The state of Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti’s Mayor, Paul Schreiber, just released the following State of the City report. If you have a moment, I’d appreciate your thoughts.

Dear Ypsilanti Friends and Neighbors:

In a recent magazine cartoon, a bank executive says to a junior executive: “In this economy, it’s crucial to begin every sentence with ‘In this economy.’”

Well, in this economy the city of Ypsilanti is continuing its transformation from an industrial city to a city of education, arts, and entertainment. To keep this transformation under way in the face of falling tax revenues and uncertain state funding, it is crucial that Ypsilanti continue to renovate, innovate, and collaborate with other municipalities.

In the first half of this message, I will list many examples of renovation, innovation, and collaboration in our city during the past year. In the second half, I will discuss Ypsilanti’s shrinking tax and state funding revenues and collaborative initiatives to meet that daunting challenge.

Renovation, Innovation, and Collaboration

Earlier this year, I received twenty-three letters from students at Ypsilanti New Tech High School. The letters were a class project with the combined goals of learning Ypsilanti history and formal letter writing and participating in group collaboration and civic engagement. New Tech High is located at the former Ardis Elementary School. Renovations have created larger classrooms, where four to six students work in groups at tables. Each student has a laptop computer. Projects cover a range of topics that were formerly taught in separate courses. Ypsilanti New Tech High School is an example of renovation of an existing school, innovation in teaching, and collaboration in funding.

Other examples of renovation, innovation, and collaboration that occurred all over the city of Ypsilanti in 2010 include, in downtown Ypsilanti:

• Maurer Management bought the Mellencamp Building and started $2.2 million in renovations for commercial space and upstairs loft apartments with the help of an Obsolete Property and Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) tax exemption granted by Ypsilanti City Council,
• the vacant T. C.’s Speakeasy bar will open this spring as the Red Rock Rib Joint with the help of another OPRA granted by city council,
• the remaining blighted buildings on the Water Street property were demolished with $1.2 million in federal and state grants,
• the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority and the City of Ypsilanti have jointly funded a police officer assigned to downtown and Depot Town,
• after persistent lobbying efforts by city council and the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority, a Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) pilot program now allows left-hand turns from Michigan Avenue onto Adams and Washington during non-peak hours,
• the Border-to-Border Trail now includes the Water Street temporary walking trail that was built with recycled materials from the demolished buildings,
• the thriving Tuesday Downtown Farmers’ Market moved to Ferris Street and continues to grow, and the Friday-night Crossroads Music Festival had another successful year.

In Depot Town and on the east side:

• the Ypsilanti Freight House Auction raised $45,000 to match an Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation challenge grant and MDOT grant for structural supports, a new roof, and a new deck,
• MDOT committed $150,000 to fund the $250,000 East Cross Streetscape Enhancement project,
• Riverside Park hosted a succession of events throughout the summer, including the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, the Michigan Roots Jamboree Music Festival, the Elvisfest, and the Michigan Brewers’ Guild Summer Beer Festival,
• Woodruff’s opened at the former Cady’s restaurant; it features live music nightly and hosted the fourth annual Mittenfest fund-raiser for 826 Michigan,
• Café Ollie opened in the former Café Luwak, and
• the Ann Arbor YMCA hosted youth summer camps for five weeks at Prospect Park and for another five weeks at Recreation Park.

On the West side:

• College Place and Mansfield streets were finally repaved and received a Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association Downriver Chapter,
• Washtenaw County and the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority jointly funded three $10,000 renovation grants for the Tower Inn Cafe and the former Campus Drugs and Cross Street Station locations,
• MDOT committed $610,000 to fund the $770,000 West Cross Streetscape Enhancement project, and
• the Ypsilanti Symphony Orchestra, along with west-side jazz bassist Paul Keller and other local jazz musicians, debuted the Ypsilanti Orchestral Jazz Suite, an ambitious original composition by Mr. Keller.

South of Michigan Avenue:

• the renovation of the ACH (formerly Ford/Visteon) plant by Angstrom USA continues with demolition of the older building and the approval of site renovation plans,
• the Ypsilanti Housing Commission acquired Parkview Apartments last spring, and $12 million in renovations will start this spring, leasing will start this fall, and full occupancy will occur in fall 2012, and
• Hope Clinic restarted their Harriet Street expansion construction after a three-year $3.6 million capital campaign.

The Revenue Crisis and Collaboration

image003Ypsilanti has done an outstanding job supporting renovation, innovation, and collaboration. However, Ypsilanti is threatened with a revenue crisis. Michigan cities have four main sources of revenue: property taxes, fees for services, income taxes, and state shared revenue. None of these sources can substantially increase revenues for Ypsilanti. Ypsilanti already levies the maximum operating property tax rate allowable by state law. Property tax revenues decreased $500,000 (5%) in 2010 and are expected to decrease another $1 million (11%) in 2011 and another $700,000 (9%) in 2012. The total property tax reduction from 2009 to 2012 is projected to be $2.2 million.

The city charges for services but can’t legally charge more than those services cost.

After a spirited campaign in 2007, Ypsilanti voters rejected an income tax ballot question by two-to-one.

mail1Finally, Governor Rick Snyder’s 2012 budget has proposed eliminating statutory state revenue sharing. If enacted, Ypsilanti state shared revenues in 2012 would decrease by $900,000 from city projections and increase the deficit to $1.3 million. Ypsilanti can withstand only a few years of this structural deficit before its healthy $9 million reserves are depleted.

In place of $300 million in statewide statutory revenue sharing, Governor Snyder proposes a $200 million municipal collaboration fund. The fund will be awarded based on collaboration guidelines to be released in March. Fortunately, Ypsilanti is already sharing services and collaborating on community development projects.

For example, in late January 2011, the city of Ypsilanti Fire Services began operating under a Mutual Aid Box Alarm System with the Ann Arbor, Pittsfield Township, and Ypsilanti Township fire departments. The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System divides the communities into a geographic fire response grid regardless of municipal boundaries. The first response should occur within four minutes of the alarm. If the demand for equipment exceeds the first response, then more firefighters and equipment will arrive at the scene within eight minutes. Each subsequent alarm will send additional resources from the nearest geographic station. The box alarm system will increase the number of fire fighters from five to fifteen at the scene within eight minutes.

mail-1The city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township jointly funded a professional study on the costs and options for creating a regional police authority. Results of the study are due this spring. It will outline the feasibility of creating a separate police authority and what steps would be required if both municipalities decide to move forward. This is only the first step, and a police authority may or may not be in the best interest of both the city and the township. But it’s a significant step for both municipalities to explore the option together.

Another big step forward occurred when Ypsilanti voters overwhelmingly approved a 0.9 mill public transit city charter amendment. This three-to-one vote in favor of public transportation creates a stable source of revenue for Ypsilanti bus routes that have previously been subject to annual uncertainties. Ypsilanti’s transportation charter millage complements Ann Arbor’s dedicated transportation charter millage. Now the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority can plan for county-wide transportation system improvements, such as increasing bus route 4 service.

Further examples of collaboration with other communities include:

• the city of Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township, the city of Ann Arbor, and Pittsfield Township are investigating the creation of a Washtenaw Avenue Corridor Improvement Authority that would coordinate zoning by municipalities, add sidewalks and bike access, and make Washtenaw more attractive to business and commuters,
• Ypsilanti has contracted with Washtenaw County for information technology services and police dispatch services, with Huron Valley Ambulance for fire dispatch services, and with Pittsfield Township for building inspection services,
• Ypsilanti City Council has asked AMTRAK to consider reinstating the Ypsilanti stop on the Wolverine line, and
• Ypsilanti collaborated with Washtenaw County to create the Washtenaw Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy that can be used to apply for grants and develop business plans.

In summary, Governor Snyder’s budget shifts state-shared revenue, Michigan Historic Tax Credits, Brownfield tax incentives, and other funding away from older urban core cities like Ypsilanti. In the face of falling property tax revenues, cities like Ypsilanti desperately need this funding to thrive. Instead of encouraging suburban sprawl, now is the time to invest in urban cities that attract young entrepreneurs and families. We must continue the renovation, innovation, and collaboration that make Ypsilanti an attractive urban city. The city of Ypsilanti will continue to work with neighboring communities, State Senator Rebekah Warren, State Representative David Rutledge, and other legislators to make our voices heard at the state level. In this economy, we need everyone’s help.

And, yes, my feelings are kind of hurt that he didn’t mention my now thriving nutria colony among the highlights of 2010.

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  1. Glen S.
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    1. We in Ypsilanti remain lucky to have good leadership, capable management, and committed citizens. Despite the extraordinary challenges Ypsilanti has faced over the last few years, we’ve been blessed with good leaders (like Mayor Schreiber), very capable and efficient City staff, and remarkably committed and creative citizens who’ve been willing to take risks and roll up their sleeves to make good things happen. While it may be easy to complain about a decision, or quibble over a policy here or there, I would be hard-pressed to think of a Michigan community that has taken more hard knocks — yet continued to aspire to re-invent itself in a positive, desirable, and unique way.

    2.) A package of legislation that is now speeding its way through Lansing — featuring deep cuts to revenue sharing to Michigan cities, the elimination of brownfield, historic preservation, and other redevelopment tax credits, and changes to the “Emergency Financial Manager” (EFM) rules — poses an unprecedented, and dare I say, existential, threat to Ypsilanti and many other older, urban Michigan communities. Unless we want to see much of the progress we’ve all worked so hard for over the years undone by having these radical Tea Party-inspired policies imposed upon us, I urge everyone to get informed (and inform your neighbors) — and do everything possible to stop this legislation before it gets finalized.

  2. Posted March 2, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Those three charts are very depressing. They forecast the depletion of the city’s reserves in 2014 with the revenue sharing cut, or in 2015 without the cut. At that point, Ypsilanti will be running an annual deficit of about $2.5 million, compared to annual revenues of about $7.5 to $8 million. We seem to be out of options for increasing revenue, so it seems apparent that we will need to cut the city budget by 25% above and beyond any cuts included in this projection.

    To Mayor Schrieber and our many city councilpeople who read this blog, my question is, how do you propose to cut Ypsilanti’s budget by a further 25% within the next 3 years?

  3. karen
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Is the mayor and council going to introduce new policy to support this renovation, innovation, and collaboration theme?

    What was the innovation part of the speech?

    The speech had a lot of the same accomplishments as last year.

  4. Ez Marsay
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Can I quickly reiterate an earlier query?

    Will someone take a minute and jot down a list of local corporations/organizations/institutions, etc., that the Governor is close to and/or involved in?

  5. TaterSalad
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 11:10 am | Permalink


    The University Bank in Ann Arbor, Michigan is now going “Sharia” compliant. Do not do business with this bank and here is why:

  6. Ben
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Mark, There is no OPRA grant for 207 W. Michigan Avenue. Please get your facts straight.

  7. tommy
    Posted March 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Just read this article from last week’s NY Times Magazine about another Rust Belt town that is working hard to make things better in their little town. It is a lot of work, and anyone who is involved in similar endeavors in Ypsi (probably many MM readers) deserves some love.

  8. Glen S.
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 5:53 am | Permalink

    @ cmadler, re: your question: “how do you propose to cut Ypsilanti’s budget by a further 25% within the next 3 years?” — I think you’ve nailed it.

    Ypsilanti is a prime example of how Michigan’s system of funding local government is completely broken. As Mayor Schreiber points out above, we can’t raise taxes or fees — yet under Snyder’s proposed budget, the state aid that we (and other Michigan communities) receive from Lansing (in exchange for being prohibited by the the State from raising taxes or fees) will soon be slashed or eliminated.

    Since Ypsilanti already has been cutting for over a decade (our overall budget and staffing levels are at historic lows), and, since a certain level of administrative staffing is required to provide State-mandated services — registering deeds, administering elections, etc. — the elephant in the room is that soon, all we’ll be left to consider is the 60% or so of the budget that pays police and fire protection.

    If it comes to that, it seems our only choice left would be to cut positions — leaving our community with inadequate public safety protection — or, to cut public employees’ bargained-for wages, benefits and pension obligations.

    As I’ve pointed out on other threads — this is why the agenda that our “moderate” Governor Snyder and the new Republican majority in Lansing is putting forth is so dangerous — and so insidious: Unlike Wisconsin Governor Walker — who has basically decided to take on the question of public employee’s wages and benefits full-on, in the glare of the national spotlight — Snyder (ever the clever businessman) plans to simply “outsource” the dirty work of cutting public employee staffing levels, wages and benefits to local elected officials (mayors, city council members, school boards, and school superintendents, etc.).

    And, just to be sure that no local community or school district strays from their Tea Party-inspired fiscal suicide, Snyder and Co. are also fast-tracking a new “Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Policy on Steroids:”

    This legislation, which has already passed the House, and is on its way to the Senate, would basically allow the State to take over any local community or school district they deem (by their own, subjective criteria) to be in a state of “crisis;” fire the locally elected officials (mayor, city council, school board members, etc.); and replace them with private, for-profit corporate management. If this happens, you would be obliged to continue to obey the law and pay your taxes — but would have absolutely no say in how your community is managed, how your tax dollars are spent, etc.

    EFMs will have the power to fire any and all staff, void contracts, conduct no-bid sales of city property (including parks) — and even dissolve local units of government and/or merge them with other entities — again, all without any pubic input, or vote. And, since managing our local affairs would, in effect, become a “profit center,” their would be virtually no incentive for these private contractors to declare a crisis over, and return management to officials elected by the citizens.

    And, in case anybody thinks these EFMs will be appointed only in rare, or extreme cases, it is also worth noting that the Snyder administration is already in the process of training untold numbers of people to hold these new positions:

    So, call me an alarmist — but I don’t trust Snyder or the Republicans to look out for the best interests of older, urban, diverse communities like Ypsilanti. And looking at our City’s budget projections — coupled with the legislation (calling for more deep cuts to revenue-sharing, and the prospect of dozens of new State-appointed EFMs) that is currently speeding through Lansing, I am deeply concerned for the future of our community.

    The questions is: What can we do about it?

  9. Rose
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    The Governor sends his daughter to Greenhills private school, so she won’t bear the brunt of his brutal cuts to public education.

  10. Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:00 am | Permalink


    That statement was made by the Mayor, not by Mark.

  11. Posted March 3, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    @Ben – I believe Mark was simply copying & pasting from the Mayor’s report; if there’s an error, I assume it’s in the source.

  12. karen
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Why did council give out an opra to the bbq joint and then take it back?

  13. Edward
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    At some point in the not too distant future, half the state will be in receivorship.

  14. Ben
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    @murph, @cmadler. I realized after reading further that this was just a copy and paste from the state of the city address. I couldn’t believe that the Mayor’s office could make so many mistakes in a single sentence. First, there was never an OPRA grant for the named property and the business name is Red Rock Downtown Barbecue, not Red Rock Rib Joint. I apologize for jumping to conclusions that Mark had misquoted the Mayor.

  15. Tommy
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    OPRAs in town? Where is the pencil drawing???

  16. Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Ben is right. The Red Rock Downtown Barbecue at 207 W. Michigan received a redevelopment liquor license approval from city council, not an OPRA. Sorry for the mistake.

    I appreciate Mark pasting the state of the city on

    Paul Schreiber

  17. Knox
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    In the whole scheme of things, it seems like a relatively minor mistake. I thought that people would be more interested in discussing the fact that, as cmadler mentions, we’re about to walk right off a cliff and into the abyss.

  18. karen
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Does council even talk about this kind of stuff? Or is everything great in their opinion?

  19. Posted March 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    City council discussed the financial issues at four goal setting meetings and will have budget discussions in May for the budget year starting July 1. The joint Ypsilanti City/Township police authority report should be published this month. Hearings on the state budget are ongoing. The city has a lot of work and some tough decisions to make during the next year.

    Regular city council meetings are open and the public is more than welcome.

    Paul Schreiber

  20. karen
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Do you have any proposals? Or should we wait until May?

  21. Posted March 3, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink


    Deep cuts to revenue sharing to Michigan cities and the elimination of brownfield, historic preservation, and other redevelopment tax credits are NOT Tea Party inspired changes – these are pure Rick Snyder.

    If you, like me, understand the disastrous impact of these proposals on cities like Ypsilanti and therefore do not want them to become law, then I encourage you to prepare a set of talking points from a business-like perspective showing how these tax credits improve the long term financial viability of local governments (and therefore reduce costs to the state and the need for those pesky “emergency financial managers!).

    In the same vein, I would love to see a cogent argument showing why state revenue sharing to local governments is both a commitment made long ago by the state AND an efficient use of state resources. MML ought to be able to do this, but I also think that Ypsilanti’s successful efforts since 2008 to rein in spending, maintain key services in the face of collapsing revenues, and take advantage of shared services and contracting with other communities ought to be a model for how to do things at the local level.

    Whatever revenue sharing system that comes out of this budget fight ought to result in an increase for the City of Ypsilanti, based on all that has been done since 2008.

  22. Pete Murdock
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a link to the Michigan Municipal League’s Fact Sheet on Revenue Sharing.

    Unlike you, I think we can be assured that whatever comes out of the revenue sharing debate, Ypsilanti will get less than it does now. And don’t forget the 15% reduction in the already partially funded Fire Protection Allocation to provide fire protection service to EMU.

  23. Ale Roka
    Posted March 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    Glen S.,

    I’ve been following your comments and agree about the potential for severe harm to our community, among many others. I also feel the temporary paralysis posed by your unanswered question: “What can we do about it?”

    Right now, I can think of nothing we can do. Obviously, writing our elected officials is either preaching to the choir or crying on deaf ears.

    As evidenced in Madison, we, as a people, are much better at responding to concrete, versus theoretical, threats. The more potent question may be: “What will we do?”

    I humbly suggest that, if it comes to that, we cut the state dictator’s EMF manager’s body into small pieces and send them to back to our congress and governor. I’m open to other suggestions, but violent opposition to state tyranny seems like a reasonable response. Or, maybe, we could make posters and hold a starvation vigil. Either way.

    Right now, I’m waiting. But if Snyder tries to take over Ypsilanti, it must make an ugly, bloody national news. I, like you, am open to other ideas.

  24. Glen S.
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    @ Ale

    I appreciate your, uh, “enthusiasm,” but how about we start by just trying to get our friends and neighbors informed about what’s being proposed, and just take it from there, huh?

  25. EOS
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    How about proposing a budget that limits future spending to anticipated revenues.

  26. Ale Roka
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    EOS, if I’d limited my personal decisions to that kind of thinking I’d still be living with my parents and working at the gas station.

  27. Ale Roka
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    Glen S., Got it. Rally the troops, so to speak, and “take it from there.” (wink, wink)

  28. EOS
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    The credit cards will have to be paid off eventually and you get no benefit from paying the accrued interest.

  29. Posted March 4, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Pete, I agree that communicating with our own (D) representative and state senator would not be an effective use of time and resources – they are going to oppose any and all state spending cuts and will most certainly vote against Gov. Snyder’s proposal for state revenue sharing changes.

    However, I completely disagree with the comment that communicating with GOP legislators, especially those representing parts of Washtenaw, southern Oakland, and western Wayne counties would not be worthwhile. It is essential that Ypsilanti residents, business owners, and especially SCIT activists be effective in telling the city’s story of fiscal restraint and history of intergovernmental cooperation efforts since the city income tax proposal was slapped down in 2007.

    There will be quite a number of GOP legislators who will not be fond of Gov. Snyder’s revenue sharing scheme, and will be looking for support to stand with cities like Ypsilanti. A far greater percentage has been cut from state revenue sharing to municipalities than has been cut from colleges and universities for example. If we do not give those GOP legislators good reasons to support a reasonable revenue sharing formula that does not cut the legs out from under Ypsilanti, then we will lose.

    If this republican can regularly (and successfully) lobby Democrats, surely you Democrats can handle talking with or writing to some of those new republicans in Lansing!

  30. Posted March 4, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    The big challenge with our new Governor is that he doesn’t know any cities, other than perhaps Ann Arbor – which is hardly a representative example.

    He lives in what he would probably consider a “rural” township location, and has no local government experience. His business background will be a big help in fixing the fiscal disaster left behind by Gov. Granholm, but his lack of understanding about cities like Ypsilanti will cause unintended consequences unless we city residents take the time to help him develop a better understanding.

  31. Ez Marsay
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    “. . . but his lack of understanding about cities like Ypsilanti will cause unintended consequences unless we city residents take the time to help him develop a better understanding.”

    The naivete is breathtaking. The consequences are entirely intended: glance through Snyder’s CV and let us know when you find advocacy on behalf of the working class and/or disenfranchised.

    “If you want to be perfect, go and sell what you own and give to the poor, and you’ll find treasure in heaven. —Matthew 19:21

  32. Kim
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Snyder’s kids go to private school and he has a personal security detail. He does worry that there are 60 kids in a class, and fewer cops on patrol. It would be great if we could get him to move his family into West Willow for a little lesson in how the other half lives, but it’s not going to happen. His solution for the poor is to have them leave the state.

  33. Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    And note that in Governor Rick Walker’s [sic] proposed budget, there’s an increase in state funding for the funerals of Wisconsinites who die in poverty.

  34. Glen S.
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    @Ez Marsay

    Now THAT’S compassionate conservatism!

  35. Ez Marsay
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    “Since 1996 I have fought for wage increases.
    My father before me fought for wage increases.
    Now I have a TV, a laptop, and a Prius.
    Yet my whole life has been a drag.
    Don’t negotiate with the bosses. Abolish them.”

  36. John Galt
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    What have the poor done to deserve costly funerals? I say we burn their bodies to heat our mansions.

  37. Posted March 4, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    They are helpful for cleaning up Republican horse ranches.

  38. Ale Roka
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink


    Credit cards? Who the hell said anything about interest and fucking credit cards?

  39. Ale Roka
    Posted March 4, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    If you want to succeed in business, you provide better services at better rates. Government can and should do the same. Are you stuck in fucking eight grade math? What the hell are you advocating? Besides failure.

  40. Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    @Ale – you’re new here. Allow me to point you to some resources for understanding EOS.

  41. Jeebus
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    “If you want to be perfect, go and take what others own and give to yourselves and your voting base, and you’ll find power on earth.” —Matthew 19:21

  42. Posted March 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    Clearly someone wasn’t listening in Sunday school. Or maybe you just went to one of those new, evangelical mega-churches, where Christ is depicted as a cross between Gordon Gecko and Dirty Hairy. Either way, I feel sorry for you, Jeebus.

  43. Posted March 5, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Getting back to the matter at hand, what’s to be done? I like bitching and back biting as much as the next guy, but it’s not going to help Ypsi much. As I see it, there are two things we need to do. FIrst, we need to lure new business and investment to Water Street, and, second, we need to join together with other communities, like Ypsilanti, to put pressure on our new Governor to make his cuts more equitable, as we’ve discussed in earlier threads. What else?

  44. Glen S.
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Mark.

    I agree with your assessment, but think the order of priority should be reversed.

    The package of draconian legislation that is speeding through Lansing — including deep cuts to revenue-sharing, elimination of brownfield and historic preservation tax credits, the dreaded EFM legislation, etc. — will likely be passed and signed into law within the coming months, if not weeks. At this point, too few people are paying attention to this, and therefore, too few people understand the magnitude of the impacts on their communities. Therefore, I think the Republicans have every reason to get these bills passed as quickly as possible, and before they arouse too much opposition.

    That’s why I think it is critical that we build an alliance as quickly as possible with other communities — not just already-broke communities like already Ecorse and Pontiac , but also with struggling communities like Allen Park and Troy, and for that matter Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Monroe, etc. … that all are struggling with their budgets and are likely to be caught in the budget cross-hairs very soon. I think we also need to enlist help from folks who are not only politically savvy, but also creative thinkers who are skilled in marketing and public relations, etc., who can help us frame this debate, and tell our story — in order to help us focus local, statewide and national attention on what’s at stake.

    Again, I totally agree about the need to re-double our efforts to attract new residents and businesses to Ypsilanti, but even under the best of circumstances, that’s going to take time. That’s why I think our first priority right now has to be to organize ourselves (and others) to fend off the imminent threat.

  45. Posted March 5, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Glen, I wasn’t suggesting that one should come before the other, but I appreciate your thoughts on which might be most important. And, for what it’s worth, I agree with your assessment. As for who leads this, what are your thoughts on the Suburbs Alliance? If I’m not mistaken, they are supposed to represent the interests of the older communities in SE Michigan, like Ypsi. Might they be a good organization to rally the troops and lead the charge?

  46. Posted March 5, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Mark, much as I appreciate the shout-out to one of my favorite organizations (one that employs me, incidentally), most 501(c)(3)s are pretty limited in their ability to do this sort of lobbying, based on funding sources and various regulations around them.

    This is more traditionally the realm of SEMCOG or the Michigan Municipal League, each of which, by merit of their funding structures, are much better positioned to take the lead on legislative issues like this.

    The Suburbs Alliance has made formal testimony against the EFM bill, which you can find on record via the House Committee on Local, Intergovernmental, and Regional Affairs’ website, along with other parties’ testimony. However, I’d look to the other organizations mentioned as having this type of legislative lobbying as much more a “core competency”. (Ypsi is a member of all three.)

  47. Posted March 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the note, Murph. Do you know what, if anything, either SEMCOG or the Michigan Municipal League has in mind in terms of a response? Is it safe to assume that Ypsi has been consulted, and that a formal response to the Snyder budget will be made in the near future?

  48. Jeebus
    Posted March 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Or, maybe, I was illustrating that Jesus commanded his followers to be generous with their OWN money, rather than covet other people’s money.

    Jesus fulfilled this commandment for us by giving away all he had (his heavenly glory, and earthly life) to buy salvation for the spiritually destitute (his chosen faithful out of every race), despite their being unable to keep His commands.

  49. Posted March 6, 2011 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Since when are business people suited for government? Businesses are rarely fiscally responsible, often speculating on future profits, crassly protectionist, wildly nepotistic, commonly bribe one another for market advantages, and rarely if ever have the welfare of their workers in mind. Businesses’ main goals are short term profit for it’s owners and stockholders, vastly different from the (speaking from ideals) goals of governments, which restrain certain sectors and promote others for the long-term welfare of a nation.

    This has been the way that government has been run for the past several decades. We have seen time and again that it doesn’t work.

  50. Glen S.
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks Mark for keeping this important conversation going, and thanks, Murph, for clarifying the role of the Suburbs Alliance vs. MML, etc.

    In addition to leveraging traditional inter-governmental organizations like MML and SEMCOG, we’ll also need to (quickly) build some kind of unified, umbrella organization made up of citizens, municipalities, school districts, unions, social service and environmental groups, etc., that will be powerful enough to counter this threat.

    To underscore this point, today’s Detroit News is reporting that a new group “Value for Michigan” has formed to support and lobby for the Snyder/Republican agenda, and is already building a Facebook and Twitter presence, and asking people to sign an online petition, etc.:

    In the article, a Snyder spokesperson takes great pains to explain that this new group is “a totally independent effort and the Gov. Snyder administration is not affiliated in any way, shape or form.”

    Personally, me thinks the Governor doth protest too much — but even if true, it isn’t hard to imagine who is likely behind “Value for Michigan” — the usual National Chamber of Commerce and Club for Growth types, with perhaps a little Koch money thrown in for good measure.

    In any case, it is clear that whatever effort we organize to defeat this will need to gear up quickly, since I imagine it will only be a matter of time before the “Value for Michigan” ads debut …

  51. Glen S.
    Posted March 6, 2011 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    FYI I checked the election committee database on the Michigan SOS website, and “Value for Michigan” is registered as an “independent political action committee” with John P. Yob as its treasurer.

    A quick Google search turned up the following biography for Mr. Yob, courtesy of the website for — I kid you not — the Missouri Federation of Young Republicans:

    “John Patrick Yob is a leading Republican political consultant in Michigan with significant experience in national politics. He has appeared in the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, and numerous national mediums including USA Today and Inside Edition.

    He started his political life in College Republicans and rose to the position of Executive Director and General Chairman of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC). Former CRNC leaders include Karl Rove, Lee Atwater, Grover Norquist, and Ralph Reed.

    Yob was the lead consultant for Terri Lynn Land’s successful race for Secretary of State of Michigan in 2002 and assisted with Mike Cox’s 5200-vote margin of victory the same year. Land won with a larger margin than any other open seat victory in Michigan in fifty years. Yob also handles media relations for John Ramsey, father of slain beauty queen Jon Bene’t Ramsey.

    Yob has owned a political polling company since 2001 is currently a lead partner in Strategic National Consulting, a firm with clients including Senator John McCain’s Straight Talk Express, the Republican National Committee Member Senate Fund, and numerous legislative clients.

    John is 29 years old and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.”

    Need I say more?

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