?

  213. Posted July 2, 2008 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Regarding Water Street: When the project was first sold to the citizens, the previous administration in 2000 said the cost to the taxpayers would be between 3 and 5 million. What has been spent so far is $25 million and the City is now estimating $39 million to get the project off the ground.

    Regarding Road Bond. The City would have never gotten the road bond passed had they been honest with the citizens about the true costs.

    The City said this was an $18 million project. But that was a lie. It was really a $38 million project. They knew all along that they were not including the water main work.

    Right after the road bond passed, YCUA was at City Council asking for water bonds and had a plan already drafted up for a $20 million water replacement and instead of asking the voters to vote on this new tax, they decided to sneak it on the water bill as part of a stunning 80% surcharge.

    This was a $20 million tax that the voters did not get to vote on. It is the equivalent of a nearly 6 mill increase in property taxes. Add the 4+ mills for the road bond and this was a 10 mill increase in taxes.

    Had the city asked for a 10 mill increase, what in effect was a 40% increase in the current taxes to pay for roads and water mains, it would have never passed. But they knew that so instead of being honest with taxpayers, they cooked up this scheme hoping no one would noticed. You just got your property taxes this week, and Water bills are due out shortly. We notice every time those bills arrive in our mailbox.

    This water surcharge is another reason it is so hard to attract businesses and residents to the community. We have the highest taxes in the region and the highest water rates in the region.

    The highest vacancy rate in downtown Ypsilanti was during the Farmer administration around 1998-2000. At the same time the Michigan economy was booming. They rolled the dice on water Street and left the city with a massive $20 million debt and climbing. They city has to pay back more than just the bonds, there are other loans and grants that have to be paid back if development fails to reach certain levels.

    At the same time there was a nearly 200% turn over in staff and except for the city manager every department manager either quit or was fired.

    The City has known for 5 years that Visteon was leaving. What have they done. The only plan I have seen is to cave on property taxes costing us nearly $800,000 a year. Oh, and the City fathers asked Visteon to give the city the land.

    What are you nuts! Why would the citizens of Ypsilanti take on the responsibility for another brownfield. Don’t even get me started about how the city failed to secure Water Street and thus the copper thief’s stole 10’s of thousands of dollars of material from every building on the property. Yet the city is paying $50,000 a year to maintain and secure Water Street. Now the City wants to take on responsibility for Visteon.

    Yet they still don’t want to take responsibility for any of the missteps, always blame the other guy, never admit a mistake, and keep running hoping no one will notice.

    The City needs to go through a 12 step program and quit spending money like there is a never ending supply on the Credit card. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

    This mess with Water Street and deceit over Water bonds and surcharge, high employee turnover, lawsuits and much more was all done in the last 13 years and now those same folks are asking us to return to council and vote in new council members that support the status quo and the platform, “we did nothing wrong.”

    Yeah, right.

    – Steve

  214. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Glenn:

    Read Steve’s post (above). I am NOT defending Mr. Murdock, except to say that he was fully aware of the street re-do implications (water mains, etc. and other costs not projected in the state consultations). Streets were being patched as best as we could afford WITHOUT a major hike. It was NOT the time, IMHO, and the handwriting was on the wall concerning the direction of the federal, state and local economies. There is $0 left in the budget for real maintenance today, and after one or two winters and the usual necessary YCUA repairs that are neeeded on occasion, we’ll be right back to square one.

    Notice the curbs around town that are deteriorating, especially along Huron. There was no money in the budget for curbs, so that state told me, when they did Huron. Oh, well.

    Yu can’t go year by year. You have to have a long range plan, a vision, and a budget that takes you there in line with the best guesses on the economy. And you gotta have reserves, more than less, these days. Once qwe start dipping into the reserves for watwr street and the roads … deep doo-doo.

    Case in point: Now comes Mr. Hawkins with a request for more funds. No suprises with Mr. Hawkins. It’s been straight talk from the beginning. His plans, vision and projections are right out there. And what he and his staff have done deserves our every effort to meet his needs to serve our kids.

  215. Posted July 2, 2008 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Dirtgrain asked:

    >> How is it that our state government came to have the wrong information on guidelines for curb cuts?

    I don’t know, the City apparently depended on a document from the state for guidelines on curb cuts. But again, this is a federal not state law, they should have not depended on the Lansing’s interpretation of the law. They should have gone to the DOJ. Moreover, the Center for Independent Living and Paralyzed Veterans of America both came to the city DURING the road construction to tell them they were doing the curb cuts wrong and even offered to help them design them to meet the ADA requirements.

    CIL and PVA were suing Ann Arbor during the Ypsi Road project. It was in the papers, we all read it. That should have been a wake-up call for the City and their engineers to make sure they were following ADA guidelines.

    According to the attorneys for the CIL and PVA, the City ignored their offers to help, so once the project was finished they sued.

    >> How is it, if that is true, that we lost the lawsuit?

    The City didn’t lose the lawsuit, they settled before it got to court. Then instead of spending general fund money, the city hatched a scheme to divert CDBG money to pay for the curb cuts. Money that could have and should have gone to the freighthouse and pool

    >> Do you think that the engineers purposefully misled on this issue–that they knew the state guidelines were wrong?

    We don’t know since the case was settled, we don’t know what the million dollar consultants knew and didn’t know. There were apparently 100’s of emails back and forth between the city and the engineers, it would have been interesting to see what the city knew and when they knew it.

    >> Is it standard practice to build solely based on state guidelines?

    No.

    Hope this helps,

    – Steve

  216. Posted July 2, 2008 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    OK, so, I wasn’t here during the Murdock administration. What types of things did he do as mayor? What were his accomplishments? What failings did he have? I forget how many terms he said he had (I know it’s on his campaign literature; but, the actual number doesn’t matter to this question, so I’m running over to look it up right now.). Why did he stop being mayor back then? Was he defeated in an election? If so, by whom? Or did he decide not to run again?

    From everything I can gather on this blog by his supporters he did great things for the city. However, I keep getting these inklings that that isn’t the whole story.

  217. Posted July 2, 2008 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    You keep going on about the failings of our city governors with regard to Water Street. Yet, a fair number of them are not even involved any more. Mayor Farmer is no longer our mayor. I don’t remember for sure when Filipiac came on the scene; but, he’s not running for reelection. Robb was not on council then either. Several in our city planning department at the time are no longer with the city, as well as city assistant manager.

    You can ask all these people no longer with us to admit they made some mistakes; but, will it do us any good? MISTAKES MADE ON WATER STREET ARE IN THE PAST. We ALL should be focused on solutions for the future. What are the current plans? Steve, what holes do you see in the current plans that we should be paying attention to. Tell us now, not two or three years from now, looking backwards.

  218. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    John,

    The current mayor was strongly endorsed by Mayor Farmer. Let’s hope the mistakes in the past are not supplemented by more mistakes in the future. What happens two or three years from now is entirely dependent on who gets elected in November (and those who remain on council). Steve isn’t running – ask the candidates and the council members.

  219. Posted July 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    EoS,

    A strong endorsement by someone means a person will make the same mistakes as the endorser may have made in the past?

    The very fact of human nature is that we will from time to time make a mistake. Has Steve never been wrong? Did Mayor Murdock ever not make a mistake?

    I’ve asked the candidates those questions, or more accurately, egpenet has. But, Steve seems to have all the answers, so doesn’t asking him also make sense?

    Today’s elections are not about who might have made mistakes in the past. They are about who has the best qualifications to make future progress on all the issues that face the city.

  220. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    JoF:

    To be clear, I have not asked any of the candidates if they have ever made a mistake, or former office holders if they regret making some decisions while in office.

    All I am asking from any of them at the moment is: What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    If you think the immediate future will be rosie … then jump on GM (GM) which closed at $9.99 or Ford (F), which closed below $5.00 today. That’s what the Mott family in Flint did during the Depression.

    Maybe the City should buy Ford and drag their butts back into the City limits. (I’m afraid, actually, that holders of Ford and GM common stock may go the way of Enron. I’d get out now, IMHO.)

  221. Posted July 2, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    Ed,

    Yes, what you asked is what I was talking about. I want to know the same things you want to know.

    BTW Enron collapsed under wholly different conditions than the challenges facing the domestic auto companies. Sure they are facing difficult times; but, a potential stock holder might ask the very same questions of those companies, before buying their stock. What is their vision, plan, and where are they going?

  222. Posted July 2, 2008 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    JoF,

    You asked a great question when you asked “what holes do you see in the current plans that we should be paying attention to.”

    John, have you seen a plan recently. There is no plan. So if they don’t have a plan, quit spending money.

    We can’t spend any more money on the project until we have a developer and a plan.

    Mayor Schreiber is suggesting the City borrow $750,000 more to clean up buildings with the hope that developers that currently can’t see opportunity, will see opportunity if the buildings are gone.

    Really, someone that is going to invest $100 million in Water Street is not going to be stymied because a building has mold growing on the floor or the roof has collapsed in another.

    If we had unlimited dollars and a way to recover those costs paid for though taxpayer financing, maybe this could work. But the city is not even tracking those costs, much less figured out how to recover them upon development.

    The city is not even tracking how much they are spending on water street going forward. We have to know how much of our general fund is going to Water Street

    Borrowing and spending more money just puts us further behind with a new $3/4 of a million dollar debt and 5 years before those new payments will be due.

    Want to really improve the site, take the fence down that the city has spent nearly $20,000 renting over the last 4 years. That is right, they are still renting the thing at $400 a month.

    City says there are problems in doing that because they have to secure the contaminated areas. That should be a hint on how bad things are over there. Because, before the city bought the property, there were businesses and people living there. Now things are so bad, they are trying to figure out how to fence off hot spots. Yet nothing has changed except the city now owns the property.

    Then bomb the place with wild flower seeds and sunflowers and the like. It hides much of the mess, is colorful and is a natural way to start some of the clean-up.

    If there is any money to be spent, spend it along the river line to create a walkway and connector from Michigan Ave to Water works park. That will help with security because people can see into the property and it helps start the foundation for the redevelopment with a focus on the best asset, the river.

    Regarding your other post. I have been wrong lots of times. Difference is I will admit it, pick myself up, dust myself off, and then figure out what went wrong and try not to repeat the same mistake. I learn way more from my failures than from my successes.

    The old mayor thought they did nothing wrong in Water Street. The current mayor says they did nothing wrong with the Housing Commission.

    The worst thing you can do is to elect someone that can’t recognize mistakes. If they can’t see mistakes, they also can’t see opportunities.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  223. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    JoF:

    The circumstances are different,true, but the result is $0 equity. If they survive, but it back. If they go into receivership, kiss your common stock goodbye. Why wait?

  224. Brackache
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    If it’s possible to help clean up the water street site by removing contaminated dirt, I volunteer my meager shoveling skills on available weekends. Would that help?

  225. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Steve.

    You said. The highest vacancy rate in downtown Ypsilanti was during the Farmer administration around 1998-2000.

    Farmer was mayor from 1995 until 2006.

    Can you explain why you chose those dates, rather than compare vacancy rates when she took office and when she left?

    You also assume that voters wouldn’t have approved the street millage if they’d known the cost of water/sewage upgrade. A major reason I voted for millage was I was told at a town hall meeting that water/sewage upgrades would be made at the same time. I asked the question because I didn’t want to pay to have the streets repaved and the city was coordinating with YUCA to have the water/sewage replaced at the same time.

    And, really? Businesses aren’t locating here because of the water bills? What kind of businesses?

    I have to admit, I don’t have the time to track down every accusation of mismanagement you make. Maybe that’s your strategy. Attack. Overwhelm. Keep the opposition in defense mode.

    I do know that whenever I either have personal knowledge of something or have taken the time to track down the facts, I find that you’re most often telling us half the story, through careful word choice and omissions, which seems to be a deliberate attempt to misconstrue things to paint your opponents in the worst possible light.

    I know this is usually you’re cue to talk about something else, but can you answer the question of why you chose to highlight “sometime around 1998-2000 of Farmer’s tenure?

  226. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    I supported the street program AND the sewer thing. I suspect (do not know for sure) that prior administrations balked at a big street project knowing that this water deal was in the works for a number of years as YCUA and Detroit were working on this expansion. Why tear up a new streeet a year or two to do the mains. And I, too, knew the cost. But, what the hey. If my neighbors also supported it, it would be done. They did. And it was.

    Did any of us bother to consult the oracle in the caves under Frog Island? Don’t think so. I didn’t.

    And so the worm turns and we are trapped with beautiful streets we can’t afford to pay for and even use because gasoline is at $4.11 per gallon. They DO look nice. And there’s water every day. (Small blessings.)

  227. Posted July 2, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    When I moved here in 1999 and was looking at investing in Downtown, Realtors told us that the vacancy rate in Ypsilanti was at an all time high. So that is why I chose that date.

    Even today we are still over 20% and by some estimates nearly 25% vacancy rate. That is huge.

    In 2000 the former administration was pushing for Water Street while at the same time pushing for the Road Bond as the salvation to our our economic woes. Had we not bungled Water Street and burdened the citizens with nearly $36 million in debt for Water and Roads, we would be in much better financial shape.

    We could have done one of these projects and not teetering on the edge of insolvency. But our fearless leaders decided to take on both and increase our debt load by an astounding $53 million dollars. They were spending money on the company credit card like a convention goer on a junket in a D.C. hotel.

    As far as cost of water, look at Visteon if you want a clear example of a company driven out by the higher rates. According to an article in the Ann Arbor News, I think it was in 2003, Visteon was using nearly 1 million gallons a day. They invested heavily in water recovery systems and cut that usage in half.

    The response from the city and YCUA was to raise rates. The reason given at City Council by Larry Thomas at YCUA, he said one of the reasons they were asking for a rate increase was because Visteon was using less water so YCUA was generating less revenue.

    Is this great, if you come up with ways to save water, the response from YCUA is to raise rates.

    While water was not the only reason, it was a strong influencer.

    By simply moving what they had in the City to the Township, they cut their water bill by 63%. The Township does have a surcharge as well. When you are using 1/2 million gallons a day, 63% lower water costs is a huge savings.

    Also lets get the facts straight, there were not upgrades to sewer, the $20 million bonds which was in addition to the $16 million Road bonds was to upgrade water mains only.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  228. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I said “mains.” BTW … it was really cool to see some of the exposed old drains and such on some of the streets that were excavated.

  229. Posted July 2, 2008 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Ed, I’m not making a buy OR sell recommendation on GM or F. But I do think Ford (I’m closer to facts on this company vs GM) has a chance to pull through, depending on whether or not other factors unforeseen come into play.

  230. Posted July 2, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    How much would paths along the river cost? What would really be the benefit of them? Will they help the city out of their financial crisis, even is some small way?

    So, your plan is to do nothing on Water Street, except a path and get rid of the fence and nothing on anything else. Boy! I’ll vote for that!

    Now, I will grant you that borrowing another 750,000 does sound (at least the way you put it) to be a bad idea. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t advocate doing nothing at all though.

    As far as current plans are concerned, I know and you know that there is activity taking place on negotiating with St Joe, EMU, and WCC on bus funding. A lot of hard work has gone into developing a 2 year budget that is balanced, giving us some breathing room, time wise, to work on more long term solutions. Many options for regional cooperation are being pursued. A marketing company has been retained for Water Street – which I think is a far better option than pretending the property doesn’t even exist.

  231. elviscostello
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Steve,
    Are you really making the claim that high water rates is the cause of the Visteon Plant closing? “As far as cost of water, look at Visteon if you want a clear example of a company driven out by the higher rates.” As a matter of fact, last year, the only Visteon/ACH plant to turn a profit was the Ypsilanti Plant. I find it a large large stretch to say that water rates were the deciding factor in the closing of a plant that had been largely constructed in the 1930’s.

  232. Marion
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

    ElvisCostello – Steve’s realtor, who happens to be from Kentucky, assured him that was the case.

  233. Pete Murdock
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    Oh Glen, I guess I can’t let you recreate your own history. I was Mayor from 1982 to 1989. During those years we had an annual street paving program as well as a maintenance program, we also established the revolving fund for the sidewalk replacement program and instituted a street lighting improvement program, our utility YCUA was upgrading some water and sewer lines every year and we set aside money for grant matches for the Huron River Corridor Park improvements including Frog Island, Riverside, Pen Paper and the Water Street and the Waterworks Park Connector. After I left office there was no local street paving program for a decade precipitating the road conditions that you talk about and the crisis that generated the street bond issue in 1991 – twelve years after I was mayor. Other infrastructure needs also seem to have been neglected. We tried to do what we could with what we had. What we didn’t do is reach for the City’s credit card (now nearly maxed out) every time someone wanted a project done or borrow $ 16 million to speculate in a real estate deal with no partner and little ability to pay it back or sink a million dollars into “prettying up” City Hall while maintaining it’s operational dysfunctionality and energy inefficiencies.

    As you were only fifteen when I became mayor ,I suspect your recollection may have been of the nineties not the eighties or your sources of information are leading you astray.

  234. egpenet
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    I tried to tell them, sir, but I didn’t have the dates myself.

  235. John Gawlas
    Posted July 2, 2008 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    The comment regarding the water rate and its effect on Visteon were a curious revelation.

    Had the city asked for a 10 mill increase, what in effect was a 40% increase in the current taxes to pay for roads and water mains, it would have never passed. But they knew that so instead of being honest with taxpayers, they cooked up this scheme hoping no one would noticed. You just got your property taxes this week, and Water bills are due out shortly. We notice every time those bills arrive in our mailbox.

    This water surcharge is another reason it is so hard to attract businesses and residents to the community. We have the highest taxes in the region and the highest water rates in the region.

    I have just given a cursory review of the following document from the SEMCOG website: Water and Sewer Rate Analysis prepared for Southeast Michigan Consortium for Water Quality by Plante & Moran, PLLC (Spring 2004)

    http://www.semcog.org/WorkArea/showcontent.aspx?id=1022

    Add 26% which would be the increase of the surcharge from 54% to 80% in August of 2004 (since the report was compiled in early 2004).

  236. Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:02 am | Permalink

    Elvis,

    Go back and re-read what I wrote.

    “While water was not the only reason, it was a strong influencer.”

    Ease of working with the Township was another reason they moved to the Township, so were lower personal property taxes. All of these were major reasons for the move to Rawsonville.

    – Steve

  237. Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    OK, I don’t get it.

    YCUA and the city determined that the water mains needed replacing. Did they not need replacement?

    The argument was that if we repaved our roads, we’d have to tear them up again to replace the aging water mains. Clearly if the existing water mains would not last the lifespan of a newly repaved road, then they did need replacing. Roads have a longevity akin to a dog, perhaps a cat. If the water mains were only going to last the lifespan of a mouse, then they clearly needed replacing.

  238. Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Steve,

    I thought the main reason for Visteon to move the Ypsilanti operations to Rawsonville, was because that plant could accommodate the Ypsilanti plant’s operations and that the Ypsilanti plant could not have accommodated the Rawsonville operations.

  239. Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    No John,

    I didn’t say do nothing. I said quit dumping more taxpayer money into the property until we can secure a developer and a plan.

    Every moment of time should be spent in marketing the property and securing a developer. The City also needs to track the time and money they spend and account for their time.

    The City could create a path to connect Michigan Ave to Water Works park for less than $50,000. We could have used some of the money they diverted from Water Street to build an elevator.

    The reason for the path is more eyes and ears on the property and make part of the property productive for very little cost.

    In the mean time, we need to keep working with the Broker, they hired a Broker not a marketing firm, though I am underwhelmed with the Broker so far. I have a prospect that is interested in some property along Spring Street. I have called the Broker twice to get price and background info. Not a single returned call. I met the Broker at a City Council meeting, gave them a card, said I was interested in the property. Still no return calls.

    If the Broker won’t return phone calls for a property they represent for a private company in Ypsilanti, I wonder how good of a job they will do representing the City in Ypsilanti at Water Street?

    – Steve

  240. Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Steve,

    You said we could have used $50,000 from the money spent on the elevator to build a connector path.

    That of course has nothing to do with what we should do now.

    Yes, I agree that market, market, market the property is what we need to do.

  241. John Gawlas
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Federal General Revenue Sharing (GRS) provided funds to recipient governments using a weighted formula for the distribution based on population that also awarded extra funds if a locality’s per capita income was low and if its tax revenues were high relative to local income (a relation known as tax effort). It was begun by President Nixon in 1972 and ran for fourteen years and encompassed a total of $85 billion distribution to state and local governments.

    I do not have figures related to Ypsilanti’s federal share during the time but did come across a budget reference for Highland Park MI (17,000 population). In 1982, Highland Park received $477,000 in the GRS distribution — I can only speculate that Ypsilanti would have received something in that neighborhood.

    Federal revenue sharing was eliminated in 1986 in combination with the Federal Tax Reform Act under President Reagan. At that time, there was much concern and discussion about the implications for state and local governments since it represented in Michigan between 6-10 percent of total county general fund revenue.

  242. Edge of the Sprawl
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    What exactly are you saying in your last post Mr. Gawlas. Did you vote to jack up Ypsilanti City Taxes in order to qualify for a program using Federal tax dollars that was eliminated in 1986?

  243. John Gawlas
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    EoS –
    I was trying to put into some context Pete’s assertion that during 1982-1989 the City was repaving roads, assembling match dollars for state park grants and the like. To ignore what would have been close to 1/2 million annually in federal revenue and to imply that today’s administration is not accomplishing the same without bonding for the capital projects is hardly an honest portrayal of superior fiscal management.

    The impact of this loss of federal funding to local governments would have started to affect the budget in a significant way starting with Mayor Clyde King’s tenure. It was becoming even more apparent during the subsequent administration of Mike Homel that the budget was getting squeezed and capital investment was curtailed. There was only quantifiable understanding of this situation once city manager Koryzno conducted the first 5-year financial projection showing where revenue and expenditures were leading us.

    I don’t necessarily understand your question, but no, Ypsilanti City Council did not jack up tax rates to qualify for federal funding.

  244. Posted July 3, 2008 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Who are Clyde King and Mike Homel?

  245. Posted July 3, 2008 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    EoS,

    You are right, Mr. Gawlas’ post didn’t make mush sense. Maybe they had a plan where several folks were going to make different post by different proxies and the posts got out of order. Maybe when those other posts happen, it will make sense.

    Or maybe Mr. Gawlas is saying the reason that he voted for all those tax increases in the last 12 years was because of the cuts the feds made in 1986.

    Wait, wasn’t Peter Murdock mayor in 1986? Maybe Mr. Gawlas is blaming Pete for the loss of all those millions of FRS dollars back in 1986.

    I like how they blame Reagan for cutting FRS sort of glossing over the fact the Dems controlled the House in 1986 and Mr. Democrat Tip O’Neill was Speaker of the House when Federeal Revenue Sharing was eliminated.

    Cheers!

    – Steve

  246. Posted July 3, 2008 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    JoF wrote:

    >> Who are Clyde King and Mike Homel?

    Former Mayors. King was 89-93 and Homel 93-95.

    John, didn’t you live in Ypsi back then?

    – Steve

  247. Retired UAW
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    G Sard

    I too was here in the 1980’s and as a UAW member I know how hard Mayor Murdock worked with Ford Motor Company and the UAW to keep the plant and its tax base and jobs here in Ypsilanti. And in spite of the deindustrialization trends in Michigan, his efforts helped to keep Ford here for another twenty-five years. We who worked at the plant appreciate the efforts that were made by Mayor Murdock in preserving our jobs. The question to ask of the current leadership that you support, is – after knowing for five years that Ford Motor Company, now ACH, was definitely closing, what have they been doing to replace those jobs and tax base. Shouldn’t that be a top priority.

    Retired Auto Worker

  248. Glen S.
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Pete: You’re right – I was only 15 when you were first elected Mayor. However, When I came to Ypsilanti (in 1988), I was 21 – and you were serving your third term.

    In fairness, I have to agree with you that neither Mayor King nor Mayor Homel did much to maintain our local streets, etc., either – so in retrospect, I shouldn’t have laid all of the blame for our crumbling infrastructure on you.

    However, once things became so bad that it clear to nearly everyone that something HAD to be done – you lead the opposition to the road bond proposal. So, again, I’ll ask – what did you propose to do, instead?

    There is no question that the cost of rebuilding streets, sewers, etc, citywide has placed an added burden on already strapped taxpayers and ratepayers. However, I thought it was the right thing to do then, and I continue to feel that way.

    Unlike many other older communities in our area that continue to face both falling revenues and ever-larger bills for replacing and repairing their failing infrastructure, we in Ypsilanti are in much better shape on that front – and will be for some time to come. So, at least among our many other challenges, fixing nearly all of our streets and water lines is not among them.

    I think those who championed the road bond campaign back then showed real vision – and real LEADERSHIP – in telling the voters some difficult truths, and in offering them a detailed and comprehensive long-range plan.

    In the end, the voters said “Yes,” and…. as even egpenet pointed out, “They DO look nice. And there’s water every day. (Small blessings.)”

  249. Posted July 3, 2008 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    Steve,

    We moved from Ohio to Ypsilanti in December 1991. In 1992-1996 I was working long hours. My first interest in local politics was during the repaving of Forest Ave in 1994 or 1995. 1995-1996 is when I truly became interested in local politics when we were experiencing a lot of gang related crime in our neighborhood. My wife and I were very involved in community meetings over the new architecture for Prospect Park. We advocated the removal of the North parking lot were a lot of drug trades routinely went down. Marlena picked out the new play ground equipment.

    Out of the Prospect Park project, we became deeply involved in reviving the East Side Neighborhood Association from a decade long sleep.

    When we moved to Ypsilanti, downtown was a very seedy place with very high vacancy rates. Crime in the city was high. We drove on deteriorating and sometimes dilapidated roads.

    The first mayor of Ypsilanti I knew the name of was Cheryl Farmer. I remember I was dissatisfied with the former mayor, but I didn’t remember his name until now.

    The sea change that has occurred in Ypsilanti since I’ve moved here is more than remarkable. I am no longer fearful for my family, no matter where we go in Ypsilanti. I proudly tell people where I live; whereas, a decade and half ago, all I could do was nod when people commented on Ypsilanti negatively.

    There is no doubt that the City today faces some large challenges. But, Ypsilanti is better positioned today to meet those challenges than it would have been in the mid-1990’s.

    This personal history is why I asked, yesterday, what was Pete’s mayoral administration like? I wasn’t here when he was mayor. I don’t know what he did as mayor, both right and wrong. I don’t know why King succeeded him. I don’t know anything really about him, except what he has recently published in his campaign literature.

  250. Posted July 3, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Small correction: Marlena helped, along with a couple other individuals, to pick out the play ground equipment for Prospect Park.

  251. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 3, 2008 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Boy. You folks talk a lot when I’m gone. Not sure where to begin, so I’ll just pick up where I left off with:

    Steve.

    Thanks for the frank response on realtors and sources.

    Sorry for getting my facts wrong, I tend to mentally lump water and sewage together, which may explain my frequent bouts of dysentery.

    See you all on another post.

  252. Posted July 3, 2008 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    Ol E, welcome back. Did you get to go any place fun?

    – Steve

  253. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 12:03 am | Permalink

    I know. What’s it been? 24 hours? Cleaning, grocery shopping, airports, visitors. In any case, I’m done. Can we take the holiday off? See you at the parade?

  254. Posted July 4, 2008 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    Ol’ E,

    You bet, glad you are back home. See you at the Parade.

    – Steve

  255. rodneyn
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    I returned as an Ypsilanti resident and homeowner after the road bond passed. Had I been here, I would’ve opposed the city’s plan to do all of the streets nearly at the same time. Bonding to pay for street improvements is a goos strategy, but the city’s accelerated paving plan made little practical sense from an oversight and quality control perspective. Also, all of our beautiful streets will fail at the same time, instead of gradually. For those reasons, I understand why an experienced former Mayor might’ve opposed the plan.

  256. rodneyn
    Posted July 4, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    “good” not “goos” – sorry.

  257. Posted July 4, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Rodneyn,

    What would you have proposed as the alternative?

  258. Interested Observer
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    What happened to the idea of the City of Ypsilanti simply dissolving itself, forcing a merger with Ypsilanti Township? Presumably the combined entity would then become a city thereafter (immediately or after a while).

  259. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 5, 2008 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Interested. I’d looked into it a while back and even contacted someone from the Citizens Research Council of MI (www.crcmich.org).

    Everything I found said the Mich Constitution doesn’t allow it. The closest thing a city can get is receivership, which is ugly and temporary.

    If anyone knows otherwise, I’d be interested, as well.

  260. applejack
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    this thread has veered wildly from the original topic, but I like egpenet’s question to the candidates: What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    and I haven’t seen much of an answer from any of them yet, so why don’t we give them some suggestions? I’ll reiterate that I’m new to the area, but if I were running for office here my platform would have two planks:
    first, my ‘Strong Cities’ initiative which is code for ‘allow annexation/facilitate mergers’, I’d pursue that at both the state and local level;
    the second plank would be ‘Make Ypsi Walkable’ or something to that effect. michigan ave downtown should be reduced to one lane in each direction with the outer lanes turned into parking (and the current parking spots turned into wider sidewalks or bike lanes). It may seem counterintuitive at first, but slowing down traffic is a good thing for a lot of reasons. I would even propose closing michigan ave to cars every sunday, or maybe farmers market day, between huron and hamilton.
    The other important part of having a walkable ypsi is public transportation, having a trolley that runs between depot town and downtown would be nice, and in the long-term putting in rail service between us and ann arbor is essential.
    I left out the water street issue, because honestly the best way to market that property is to continue to improve ypsilanti proper. The better ypsi looks the sooner a buyer will come.
    Those are my big ideas, would you vote for that?
    What would you put on your own campaign lit if you were running?

  261. egpenet
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Plank 1 – Invest locally … Buy locally. If it ain’t for sale here … faget it!

    Plank 2 – Mini connector buses between points in the city and those desireing such places in the township … no point stop at Sprawl’s house, know’whad’i’mean? The minis connect to the downtown depot. No more giant behemoths trying to turn into narrow streets.

    Plank 3 – Major commitment to key local projects on a do-or-die, go anywhereee, take anybody’s money, travel outta state, get on our knees and beg … but git’it’done and done fast basis: Water Street, Freighthouse, Rutherford Pool, Senior Center, Parks.

    Plank 4 – Drop all speed limits 5mph at least. Don’t give a hoot what MDOT says. For folks on foot and on bikes … SLO MEANS GO!

    Plank 5 – Give the members of the 20/20 group cheerleader sweaters with big “Y’s” on’em and get them to start every possible publicity about all the great things about the people, places and stuff to do in and around Ypsilanti. Include the great things in the Township, too. No one is telling the story. Include EMU. Shout it from the rooftops. Goal: Change perceptions by stating the facts.

    Plank 6 – No negative, backward-looking, nit-picky, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, anti-whomever media crap for one full year.
    We have building to do. You don’t like what’s going on or have a critical comment … take it to the individual yourself. Make idle and mean gossip a $50 fine or one night in the tank. Just … CUT IT OUT!

    Plank 7 – Vote for me. I would. (If I was running for something.) Too busy helping to get stuff done.

  262. egpenet
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Plank 8 – I won’t be at Council meetings. I will be on the road in Ferndale, Detroit, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and lobbying in Lansing to get businesses to Ypsilanti. (I WILL need some help with gas money.) So, while I’m gone, you’ll have to email me or blog here and I’ll respond. “And I won’t come back till it’s over over there!”

    That’s it.

  263. rodneyn
    Posted July 11, 2008 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    John on Forest –

    As I said, bonding for street improvements was a good idea, and received citywide support. The work program should’ve been phased in over a longer period of time (say 10 years to complete all streets). That way, the city could’ve maintained better oversight and quality control. While my own street was very well done, the side streets around me in Normal Park and the Woods Rd. neighborhood were not. There were (and remain) significant quality issues with the work (standing water, prematurely failing pavement, etc.). DPW staff and city engineers simply were stretched too thin to provide adequate oversight to catch problems while they were small.

    Some of the contractors hired for the project were contientious and thorough – others needed more hand-holding to be successful, and they didn’t get it.

  264. Posted July 12, 2008 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Rodneyn,

    None of us drives on ALL the streets, so I won’t dispute you that some may be sub-par. Those in my neighborhood and main trunk lines, I’ve been very happy with them.

    Whether your proposal would have been better or not (I’m not making a judgement either way), we should look at what we’ve got now and ask what do we do moving forward to maintain our streets? Perhaps a bond to fix those streets that you’ve noted are falling apart. Then those few streets would be in good shape still when some of the others start reaching their useful life.

  265. rodneyn
    Posted July 12, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    DPW appears to be doing a good job of proactively working to preserve streets. They have been all over Normal Park this summer filling the cracks in the pavement, which will extend its life.

    The reason for this discussion was not to fault DPW, it was to point out one reason why reasonable people, such as a certain Ward 3 candidate and former Mayor, might have opposed the original street bond plan.

  266. Posted July 12, 2008 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Was that Mr Murdock’s reason for opposing it? He wanted to stretch it out more than was proposed?

    Although such a stretch out of the project has some merits as you pointed out, Rodneyn, I recall that at the time it was proposed all of our streets were in pretty desperate need all at the same time. I even remember when the construction began, that I and many others were pretty impatient with the three year construction schedule. We drove on some really bad streets during those first two years, of course not even counting the ones that were under construction those first two years.

    I frankly don’t remember much about the opposition to the road bond project; so, I don’t know now how it was waged. I do remember the SCIT campaign were no one on SCIT was willing to give counter proposals. In fact if they had put into their campaign, the fact that a 4 mill rise in property taxes would be the alternative, I might have been able to evaluate that alternative and make choice. Given no other choice I voted a certain way.

    And my point here is that a certain Ward 3 candidate for city council has consistently been long on a list of experiences, with few results, and short on any action plans or solutions.

  267. Posted July 12, 2008 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    John,

    It is a bit disturbing to me that you keep moving from one side of the fence to the other. On one side, you are suggesting that no one criticize Water St, the City Income Tax proposal or other recent failures, but instead offer action plans.

    On the other side, you seem to be willing to make multiple attacks on Pete Murdock.

    I wonder if you are being facetious when you say,
    “a certain Ward 3 candidate for city council has consistently been long on a list of experiences, with few results, and short on any action plans or solutions.”

    I hope you will look at Pete’s website to get to know your neighbor better. VoteMurdock.com

    It helps with some specific action plans and solutions. Specifically, Pete was instrumental in developing or a regular volunteeer in setting up the following (as a short list):

    –The Ypsi Food Co-Op
    –Curbside Recycling
    –Eastside neighborhood association
    –Historic District
    –Revitalization of Depot Town

    I encourage you to reach out to Pete personally and discuss his action plans. I have spent hours talking with both candidates at this point–they both are open and honest and willing to share.

    I understand that you would like to hash out their action plans treating Mark’s blog as a public forum in a post purportedly about “annexing the township.” I encourage you to instead take some of the issues Ed mentioned and ask both Pete and Rod about them. I have, with very different results.

  268. nearby
    Posted July 12, 2008 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    I second or third the mention of slowing down Michigan.

    Even with the islands, which are great, it’s too much and too fast a traffic.

    It’s 25 through Saline. We can do that also.

  269. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Loosetea: I find it interesting that the accomplishments you cite as evidence of Pete’s
    readiness to serve on City Council all took place approximately 20 (or more) years ago.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread, the issues and challenges facing Ypsilanti have changed enormously in the 20 years since Pete was actively engaged in public service — as have the needs and expectations of its residents.

    Both candidates in this race have experience, but, clearly, Rod Johnson’s experience is
    much more up-to-date, and much more relevant to Ypsilanti’s present-day concerns.

    To give just two examples:

    — Rod was instrumental in establishing the Community Policing Action Council (COPAC) in 2003, and, since then, has continued to actively build relationships with the Ypsilanti Police and numerous neighborhood associations to foster better communication
    between YPD and the neighborhoods they serve. As public safety resources will likely be
    further stretched in coming years, such communication and coordination will be ever-
    more essential to prevent crime and maintain our quality of life. Rod’s recent experience
    working on these issues would be a tremendous asset on City Council.

    — As a member of the Planning Commission since 2000 (and Chair since 2005) Rod has
    led efforts to foster new business development in Ypsilanti – including several projects in
    Ward 3 that have put non-taxable properties back on the tax rolls, and are creating new
    jobs. In his role on Planning, he has consistently demonstrated a thorough understanding of complex zoning rules, a sensitivity to the needs and concerns of residents who might be impacted by new developments, and the creativity and flexiblty necessary to encourage new businesses to locate in Ypsilanti. Again, since so much of Ypsilanti’s potential hinges on our ability to foster smarter economic growth strategies, Rod would play an invaluable role in helping City Council make that happen.

  270. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Likewise… since you’ve thrown Pete’s URL into the fray, I might as well also go ahead and encourage Ward 3 voters to visit Rod’s website – Johnsonforward3 dot com – to learn more about Rod’s impressive record of service to the community.

  271. egpenet
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    What’s …

    … don’t stop, people.

  272. Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Glen,
    Thanks for the notes on Rod’s service. As I mentioned, Rod is an outstanding public servant.

    As to Pete’s service, I was responding directly to John’s assertion that Pete is “long on experience with few results,” not “accomplishments [I] cite as evidence of Pete’s readiness to serve on City Council.”

    For recent public service, I would remind you of a certain failed income tax proposal.

  273. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Loosetea,

    “Politics” is not the same as public service.

    Taking a stand on one particularly divisive issue is not the same as providing many years of service on organizations and committees designed to benefit the entire community.

  274. Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Glen,
    I have to disagree with you.

    –I don’t see recycling as a particularly divisive issue.
    –I find few people who find the establishment of the Historic District divisive.
    –I haven’t heard anyone bad mouth neighborhood associations.
    –I think that most, when pressed would support the Tenant’s Union.
    –It is hard to see a life spent helping bring affordable fresh produce locally as particularly divisive.
    –I guess you’re right in that a Union Steward could be seen as a divisive role.

  275. John on Forest
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Teaspout,

    Huh? I’ve visited Pete’s site several times. Like I said in the comment above, that you responded to, it is very long and yet incomplete on his past history. It is very short on visions/plans for the future.

    Of course you offer now a list of things to consider, that I was not aware of. They are only a list though, so, do you know more about his plans for:

    Food Coop. What is he suggesting that we do differently with it? Isn’t it running nicely as is?

    Curbside recycling: Is Pete suggesting expanding it or curtailing it?

    Historic East Side Neighborhood. I think it’s hardly appropriate for a candidate for council, or a current council member, to propose changes to a neighborhood association. If anything, he should be listening to it, not using city derived influence to change it.

    Historic District: Again, what changes is he proposing?

    Revitalization of Depot Town: Are you talking about the Thompson Block or something else? What are his proposals for increased vigor in DT?

    You said this to me: “It is a bit disturbing to me that you keep moving from one side of the fence to the other. On one side, you are suggesting that no one criticize Water St, the City Income Tax proposal or other recent failures, but instead offer action plans.

    On the other side, you seem to be willing to make multiple attacks on Pete Murdock.”

    There is no fence hopping here. I haven’t said criticism of Water Street, etc shouldn’t occur; but, I have consistently asked for alternatives to be proposed when criticism is leveled. It is very easy to say “I don’t like it” to ANYTHING. So what? If one doesn’t say WHY and WHAT to do different, then the criticism is empty of usefulness.

    I haven’t attacked Mr. Murdock. I have criticized him for being one to be negative about something but not offer alternatives.

    Case in point: SCIT. I asked Pete, face to face during that campaign what his solutions to the city budget were. I remember his response word for word because it was so striking to me:

    “It’s not my job to come up with solutions.” PM, late Oct or early Nov 2007.

  276. Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    John,

    I really do encourage you to speak to Pete about his ideas for the future. Let me attempt to elucidate some areas of Ed’s post that I think you might find enlightening if you do:

    “Plank 1 – Invest locally … Buy locally. If it ain’t for sale here … faget it!”

    I see Pete’s deep experience with the co-op and his developing plans for regional cooperation as being ideally suited to this cause.

    “Plank 2 – Mini connector buses between points in the city and those desireing such places in the township … “

    I would put my money on Pete here as the guy to make this happen. Do you realize that Pete and a group of volunteers used to drive their own vehicles around town to start curbside recycling? If this kind of innovative plan takes off, I like the chances of Pete (who can think outside the box) getting it done.

    “Plank 3 – Major commitment to key local projects on a do-or-die, go anywhereee, take anybody’s money, travel outta state, get on our knees and beg … but git’it’done and done fast basis: Water Street, Freighthouse, Rutherford Pool, Senior Center, Parks.”

    Here the key point to me is “git’it’done and done fast.” Pete actually has information on where each of these projects stand and can speak to them adequately. His grass roots organizing is more likely to be able to move the city forward than the “old guard elitism” that tends to scare volunteers away.

    “Plank 5 – Give the members of the 20/20 group cheerleader sweaters with big “Y’s” on’em and get them to start every possible publicity about all the great things about the people, places and stuff to do in and around Ypsilanti. Include the great things in the Township, too. No one is telling the story. Include EMU. Shout it from the rooftops. Goal: Change perceptions by stating the facts.”

    I don’t really know where Pete stands on this, but I do know that if he got behind it he might actually call or email me for help. I also know that I would not be contacted for assistance from many other sources. I think this goes back to Pete’s ideas (concrete ideas) of getting more NEW people involved.

    “Plank 6 – No negative, backward-looking, nit-picky, sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek, anti-whomever media crap for one full year.”

    I have never–in hours of discussion–heard Pete or members of his campaign badmouth Rod. On the other side, I have not had an interaction about the campaign with Rod’s crew that has not included a negative statement about Pete.

  277. mar on forest
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    anyone read today’s paper? The Ann Arbor Press? about this campaign and the candidates, in particular?

    teaspout-I think Mark is fully capable of deciding whether or not he minds current, vital issues being discussed on his blog.

    by the way, I think many people support local produce issues, and put a lot of effort into it. Every day. Right now. Even as we speak… Pete’s contribution was a good thing, but, you aren’t suggesting that as one of Pete’s accomplishments are you? An awful lot of people deserve credit for its present day success, and I think Pete would honor their contributions, wouldn’t he?

  278. Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Mar,
    In the way that I am sure that John did not intend to suggest that you and he were the pivotal folks in the revitalization of Prospect Park, I don’t expect that Pete who has spent a lifetime contributing hours and hours of his time to affordable, local produce, would ever suggest that he be given credit for the fruits (and vegetables) of his labors.

  279. John on Forest
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Hilarious.

    Pete doesn’t have a plan, but if someone else does, Pete’s the person to get it done.

  280. John on Forest
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Teaspout:

    Interesting that you would speculate on Pete’s adoption of Ed’s platform, but you haven’t responded to my question about what Pete proposes to do on these topics:

    –The Ypsi Food Co-Op
    –Curbside Recycling
    –Eastside neighborhood association
    –Historic District
    –Revitalization of Depot Town

  281. Posted July 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Two quick points of clarification and then I will stop with the attempt to make the comments on this post one of the “top scorers” for Mark’s comments section:

    1. I do not speak for Pete’s campaign, only as a citizen who has spent a great deal of time speaking with both candidates and trying to understand the issues at stake.

    2. Your assertion was that Pete is “long on experience with few results.”

    The list provided represents experiences where Pete with other volunteers has provided some outstanding results. I am glad you agree.

    Again the list was
    –The Ypsi Food Co-Op
    –Curbside Recycling
    –Eastside neighborhood association
    –Historic District
    –Revitalization of Depot Town

  282. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

    Teaspout,

    Recycling was indeed a “divisive issue” in 1993, when Pete ended up suing the City of Ypsilanti because he was denied a paid job heading up a new City recycling department — a job he, himself, helped create while a sitting Council member.

    From today’s Ann Arbor News:

    “Then a council member, Murdock sued the city, alleging the then-city manager had promised him a job leading the Environmental Services Department.

    “Murdock lost the case, appealed and lost again. The incident prompted a city charter amendment barring elected officials from holding city jobs until at least two years after leaving office.”

    (http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2008/07/ypsilanti_primary_could_affect.html#more)

    While some of his supporters are trying to cast Pete as a champion of many worthy causes, they also seem to be ignoring the other side of the story: Included in his “public service” is the fact that he sued the City (out of self-interest) not once, but TWICE — costing taxpayers untold dollars in staff time and legal expenses.

    I don’t know how long you’ve been in Ypsilanti, Teaspout, but those of us who were around back then remember how damaging all those negative headlines were for Ypsilanti’s reputation.

    Even today, the A2 News article described Pete as a “sometimes controversial figure…”

    It seems to me that what Ypsilanti needs more than ever is competent, experienced leadership, not a lighting-rod for controversy.

  283. egpenet
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I’d be happy is the candidates from any city ward picked up my planks and commented. But please do not ascribe my planks by inference to support anyone else.

    The candidates can get up on their own two legs and speak for themselves. (So far, none, no one, nothing, nada … from any candidate or incumbent. Your guess is as good as mine what is their plan, their vision going forward, and where we go from here?

    As for the in-effect programs mentioned …

    1 – Curbside recycling should be expanded to include all plastics and foams. Those in power need to find companies to take that stuff, when we can’t make re-use of it. The amount of non-returnables in the gutters and parks is intolerable.

    2 – The Food Co-op is doing fabulously and will only get better. There’s little the city needs to do or be involved in. The HDC recently approved more solar panels for the roof … a great idea! And the bakery is great. Despite the success and continued good health of the co-op … we still need a full-service grocery downtown. Dos Hermanos is fantastic, but id neither large enough nor does carry all the things we like about Whole Foods, Plum Market or Trader Joe’s.

    One residenr I know told me that if there was ONE good reason to move out of this town it’s the lack of a good grocery within the city limits. Neither Kroger’s is it.

    3 – As for CoPAC … galvanizing issues come and go, driving memberships and participation up and down over time. But the RNA is smokin! Can’t speak for the Eastside. And the RNA and NPNA are doing a few things together to put Heritage back into the heritage Festival.

    4 – HDC … alive and well and clearly and loudly supporting the efforts of the Planning Department, Building Department and the Planning and Zoning Boards to deal with the increased building activity in the city … yes … INCREASED. Ask anybody on the 20/20 for the numbers. The HDC has the best and most positive meetings in town, ask anybody. Don’t take my word.

    5 – Depot Town … folks there are working very hard with City and County support, as hard as the D.A.Y. downtowners are in downtown. The growth I cited above is part of it. The Friends of the Ypsilanti Freighthouse are working hard, Beal is making things happen … it’s what it takes, effort, sweat and time … and money. No one I know is sitting on their hands, ladies and gentlemen.

    And still … there is stillness in the Wards. So, I keep asking …

    What’s the plan? What’s the vision? And where do we go from here?

    Anyone?

    5 –

  284. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    I met Michael Bodary this afternoon. He is running for city council in Ward 2. He mentioned Water Street, the city income tax proposal and that our city is wasting money. As I had the scared look, I didn’t have time to ask him specific questions–but he gave me a pamphlet that doesn’t say anything about a platform, really. His website has little information: http://www.votebodary.com/

    I didn’t realize that the election was so close: August 5th. Holy crap. And we haven’t had any platforms, plans, agendas? Is that standard for city council elections?

  285. egpenet
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Yes, sadly.

  286. Posted July 13, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes, Mr. S. speaks of those bad old headline days when Mayor Homel muddled his way into obscurity as he and his henchmen pursued an agenda of disservice to Mr. Murdock. What ever motivation these people had to trash Pete is beyond my ability to reason why. Oh such pettiness. Little reward can ever be expected when you’re an former Ypsi city official. Even if you were as successful a one as Mr. Murdock was. His service was progressive and uncorrupted.
    We as citizens should be humbled that Pete would even consider putting himself back into the grime of Ypsi City politics. He brings to the city council table everything that is so sorely needed. Honesty, experience, integrity, leadership.
    Yet his detractors spew on him for defending himself from the harsh judgments of a mean and vindictive mindset.
    Pete deserved the recycling center management position, and was screwed out of it.
    Shameful it was, and shameful it is.

    Pete Murdock will get my vote, every time.

    John Delcamp

  287. rodneyn
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    This election is pretty simple, folks. Last year a bare majority (4-3) on Council voted to spend $20,000+ on a special election to put another drain in our wallets with a city income tax. That boondoggle should’ve been rejected at the Council vote, a fact the residents stated loudly by a 2:1 supermajority.

    Team A – Opposing the fiscally idiotic policy was a broad majority of residents that includes Lois Richardson, Michael Bodary, and Pete Murdock.

    Team B – Lined up in the leadership on the “we need more of your money” crowd was Megan Turf, John Gawlas, and Rod Johnson.

    If you voted “no” on November 6, 2007 against the city income tax, vote for “Team A.” If you want to see positive change in city leadership, vote “Team A.” If you want to send yet another message to our local elected leadership that “the same way we’ve always done things” is not good enough, vote “Team A.”

    If you really liked the city income tax idea and want more of the same quality of ideas to come from your city government, by all means vote “Team B.”

    See, simple as that.

  288. amused1
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    In my experience, nothing in politics is “simple”.

  289. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    rodneyn: Actually, it ISN’T that simple…

    As far as I know, none of the candidates currently running for City Council support the idea of bringing the CIT issue back. And, I know that Rod Johnson has stated specifically that he is absolutely opposed to bringing this issue back. Period.

    The truth is that, as much as some folks would like to re-run last year’s income tax election — this issue is now dead and buried. For the good of the community, we need to move beyond this issue and focus on the future, and on how we’re going to address Ypsilanti’s significant challenges.

    Ypsilanti voters are smarter than you give them credit for, rodneyn. I’m sure that, instead making their decision based on any particular issue or stand, they will carefully research each candidates’ total record of public service — and determine which candidate(s) are best equipped to meet our City’s future challenges.

  290. nearby
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    not to hijack the thread, as it is sort of mentioned about:

    RE: non-taxable properties going taxable: what happened to the print services guy from AA who was going to be moving ASAP into the catholic school office on Forest? It’s been ages, nothing new in there….

  291. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    John D.,

    So you’re saying that when an elected official, in the course of his or her duties, sets up a new City office or department, they somehow “deserve” to get a paid job heading up that new department, no questions asked? No posting the job, reviewing other resumes, or considering other candidates required?!

    I won’t even get into the many ways this is simply poor public policy — or how it violates the City Charter, State law, and most commonly-accepted ethical principles …

    You are certainly free to claim that those who opposed his getting the job were “mean and vindictive,” but, obviously, at least two local judges who reviewed his case disagreed with that assessment.

  292. Rod Johnson
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    The last time I had contact with Stuart Cerier,the owner of American Photo was May 7th when the planning commission adopted proposed master plan amendments which would allow the zoning changes approved by city council to go into effect. This, along with his previously approved sight plan, was his last city hurdle. Perhaps he’s having contractor issues. In any case, I’ll ask Murph, the city planner, for the latest specifics this on Monday and relay the news.

  293. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    So people are supposed to be angry about being asked to vote on the city income tax, and that is why they should vote out incumbents? I don’t follow that line.

    Lois Richardson, Michael Bodary, and Pete Murdock are all the same? Megan Turf, John Gawlas, and Rod Johnson are all the same? Oh well, I only have to decide Gawlas or Bodary. Do they both have mustaches?

    Which of the incumbents were responsible for Water Street? Now I’m losing my memory. Did Ypsilanti voters get to vote on any part of the Water Street investment (I’m pretty sure not–but it sure would have made sense to have a $20,000 election to have decided that one)?

  294. Mark H.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Somebody above objected to Pete Murdock on grounds that he was called “sometimes controversial” in the AA NEWS today. Who else has been called controversial? Martin Luther King and Bull Connor; King George III and George Washington. Pete filed a suit over an employment suit – so what? That was ages ago; he lost. Move on, already.

    And Rod Johnson, who is a very nice guy, is also a ‘sometimes controversial figure”. As head of the zoning board, he advocated allowing a business that rents storage units to open up on the South Side, and that was hotly opposed by residents there and voted down. Reasonable people on each side of that issue, but controversial. Likewise with Rod’s role as chair of COPAC and allowing EMU official Jim Vick, 18 months ago, to give an uncontested, one-sided account of the EMU-city government plan to close College Place. Why COPAC even allowed this to be on the agenda is still controversial and why Rod did not insist on looking into the other side of the issue before COPAC allowed Mr Vick to speak is equally controversial. But Rod is a fine person. Anyone who gets involved in public service will be ‘controversial’ from time to time, if they get anything done. For my judgement, Pete has a long record of getting a lot done for the city. He’s level headed and does his homework.

    The Mayor came by my house the other day urging us to vote for Rod; he claimed Rod would bring more business to the town. No plan for doing so was presented.

    A

  295. EoS
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    Looks like there is far more turmoil and nasty politics in the upcoming city election than in the township after all. The township is running a unified slate of candidates. Can’t see someone getting re-elected as supervisor when they don’t even have the support of the board.

    On the city side, I don’t see why anyone would be swayed by Mr. S’s recommendations. Look at the history of campaigns that he has worked on. It’s not a record of open, honest government where officials are receptive to the concerns of the average citizen. They just bring in new faces to try to get the same failed agenda through the back door, without letting the citizens have a say.

  296. Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    In Pete’s case, the job was a small token, for which he fulfilled his end of the “pledge” only to be betrayed. Little respect have I for the nasty people who were part of that betrayal!
    JD

  297. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    EoS: Considering your blatant anti-Ypsilanti stance, and your adamant opposition to public transportation, same-sex adoption, and host of other issues — I consider your repudiation of MY political opinions to be very high praise, indeed.

  298. Glen S.
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    John D.,

    A City job – with a salary paid for by taxpayers – is not a “token” to be awarded for political purposes.

    The reason local and state governments (as well as publicly-held corporations) have well-defined hiring rules is to ensure that job applicants are treated fairly, that those hired are qualified, and that taxpayers (or stockholders) get their money’s-worth in terms of services they receive for payment.

    What Pete tried to do was circumvent those rules to get a job he claims was “promised” him by the then-City Manager. When the City Council (representing the voters) balked, he sued the City (taxpayers).

    A judge ultimately dismissed his case – so he appealed – and cost the City (taxpayers) still more in staff-time and legal expenses, only to have the Appeals Court dismiss his appeal, as well.

  299. egpenet
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    A logical assumption here …

    If we knew the plan, if we knew the vision, if we knew where we were going from here … and had some say at the ballot box … we, too, would have a unified and odorless election, despite the differences and attitudes.

    It’s the very variety and spectrum of people, ideas and degrees of tans in Ypsilanti that I love and respect.

    It’s the secrets, petty pickin’ and brown bags of BS assumotions that make me crazy.

    What’s the plan? What’s the vision (looking forward)? Where do we go from here?

    So far, all we have to show for progress on this thread in a severed unicorn head. OMG!

  300. egpenet
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    … assumptions …

  301. Ol' E Cross
    Posted July 13, 2008 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

    I would like to talk about the upcoming elections, but on a new thread without 300 posts that takes my poor connection so long to load and has little to do with the original post.

    Mark. How about it? Will you move us? Just an “elections are coming, have at it” post?

  302. EoS
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Glen S.,
    You sure do have a difficult time with the truth. Being opposed to a city-township merger becomes “a blatant anti-Ypsi stance”. Suggesting that it’s wrong for the entire county to pay for bus service between Ypsi and Ann Arbor is “adamant opposition to public transportation”. And not wanting children to be adopted by unmarried partners is a subject for scorn?

    Again, I suggest that you pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. He doesn’t play nice and hasn’t for a long time.

  303. Posted July 14, 2008 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    To answer nearby’s question,

    _what happened to the print services guy from AA who was going to be moving ASAP into the catholic school office on Forest? It’s been ages, nothing new in there…._

    At this point, I believe that he has all of his permits except for those coming from the County Drain Commissioner. If I recall his timeline, he was waiting on the Drain permits and on his closing date on the property.

  304. rodneyn
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    The upcoming election choice is simple:

    Megan Turf, John Gawlas, and Rod Johnson were all pro-income tax leaders. Mr. Gawlas was the key vote in a one-vote majority on Council which caused the city to waste $20,000+ on a special election to turn it down flat. Mr. Johnson (as an eight-year member of the Planning Commission and now Chairman of that body) has been a leader in the creation of the Water Street debacle, along with Mr. Gawlas’ lockstep vote on Council.

    Water Street and a city income tax. These are the great ideas that the team of Turf, Gawlas, and Johnson have come up with for our fair city. If you like these ideas and want more of the same, by all means cast your ballot accordingly.

    For the large plurality of voters (remember, the city income tax failed in all precincts), if you want positive change in Ypsilanti city government please vote on August 8th for your next City Council rep – either Lois Richardson (ward 1), Michael Bodary (ward 2), or Pete Murdock (ward 3).

  305. Glen S.
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    Wow, rodneyn, I’ve got to say – your campaign “tactics” would surely make Karl Rove proud.

    First, you begin with a complete fabrication: “Megan Turf, John Gawlas, and Rod Johnson were all pro-income tax leaders.”

    Then, you deceptively twist facts: “Mr. Gawlas was the key vote in a one-vote majority …” “Mr. Johnson … has been a leader in the creation of …”

    Next, you go for the classic “scare-monger” routine – “INCOME TAX! INCOME TAX!! INCOME TAX!!!” – intended to distract readers from considering actual issues, or examining each candidate’s individual record.

    Finally, you vastly over-simplify the election, boiling it down to one ridiculous premise: “If you favor truth, justice and the American way… you should vote THIS way…”

    As I said before, rodneyn, Ypsilanti voters are much smarter than you give them credit for.

    I’m sure that in the end, they will examine each candidate based on his or her individual merits, and choose the candidate(s) they feel are best-equipped to represent them.

  306. Mark H.
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    Glen S —

    I am confused. Are you disputing anything beyond the TONE of rodneyn’s comment? Do you actually dispute his factual statements – namely, that Megan, Rod, and John were all on the pro-city income tax side, while their opponents in this council election — Lois, Pete and Michael – were all opposed to the income tax proposal?

    Aren’t those positions a matter of public record?

    What are you objecting to?

    Are you disputing that John voted to put the city tax proposal on the ballot, as part of a 4-3 majority? He did.

    Are you disputing that the Water Street fiasco is relevant to the city’s fiscal problems? Are you suggesting that voters should NOT think about Water Street as we decide who to vote for? Are you suggesting that Council members who supported the Water Street project from day one should not have that record discussed when they are up for reelection?

    Was Rod Johnson the head of the planning board when Water Street was pushed forward? Did he have a role in the creation of the Water Street disaster? I don’t know but someone here has suggested this was so. I gotta check. You, Glen, as a supporter of Rod could provide FACTS, relevant to Rod and Water Street. I know Rod’s on the zoning board now, right? Different board. What were there roles in Water Street?. I gotta check.

    But facts should be more relevant, Glen, to how voters decide to vote than shrill objections to legitimate topics being discussed.

    Water St & the failed city tax plan are indeed highly relevant to local government in Ypsilanti in 2008! But I do understand why those public figures most identified with those two failed projects would prefer those subjects be buried rather than discussed. It’s hard to dress up total failure and make it look like even a partial success. Due diligence was NOT excercised by city leaders as they indebted the city for $15 million pursing Water Street fantasies.

    At least my neighbor Pete Murdock when he was in office two decades ago helped keep the city’s debt to manageable levels! That can’t be said for the current city leaders.

  307. egpenet
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Here’s my take …

    I do not doubt for a moment thta in the pre-Water Street days, there were many discussions, debates, e-mails, phone calls and preliminary votes tallied as the Planning Department made their pitches to the City Manager, Staff and then Council.

    I MYSELF supported Water Street.

    Did I for one moment think to challenge the staff reports or assumptions? I did not. I made the decision to support my city. If the city said this was a risk worth taking … I was all for it.

    Did any of us know how quickly the economy would turn? Did any of us suspect how quickly Ford and GM management were running the companies into the ground? Did anyone suspect that our banking system was about to crumble? Or the housing market burst? Or commercial loan market about to crash?

    I think not.

    Irrational exhuberance? Perhaps.

    I supported Water Street. I still do. It will work because it has to be made to work. And it will.

    On taxes … divided issue. City needs funds to do its thing. We voted NO as an electorate to the income tax. End of issue? No. More money is needed, and it will come in some form of taxation or bond or levy due to the continuing deterioration of the economy. That will be the sales rationale … it’s the e onomy stupid, as Clinton so elegantly phrased it. Count on it.

    So, here we are. And so far I have not heard any candidate in any part of the city rspond to: What’s the plan? What’s the vision? Where do we go from here?

    And this thread continues to pull taffy.

  308. Dirtgrain
    Posted July 14, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    Again, what was so wrong about coming up with an alternative tax proposal and letting the voters decide if they wanted it? I don’t understand how it at all makes sense to use council members’ connections with the city income tax proposal as some sort of scarlet letter. It’s a base way to mislead voters, and it makes me less inclined to vote for Bodary. We found out that Ypsilantians responded to the “tax is bad” propaganda with a strong vote against the CIT. But how many of them knew what the CIT was all about–what it would actually do? Hell, I struggled on threads on this site for weeks trying to figure out which way I would vote–and I wasn’t that certain. I don’t think most Ypsilantians did as much digging (assumption, I know–but am I off on that?).

    It’s akin to Bush allowing the misconception that Iraq was behind 9/11 to exist. He never said it directly (saying much indirectly to mislead some to that conclusion), but he did nothing, as our president, to clear things up and inform the public. This is what the anti-CIT group did as well. They just let “tax is bad” resonate with voters, without trying to clarify misconceptions. And now they’re at it again: this council member was for the CIT, “tax is bad,” vote for _______. To hell with that bullshit dissembling crap. Man up and try the truth for a change. And for crying out loud, listen to egpenet on this one–give us a damn plan!

    Yah, Water Street is an issue with me. I pretty much don’t want any city politician who plays real estate gambler with money our city–we–don’t have. It should be illegal for such decisions to be made without a vote. But again, how about a plan? How can I be asked to replace my council member when I don’t know what’s behind curtain number two, either?

    If only we could have a forum where candidates would answer questions–or something like Mark and others put together for the last election–where candidates were asked to answer key questions. Was there a thread recently about that? Is there any such forum coming?

  309. C2PO
    Posted June 6, 2014 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Over my dead body. Cities are for the week.

  310. Mr. X
    Posted June 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I suppose, if that’s where you work during the week, then, yes, they’re for the week.

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