Keep Ypsi Rollin’… and the case against it

A few days ago, I posted something here written by my friend Richard “Murph” Murphy on the subject of the Ypsilanti ballot initiative to raise taxes in support of public transportation. Murph, Ypsilanti’s former city planner, is an enthusiastic supporter of the charter amendment that we will be voting on this Tuesday, as are community leaders like Mayor Paul Schreiber, and City Councilman Pete Murdock, both of whom have joined him in leaving comments here, urging their fellow citizens to vote yes on the initiative. There are, however, several in the community who do not agree that a new millage is called for. Murph, in a comment left after his initial post, called one of these individuals out by name. Here’s his note, directed at local business owner Karen Maurer, who has come out on record against the public transit millage, as well as the other proposed millages on Tuesday’s ballot, followed by her response:

I will also note that I’m pretty disappointed in Karen Maurer’s leading role in the “No” PAC. With high-end downtown lofts becoming more and more substantial a part of Maurer Management’s business, I would hope they’d recognize the role that good transit service plays in helping attract the residents who fill those lofts. (Not to mention the fact that Maurer Management has received tax abatements on all of the loft projects anyways, minimizing the impact on those properties.) Many of the other landlords backing the PAC primarily rent to EMU students, and so have a more captive audience (and one with shorter memories), but Maurer’s lofts rely on attracting residents who could be anywhere.

I admire the dedication that Eric and Karen Maurer have shown to downtown, and appreciate the impact they’ve made in bringing new residents to Michigan Avenue. But if they’re going to continue their success, and if we’re going to keep attracting residents and business to Ypsilanti when they have choices elsewhere, we need to maintain the amenities like transit (and libraries, incidentally) that these residents would like. It’s shortsighted to kill the goose laying the golden eggs just because you don’t want to pay for goose food.

I would encourage anyone who is a tenant of Maurer Management (or any of the other landlords involved, for that matter) to express their disappointment with the “NO parks, libraries, or transit” stance that they’ve come up with.

And, here, as promised, is Karen’s response:

Murph, thank you for all your help to us when you were the Ypsilanti City Planner. You have been invaluable to our efforts in rehabilitating buildings Downtown.

For the past few years the economy in Michigan has been in terrible shape, the worst I have ever experienced. This past year alone I have had 6 evictions, commercial tenants on the verge of collapse, bankers fining me on a yearly basis because the buildings we own do not meet the debt service ratio, increases in water bills, gas bills, attorney fees and reduced rents. In year 2009 we had 7 small business in one commercial property close their doors because they had to file bankruptcy or go out of business. This past month alone I received two emails from two different tenants who vacated the premises and moved out of the State, one to Texas and one to Virginia, even though they signed a lease. The state of the economy in Michigan is no laughing matter, and we are very affected by circumstances beyond our control.

Maurer Management has still continued to rehabilitate the Mack & Mack Building and begin rehabilitation on the Mellencamp Building. We are committed to the restoration of our Downtown and to the betterment of the City of Ypsilanti and I have personally given every effort to make the City a better place by serving on numerous boards and committees.

I am supportive of the bus, library and parks but I do not know how I can continue to pay the current bills that I have and then even more. Helping on the NO campaign was not an easy decision. My obligations have to be focused on paying the current bills that I have and I am behind like everyone else. That being said I do think that the bus millage will pass so all of this will be over on Tuesday and hopefully we can all continue to work together to make Ypsilanti a better place.

Posted in Other, Politics, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

Are there any good local ghosts?


As much time as I spend on this site talking about eating local food and supporting local businesses, and lambasting those who don’t, it strikes me as somewhat hypocritical that all of my favorite ghosts are in New England and the American South… Anyway, seeing as how it’s Halloween, this struck me as a good opportunity to discuss local hauntings. Are there any well-known ghosts in Ypsi? How about Ann Arbor? It seems like there might be, what with all the young coeds from Normal College who drown in the Huron, weighted down by their petticoats when their canoes capsized, and all the young men going off to fight in the Civil War. Surely we have a ghost or two walking the railroad tracks late at night, swinging lanterns, looking for their heads. And, if not, I say we go out and get us one. Ypsi needs a good local ghost that we can all rally behind.

[The photo above, taken over 100 years ago, is from National Geographic, but the inspiration for this post is 100% Shaggs.]

Posted in Ann Arbor, Other, Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

What to look for on Election night

Our friend Robert just submitted the following, and I thought that it warranted a place up here, on the front page. If you have anything to add on the subject of Tuesday’s election, please leave a comment.

On election night, here are the things to look for up through 8pm on the US Senate races.

INDIANA – Split time zone / polls close at 6pm and 7pm EDT.
If it is not called immediately for Coats (R), the Democrats are doing far better than expected and will have undoubtedly held the Senate. Enough of the state’s results come in at 6pm to know. The longer it takes to call this race, the better the Democrats have done in general.

KENTUCKY – split time zone / polls close at 6pm and 7pm EDT.
Also if not called almost immediately for Paul (R), the Democrats are doing much better than expected and will undoubtedly hold the Senate.

VERMONT – all polls close at 7pm EDT.
It will be called right at 7pm. If Leahy (D) hasn’t won it handily, the Democrats are likely in horrible trouble nationwide.

GEORGIA – all polls close at 7pm EDT.
If this state isn’t immediately called for Isakson (R), it would be a miracle for the Democrats and mean absolute disaster for the GOP.

SOUTH CAROLINA – all polls close at 7pm EDT.
A win by DeMint (R) here should be even more certain. If it’s not called for him immediately at 7pm, go directly to your fallout shelter because the sky will be falling.

FLORIDA – split time zone / polls close at 7pm and 8pm EDT.
Things could get a bit strange in this one because it’s a three-way race with former Republican Charlie Crist running as an independent. However, my guess is that Rubio (R) will win with no problem. If it is not clear that this is what happened pretty soon after the polls close, somebody is rigging the damn thing again…I’d imagine in favor of Crist. If Meek (D) somehow looks to have won, hang onto your ass and your bible, because he will have inherited the rest of the entire Earth as well.

WEST VIRGINIA – all polls close at 7:30pm EDT.
This is one of the top two key races and could be our first good indicator (from the US Senate races) of how bad the night will go for the Democrats. Manchin (D) is only slightly favored over Raese (R). The problem here is that it might take all night to find out who’s won. If it is called early for either candidate, I’d predict that that person’s respective party has had an incredible night nationwide. The Democrats can lose this seat and still hold the Senate, but it would likely be by only a 1 or 2 seat margin at best.

OHIO – all polls close at 7:30pm EDT.
This is expected to be a little closer than the other expected GOP wins before 7:30 though all indications should be that Portman (R) is winning it. If things seem mixed up and strange like they were in 2004, my first thought will be that the Democrats have contracted with the same assholes and are electronically rigging it for Fisher (D) and their other candidates down the ballot.

NORTH CAROLINA – all polls close at 7:30pm EDT.
Burr (R) should have no problem winning this race. If it is not called pretty quickly for him, the GOP has failed miserably.

8:00pm EDT.
Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland should be called pretty fast for the Democrats. New Hampshire, Alabama and Missouri should be called just as fast for the Republicans. South Dakota, which also will be called for the GOP at that time, we might as well call right now because there is no opposition to the Republican candidate there. If any of what is said here doesn’t happen pretty soon after 8pm in any of these particular races, the party which was expected to win that particular race could be in some almost unimaginable trouble nationwide.

ILLINOIS – all polls close at 8:00pm EDT.
This is probably one of the top 5 key races. Kirk (R) should be able to take this seat from the Democrats, but this race could be close and might involve lots of funny business. If it is close I expect it to ultimately go to Giannoulias (D). That’s how it would be fixed. A win here would likely not be a great indicator of how other states will go and would not necessarily suggest wins in other key races. A loss here however would likely mean the Democrats would be left with less than a 4 seat edge in the Senate.

PENNSYLVANIA – all polls close at 8:00pm EDT.
This is one of the top 7 key races. Toomey (R) should have an even easier time taking this seat from the Democrats, but this race is also pretty close and could also involve some funny business. A win here would suggest Democrats end up with better than a 4 seat edge in the Senate. A loss would likely mean they would end up with less than a 5 seat edge. If the race is called early, it bodes very poorly for the losing party in other races across the nation.

For what it’s worth, I’m glad that Levin and Stabenow aren’t up for reelection this year. As many issues as I have with Stabenow, I’d hate to lose her seat to a Tea Partier.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

It’s being reported that close to a quarter million people attended today’s rally in DC. That, for those of you keeping score at home, is more than three times the number of people thought to have shown up at the nation’s capital this summer for Glenn Beck’s public reclamation of the American civil rights movement. I’d wanted to be there today, but chose instead to spend the day with my family in Kentucky, attempting, as best I could, to convince them not to vote for Rand Paul. (Speaking of Paul, I got a great idea for a Halloween costume today. I want to go as his personal savior – Aqua Buddha. This, I think, is a much better idea than the one I first had, which was to go as Tea Party folk hero Timothy “let’s stomp some heads” Profitt.) Anyway, here, for those of you who weren’t at the really, or among the millions who watched around the world, is a little clip:

And, here, thanks to someone on Reddit, is a transcript:

“And now I thought we might have a moment, however brief, for some sincerity, if that’s ok; I know there are boundaries for a comedian, pundit, talker guy, and I’m sure I’ll find out tomorrow how I have violated them.

I’m really happy you guys are here, even if none of us are really quite sure why we are here. Some of you may have seen today as a clarion call for action, or some of the hipper, more ironic cats as a clarion call for ‘action.’ Clearly, some of you just wanted to see the Air and Space Museum and got royally screwed. And I’m sure a lot of you are here to have a nice time, and I hope you did. I know that many of you made a great effort to be here today, and I want you to know that everyone involved with this project worked incredibly hard to make sure that we honor the effort that you put in and gave you the best show we could possibly do. We know your time is valuable, and we didn’t want to waste it. And we are all extremely honored to have had a chance to perform for you on this beautiful space, on The Mall in Washington, D.C.

So, uh, what exactly was this? I can’t control what people think this was, I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or to look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus and not be enemies. But, unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24-hour, politico, pundit, perpetual, panic conflictanator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected, dangerous flaming ant epidemic. If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.

There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats, but those titles that must earned; you must have the resume. Not being able to be able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves, who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate. Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more. The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker, and perhaps eczema. And yet, with that being said, I feel good: strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun-house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin with one eyeball.

So why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin-assed, forehead, eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course our inabilities to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution, or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of catastrophe torn by polarizing hate. And how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done. But the truth is, we do. We work together to get things done every damn day. The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live, our values and principles form the foundation that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.

Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, or Conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do. Often, something they do not want to do, but they do it. Impossible things every day, that are only made possible through the little reasonable compromises we all make.

Look. Look on the screen. This is where we are; this is who we are: these cars. That’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car. A woman with two small kids, can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swaying, I don’t even know if you can see it. The lady’s in the NRA and loves Oprah. There’s another car. An investment banker: gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars you see is filled with individuals of strong beliefs and principles they hold dear. Often, principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers. And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile-long, thirty-foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved by people who by the way I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by concession. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Ah, well that’s okay, you go, then I’ll go. And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute. But that individual is rare, and he is scorned not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness. And sometimes, the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes, it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together. If you want to know why I’m here and what I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted. Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. And to see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you.”

Thanks to the good people of Reddit who were responsible for making this wonderful thing happen, and to all the folks who made the effort to be a part of it in DC. It makes me incredibly happy to know that all of you are out there, and that, despite the recent advances of the Tea Party, there are still good men and women out there in the world who value sanity and truth.

Posted in Mark's Life, Media, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Barack Obama on the Daily Show

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Barack Obama Pt. 1
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity
Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments


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