Welcome to Blandsilanti

Last night, the Ypsi City Council met to, among other things, determine a course of action relative to the proposed Ypsitucky bluegrass festival. As I’m sure most of you know, there’s been a little bit of a hubbub over the name, which was proposed by the Depot Town CDC. Some think, given that the word “Ypsitucky” has historical roots as a pejorative directed at the poor, white factory-working transplants to Ypsilanti from Appalachia, it’s something that we shouldn’t dignify by building an event around. Others, myself included, feel as though, regardless of whatever residual baggage the word may still have leftover from the World War II era, it’s perfect for a festival celebrating bluegrass and other forms of American roots music. I’d even go so far as to say that using the term honors the contributions of those previously derided individuals from Kentucky who came here and contributed toward making this community what it is today.

I won’t belabor the point, but, as I’ve said here many times before, I, as someone from Kentucky, not only don’t find the “tucky” suffix in and of itself to be pejorative, but find the suggestion that it implies racism to be offensive in the extreme… And, yes, some folks here in the community did choose to play the race card. Back when all of this started, they said that the word was insulting toward people of Kentucky ancestry, to which I responded that I, as a person born in Kentucky, didn’t find it offensive at all. Then, when that argument fell apart, when no Kentuckians came forward to express outrage, the conversation shifted to race. That’s when we heard that the “tucky” suffix shouldn’t be used because it’s code for “no blacks allowed” or some such nonsense.

And, at this point, I’d like to share a short note from my friend Chuck Warpehoski, the head of the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. Chuck says, “My hometown in northern Wisconsin has a ‘Kintuck Day’ every summer. People there aren’t ashamed of the Kentucky heritage of the area.” (Maybe we should tell them that their event is racist.)

And, that’s what this is about. It’s not about race, but shame. This is about the well-meaning older people of Ypsilanti, having been talked down to for decades by their neighbors in Ann Arbor as intellectually inferior, not wanting to legitimize, let alone celebrate, that fact. They’ve no doubt heard people in Ann Arbor make offhand comments about Ypsitucky, and, as decent, good, bright people, it’s irked them. (Understandably so.) And now a group of young folks without that association is coming along and saying that they don’t mind it. Not only don’t they mind it, but they think it would be a good hook for promoting an awesome event. I get all that. I can see how there would be a conflict between those two groups. And that’s where the debate should have taken place. But some folks, not willing to debate the facts, decided to play the race card, and now there’s no possibility for civil discussion. And that’s what irks me. I can have a civil debate about the word, but I can’t tolerate people telling me that, by my saying I’m for it, I’m supporting something tantamount to a Klan rally. As someone in a biracial family, I find that more than just a little bit offensive.

So, I’m done with it. I refuse to participate in a system where people, in order to get their way, create bigger problems for us all to deal with. And let me be clear on this. There is a race problem in Ypsilanti that deserves to be dealt with. It has nothing, however, to do with the fact that some of us have dared to speak the Y-word. And, with all due respect to the men and women serving on the city’s Human Relations Committee, I can think of dozens of better things for them to be calling special meetings on than whether or not someone wants to use the suffix “tucky.” Take, for example, the fact that an unarmed black man was shot three times in the back by a plainclothes white cop during a poorly executed drug bust. That’s something that really should have been looked at more closely, but I guess it didn’t rise to the level of the invocation of “Ypsitucky.”

But let’s put all that aside for the moment and get to the heart of the matter. Let’s talk about the battle between generations taking place here in our city, which is the larger story. Here, to set the stage, is a letter from an anonymous reader.

….The very future of Ypsi is at stake. There’s a big generational shift happening in the City and I don’t know if young people are going to stick around when the establish folks in town aren’t making room at the table. You’ve got the hysteria that the “established” people who oppose the Ypsitucky Jamboree are stirring up, and the way the Council is approaching their budget battles, and the constant nay saying and criticism over Water Street (which is partly justified but is beginning to cross the line again), the fight over the commuter rail stop, etc. Why put up with that and challenge the old guard on issues like that? It’s getting to the point where it’s not worth it for young folks (especially with jobs getting scarcer and scarcer) and they may, and likely will, just move on to somewhere else where they can be part of a civil community where they’ll be welcomed and encouraged to participate without so much drama and in a forgiving setting. If you’ve got a degree and enjoy your profession and also want to be a part of a community, there are a lot of places you could be other than Ypsi and it would be pretty easy to pull up stakes and do so. I know of 2 key young people in the city who are seriously considering getting out of dodge because of all the drama as of late. There’s the normal churn of population, but I’m seeing signs of something different than churn with young professionals.

It’s getting to the point that a town that prides itself on its community spirit is tearing itself apart (and the folks from Ann Arbor are watching all the dogs fight over the scraps). Just as the Downtown and other places are getting to the tipping point of being vital, vibrant places, the old guard doesn’t seem to like elements of what they see happening and they systematically work to dismember the parts they don’t like, in turn unraveling the whole garment.

There are few places in SE Michigan that have all the physical and social pieces to enter the new economy (what ever it will be) as confidently as Ypsi can. It’s going to be a tough slog for the next few years but when things recover there will be few places better situated than Ypsi. I just hope there’s a town left by then…

And, as for folks in Ann Arbor watching us Ypsilantians fight over scraps, did you happen to see the comments following the story in the Ann Arbor News about all of this? Here are a few of my favorites.

righta2: this is a la race card playing / what a bunch of jerks / did it ever enter their minds that people around here would like a festival? / thanks for the newest nail in the coffin of ypsi…tucky

alangoldsmit: The first nail in the coffin of the future of Ypsilanti is right. Hookers roam Michigan Avenue, crack houses dot the city, GM is pulling out, empty store fronts litter the downtown, the streets are falling apart, there isn’t enough funding to cover the AATA bus services, police staffing is being cut, you have a council member who bashes gays and gets off without a hitch, and the people who are young and innovative and on the cutting edge who try to make the city hip and a destination place are treated like criminals by the same political hacks that have nearly destroyed the city. / Human right commission? What a LAUGH! / The people who are trying to bring the city back from the dead deserve better.

donquixxote: Ypsitucky is certainly a title indicative of many of the people which have lived in Ypsilanti for the past 50 years. Hard working people from Kentucky and other Southern States who moved up North in the 1940-50’s to work in the auto and defense plants and make a better living. People who enriched the area with a feelings of hospitality and Southern culture. Having a music festival with that name sounds like “good business” to me. / I certainly hope the leadership of Ypsi. hasn’t become so vain and snobbish that it would disavow it’s heritage and history? Especially when Michigan is #1 in unemployment Nationally and needs every business dollar it can generate.

treetncartel: Truthfully, the people of Kentucky should be offended that they are associated with such a pathetic municipality. The connontation is a lot worse going that way. Kentucky has a lot more to offer the world than Ypsilanti.

And, as if that weren’t enough, I heard from someone yesterday that FOX News is talking about this. It’s becoming not just a local embarrassment, but a national one.

And, believe me when I tell you that stopping this event from happening isn’t going to make this issue go away. This is assuredly going to come back and bite the city in the ass. Instead of having a good, one-day event with a quirky name, what they’re going to get is a huge Ypsitucky cottage industry. Sure, the CDC will probably back down and change the name of the event (they’ve been given 45 days to do so by the Council, or risk losing their contract to maintain the city’s parks), but that sure as hell isn’t going to stop people from making shirts that say Ypsitucky, or otherwise promoting the horrid Y-word. And, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, I’ve already heard through the grapevine that people are planning to approach City Hall with pleas to change the name of the upcoming Wurst of Ypsilanti fundraiser for Rutherford Pool, claiming that “Worst” implies that there’s something bad about the city, thereby “making several of us feel sad.” And another group is researching Demetrius Ypsilanti, the hero of the Greek Civil War that our city is named after, and what he may or may not have done to the Turks. They seem to have reason to believe that he committed uncalled for acts of violence against the Turks, which, if true, could traumatize Turkish visitors in the future. Their objective seems to be to bring it in front of the Human Relations Commission that took on the offensive “tucky” suffix, asking for them to change the name of the city. To say that this has gone way too far, is a huge understatement. It’s like saying that apartments rented by infamous Ypsi landlord David Kircher sometimes lacked amenities.

With all that said, as I’ve mentioned before, I realize there is some subset of the anti-tucky contingent that really believe the term is hurtful to some. I feel for them. I truly do. I’m an empathetic guy. I also feel bad for my vegan friends who have to see people eating meat on public sidewalks, though, and the alcoholics who have to see a beerfest in their public park. But you can’t make everyone happy. You just can’t. And, when you try to, you get something so uninteresting that no one gives a damn about it.

Anyway, with all that said, here’s my suggestion. I say we have the event and call it the…

Blandsilanti Jamboree… “unoffensive to everyone since 2009!”

OK, I’ve got it out of my system now. I’m just tired of watching the leaders of this city that I love repeatedly stepping in to keep people with good ideas from acting on them… As for the Jamboree, I do think they should drop the Ypsitucky name, at least in their formal messaging. I think that’s the only solution there is at this point – have the CDC change the official name, with the understanding that those involved will use Ypsitucky when informally promoting the event. That solution may not make everyone happy, but I think it would get us out of this mess for the time being, allowing us to deal with the bigger generational issue at hand… And speaking of the big generational divide we’re seeing here, any ideas as to how we remedy it?

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  1. blah-but-lanti
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Part of the issue I believe arises from an awareness of the the surrounding areas (a local pot-smoking-conservative region in particular) pretensions that they area significantly different than regions 1 mile to the East. I can find street scum, violent halfway house members, homeless, and druggies being escorted by their social worker to the local bottle store for a hot dog with in 1 min walk of 1 million dollar penthouses in AA. THEIR locals tho are “colorful characters showcasing diversity”.

    Regardless of how you or I feel about a suffix, we live in the world, which has its own ideas about suffixes.

  2. Lisa
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Mark, you sound like a Republican opposing all this ‘PC bullshit’. See, you can find common ground with Republicans. I too feel like there has got to be a better way to spend our time, but I’m one of those people who just isn’t at all offended.

    And perhaps somebody could tell me where the fellow wearing the charming tee-shirt that said ‘Ypsitucky’ at the Corner Brewery tonight got it. He wasn’t young, and he wasn’t yuppie. Should have asked him where he got the shirt.

  3. Posted June 3, 2009 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking of making tshirts that say “I got lucky in Ypsitucky”

  4. jorj
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    So now City Council is strong arming the DTCDC to change the name or lose their contract, but pretending it has nothing to do with the name so they can’t get sued, right? So then, if the DTCDC changes the name because of this threat that has everything to do with the name but officially doesn’t, it’s THEM caving, not City Council being overbearing pricks and forcing a name change. Because all of a sudden it’s not about the name. Which is bullshit.

    I’d think it was good political maneuvering, but for how transparent it is.

    I think I hope the DTCDC finds a way to sue the city and keep both the contract AND the name. Failing that, keep the name and let the city screw up the parks like self-important numbnuts, and we’ll all move to the township and raise goats.

  5. Posted June 3, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure this whole thing has many subtle layers, like an onion.

    An onion that a bunch of old people are trying to forcibly shove up my butt for my own good somehow.

  6. dp in exile
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    Good rant, for the most part. As always, thank you Mark, for your perspective.

    There have been two occasions in the last week when I’ve driven into work and have noticed TV camera vans parked on Cross Street, in front of EMU. There were at least two stations camped out the last time I noticed this, so I went to the website of Channel 4 (WDIV – Detroit) and noticed the story on the “Y” word. I skipped over most of the “news report” and went straight for the reader comments… as expected the whole thing makes us look pretty silly.

    Our fair city is structurally bankrupt, so are the school districts.

    Water Street is an utter disaster and has been for years. Previous administrations seem not to have understood the due diligence process of acquiring industrial land or urban redevelopment, among other things.

    Institutional memory is a strange and foreign phrase with in our city’s municipal infrastructure. Municipal middle management has come, trained, and gone on to other things.

    We are a small town of about 5 square miles and maybe 19,000 people, the cliques are pretty rigid and intense in some ways.

    We blindly elect exclusively Democrats to local and state positions with no expectation of return on investment, or accountability, many even pull the lever and don’t vote for down ticket positions like judges and other “non-partisan” seats.

    We were lied into war with Iraq, our banking system accelerated the bankruptcy of the United States, our previous Vice President tortured in our names, and our state has gone to hell in a hand-basket with policies of institutional emaciation purposefully implemented under Engler.

    Now we pine on about Ypsitucky.

    Mark, you are right to point out the HRC could focus on a number of other issues, but they have not, and likely will not.

    Typing all of this reminds me of Mitch Albom’s article in Sports Illustrated from January, called “The Courage of Detroit”. I have left, come back, left again, and come back because this is home. At the end of the day I’d rather put my head down and get the job done right than complain and feel entitled to assistance.

    As a mobile educated person in his early 30s who was raised in Washtenaw County, I can say that my network of friends and classmates from where I grew up is almost larger in Chicago than here at home, that was a strange realization last time I went to visit friends. Those friends and classmates have mostly moved to places like Chicago, Portland, Madison, Boston, Raleigh, Austin and San Francisco. There is something to be said for quality of life, more than one job in your field at any given time, and a sense of community where suffixes seem to matter less than the quantity of good restaurants and public art.

    So it goes, life in the little city I love. I hope when this verbal storm passes, that we can tackle the serious economic issues that are before us with the same verbosity and intensity, but instead channeled positively.

  7. ageless
    Posted June 3, 2009 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    the generationak battle is going on in ann arbor too. check out the back and forth in concentrate over downtown development. apparently if you’re under 30 you’re a drunken blight on a2’s landscape.


  8. Posted June 4, 2009 at 1:00 am | Permalink

    I don’t usually comment on these issues because I am a business owner and the last thing I want to do is piss of my customers or my neighbors. I love Ypsilanti. I grew up in Ann Arbor, and moved here when I was 18. I bought my house here because it was within walking distance of the Cross Street Station. When I worked at the Cross Street Pete Murdock was the mayor. I never cared what people in Ann Arbor thought of me or this city. This is my home, and I love the community here. Even with all the bickering back and forth, I still think how great it is to be in an area where people are passionate about their city. You don’t find that in many places. I would much rather have a community fighting over these issues than to have a bunch of neighbors who didn’t care at all.

    That being said, my biggest concern is that the festival could get cancelled because of all the controversy. That would be a real disappointment for me both as a business owner who could use the foot traffic and as a resident who wants to have more activities that make Ypsilanti a destination. Personally I don’t care what the festival is called. I am a person who really doesn’t get offended easily, and I am probably not the most politically correct individual in town. I think too much politically correctness makes life boring. I would much rather laugh at myself and enjoy what I am doing than to over think how people are judging me.

    In one of the previous posts Brian Robb made the point that this was no longer about the name of the festival, but it has gone beyond that. I keep hearing people comment about how it is the younger generation against the old guard. I deal with both generations on a daily basis, and I respect them all. When you look at how the city was 30 years ago, you have to appreciate what the old guard did to make this a vibrant community. And now, when you look at the energy being built up in the downtown district with the younger group, it is a really exciting time.

    The negativity of late is becoming a real problem. I have been working since I opened my business to see Depot Town and Downtown work together more closely. I think a lot of the issues here are just a lack of communication. Maybe if the DAY and the DDA had been involved in approving the name, they would have accepted it and been willing to give it a try. I wasn’t involved in any of this, so maybe I am off base, but I think there are ways we can work through these things without having these huge blowouts. One of the things I try to drill into my employees is to pay attention to the customers. If they are busy, let the customer know that you are serving someone else, and that they will be right with them. That simple bit of effort lets the customer know that they aren’t being ignored, and they are usually happy to wait because you have shown that little bit of respect. Unfortunately it is hard to find people who understand that.

    I really hope that we can start working on bridging the gaps in our community and working together. I have always said that the parks are the key to joining Depot Town and Downtown together. We need to focus on events like this making Ypsilanti a destination. Not just for one small area, but for the entire city. The ban on new events was lifted when the DTCDC took over, if they lose this contract there is already talk of putting the ban back in place. That hurts all of us. We need to work on getting past this issue, finding common ground, and making this city the place we all want to live.

  9. BrianB
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    I suppose it’s just a matter of time before they shoot down the Ypsalami Cold Cut Festival too. Damn shame.

  10. BrianB
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 5:34 am | Permalink

    Or what about the Ypsipanty lingere festival? Our town has a funny name. We shouldn’t be acting like a six year old who cries to the teacher when classmates make fun of it. We should embrace it and exploit it for everything it’s worth. That is what proud people do. They own it and define it for themselves. These people are truly ashamed.

  11. Paul Schreiber
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    I wholeheartedly agree with Jim Karnopp’s comments above.

    At the city council meeting Tuesday night, the city attorney explained that the Depot Town Community Development Corporation is serving two functions: it is maintaining the publicly owned parks through an agreement with the city, and it is sponsoring a festival as a private enterprise. I believe that these two things should be kept separate. That’s why I voted against terminating the agreement with the DTCDC.

    I support hosting music festival in Riverside park and I will keep talking to the DTCDC and others to see that it happens.

    Paul Schreiber

  12. jean
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” —MLK jr.

    I just don’t see this as a generational issue. It’s a battle of the progressive against the fearful. I’m guessing there are folks of all ages on both sides of this issue. Now that I’ve entered middle life, people only refer to me as ‘young’ when I present an unconventional view of things. (I have found the fountain of youth!) I really had high hopes that Ypsi would expand on its ‘alternative’ reputation to become a bastion of the creatively maladjusted— leaving Ann Arbor to folks who can get really worked up over leaf pick-up and historic preservation with a capital ‘P’. From that great things– like Shadow Art Fair, Growing Hope, Dreamland, Beezies, the Ypsitucky Jamboree, etc. etc. could flow. That the HRC commission and City Council came together in a singular effort to squash your spirits is a sign that you have acquired too much cultural influence. You make the bureaucrats nervous. That’s a g-o-o-d thing. Here’s a hint: you now have real power to influence change. Funny feeling, eh? I say stop staring at your belly button and run with that. I would print those t-shirts— fast— while you have momentum (and press). I would like to see bluegrass busking and bbq break out all over Ypsilanti— a daily jamboree. Come on Ypsi—Don’t let me down.

  13. Posted June 4, 2009 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Let me give you this quote from President Barack Obama from his speech yesterday is Cairo:

    “There is so much fear, so much mistrust. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward.”

  14. Posted June 4, 2009 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    After thinking about it a few days and having heard all the arguments, I still blame the folks who had a problem with the word “Ypsitucky” for this whole mess, well-liked friends and neighbors though they be. I see it as their stubbornness, their divisiveness, their poutiness, their uncompromising, and their general shenanigans that are responsible. If you all hadn’t had a shit fit (pardon my language), we would have had a kick ass festival that would have improved our community without all this extra baggage you forced on everyone else. I can’t honestly say I won’t hold it against you on some level if you don’t knock it off and apologize. SO PLEASE KNOCK IT OFF!!!

  15. I*heart*ypsi
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    How about The Kentsilanti Jamboree? Better?

  16. NewToYpsi
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    Just bought house house in Ypsi last year… I personally don’t find the name insulting that is unless you think folks from Kentucky are lesser people in the first place. I think people should lighten up a bit about it and I also think to tie the management of the parks to the name is wrong. It’s strong arm intimidation if you ask me. The city council should grow up.

  17. Van
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    In the past thread on this subject Councilman Brian Robb wrote that the CDC purposely chose this name in order to divide the city. I’d like to call bullshit on that. They chose a name that resonated locally and spoke to the heritage of the region. They knew that some folks would protest. That’s true. But they did not pick the name in order to tear apart the city. To suggest as much is plain dumb.

  18. Curt Waugh
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    True story:

    I was ordering shoes or something over the phone a few years ago. The woman on the line asked for my particulars. When I told her the name of my city, she stopped and said with great exuberance, “Ypsilanti? That sound like a drinkin’ town!” We both laughed our asses off.

    Hey Tucky-haters: Our town has a funny name. A funny name that ROCKS!!! Leave us alone. And poor little people of color don’t need you to stick up for them. They are perfectly capable of sticking up for themselves.

  19. Posted June 4, 2009 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Call it the “Ypsilanti – Kentucky Bluegrass Festival”.

    Abbreviate at will.

  20. Mark H.
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    For what’s it worth, Mark: I’ve said, at too much length here, that the term ypsitucky has a multi-dimensional history and largely negative contemporary usage that makes it inevitably offensive and exclusionary to many people, but not all; and I’ve said that it was naive of the CDC not to anticipate a huge controversy, given that history and usage. But I didn’t call for the event to be cancelled, and I hope its organizers are smart enough to find a way out of this controversy and to hold a good event in Riverside Park. Wiser heads of broader contacts in the area would have found a better name that wouldn’t have been so divisive, in my opinion. The term ypsitucky absolutely has a racialized meaning in how it is used, just as the term ‘white trash’ does, and rarely is that meaning seen as positive. I say all this not to play a race card, but to argue that the issues are complex, and that no one perspective on it encompasses all others or is indisputably correct. I’ve not said or concluded that anyone involved in this dispute is a Racist. That i think the choice of name was boneheaded doesn’t mean I favor canceling the event or that its advocates are bigots. FWIW.

  21. rodneyn
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to seeing the redesigned festival posters for the “Ypsilanti Kentucky Bluegrass Festival” with creative use of strikethrough text for “lanti Ken” and underscore text for “tucky” – I have no doubt that they are already in the design phase.

    The DTCDC got everything it wanted from the Human Rights Committee, which was free publicity. After the HRC recommendation, they should’ve acted to change the name. It’s not too late to fix that tactical error folks. Regardless of whether you like or dislike “Ypsitucky” – it’s time to move ahead.

  22. Posted June 4, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    Is everything being italicized some kind of secret Ypsi blue blood code for being racist against Italians?

  23. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    I will try to kill the italics.

    Did it work?

  24. sb
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    Mayor Schrieber and Bill Nickels said they met with the majority of the CDC on Monday and they claim the CDC agreed to change the Ypsitucky name.

    Paul said 5pm on Tuesday a letter was sent to city hall, the CDC was keeping the Ypsitucky name. Paul was shocked the CDC changed their mind thinking he had an agreement.

    Something fucked up the deal between Monday night to Tuesday PM. The Mayor said one CDC board member not at the Monday meeting was Bill French.

    Apparently Bill “Fuck Ypsilanti, I do it my way” French was able to get the CDC to reverse their agreement with the mayor.

    Bill F. was the same guy who said a bar was not going to open in the Thompson building (he was fucking right there) and Bill F. is still pissed about the train stop.

    Bill F. said he wasn’t going open up the BBQ place in Depot Town as long as the train stop was on the west side.

    Bill, there is no fucking train, its a plan, they don’t have the money.

    Bill F. won’t give up on the train stop and Bill F. is going to fight over the Ypsitucky name until the Huron River flows north or Dave Kircher gets a pardon from the governor.

    Amazing what a guy with two properties and a couple of rentals can do in his one man “Murphys War” during the day and then leave town every night because the “property taxes are too fucking high to live in Ypsilanti.”

    Ah fuck, who cares any more, if you want something done in this town, just do it. Kircher and Romain learned that a long time ago. If you ask for permission someone will always bitch and fuck it up.

    A toast to Bill F., thanks for all you do for your adopted home of Ypsilanti and for never knowing when to quit.

  25. Glen S.
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I’ve only been a member of the Human Relations Commission for a few months, so I can’t address why the HRC did or didn’t choose to address any past issue. However, recently, when a group of citizens came forward with concerns about the name “Ypsitucky” the HRC decided to hold to invite the public to a special meeting, to give representatives of the DTCDC a chance to explain the thinking behind the decision, as well as to hear from residents who wanted to express their views on both sides of the issue.

    To be honest, going into the meeting I was actually somewhat ambivalent. I’m not from the South, and at age 42, I guess I fall somewhere in the middle of this particular “generational divide.” Initially, I must admit that I felt the name was a poor choice for an event in our community. On the other hand, I didn’t necessarily think that using “Ypsitucky” to name a music festival would mean the end of Ypsilanti as we know it. Consequently, at the HRC special meeting, I tried my hardest just open my mind, and to hear what people had to say.

    At the meeting, I heard thoughtful, articulate and impassioned arguments by people on both sides of this issue. However, regarding many of the “anti” comments we received, I feel the need to try to clarify some important misconceptions that I feel continue to be fostered on this blog:

    First, at the HRC special meeting, it was notable that an overwhelming majority of the people who spoke against the name “Ypsitucky” went out of their way to preface their remarks by expressing support for the idea of the music festival, for the musicians involved, for the idea of attempting to honor the important role that Southern migrants have played in our community, and for the DTCDC’s ongoing work to draw additional festivals (and visitors) to Ypsilanti.

    Second, I also want to reiterate that, at the special meeting, we did hear directly from Ypsilanti residents who are from the South, or whose families were from the South, who said they found “Ypsitucky” to be an offensive slur against them, their families and their community. We also heard from African-Americans (including fellow HRC members) who said that, to them, the term conjured negative and outmoded attitudes of racial intolerance in our community. Again, to be clear, in neither case were these comments a matter of “others” defending “on behalf of ” Southerners or African-Americans (or anybody else). Instead, these were our neighbors, speaking for themselves, expressing their real experiences and their honest opinions.

    Third, we also heard from many community leaders and business owners who expressed sincere alarm at what they felt the use of the term might mean for the community and for future economic development, as well as from others who simply said they find the name offensive, and don’t wish our community to be continue being associated with it.

    Ultimately, after listening to comments from audience members, and reading the many e-mails and letters the HRC received on both sides of the issue, I decided that maintaining the “Ypsitucky” moniker was simply not worth the obvious offense it was causing to so many people, nor the division it was clearly causing in the community. Therefore, I joined five of my fellow Commissioners in crafting a letter to City Council recommending against using the term “Ypsitucky.”

    In our letter, the HRC asked City Council to consider a number of steps. However, I want to again point out that — first among them — was a request that the Mayor and/or other members of council to meet with the DTCDC board to simply TALK … in order to find a “win-win” solution that could be accepted by both sides. At the time, I never dreamed that would not be possible.

    Since then, this issue (and much of the “discussion” surrounding it) has continued to degenerate — with no small amount of overblown hyperbole from some people (on both sides) casting this as an epic battle between young vs. old, black vs. white, Southern vs. “Yankee,” Depot Town vs. Downtown, “cool” vs. “uncool,” musicians and artists vs. “the establishment,” etc. … while there may be a small element of truth to some of these things, I think ultimately, the whole “Ypsitucky” debate really comes down to two important questions:

    * How do we see ourselves as a community, and how do we wish others to see us?

    * How will we maintain our compassion, respect and civility toward one another while we address the inevitable conflicts that come from living in a community as diverse and complicated as Ypsilanti?

    I love Ypsilanti, and if this debate ends up meaning the event gets canceled or ends up making talented young musicians, artists or others feel that their contributions of energy and enthusiasm are unwanted, that would be a terrible loss for our community.

    However, if the cost of avoiding that means having the City seem to endorse an event with a name that so many of our own neighbors genuinely find to be insulting and/or racist, then I think that would be a terrible loss, as well.

  26. Posted June 4, 2009 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    If this is about getting back at Bill French, just man-up and say so, but enough with this antiYpsitucky nonsense that’s catching the rest of us in the cross fire. It was a kickass festival with a kickass name. Leave it alone.

  27. Posted June 4, 2009 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    That wasn’t a response to you, Glen, but sb. Yes, it actually took me over four minutes to craft those two sentences.

  28. Curt Waugh
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    sb vs. Bill French — pseudo-Celebrity Death Matchitucky!!!!

  29. Posted June 4, 2009 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Black Jake,

    We need to be friends. I mean friends in the most PC way possible. You know, i dont want to offend anyone that might not like friends. Nice to see you the other night. How motivated are you to play free benefit shows now in the city of Ypsi- dare I say it now? I play in Dragon Wagon, and we are committed to playing benefit shows for non profits that add culture and diversity to their communities. This is the thanks we recieve for our time and efforts? Working full time, playing into the wee hours of the morning for small pay only for the love of the community and music and then getting up in the morning at 6am to go back to work. I have to believe that it is worth it because I love what I do.

    When we first came up with the idea of having a roots music festival in Ypsilanti, I was warned about the political issues in Ypsi. I felt confident that we could get beyond everything and that all people would realize what we are doing is a GREAT thing for the community. Live and learn I guess.

    I do not know what will happen to the name. Frankly, I do not have any control over it anymore. All I know is we played last night at the Circus in ANN ARBOR and we had over 400 people there packing the bar and dancing their asses off to our bluegrass music. So much that the shear power of the crowd jumping around kept on knocking our drinks over on stage. None of the bands that are playing the festival have any issue playing because of the name. We have accumulated the best of talent in the area. We want all to be there. If you do not want to come, FINE! Your loss in my opinion. Outside of popular belief, we have a multi-cultural lineup crossing many genres with a base of bluegrass and area roots music. I have yet to hear of anyone under the age of 40 come to me with true objections to the name. I was amazed to hear business owners say that they do not want the money and commerce that will come from this Jamboree. Really? Wow. How short sighted. Did any of you have plans to attend in the first place? I think not. The true colors of those who oppose will come out when we have the Jamboree no matter what the name. Will they sponsor? Will they hang signs? Will they sell tickets? I honestly hope so. Restore my faith in community. Time will tell, I guess.

    This is all gotten to be a mess. I have been sidetracked (no pun intended) by the name discussion and devoted so much time to it, that I believe we all, including myself, as a community are losing focus on what is important here. We will see how the next two weeks play out. I dont have the answers, thats for sure. All I know is I have volunteer work to do. I will let the politics ride out on their own, because I am now confident that I dont want anything to do with them. I love music. I love Ypsilanti and I love everything about the Ypsitucky Jamboree.

    Thank you all again for the support.


  30. Publius
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    If everyone who got their ypsipanties in a bunch and took the energy to comment pro and con about the “Tucky” in public forums or on the internet came to the Bland-oree, the music festival will be a big sucess. I hope to see y’all there.

    True story, I just took a road trip to Tennessee and made a big hoopla when we crossed different states. My three year old daughter got excited. “Are we in the Tucky?” she repeated many times. She couldn’t say the whole name. I liked being in the Tucky. It was a beautiful state.

    I would buy an I got lucky in Ypsitucky t-shirt.

  31. Oliva
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    I love that Mark brought up the idea of “shame” at play here. (Same weapon used in the abortion debate.) What a shame, all this will to shame. Some people here like to mock Ann Arbor for being “fancy” (it’s hardly that, especially not these days, and why belittle an entire city and many fine people who live there in one brushstroke?); some people there still don’t know Ypsi’s rare and ultra-special treasures and make fun of our town out of habit or frustration (argh, such as in those uncharitable Ann Arbor News comments).

    We’re actually pretty good at making things better, have been doing it admirably through an eight-plus-year recession, a shrinking police force, tough luck, some bad people. Ypsilanti is a better place for having Ann Arbor close by, but same goes in reverse. And someone from across the world trying to discern much difference between the two places might really be stumped.

  32. Posted June 4, 2009 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    btw Jake, only my first paragraph was directed towards you. I read what I wrote again, and it could be taken that the whole thing was in your direction. I cant wait to play along side you at the Jamboree! We should catch a soda pop sometime.


  33. Andy French
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    I just want to correct one thing from Stewart Beals comments above, Bill French is not on the board of the DTCDC has no involvement with it, and never has been involved. SB’s delusional anger seems to get in the way of facts.

    The rest of the silly rant isn’t worth commenting on.

    Andy French

  34. eagletrace
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

    Whoa, sb, you really don’t care for Bill French. After your diatribe I re-read a letter from those on the DTCDC board which was posted earlier in this thread. No where in that post was Bill French’s name mentioned. So what facts do you have putting this decision on his plate. You don’t say that Paul mentioned Bill’s name, only that a member of the board couldn’t make it. I happen to know that the board is made up of 30 somethings and Bill doesn’t fit that age category.

    In all the emails going through town, there was an obvious organized attempt to stop the Ypsitucky Jamboree. I received some of those emails and the derogatory remarks that were made towards individuals of the DTCDC by substanial business people were unbelievable. Not once have I seen the members of the DTCDC or any one in Depot Town get down in the gutter. They could have organized a response mob too, but they didn’t. Perhaps after thinking about the abuse they’ve received from so many in this community, they decided they weren’t going to be pushed around by them and let the council make the call. Bottom line: All the council members had to say to get this to stop before it started was FIRST AMENDMENT. That would have stopped all this foolishment and in the end that IS what was decided, except now the city has to take care of the parks.

    As for Bill French, I hope you live long enough to make the community commitments and improvements that Bill has. He is to be commended not berated by someone who hasn’t fulfilled his commitments in the Green Monster.

  35. Posted June 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    I was thinking that since Ypsilanti and Kentucky are smashed together to make “Ypsitucky” maybe the solution would be to further mash them into “Yucky” which would fit right in with the “Wurst of Ypsilanti” theme.

    The Yucky Jamboree. WOOOO HOOO!

  36. Oliva
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    I love your ideas, Lynne, T-shirt and Yucky Jamboree.

  37. Posted June 4, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    There’s only one honorable way to settle this at this point: start two SCA kingdoms in Ypsi and have a big angry battle in the parks with sticks and foam swords. I’d pay to see that.

  38. Posted June 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Yeah Don, thanks!

  39. Mark F.
    Posted June 4, 2009 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    While I love the Ypsitucky name, I have to say that it is definitely time to give up on the name and only use that informally. To me, the problem here was never with the name at all to begin with, but from my conversations I believe that the old guard of the city essentially feels that power in the city is essentially being stripped away from them by a the younger generation of leaders. One look at the stark generational and personality differences between the city council and the CDC makes the gap quite clear.

    Now I think that it was wrong of the younger generation to essentially sidestep consulting any city leaders with this well beforehand. And the inability to foresee this is another example of the lack of attention to details that plagues the city on so many levels. At the same time, I know that those pushing for this festival only have the city’s best interest at heart. Stripping away the parks from a group that has done more in the past 5 years than the city could hope to do in the next 20 is simply foolish. Anyways, the city does not have the money to take back the parks right now.

    Give up the fight for the name for now, and try to get young blood to run for city council. Until there is enough support at the highest level, the movers and shakers in the city need to realize there is not a whole lot that can be done. Getting a bluegrass festival in the city regardless of the name is a big step towards recognizing the city’s southern heritage (and I’ll still call it the Ypsitucky Bluegrass Festival anyways). Both sides of this issue love this city, and everyone is looking forward to being past this.

  40. galan
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Ypsilanti is cool as it is and cool for people of all ages. You don’t need to change it’s name. Furthermore, we can’t afford to divide it up for the sake of someone’s business plan. We are a small city and need to work together to make things go forward. Cut the crap, respect eachother, find a compromise name and move on.

  41. ypsineighbor
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    Thank you Galan, a rare wise voice in the wilderness…

  42. Ypsifreehandjobber
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Making them change the name isn’t compromise, it’s surrender to an ultimatum. In a compromise, both sides get something they want. You old assholes are just being petty dicks and trying to bullshit your way onto the moral highground.

  43. Posted June 5, 2009 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    I love what Mark, Black Jake and others have said defending Ypsitucky.

    I also love the points Glen S. made, and galan summed it up nicely by saying “Ypsilanti is cool as it is.”

    I get why this causes so much emotion on both sides, and I can see and understand both sides.

    Here’s the thing though: if I were choosing the name, from the beginning, everything else unsaid and controversy aside, I would go with Ypsilanti Jamboree. It sounds better, and Ypsilanti represents more than Ypsitucky, and so does the artists and festival. WE have roots here in Ypsilanti, and while Ypsitucky is a part, so are many more parts.

    It’s not blanding anything, it’s not giving in, it’s just a better name that represents who we are: Ypsilanti.

  44. Posted June 5, 2009 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    In other words, move away from the emotion of pc/enough with the pc, slur/ownership and pride of former offensive term, ect…and start thinking about the concept of inclusion.

    Not everyone’s Roots run through Kentucky here in Ypsilanti, nor does all the music represented at the proposed festival.

    I say have the name be Ypsilanti Jamboree, in the spirit of inclusion and diversity. That’s the Ypsilanti I live in.

  45. Posted June 5, 2009 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    One more thing, can someone please get the Ypsitucky Colonels on the bill? Not just for the name; they’re a sweet band.

  46. West Cross
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    What a mess. I say at this point call it the Ypsilanti Jamboree and move on. It’s not worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater. You could still sell Ypsitucky T-Shirts, and probably a lot of them.

    If you can’t do it officially, do it on the side. I would happily buy a “Yspsitucky Proud” t-shirts. I would think they’d be a big seller, say, at the Shadow Art Fair maybe?

    In any event this all sounds like a good idea for the next Black Jake and Carnies song/album/t-shirt/puppet show.

  47. Mama Prawn Bely Butt
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    Telling them to change the name or loose control of the parks isn’t compromise. It’s ridiculous to suggest as much. We aren’t stupid.

    And I checked into Crandon, Wisconsin’s Kentuck Day, and I don’t see any evidence of hate crimes being perpetrated by backward racist hillbillies.

  48. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    As an unwanted aside, I’m pretty sure the 1st Ammendment of the federal Constitution was only intended to limit the powers of the U.S. Congress.

    Freedom of speech deserves to be protected by law at the State and local levels, too, but that’s not what the 1st Ammendment was intended for.

    In conclusion, the name of the festival should remain the Ypsitucky Jamboree, because using hurt feelings (real or phony) as an excuse to use government strong-arming to meddle in other people’s business and dictate what they can and can’t do, when no real injury has occured, is evil.

  49. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    If real injury had occured, this would be taking place in the courts.

    But if the anti-Ypsituckians took their supposed injuries regarding the name “Ypsitucky” before a court, the judge would throw it back in their faces and laugh at them.

    Know why?

    Because a court of law would immediately recognize that no injury has occured.

    Therefore, those who claim to be injured parties in this, who are attempting to use their supposed injury as a justification to meddle in and control other people’s affairs via the might of City Council, should be ignored entirely, and resisted — not “compromised” with (“compromise” in this case meaning unjustly surrendered to).

  50. James Madison
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    BA is right that the First Amendment was originally written (by me and my colleagues) to apply just to the US Congress, but later events broadened its relevance to all government in the US. These events include the Civil War and the 14th Amendment (with its incorporation of the Bill of Rights on to state government by defining citizenship as both state and national). At least that’s how I understand it, having from time to time followed political events from The Other Side.

    Yet this squabble may not have any First Amendment implications. No censorship has been imposed by any unit of government — although one unit of government seems to think its property, the park, should not be used to host an event that may offend so many people. Is government obligated to support one type of speech that may give offense? No. It’s as if government officials were responsive to public pressure! That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

  51. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Riddle me this then, Madison/Higlesbee: why are people in City Council trying to put distance between the contract issue and the name issue, claiming they don’t care so much about the name and they can have the name if they want it… yet out of the other sides of their mouths saying the contract might be reconsidered if they change the name? Can’t have it both ways.

  52. Andy Ypsilanti
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I have been perfoming as Andy Ypsilanti for years. Does the fact that I play this drunk bar band leader charachter hurt the city?

    I have come to the conclusion that this is just another ypsi powergrab. I attended and spoke at the first HRC meeting and before city council. I saw very little willingness from the Tucky opposition to listen to any form of reason. These are people used to getting their way in the city, and city council knew most of them by name. When Don said to the council “The name is out of my hands, I don’t really care about that, I just want to do something good for the city” the opposition sitting near me snickered and said “he just shot himself in the foot.” It was also said to me, in a fairly mean spirited outburst “we don’t want the money those people would bring in.” I guess the money of young music lovers isn’t good enough for the people of Ypsi. The opposition in general seemed very mean spirited and didn’t seem too take the greater good of the city into account in any way. They were so blinded by getting their way, that any logic was just pushed away. From the reactions I saw, I don’t believe for a moment that any of those people would have attended or volunteered for this festival, or supported it in any way, no matter what it was called. No matter who may have said that over the mic to city council, when Don called for just that, I heard more than one say “fat chance”

    As I stated before the council, I am embarrased by the city, and most of the council. When councilman Robb suggested turning off the park lights at night he actualy said “you need light to have crime”. Really? I wonder what the people of Detroit think about that. The fact that this issue was taken to this extreem just goes to show the strngth of the good ol’ boy political network in this town. I do maintain some respect for the Mayor and council woman Robinson. They at least tried to plead for reason. The rest pandered to a very noisy minority of thier constituants.

    Should the DTCDC have backed down form Ypsituckey? I suppose they shoud have and just gotten on with the good work they were trying to do. But who would have imagined that we would have to bow to the will of what, by their own count, is problably less than 10% of our population. Of course this all goes back to the silly power struggles that have been holding our town back for decades.

    Oh, and the idea of turning our community into an arts friendly city? Forget it. No concert promoter in their right mind would approach the city now. I guess we’ll have to leave that money to places like Rothburry and Wheatland, along with many other Michgan communities that have been benifiting from private music fests for years. AND LETS NOT FORGET, THIS WAS NOT A PRIVATE, FOR PROFIT EVENT BUT A NON-PROFIT EVENT TO BENIFIT OUR LOCAL PARKS! It was a win win for the city economicly.

    The sad truth is, nothing in this town will change untill people 18-40 really step up and take interest in local politics, including running for office. I did not realize just how backward and petty Ypsi politics were untill this. You can bet I won’t take it so lightly in the futre. If we can foster more interest, eventualy we can make our voices heard over the minority that just can’t stand it when when they don’t get what they want.

  53. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Found this on BrianR’s blog:

    “Anyone willing to pay the required fees can have an event in Riverside or Frog Island parks. The City has no authority to change the name of any event — that’s why it was so wrong to bring the original resolution to Council.

    This issue stopped being about Ypsitucky a month ago. This issue became about the business relationship between the DTCDC and the City. I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the City to enter into contracts that aren’t beneficial to the City. The relationship the City had with the DTCDC stopped being beneficial and rightly had to end.”

    He goes on to mention that the DTCDC is wasting money on lunches for themselves.

    So let’s just have the Ypsitucky Jamboree in the park as scheduled, and donate the proceeds to something other than the parks, since (according to Brian) the city has more than enough money to take care of the parks themselves. Maybe spend it on something a little more Depot Town and less Downtown. Like future hillbilly festivals, or that Varmint Fest.

  54. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

    The Township annexation issue, the Ypsitucky Jamboree, urban chickens/goats/bees… is there any controversial issue in this city that doesn’t have to do with certain snobby blue-blood residents deep-down not wanting to be associated with THOSE types of people?

  55. Posted June 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    I dont know BA. It does seem like there are some class divisions in our town. I think certain issues put such things in that light. On that note, I am trying to figure out how to make a porch couch that will *LOOK* exactly like an upholstered couch but wont really be and thus wont run afoul of the city’s porch couch ordinance. I am not an artist though so I am not sure how to make something look like an overstuffed and dog eared couch. But as soon as I can figure it out, I am going to do it and put it on my porch as a protest against the ordinance which I suspect is more about aesthetics than anything else and that bothers me.

  56. eagletrace
    Posted June 5, 2009 at 8:25 pm | Permalink

    BA, you hit the nail. If you go to Robb’s blog, you’ll notice that on May 22 at the budget meeting, 22k was set aside specifically for the two parks the CDC has been working on. What do you think that means? Intimidation? I’m not on your board so I’m taking the ball and going home? It definitely says the return of the parks was set up well before the council meeting on June 2. Has the council looked at the latest condition of the parks? A new dock, repaired pavillion, free flowing river. Perhaps they didn’t spend as much money as you would like, Mr. Robb, because donations of materials and labor can go to a non-profit, however not a municipality. Now what ever was in the works can’t be completed. Just a guess!

    What does that say about our council? Specifically the Third Ward? To me it says you have to get their permission to do anything that benefits the city. Without it, they’ll bury you. Perhaps it wasn’t about the name. Murdock and Robb just couldn’t add it to their resume. Watch out! They will swope down and take over with a coup behind the scenes.

    Lastly, another point for Mr. sb. The DDA must be proud of the public stance you take! Rant about Vosburg. Rant about French. What a professional you are with your colorful language. I hope our leadership sees through it.

  57. Mark H.
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Ah, eagletrace, isn’t it a fact that Council Member Brian Robb does not and has not advocated opposition to the ypsitucky name for the concert? How does that fact fit into the conspiracy theories holding Third Ward council members responsible for all evil in Ypsi?

  58. eagletrace
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Well, Mark, the fact that Council member Robb acknowledged he hadn’t met with the CDC since early spring says he didn’t try to broker any kind of solution. Putting 22k in the budget allows the city to mow the grass; that’s it. Going back to last year’s line item for the parks definitely wouldn’t have allowed the rebuilding of the dock. It would be closed off for safety reasons. To propose “If Parks are a priority to the community, they will be a priority to Council” is hardly reasonable. Parks or Police??? This was a way to have them both.

    I still believe that this issue revolves around power. It isn’t about the name. It’s about a contract between the city and a non-profit that the third ward didn’t feel they had enough involvement.

    Question to Mr. Robb and Mr. Murdock: did the DTCDC invite you for the meeting in the spring or did you make the overture? Just askin’

  59. erma
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:54 pm | Permalink

    The “facts” asserted in these blogs are truly amazing! (Where are the fact-checkers when you need them?) Do all y’all bloggers know that the DT-CDC is not actually a nonprofit corporation? It’s only a committee of the Depot Town Associaton! Yup, it’s all been done with smoke an mirrors. Yes, the DTA IS a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, but there is no standalone entity called the “Depot Town Community Development Corporation.” The DT-CDC is simply an assumed name that the DTA registered with the State. Check it out on the State’s website if you don’t believe me! Further, I hear through the grapevine, that the CDC was formed to prevent one side of the French family from having any input into how DTA funds were used.

    When will these (as Pete Murcock termed them) “French wars” be over???

  60. erma
    Posted June 6, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and by the way, don’t insult my intelligence by suggesting that Sandee and Bill French are not associated with the DT-CDC. C’mon!

  61. Dirtgrain
    Posted June 7, 2009 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    Family feuds? Holy crap. How might we celebrate and honor that rich and vibrant part of our community?

  62. Posted June 8, 2009 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    It was recently brought to my attention that council member Brian Robb posted the following comments on his blog. After reading his attack on the DTCDC, I responded on his blog. However, Brian moderates all comments and it looks like he doesn’t want to give us the opportunity to answer the questions he raised. I’ll attempt to restate my response here (Brian – please let me know if I forgot anything).

    Comment by brobb
    June 4, 2009 @ 10:59 am

    Mr. LaLonde,

    Thank you for your input and your kind words.

    Don’t forget that the DTCDC spent just $10K in maintaining the parks. If you read their annual report (attached to the City Council packet located HERE, you’ll see the DTCDC spent $4,171.65 on Dining Expenses?

    WTF is that?!?!?

    They spent nearly half as much on lunches as they did on parks maintenance.

    I think it’s incorrect to suggest the City is losing money. I think cancelling the DTCDC contract means someone is losing a free lunch.

    If you ever want to sit down and talk about this or the parks or whatever, let me know.

    I’ll start by addressing the question raised about spending $4,000 on dining expenses. Yes, the DTCDC spent over 4k on dining over the course of a year. Here’s the breakdown. When the DTCDC assumed operations of the parks, we had a “welcome reception” and invited community leaders and partners to attend to explain the purpose and goals of the DTCDC. Of the 4k, almost half was spent on this event. The DTCDC Board meets once a month for our board meetings over lunch. We have 5 board members plus myself (and occasionally an intern). On average, I’d say the typical bill is around $70 including tip. We also try to schedule most of our meetings with committees and volunteers over lunch, which is generally more convenient for them. And yes, we feel it is appropriate to pick up the tab when we host people working to help us out. Need more examples? We coordinate a park clean up day every year that brings in about 70 people to keep the parks looking nice. Guess what – we buy them all pizza and drinks. Hope that’s okay. Brian, if you need more examples – please let me know…

    Another thing that I would like clarify… It seems a lot of people think that we are funded by the city. The only money that the DTCDC has received from the city has been $5,000 from the Depot Town DDA. To put that into perspective, the Downtown DDA gave the Crossroads Music Festival $10,000 this year. And the Downtown DDA gave the fashion show held downtown the other week $5,000.

    Brian points out that the DTCDC only spent $10,000 to operate the parks. That number is a little misleading. First of all, we didn’t start cutting the grass last summer until July. As you might guess, later in the summer when it’s hot and dry, the grass grows at a much slower pace. So that number doesn’t reflect the true cost of maintaining the parks for a year. Brian also didn’t mention the cost we pay for insurance in the parks, which is over $5,000. He also left out the audit requirement stipulated in our contract with the city, which costs over $7,000. Throw in a couple thousand we spent on the dock renovation, and I hope that people begin to see that his math doesn’t quite add up. Of course my salary factors into the operating costs of the parks ($40,000 with no benefits), and I’d like to believe that Brian can acknowledge that someone needs to oversee operations.

    I recall a conversation with the head of the city public works department when we assumed operations of the parks last summer. If I remember correctly, it costs the DTCDC roughly half of what the city was paying each time the grass was mowed in the parks. Granted we don’t have a union contract, but I think the point is many services can be performed more efficiently by the private sector than by government. We pay our contractors a fair wage thanks to competitive bidding. A few other things Brian didn’t mention. We can achieve cost savings managing the parks because of our great partnerships. The Washtenaw County Sheriff Community Service program is a great example. Every week they come through the parks and clean out all the trash. There is no cost to us, but it is something the city previously would have paid for. It’s kind of funny – after hearing about our relationship, the city contacted us to see if it would be possible for them to help out on Water Street.

    While we’re checking facts (Erma), you are correct in that the DTCDC is a DBA of the Depot Town Association. Why? A couple of reasons… First of all, the DTA seeded the DTCDC with money to get started. I know, it’s horrible right? So when you break it down, it is money raised by the DTA and DTCDC used to operate the parks. If you look at our organizational chart, you’ll notice that no DTA members have a say in the operations of the DTCDC. They can nod their heads and say, we like what you’re doing or they can terminate our operations. That’s about it. It’s a fairly common practice that our consultant advised us to do. It allows us to build on the 30+ year track record of the DTA in managing projects and raising funds (kind of like borrowing their credit report). And if you really did your homework, you would know the plan that we stated from the beginning was to operate in this capacity for 3-5 years and then spin it off into a stand-alone entity.

    The DTCDC has been at the center of professional and personal attacks for months. We haven’t resorted to the mudslinging initiated by these folks, all we have attempted to do is set the facts straight and defend our names and reputations. These days I really question the priorities that certain city leaders are focusing on. I really hope when the next election comes around that the people in this community pay attention to what their city leaders are doing with their time.

    Erik Dotzauer
    Executive Director
    Depot Town CDC

  63. Rick Lack
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    The Depot Town CDC has done far too much good work in their community to be exiled into purgatory over a very trivial matter in which resolution could easily be obtained. All parties … get together and resolve your differences without complicating the good work you have all been doing in keeping the Depot Town parks clean and in attracting viable, lucrative festivals that will continue to grace your fine community. Don’t make rash decisions based on emotion … political squabbling is not in your best interests- nor your constituents …. think about it.

  64. jorj
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    How demoralizing for this city if the battle goes to the whiny, and the race to the pouty. Keep keeping it Ypsitucky.

  65. ST
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    They got Brian Vosburg. They’re going after Erik Dotzauer. They say there’s no conspiracy afoot, and that they could prove it, if not for the fact that their meetings are secret.


  66. jorj
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I can picture the people who are so upset about the Ypsitucky name going to secret Eyes Wide Shut meetings to discuss public policy, lol.

  67. Rosie
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    Non-union workers mowing the park? Board meeting lunches for $70? That doesn’t sit well with me.

  68. youneedperspective
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    —Take, for example, the fact that an unarmed black man was shot three times in the back by a plainclothes white cop during a poorly executed drug bust.

    Take, for example, that crime in my neighborhood is way down ever since then.

    Take, for example, that an avowed drug dealer, with videos and illegal weapons and a blatantly embraced violent and wanton lifestyle, is no longer causing havoc.

    Take, for example, the strings of entire-apartments-and-mobile-homes-with-murdered-inhabitants-in-Ypsi-TOWNSHIP are…a broken string, going by the local news reports even a year or so later.

    Take, for example, that a huge chunk of this state lives the consequences of this type of action on the part of their community, even if you don’t seem to care about the innocent here.

    Take, for example, all the hard-working minoriy community members who suffer at the hands of these criminals, but are (rightfully) afraid to do anything about it.

    Who will do something, then? And how? If you remove the consequences of the law (as have often been done in MI) then—- what are the consequences for being a drug-dealing reported killer?

  69. Posted June 8, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Again, I wasn’t saying that the police were necessarily wrong in that shooting. What I was saying is that I believe that incident was more deserving of hearing of the Human Relations Commission than all of this Ypsitucky nonsense.

    And, for the record, I’m just as much in favor of busting the drug dealers that prey on our population as you seem to be. The difference is, I think questions need to be asked when an unarmed man – regardless of who he is – is shot in the back while running away. And, no, I don’t buy the reason the police gave at the time, which was that because they’d seen a rap video in which he posed with a gun, they had reason to believe he was armed. That would be like me killing the actor who played Dr. No in the James Bond movie because I’d seen that he was about to deploy a satellite capable of destroying the United States.

  70. Ifedthefreewireless
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    I do not know who did it, or which group, but here’s a erspective from a household had been here 11+ years.

    The last 4 to 6 years, despite the fact that Michigan is being drug even further down the slide started 40-odd years ago in Detroit, (we would HAVE alternative employment to auto if all alternatives had not been actively chased away) I LOVE the changes in Ypsi. Part of it is the conversion of little rentals into single family homes with caring families due to both the increase in home prices and the super low interest rates, and some is a couple of fun decisions re: downtown areas (I think there are more than a few crap decisions re: downtown business development but the positive outshines).

    I don’t know who you are, and I have demonstrated reason to doubt anything in the Official News, but: THANK YOU. and I hope you stay in a place you can have an effect.

  71. Ricker 76er
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Erik, thank you for explaining that. Well stated. Indeed, the professional and personal attacks need to stop among this publicity grab, especially when you all are working so hard to do good things for this community. Keep fighting the good fight and karma will do the rest!

  72. What's In a Name
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Um, ok wireless, what ever that post means.

    I agree with ST. They ran Vosburg out of town and are gunning for Erik, what the hell is wrong with a town that runs young, talented people out who are working to improve the very areas people claim to like and want to see improved out of town with torches and pitchforks? Brian and Erik are very talented urban planners that Ypsi was very fortunate to get for incredibly paltry salaries. They’ll both do great things after Ypsi, likely even more so when they don’t have to deal with the turkeys in this town shooting each other down and acting like crabs in a bucket and senselessly going after them.

    Who are they going to go after next? James at VG Kids, Murph, Mark, Shamar? If you do innovative and thoughtful things in Ypsi to improve the town, watch out. The towns people are already hatching a secret plot to get rid of you wearing robes, chanting secret pledges and strategizing around a crackling fire at a secret location as we speak! And I’m not even going to talk about where they hide the bodies of those that previously “harmed” the “history and culture” of the city!

  73. Ifedthefreewireless
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    It means thanks for all the fish, and I’m not sure that you will be allowed to continue…

    Nothing breeds contempt on the part of the unsuccessful like success itself.

  74. Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    More importantly. When will Steve Pierce let go of ypsitucky.com?

    At least here’s what I get:

    Registration Service Provider:
    HDL, DomReg@HDL.com

    Here’s how it’s branded now: http://www.ypsitucky.com/

    Steve. I gots shits to sell. Give it up.

    By the way. Welcome to Ypsitucky stickers coming. All sizes. Also, if I get five people along any major road entering town (Huron, Cross, Wash, Mich, Adams) we’ve got a very nice burmashave style welcome going down.

    Be my friend.


    Ypsi Tucky.

  75. Posted June 9, 2009 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    The website http://www.ypsitucky.com is a joke. I know, shocking really.

    For those of you that are just catching up on the story, The http://ypsitucky.com domain was for a fictional company that was part of our http://www.YpsiNews.com April Fools story for 2009. I registered the domain ypsitucky.com last summer long before anyone came up with their idea for a music festival.

    If you haven’t read it, here is a link to our 2009 April Fools story.

    Porn execs eyeing Ypsilanti for new Studio space:
    (April 1, 2009)
    Ypsilanti has been a hotbed for movie shoots …

    See if you can find the link in the story. Most folks missed it.

    This years story was our third annual April Fools story.

    Other stories include

    Crocodile found in Riverside Park
    http://ypsinews.com/index.php/200804-crocodile-spotted-in-riverside-park/ with a bonus mention of the CDC in 2008.

    and Oil discovered at Water Street.
    http://ypsinews.com/index.php/200704-oil-discovered-at-water-street-update1/ with our favorite planner Prim Broulet.

    YTB, I figure your offer to buy ypsitucky.com was a joke too, just like our our breaking news story was a joke.

    However, just in case your interest in the domain was serious, if you did want to buy the domain, call me and lets talk.

    So far the only offer I have had for the domain was from the DTCDC.

    Candace Pinaud asked me back in early May 2009 if I would give ypsitucky.com to the DTCDC for free. I said no thanks, for free I would rather have it continue as part of our April Fools story.

    I also own Ypsi.com and have had that domain for 10 years. As part of our giving back to the community, we provide residents and groups free email addresses at ypsi.com so if you want one, just ask.

    Frankly, I have no idea why no one else in Ypsi has thought to register these domain names before.

    If you come up with your own Ypsi related domain name or for that matter you want any domain name, if it is available we can register it for you for as low as $12.95 per year for three years or $14.95 for a single year. That includes unlimited DNS hosting and redirection for no extra charge which beats GoDaddy and most other registration companies.


    Steve Pierce
    Ypsilanti, Michigan

    P.S. Collins Luthiery (not a persons name) in Ann Arbor registered http://ypsitucky.org on June 3, 2009. That was 6 days ago. Most every other variation of ypsitucky including ypsitucky.us is currently available. If you get a chance to meet David Collins, he is an amazing craftsman of guitars.

    P.P.S. YTB, if you want your own ypsitucky.com email address, let me know, I can probably set something up for you.

  76. Brackinald Achery
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    Telling racist jokes is NOT COOL.

  77. Marion
    Posted June 9, 2009 at 9:58 pm | Permalink


    In all seriousness, now that the April Fool’s day has passed again, don’t you think it is time to do something more with the URL than cheap penis and pornography jokes?

    Perhaps you could use the site to educate people on how folks were kidnapped from Kentucky to work in auto factories?

    Or, is your owning Ypsitucky.com and making porn jokes more telling of how seriously you really take this issue?

    To Steve Pierce, Ypsitucky is an April Fool’s porn joke worthy of its own Web site. YHRC…where are you now?

    In someone else’s pocket.

    Money. Money. Money.

    Suck my brick dick you circle jerk other muckers.

  78. Geo John
    Posted June 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Can you please make some Blandsipanties?

5 Trackbacks

  1. […] parks taken from the DTCDC – but clearly the straw that broke the camel’s back was this whole “Ypsitucky” fiasco. As I understand it, certain members of Council felt as though the Director of the DTCDC acted in […]

  2. […] like the way that management of the parks was yanked from them during the now-legendary Battle of Ypsitucky. Well, today, executive director of the Depot Town CDC, Erik Dotzauer, left a comment in response […]

  3. By Jamboree update on September 1, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    […] So, if you don’t mind my asking, why didn’t you decide to reinsert “Ypsitucky” into the event’s title when it became clear that City Council wasn’t going to […]

  4. By Did I almost die for “Ypsitucky”? on January 14, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    […] is the one that really intrigues me. According to this theory, I nearly broke my neck because the Depot Town CDC had the audacity to use the word “Ypsitucky” in the name of an event …. You see, according to these folks, had the CDC still had control of the park, there would have […]

  5. By Ypsi’s parks and what it costs to maintain them on January 19, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    […] summer, the Depot Town CDC had the audacity to use the word “Ypsitucky” in the name of a big mus… for Riverside Park. And, worse yet, they refused to back down when members of City Council told […]

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