Washtenaw County Commissioners accused of making “veiled threats” in an attempt to force an Ann Arbor takeover of the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

Last night, during a committee meeting of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, Commissioner Alicia Ping made public the fact that several of her fellow commissioners had attempted to broker a “backroom” deal that would close the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (YACVB) and effectively shift its $1.1 million budget to the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (AAACVB). According to Ping, her fellow commissioners, who had called this private meeting with members of the YACVB board, not only gave the mistaken impression that they spoke on behalf of the entire board, but they employed “veiled threats” in hopes of securing a deal that would see the Ypsilanti bureau defunded and closed. Here’s video from last night’s meeting. The woman speaking is Commissioner Ping.

Having been made aware of this, I called Debbie Locke-Daniel, the head of the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and asked whether or not she was at the “backroom” meeting referenced by Ping, and, if so, what was said by those Commissioners present. Here’s our discussion.

For those of you who aren’t able to listen, here are a few of the highlights:

According to Locke-Daniel, four members of the Board of Commissioners were present at the meeting referenced by Ping. They were, Conan Smith, Andy LaBarre, Felicia Brabec and Ronnie Peterson. These four made it clear to Locke-Daniel and members of the YACVB board that they had the votes necessary to defund their organization and move the funds to the AAACVB, with or without their consent. They did not say, however, who would cast the fifth and deciding vote. [There are nine members of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, and it would require a majority, or five votes, in order to force a merger of bureaus.] I asked Locke-Daniel if it could be possible that they were bluffing about having a fifth vote, hoping to get them to agree to terms of merger without having to first call a vote, and she said that she wasn’t sure. She did say, however, that it could just be that they didn’t want to have their fifth person with them, as having a closed meeting in which a majority of our County Commissioners were present would have been a violation of the Open Meetings Act.

When asked why Ronnie Peterson, who is Ypsilanti’s representative on the board, had chosen to cast his vote with those commissioners trying to defund the YACVB, Locke-Daniel gave a response that I didn’t quite understand. She said, if I understood correctly, that Peterson had told her that he was voting for a merger as it was a forgone conclusion, and he wanted to be able to secure the best deal possible for the people of Ypsilanti. As they apparently told Locke-Daniel that, with Peterson’s vote, they had the five they needed to force a merger, though, this doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. If they have five votes with Peterson, that means they would only have four without him, which wouldn’t be enough to force a merger.

We didn’t get into a lot of detail concerning what was offered during this closed-door meeting in order to get Locke-Daniel and her team onboard, but it sounds as though local control of funds was off the table. So, even if the agreement called for the same amount of dollars to be spent in Ypsilanti, it would be up to a board composed largely of Ann Arbor appointees to decide where and how said funds should be spent.

I’m not sure where exactly this leaves us. In spite of all of the letters of support in favor of keeping our own bureau dedicated to promoting Ypsi as something other than a community in proximity to Ann Arbor, it looks as though a group of commissioners is committed to the idea of moving the money to the AAACVB, and I’m not sure how we change that. My only thought at this point is that we should all start calling and writing Ronnie Peterson, asking him to reconsider his decision to vote against the wishes of the community he was hired to represent. [If you do get through to Ronnie, please leave a comment here and let me know how he responds to you.]

As for Ping’s reference to “veiled threats,” I didn’t get into it with Locke-Daniel, but, based on Ping’s public comments, it would seem reasonable to assume that the representatives from Ypsilanti were told that, if they didn’t accept the deal being offered, they could expect to see no spending on behalf of Ypsilanti once the bureaus merged.

AliciaPing

HERE, BY WAY OF BACKGROUND, IS SOMETHING I’D WRITTEN EARLIER THIS SUMMER ABOUT THESE ATTEMPTS ON THE PART OF CONAN SMITH AND COMPANY TO FORCE A MERGER BETWEEN OUR RESPECTIVE BUREAUS.

(M)embers of the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners are considering the possibility of forcing a merger between the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (YACVB) and its counterpart in Ann Arbor. This, as I understand it from my sources, is something that the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (AAACVB) has been trying to see accomplished for over a decade, but it would seem that they may have finally gotten enough support at the County level to make it happen, and it has me wondering what the impact might be for Ypsilanti, which, in my opinion, has been doing an increasingly good job these past few years of promoting itself as a City with its own unique character, independent of Ann Arbor.

The idea behind this – the idea that we should brand ourselves consistently across the County as “the greater Ann Arbor region” – by the way, isn’t new. I can remember back, over a decade ago, when it was decided to replace our regional economic development group, the Washtenaw Development Council, with what we now call Ann Arbor SPARK. The brand that resonates with people outside the region, we were told, wasn’t Washtenaw County, but Ann Arbor, and, given that, we should let them take the lead. We’d all benefit, they said. And, it would seem, we bought into it, thinking that we’d have a better chance of attracting the interest of developers and the like. All we had to do was submit to the all-powerful Ann Arbor brand and become part of “the greater Ann Arbor region.” A dozen years or so into the experiment, I don’t know that we can call it a victory for Ypsilanti. While Ann Arbor continues to grow by leaps and bounds, all that we have, after a decade, is a new dollar store.

Along these same lines, we were told a few years ago that for the sake of efficiency, we should combine our Chambers of Commerce. We were assured at the time that the new entity would maintain a presence in downtown Ypsilanti, and they did… for a little while. Eventually, that office closed. Now, from what I hear, we have one Chamber employee, who can, “every once in a while,” be found at a desk inside SPARK East.

[note: According to Angela Barbash, the founder of Ypsilanti’s Reconsider, the Chamber presence in Ypsilanti is virtually nonexistent these days. “I haven’t seen a Chamber representative at SPARK East for at least nine months,” she told me today. “They don’t even make an appearance at the monthly ‘start your own business’ class that’s held there.” She went on to say, “I should also note that the Chamber was unresponsive to three outreach requests we made last fall when we were launching venture LOCAL. We were definitely disappointed.”]

…So, you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a bit skeptical when told that Ypsilanti will come away from a merger better than we went into it. Ceding our uniqueness, I think, to become just another part of “the greater Ann Arbor region,” would be a huge mistake.

And, when I say that Ypsi’s identity would be lost, by the way, I’m not just being paranoid. Sean Duval, the board chair of the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau told the Ann Arbor News, “It’s absolutely our vision to see one countywide marketing agency, one voice for the Ann Arbor area.”

How can two completely distinct cities speak with a single voice? And why is it that they should have to? Are people really out there, staring at their computer screens, completely bewildered by the fact that two cities less than ten miles apart define themselves differently? Are there people really out there saying, “Wow, I really wanted to go to Ann Arbor for vacation, but I see that there’s a different town a few miles away with a different name and a different idea as to how to promote themselves, and I’m so damned confused that I’m going to stay home”?

Apparently, in the opinion of Joseph Sefcovic, the president of the Washtenaw County Hotel and Motel Association, the answer is, “Yes.” In a letter sent to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners on January 22, Sefcovic wrote, “maintaining two CVBs creates an undeniable identity crises and confusion for our region.”

Have you ever met anyone… even one person… who is confused by the concept that Ann Arbor is one city, and Ypsilanti is another?

Before we go one step further, I’d like to ask Duval and Sefcovic to provide examples of this confusion, and evidence that it has cost Ann Arbor tourism dollars. If it’s as big of a problem as they suggest, I don’t imagine it will be too difficult of a task.

Of course, it’s also possible that this has absolutely nothing to do with confusion, and everything to do with money. There is, after all, a lot of money on the table. And it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Ann Arbor’s hotel owners wanted it all for themselves, to promote their message, and to try to pull more big events into their city, at the expense of Ypsilanti. But who would be so cynical as to suggest that?

Following, from the Ann Arbor News, are the financials.

…Every hotel bill in the county includes a 5 percent tax–raised from 2 percent in 2009–that is levied to fund the area’s convention and visitors bureaus. The county keeps 10 percent of the funds raised for administration costs, and then splits the remaining 90 percent between the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The AAACVB receives 75 percent of the available funding while the YACVB gets the remaining 25 percent. Revenue captured by the tax has risen significantly each of the past two years. The county collected $4.68 million in 2013 and unaudited figures show the tax generated $5.21 million in revenue in 2014.

Under the current revenue splitting contracts, which expire in 2015, the Ypsilanti area bureau received approximately $1.17 million from the taxes collected in 2014 and the Ann Arbor area bureau received about $3.52 million…

Agreeing to give Ypsilanti 25% of a smaller pie may have been more palatable. But, as the pie gets bigger, I have to think there are people in Ann Arbor who are thinking, “Just imagine what we could do with another $1.17 million.”

So, the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners voted on March 4 to call together a task force to look at how the county distributes the monies brought in via the excise tax. They, as I understand it, can’t technically force a merger, but they have the power to shift where the money goes. So, in effect, if they wanted to, they could force a merger to happen, making the members of the Washtenaw County Hotel and Motel Association, and the AAAVCB, very happy… The only people, it would seem, who don’t want this to happen are those of us in Ypsilanti, and it’s not clear to me that we have much power to stop it. Hopefully, I’m wrong about that.

The task force will consist of four Washtenaw County Commissioners; Andy LaBarre (Ann Arbor), Ruth Ann Jamnick (Ypsilanti Township), Ronnie Peterson (Ypsilanti), and Alicia Ping (Saline). If you have an opinion on this, I’d suggest that you write to one or all of them. You’ll find their contact information here

[The above has been slightly edited. If you would like to read the full text of the original post, and the several dozen comments which followed it, just click here. Also, if you want to go even deeper on the subject, I’d suggest listening to episode 12 of the Saturday Six Pack, during which Debbie Locke-Daniel and I talk at length about his.]

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55 Comments

  1. Posted September 3, 2015 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I mentioned the episode of the Saturday Six Pack during which we discuss this debate. For those of you who won’t follow the link, here’s the background from that post.

    While, as Deb said, there are rumblings about closing the Ypsilanti bureau every five years or so, when it comes time to renew their contract with the County, it seems as though this time the threat is considerably more serious. For one thing, there’s now a lot more money on the table… When the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureaus were launched, in 1975, they were funded by a 2% hotel tax. Now, forty years later, that tax has grown to 5%, and the dollars associated are considerably more substantial. The annual budget of the YACVB is presently $1.1 million, whereas the budget for the AAACVB is $4.1 million. As Deb noted, there were serious efforts to shut down the department years ago, when the annual budget was just $340,000, so it’s no real surprise that there would be a more concerted effort to bring that money to Ann Arbor now that it totals over $1 million. And, on top of this, it would seem that people in Ann Arbor are motivated to grab this cash now, as it’s become common knowledge that Deb is planning to retire. “It’s absolutely no coincidence,” she said, that this is happening now, after she publicly mentioned the likelihood of retirement.

    [Ypsi History Minute: According to Deb, Ypsi’s State Rep, Gary Owen, only agreed to help push through the 1975 State bill that created the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, once it had been agreed to that a sister entity would be created in Ypsilanti, which would receive 25% of the disbursable hotel taxes collected across the County. This arrangement has now been in place for 40 years.]

    While Deb acknowledged that there is room for improvement, as the sales departments of the two bureaus occasionally cross paths in their efforts to attract people to local hotels, she said that she was “very skeptical, based on history, that (Ypsilanti) would get the kind of promotion that (it does) right now,” with her six-person office, if the responsibility for promoting our community is handed to Ann Arbor… If the Ypsilanti bureau is forced to close, she said, “The voice of Ypsilanti will die.”

    The Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, she said, has their hands full, “just keeping the Ann Arbor brand burning.”

    I might be inclined to consider the possibility of a merger, if we hadn’t just gone through pretty much the same thing with our Chambers of Commerce. When the Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce and the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce merged, we were told that the new entity would keep an office in Ypsilanti. And they did, for a little while. Then, we were told, they would have a dedicated person in the Ypsilanti offices of Ann Arbor SPARK. And they did, for a little while. The last I’d heard, though, that person hadn’t been seen at his Ypsilanti desk for several months, and was unresponsive to calls from local business owners. So, while I can appreciate in theory the idea that dollars might be stretched further with one office, I think history shows us that Ypsi usually comes out with the short end of the stick in such arrangements.

    We are constantly told, “The local brand is Ann Arbor.” We’re told, as Deb put it during the show, that we’ll benefit from the “glow” given off by Ann Arbor. In reality, though, that doesn’t happen. And that’s why we need to push back on this, and fight for the ability to articulate and disseminate our own message, independent of Ann Arbor. When the Washtenaw Development Council was closed and replaced by Ann Arbor SPARK, we were told the same thing. “Ann Arbor is the powerful national brand,” we were told. “Invest in marketing Ann Arbor, and good things will trickle down to the surrounding communities.” Well, we’ve been at it for a decade now, and have you seen good things trickling down? While I see several new buildings going up in Ann Arbor, all I see in Ypsi is a new dollar store on Michigan Avenue. And this, I think, is why we need to fight this fight.

  2. Anonymous
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    What’s in it for Ronnie Peterson? Clearly Conan has made him some kind of offer. I wonder what it is.

  3. Mr. X
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    My sense is that we’re not privy to what is really going on here. I don’t have any proof, but I think it may have something to do with the 150 room hotel being proposed for Ann Arbor’s downtown library lot. Is is possible that, in order to get Ann Arbor’s existing hotel owners onboard, the commissioners promised that they would put another $1.1 million annually into promoting Ann Arbor?

  4. Andrew Clock
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    ‪‎Ypsilanti‬ residents may not be able to do much about the actions Washtenaw County, Michigan Commissioner Conan Smith’s underhanded efforts to destroy Visit Ypsilanti in order to appease his wealthy Ann Arbor hotel owner masters, but we can start efforts to ‪#‎RecallRonniePeterson‬, our County Commission representative, for failing to represent the interests of his constituents here in Ypsi. And if there is any truth to what Mark has written here, we should probably go ahead and get the petition in order.

  5. Meta
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Conan Smith told the Ann Arbor News that the “back room” meeting was intended as “an outreach of friendship.”

    Conan Smith and Brabec both said the meeting was not intended to pressure anyone and expressed disappointment that it came off that way.

    “It was an outreach of friendship,” Smith said. “I didn’t hear anyone saying they would be punished if they weren’t there. It was simply an invitation to come talk.”

    A task force chaired by Ruth Ann Jamnick, D-Ypsilanti Township, heard testimony from both organizations’ staffs, board members and the general public over the course of three months but was unable to make a recommendation to the board. The two bureaus entered a concurrent mediation process but that also failed to initiate any significant progress.

    Brabec said all nine commissioners have been involved in different discussions about how best to divide the tax and have tried to “zoom out” as they look at the issue.

    “Unfortunately in the task force it boiled down to a ‘one CVB or two CVBs’ question,” she said. “We’re trying to think about it more globally, about what we want to see happen with this money.”

    Brabec hopes to convene further discussions before the Sept. 16 board meeting that will include representatives of both CVBs and the board of commissioners. Locke-Daniel said her leadership team was told at the end of its meeting on Monday that the commissioners would be interested in hearing feedback on the proposed single CVB and how it could be made more effective.

    “It always comes down to our position on behalf of the entire community is that we’ll be looking out for the best interests of this [east] side of the county,” she said. “No matter how this plays out.”

    Read more:
    http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/09/washtenaw_county_board_nearing.html

  6. Reason
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    FWIW, I don’t believe that Conan hates Ypsilanti or wants us to fail. I think he truly believes, as do many others, that the best way to grow the region is by promoting the Ann Arbor brand. Unfortunately I don’t see this happening, though. For all the growth in Ann Arbor, our poverty rates continue to rise. And I don’t see enough being done at the County level to help reverse this. Are they building affordable housing in Ann Arbor to take the pressure off of Ypsi? Are they seriously considering the merger of our school districts, as was suggested in the Affordable Housing report commissioned by the County? Once they start doing these things, I might be more inclined to take them at their word. As it is, though, it looks like a money grab on behalf of rich, Ann Arbor hoteliers that don’t give a damn about the fight we’re engaged in to make things better in Ypsilanti.

  7. Posted September 4, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I’ve talked to Conan about this, and I’d say trying to pin some vast conspiracy on him because of the “Ann Arbor” behind his name, rather than being willing to have an actual conversation about options, is a great way to lose an ally and seal the fate of the Ypsi CVB.

    Which could be just what Ping has in mind here. She has an “R” behind her name — putting her on the wrong side of a 7-2 partisan split — but she’s not dumb: she knows she can appeal to Ypsi’s insecurity and knee-jerk reactions to weaken her colleagues on the other side of the table. Whether she wants 1 CVB, or wants 2 but knows it’s a lost cause, stirring up chaos among friends by tossing accusations of bullying would be a pretty solid political tactic.

  8. maryd
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Reason, I agree. We watched how Ann Arbor reacted to merging schools with Whitmore Lake Schools. If the county is serious about consolidation, schools would be a great place to begin.

  9. Posted September 4, 2015 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    And, to be clear, I have not spoken to Conan since this was posted, but previously. Nor have I spoken to the others in the group, but given who was in that meeting, I’d expect all to be genuinely interested in a 3rd way solution that isn’t “yes or no” wholesale merger vs. status quo.

    In particular, this strikes me as interesting from your radio show writeup, [i]Deb acknowledged that there is room for improvement, as the sales departments of the two bureaus occasionally cross paths in their efforts to attract people to local hotels[/i]

    If the hotelliers are complaining about “brand confusion” in having 2 CVBs representing Washtenaw County, and Ypsi CVB is specifically willing to state that the two CVBs cross wires in reaching out to conventions to bring them to Washtenaw County hotels, maybe that’s something that could change in the 3rd option. Throughout this debate, I don’t think I’ve heard any of the Ypsi voices putting “success with convention contracts” at the top of the list of our priorities — rather, it’s the community identity development, events support, and general local promotion that always comes up as important to preserve.

    Maybe Ypsi could pitch a new division of responsibilities that addresses the concern A2 says is very important to them, but isn’t so important to us, rather than going down with the ship.

  10. kjc
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    ” I’d say trying to pin some vast conspiracy on him because of the “Ann Arbor” behind his name, rather than being willing to have an actual conversation about options, is a great way to lose an ally and seal the fate of the Ypsi CVB.”

    Sounds like a veiled threat. What’s he gonna do if we’re not nice to him? “Vast conspiracy” might be overstating (purposely?) people’s skepticism. Maybe people just think he doesn’t care about Ypsilanti as much as he cares about Ann Arbor. Are we supposed to charm him instead? I don’t know the guy personally so I figure being a citizen and voicing opinions, and skepticism, is kind of normal. If we piss him off by not thinking he’s a great guy, he’ll do what?

    Personally I just wrote Ronnie Peterson. Others can do as they please. Conan’s not coming over to hang out w/me, so I can’t judge his motives the way someone else can.

  11. Mr. X
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    “She has an “R” behind her name — putting her on the wrong side of a 7-2 partisan split — but she’s not dumb: she knows she can appeal to Ypsi’s insecurity and knee-jerk reactions to weaken her colleagues on the other side of the table.”

    I don’t think that’s what is happening here. I think it’s more likely that Ping, who was one of four commissioners on the committee charged with looking at the possibility of a merger, was just pissed that these other commissioners chose to go off on their own and attempt to make a deal. I don’t think this is an R or D issue. I think Ping just didn’t appreciate their tactics and called them on it. And, for what it’s worth, I believe she might actually be against the merger, given that Saline has probably received more support from the YACVB than the AAACVB.

    The bottom line as I see it is that some commissioners saw an opportunity with Debbie retiring to close the YACVB and they weren’t expecting so much of a fight. They’ve apparently made a deal with Ronnie, but I don’t think it’s clear that they have the votes, even with him. So they decided to make a deal to get the YACVB on board, telling Debbie and others that, if they didn’t take it, they’d get nothing. And, instead of taking it, Debbie told Ping and others. It’s a huge mess.

    As for giving the Ann Arbor commissioners the benefit of the doubt, I’d like to. But I’m not convinced that they ever wanted an open, honest discussion about the CVB issue. Everything I’ve seen leads me to believe that this whole thing, from the very beginning, has been about getting the votes to make this happen. For all their talk of how they just wanted to look at all the options and do what was best for our communities, I believe they went into this with the idea that the Ann Arbor Bureau would get all of the funding, and they’ve never wavered from that. This was a poorly executed sales job from the outset. It wasn’t a legitimate study on what would be best for all involved.

  12. K.
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Murph is right. We should thank Conan for the “outreach of friendship”.

  13. Angela Barbash
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    On a different but related note, this underscores for me the idea that we need a new commissioner representing Ypsi in the next election. Based on what I’ve seen, heard, and experienced personally with Ronnie, I’m not surprised at all that he would vote in favor of a merger. I know many have said that he has worked hard for the east side, but I’ve had a hard time finding those instances. I think we can do better.

  14. XXX
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    When is Ronnie up for reelection?

  15. The Who
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    Ronnie is coming up for re election. Ypsi needs to vote him out.

  16. Amy Probst
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    I’ll let you know if I get a response.
    ___________________________
    Dear Commissioner Peterson:

    I am an Ypsilanti homeowner and active member of the community, bringing audiences to comedy and writing events, and helping my community through volunteer and social opportunities. I bought my house in Ypsilanti and moved here specifically because of the characteristics that separate Ypsilanti from neighboring towns. We have a special, friendly, and creative personality that must be protected.

    I am urging you not to allow a merger between the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (YACVB) and its counterpart in Ann Arbor.

    Watching and concerned,
    Amy Probst

    Ypsilanti, MI 48198

  17. David Freund
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    In fairness to Commisioner Peterson, he only represents the city of Ypsilanti. The bureau, as I understand it, represents the “area” which includes Ypsi Township, Augusta, Superior, etc.

    Having said that, I’m against the merger but it is called Ypsilanti AREA Visitors and Convention Bureau. Not to be redundant, but he doesn’t rep the whole area.

  18. Barry M
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I just left a message on Mr. Peterson’s phone (734-635-0791) expressing my disappointment with his failure to stand with the people of Ypsilanti regarding this matter. I encourage everyone else who feels this way to do likewise.

  19. Mr. X
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Commissioner Peterson,

    I was disappointed to learn today that, in spite of the community support expressed for the idea of maintaining our own independent Convention and Visitors Bureau, you have apparently chosen to cast your vote in favor of a merger with Ann Arbor. As our Mayor, City Council, various merchants associations, and the Ypsi Community Schools Foundation, among others, have all weighed in against a merger, I’m curious as to why you’ve decided to vote this way. (I’ve yet to hear one group in Ypsilanti in favor of the merger. If you know of one, please let me know.) I find this decision of yours especially curious given that our CVB now also has the support of both Ypsi Township and Superior Township in this fight. It would seem me that everyone on the eastern side of the county in now in agreement on this issue, except for you, which makes me wonder what your motivations might be. I’ve been told that perhaps you think that merger is a forgone conclusion. Is that true? And, if so, why do you think that? Would they have five votes without you? I understand that you’ll soon be running for reelection, and I’d like to have answers to these questions before making my decision.

    Your constituent,
    Mr. X

  20. Barry M
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I just received a return phone call from Mr. Peterson. He said that there are a number of other issues at play in this discussion that haven’t been made public. He said that he is in the process of putting together a public meeting so that these issues can be discussed. My impression is that he wants to make this happen very soon. I hope to be there.

  21. site admin
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The Metro Times is now on the story.

    http://www.metrotimes.com/Blogs/archives/2015/09/04/ypsi-visitors-bureau-member-alleges-backroom-dealings

  22. Laura Bien
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Mark, just wanted to say thank you for continuing to follow this story, and for writing this comprehensive post.

    Murph makes a good suggestion for a 3rd option: “Maybe Ypsi could pitch a new division of responsibilities that addresses the concern A2 says is very important to them, but isn’t so important to us, rather than going down with the ship.”

  23. Lindsey Jene Scalera
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Ypsilanti is literally the #1 community in which I would choose to live in Michigan. I love it’s unique history, culture, and potential. I also love it’s location and proximity to Detroit, and other communities. I lived in Ypsi for 9 years and only moved away for temporary family and job considerations. I miss ypsi all the time and love following Visit Ypsilanti’s instagram to keep up with great things that are happening there. I agree that Ypsi has been doing a great job of marketing itself and building it’s own identity, which is very distinct from Ann Arbor. Ypsi deserves the opportunity to continue to develop as a community that contributes greatly to the overall health and wealth and quality of life for Washtenaw County as a whole as well as for Southeast Michigan.

  24. Marcy
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    There are three board members who should definitely be against a merger here. Ruth Ann Jamnick represents the area east of Ypsilanti city limits, she replied to me today to let me know that she was disappointed to learn a merger was on the table again and that she was not notified of the meeting. Felicia Brabec represents a good chunk of Ypsilanti Township. She was at the secret meeting which we can assume means that she is voting in favor of a merger. The other is Peterson. I assumed when he never answered any of my letters that he is against a merger because a vote otherwise would enrage his constituents. The fact that he has actually been withholding his position this entire time and is voting for a merger is unacceptable. His constituents have made it crystal clear how they would like him to vote. Of those three representatives we appear to have one on our side. That fact is mind boggling. If there are issues at play the public is not aware of those need to be disclosed immediately.
    Thanks so much for the continued coverage.

  25. Posted September 4, 2015 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    @Marcy — Brabec does not represent Y-Town, except for the little slice of the township between Packard, Golfside, Clark, and Hewitt; most of her district is Pittsfield Township: map. Peterson represents the city and also a good chunk of Y-town around east Michigan Ave, and a slice of Superior Township.

    But here’s where I’m coming from — I spend a lot of time traveling around the state, and Ypsi CVB is one of the best I’ve seen anywhere at cultivating community assets and a sense of place. We’re on par with places like Holland, and, frankly, I don’t see that out of Ann Arbor. I want to see the work of Ypsi CVB continue.

    If the fix is in, though (as people have been asserting from the start), and the “just say no” strategy hasn’t worked yet, why is it still not an option to discuss other approaches? If the best alternative to negotiation is the straight elimination of the Ypsi CVB, why shouldn’t Ypsi be talking about how to ensure our interests are met in a one-CVB arrangement?

    A board that proportionally represents the entire county, the absorption of the Ypsi CVB staff who do great creative work for the community, and a dedicated budget for the sense of place development work that Visit Ypsi does well would seem like a good counter-offer. (Along with accountability benchmarks that the County BoC can monitor to make sure coverage of the whole county is actually happening as promised during the 5 year contract.)

  26. Marcy
    Posted September 4, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t open your map, Murph– is it this one? http://webmaps.ewashtenaw.org/WCBOC/Maps/District_4.pdf
    With this one she has the slice you’re talking about plus the south east corner of Ypsi Township if the boundaries are Bemis and Munger.

  27. Posted September 4, 2015 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    I am appalled and disgusted that my representative, Ronnie Peterson is selling out the YACVB in this manner. I just attended an outstanding social networking workshop sponsored by Visit Ypsi that was well-attended by an exciting cross section of entrepreneurs, EMU folk, non-profits, and business owners. Will we get this kind of personalized education from the AAACVB, here on our home turf, bringing together key leaders to cross-pollinate and build our Ypsi community? I just don’t think so. I am deeply interested and avidly following all the exciting developments in Ypsi (with 25 years invested here) and I can’t even keep up — how are they going to?!? I’ve written to the commissioners already on this topic and spoken directly to a couple. I’ll write again and keep writing to support the outstanding “boots on the ground” work of the YACVB.

  28. Marion11
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark for your continued coverage of this topic. I have lived in both Ypsilanti Township and Ypsilanti for the last 10 years and I have yet to see Ronnie Peterson all but two events. I am pretty actively involved volunteering and attending meetings and in general being in the area, but I don’t see him and I have asked around to find out about him. It’s healthy and good to question him. The leaders and people of Ypsilanti/Ypsilanti Township have sent in letters, emails, made calls, and come out on this issue in droves, yet, who is listening?

  29. Marion11
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Board of Commissioners – There are plenty of things to fix and improve in Ypsilanti. Maybe you could focus on the things that really need your attention?

  30. Martha Schmitt
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Thank you for consistently keeping me from having to visit MLive. You’re doing the lord’s work, Mark.

  31. Posted September 5, 2015 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Readers were very engaged with this content.

  32. Monica Ross-WIlliams
    Posted September 5, 2015 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

    First, thank you Mark for writing this article. This goes to show yet again, why local bloggers reporting on hyper-local issues of importance, are extremely important.

    It’s doubtful the public at large on the Eastern Side of Washtenaw County would have any knowledge of the alleged “threats” made to delete and defund our Visitor and Conventions Bureau in Ypsilanti and by extension — Ypsilanti Township.

    Noting the above, I will limit my commentary to the following:

    At a time when the Eastern Side of Washtenaw County is on the cusp prime possible new business growth and sound development, it is a sad occurrence to read our neighbors in Washtenaw County might be “making a strike” to take a necessary resource – the Visitors and Convention Bureau, along with its funding.

    A recent study from the Washtenaw County Economic Development Department, found that generally – the Eastern side of the County is still behind Ann Arbor or other points West as it relates to many factors: Personal Property Values, Higher Education Obtainment Beyond K-12, K-12 Public Schools Measurements (i.e. – Test Scores), plus a variety of other points of statistical measurements — but slowly, improvements are being made.

    Knowing the above, based on a study commissioned by the Counties own Economic Development Department, it would appear any elected Commissioner would be lobbying to keep important resources like the Ypsilanti Visitors and Convention Bureau — fully functional.

    If for no other reason than for Eastern Washtenaw County residents and voters to scale what is said to be a “bettering” economy in Michigan as a whole, into Eastern Washtenaw where the growth might be slower than other parts of the County.

    Specifically, organizations like the Visitors and Conventions Bureau would likely have a led role in Marketing this important section of the overall community now and in the immediate future.

    It is disappointing indeed to read what you’ve graciously reported here, on this blog.

    Especially after rather “heated” and equally heartfelt debate and deliberations on why the Ypsilanti Community desperately needs to maintain its’ separate and fully functional, Visitors and Convention Bureau.

    Many eyes have been opened by this piece. Again, thank you for your wonderful work and detail in reporting this important story.

    Sincerely,
    Monica Ross-Williams, MBA
    Vice-Chair – Eastern Washtenaw County Democrats
    Ypsilanti Township – Park Commissioner, Proud Eastern Washtenaw County Resident & Voter

  33. Quinn
    Posted September 6, 2015 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks for calling attention to this again, Mark. I’ve written Commissioner Peterson regarding my opposition to the merger twice with no response. I was not impressed with his advocacy for Ypsilanti during the public forum earlier this year.

  34. Conan Smith
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    Hi all…. Some feedback…

    First: the CVB contracts expire at the end of the year so it is essential that we reach agreement among the commissioners. Second: there did not appear to be majority support for the status quo. Third: there did not appear to be majority support for simply folding YCVB into AACVB or vice versa. Fourth: there did not appear to be majority support for turning this into an open RFP process or creating a new County department.

    This leaves us in the position of having to negotiate a solution that meets the needs of an eclectic set of commissioners. It will be complex. It will be a little bit bumpy. It does appear that a significant majority of the board would be in favor of a single-CVB approach provided there are sufficient protections for Ypsi. It does appear that if a negotiated agreement can’t be reached that there will be five (of nine) commissioners willing to merge the CVBs as a last resort.

    The meeting was an invitation to negotiate a policy solution that could get the support of a majority of the board of commissioners. It was not an ultimatum. Those of us from the commission presented a list of interests that we felt had been articulated by at least four commissioners. We were clear that a single-CVB solution will almost certainly be the outcome but that this was an opportunity to shape that in terms of resource allocation, governance, and and defined outcomes.

    Commissioner Peterson has been an ardent champion of three things in this process: no reduction of funding g dedicated to the east side, a long term (ten year) commitment of dollars and physical space in Ypsi, and fair representation on the governing board. He knows he has to negotiate to ensure these protections andthis been doing that vigilantly. Any call for him to be hard-lined about maintaining an independent office will likely weaken his negotiating position.

    Throughout this process, every commissioner that I have talked to has been focused on how these funds can best support support structurally challenged communities like Ypsi. To that end, some other changes are under consideration, including moving the annual budget approval for the CVB to the board level rather than where it rests at the committee level today. This will give everyone, including the public, a chance to weigh in on the annual priorities and programs that will be funded with the tax dollars.

    I’ve pasted a link below to a gDoc with the interests we shared with both CVBs. Again, these are meant to frame the conversation. They do not present specific solutions, but rather open the door to a variety of options that might meet the needs of the board. It is likely that a sounding that meets a variety of these interests will be the one that can win board support. It would not surprise me if some of the commissioners meet with both CVBs to try and hammer out a mutually acceptable approach.

    Remember that these funds belong to the County; not to the hoteliers and not to the CVBs. They are yours, ours, to use on behalf of all the residents of Washtenaw. They should be focused on widely supported solutions to systemic issues (like economic development).

    Please note that this document is of my creation. It describes interests articulated by at least four commissioners, but it is in my words.

    I’ve set it up such that you are welcome to comment on it and I’ll do my best to engage, given the limited time we have and the fact that I do not speak for the board (that is the job of our chair). If you don’t get a response to a comment please don’t be offended. I also encourage you to accept the likelihood of a single CVB and try to orient your recommendations in that direction. That’s what will be most helpful, honestly.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1EN7yJXINXUhmwMr-Psj9V7aa7qZPrpR2z7kBljaQ_tY/edit?usp=docslist_api

  35. Conan Smith
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    And… thanks, Murph, for giving me the benefit of the doubt. I do care about Ypsi and how we make it strong. I may have a different approach than others, but I am grateful that you allow that my motivation isn’t too sinister. :-)

  36. Hannah
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    I love Ypsi. I’ve chosen to stay in Ypsi for it’s character – both human and innate…not Ann Arbor. The thought of one CVB for the “greater Ann Arbor area” is horrendous. I find it distressing and despicable that our ‘local’ representation, Ronnie Peterson, is in favor of bidding adieu to Visit Ypsilanti.

  37. Jean Henry
    Posted September 7, 2015 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I sat in on some marketing meetings that engaged a bunch of institutional stakeholders from the county post 2008 collapse. They were trying to come up with an effective way to market the region to outside investment and tourism. They decided that Detroit was a negative and Michigan was a negative and Ann Arbor was the draw. The phrase they came up with was Ann Arbor, USA. (This is still SPARK’s web address) I tried to indicate that I thought Detroit and Michigan both had strong identities that could be viewed as a positive (hard working, well educated, under utilized potential employees, low salary expectations, etc) to outside development, with the right spin. I also said that I did not anyone would miss that Ann Arbor is in fact in Michigan, and Ann Arbor USA made us look embarrassed of that reality. I also tried to make the case for each city in the area having a unique identity, worth enhancing with independent marketing. My words fell on very deaf ears. I felt like a very local fish out of water. It was clear they thought Ann Arbor was all the county had to offer. I saw it as a huge failure of imagination. Shortly thereafter, the Eminem Chrysler ‘imported from Detroit’ Super Bowl ad came out and made it clear that Detroit was in fact a brand with national appeal. This group of our marketing reps from the universities, SPARK, and the CVB’s were embarrassed about a lot of what makes this region great. What they left out, created a void and painted a picture of mediocrity. At the time, SPARK was not even remotely interested in working with local businesses, even though a quick talk with any VC working nationally would have quickly found Michigan dismissed as an option for investment out of hand. Things have changed due to a lot of work by devoted local IT entrepreneurs. No thanks to Ann Arbor USA.
    I write this as a word of caution. Do not trust the fate of Ypsi to people who do not know it or appreciate it. Make sure, if a combined board is inevitable, that dedicated staff and funds for the East of the county are provided for. Do not let them brand your community with their silo thinking. Make sure they appreciate all that Ypsi offers. I firmly believe Ypsi holds the independent business future of this region. It has the opportunity to preserve community character, fun and equity in a way that Ann Arbor has failed to do. I always have said the Ann Arbor we all miss up and moved to Ypsi. Don’t let them forget it.

  38. Elviscostello
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    So, it’s in the bag? Sounds like Commissioner Smith has a fait accompli.

    ” I also encourage you to accept the likelihood of a single CVB and try to orient your recommendations in that direction.”

  39. Anonymous
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Conan has said similar things in the past. It’s disappointing. They said they were going to keep an open mind when considering how to move forward, but they were determined from the outset that there would be one bureau.

  40. kjc
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    “I also encourage you to accept the likelihood of a single CVB and try to orient your recommendations in that direction. That’s what will be most helpful, honestly.”

    not sinister. just paternalistic and undemocratic.

  41. kjc
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Jean, thanks for that comment. A lot of people who haven’t sat in on meetings instinctively know what your experience has shown. But Conan thinks little of these people. His faith in his own sagacity is impenetrable. Papa knows best.

  42. Ypsi4Life
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    A couple of things for Conan:

    “It does appear that a significant majority of the board would be in favor of a single-CVB approach provided there are sufficient protections for Ypsi. It does appear that if a negotiated agreement can’t be reached that there will be five (of nine) commissioners willing to merge the CVBs as a last resort.” – Thanks again for repeating your threat that if Ypsi doesn’t “comply” then they will have no say in the negotiations. Why can’t you understand that Ypsi does NOT want ONE bureau? I’m guessing this is why they’re not willing to negotiate their demise with you. Seems fair to me, and yet your response to their commitment to their supporters is threatening.

    “Remember that these funds belong to the County; not to the hoteliers and not to the CVBs. They are yours, ours, to use on behalf of all the residents of Washtenaw.” – And YOU represent US and we have spoken loud and clear about what we think is best for the city and have chosen to ignore it.

    Lastly, do you really see ONE CVB working in the end? Do you think this city is going to embrace the new leaders who have ignored our desperate plea for our own CVB? This has been such a hot button issue and will leave a well-deserved chip on the shoulder of Ypsilanti. Just as we’re on the uprise, the commissioners want to bring us down. The East Side of the County (A.K.A. the people who see the benefits of Visit Ypsi first hand) have told you that merging the CVBs will be a complete disaster for Ypsilanti and will leave us with less than what we have. Your choice to ignore our voice is disgraceful.

  43. Frosted Flakes
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It may or may not be the case here. I don’t know. But sometimes realistic and pragmatic comes off as paternalistic…

    The question I have: Consididering the source of revenue (hotels), are there good arguments for why The Ypsilanti bureau is receiving such a huge peice of the pie (25 percent)? I really don’t know. Is this a fairness issue? Is this an issue of underrepresenting interests? Is this an issue of over representing, on the part of the Ypsilanti bureau, the interests of certain (politically connected) businesses in a way that is not fair? Maybe the issue has been framed correctly here. I don’t know.

  44. Marion11
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    “It does appear that if a negotiated agreement can’t be reached that there will be five (of nine) commissioners willing to merge the CVBs as a last resort.” Conan Smith, County Commissioner

    Conan, who are the five?

  45. josh
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I have met, like, and generally respect Murph.

    However, it is instructive that he did not disclose that he previously worked for Conan Smith at Michigan Suburbs Alliance. This is the way politics works. It is an anti-democratic cess pit of back scratching, ass kissing, and nepotism. Not surprisingly you give the people your career depends on the benefit of the doubt, when everyone else can see he’s being an arrogant prick. They have all always been good to you. Very little of it is done intentionally or consciously.

  46. Posted September 8, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    This statement is disappointing as it appears a decision has been made.

    “We were clear that a single-CVB solution will almost certainly be the outcome but that this was an opportunity to shape that in terms of resource allocation, governance, and and defined outcomes.”

    What’s most disappointing is outside of a recent meeting of citizens on last Saturday morning and the work done by this blog owner Mark Maynard, this article represents the first notice many residents in Eastern Washtenaw County had of this what it appears to be “foregone” conclusion.

    Eastern Washtenaw County has a vast amount of eligible resigned voters, many of whom by a random unscientific survey based solely on elected office holders alone, vote Democrat.
    http://www.easternwashtenawdems.org/ewc-democrat-elected-officials.html

    Additionally, Eastern Washtenaw County has a Democratic Club named the Eastern Washtenaw County Democrats. This information, prior to reading this piece, has not been shared as an “foregone conclusion” to any of our membership by elected leadership.

    Thus, to read the response in just Eastern Washtenaw County, the Ypsilanti Visitors and Conventions Bureau – by extension representing and marketing all of Eastern Washtenaw County – will be eliminated without further ado is an disturbing occurrence indeed.

    Again, thank you Mark for this piece, and as stated in a earlier comment, many eyes have been opened by this article.

    Sincerely,
    Monica Ross-Williams, MBA
    Vice-Chair – Eastern Washtenaw County Democrats
    Ypsilanti Township – Park Commissioner, Proud Eastern Washtenaw County Resident & Voter

  47. kjc
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    “But sometimes realistic and pragmatic comes off as paternalistic…”

    paternalism always presents itself this way. that’s how it snares people like you.

  48. dennis
    Posted September 8, 2015 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    conan is a political genius. everyone should bow down to his awesomeness.

    first he came up with a conclusion.

    then he formed a committee and filled it with flunkies (yes, andy, you’re a flunkie).

    then that committee validated the original conclusion.

    the best part, however, is that he played on the low self-esteem of the ypsilanti community and got you all to turn on and blame ronnie peterson.

    pure genius.

    conan is the evil asshole here. the pitchforks and torches should be directed at him, but he played you all for suckers.

    well done, conan. well done!

  49. Conan Smith
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    @Frosted Flakes, the 75/25 division of resources between the AACVB and the YCVB has been in place for several contract cycles (it may extend back to the beginning of the tax 40 years ago) and likely had political motivations. In the most recent contract cycles the Board of Commissioners has not opted to change it because we generally agree that a disproportionate investment in the east side is strategically important. I don’t expect to see any reduction in the amount of resources being applied to east side issues. The focus of those resources might change (I don’t know) and the governance of them will almost certainly change, but the amounts could reasonably increase.

    @Marion, I think the number is closer to seven than five (of nine). The only commissioners I’ve heard seriously uncomfortable with a single-CVB approach (again, provided certain issues are addressed) are Alicia Ping and Ruth Ann Jamnick. I’m not in a position to speak for any of them specifically, but this is a fair report of the conversations I have had.

    @Monica, there was an extensive and robust committee process about this CVB issue (attended by dozens of east side residents) and it has been discussed at multiple meetings of the Board of Commissioners and reported on in various media. I always appreciate the forum for local issues that Mark creates, but these conversations have been ongoing elsewhere for a long time as well.

    To everyone else: My apologies if you found my explanation paternalistic. I tried to be straightforward and open about this issue so that you have a clear an understanding of the process and the real opportunities to influence it. The single-CVB approach was not my preferred solution, but maintaining the status quo is also not acceptable to me or my constituents. Contrary to the beliefs of the conspiracy theorists here, I’m not the architect of the single-CVB solution, but I am doing my best to influence it so that it meets a wide array of interests — and can get a majority vote. That latter part is critical because there is no “do nothing” option here. The contracts will expire Dec 31 and we’ll have no strategy to spend $5-6M that should be working to strengthen our economy. So, we have to have a solution that can get five votes (at least).

    Last, I’m sorry if I was too blunt about the near impossibility of keeping two separate CVBs, but I know how frustrating it is to be working toward an unwinnable goal. I shared that information not to bully anyone but to encourage activists to direct their energies to more productive opportunities. As to whether I’m an asshole or a prick or neither or both, well, I just don’t have anything to say to that. Well, nothing polite at any rate. Hopefully, I can convey my feelings to some of you in person sometime.

  50. josh
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    Why is it impossible to keep two separate CVBs?

    I have yet to see an answer to that question. I see a lot of commissioners using the inevitability of it as justification for their votes, which is fairly typical circular reasoning for unpopular decisions.

  51. Andrew Clock
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    So let’s headquarter the new Washtenaw County CVB in Ypsilanti. That would show a clear commitment to Ypsilanti and Eastern Washtenaw, and quiet many detractors. It would also bring board members and promoters to Ypsilanti for meetings, which is much more in need of the PR and economic boost than Ann Arbor. A clause which guarantees a minimum funding level for Visit Ypsilanti or a successor entity for the life of the WCVB should go without saying. I personally don’t see 10 years as a long term commitment in the scope of an agreement that has previously stood for 40 odd years. And while I realize the Chamber and real estate council were private entities, giving a “long term commitment of 10 years” reeks of the promises and eventual Ypsi pullout that followed those mergers. If you want people to get on board with the single CVB, you’re going to need to do more than throw some bones to the east; you’re going to have to provide some meat.

    And Conan, come on man. You’re telling Eastern Washtenaw voters essentially “That’s great you want something, but your elected leaders aren’t interested in that; get with our program or get left behind” I’ve seen you have negative reactions on social media to Gov. Snyder disenfranchising communities and schools through the EFM program; don’t you see any shades of that here?

    The reason I’m personally upset with both this process and with Commissioner Peterson is the appalling lack of information we’re getting here. It is clear that Eastern Washtenaw voters are passionate on this issue; the overwhelming show of support at meetings and hearings regarding the CVB merger bear that out. Yet we have no engagement with the community from Mr. Peterson and we have a Commissioner from Ann Arbor trying to play catch up with public opinion. Voters in Eastern Washtenaw deserve better.

    Look, I know Ypsilanti has its problems, many of which center around an ineffective and overly stubborn city government. But for 40 years, the YCVB has stepped in where city hall and the DDA (the DDA’s lack of brand support for Ypsilanti is another can of worms) have failed. They have partnered with and advocated innumerable organizations trying to promote Ypsilanti as a home and destination. This is one of the few things we have that works in Eastern Washtenaw, you’ll have to excuse us if we are concerned about and Ann Arbor centric plan to “improve” it, especially considering the Board of Commissioners utter disregard for public opinion on the matter.

  52. Posted September 9, 2015 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Last comment, since it appears I was directly addressed on this resource.

    There are upwards of 55,000 residents (or more) in the Community of Ypsilanti Township. Another 20,000 or more residents exist in the City of Ypsilanti. And of course Superior and Augusta Townships have their own populace which combined with Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township makes up the Eastern Region of Washtenaw County.

    Mr. Smith states “dozens” of residents attended from the “east side”, not Eastern Washtenaw Region of Washtenaw County, and expressed their opinions to the “foregone conclusion”.

    Was it in the affirmative “conclusion” of these “dozens” or so Eastern region resident was that slightly over $1 million dollars should be eliminated from the Eastern Washtenaw County region and by extension the Ypsilanti Visitors and Convention Bureau, to suffice the “foregone conclusion” — despite Washtenaw County’s Government own Economic Development study earlier this year – displaying the vast needs to provide resources and market of this region of the County?

    Are there records of these “dozens” of Eastern Washtenaw County residents statements, comments, ideas or suggestions before the Board frothing about merging the two separate Visitors and Convention entries?

    All of the above questions of course, by the way are rhetorical in nature and do not require response as the conclusion is “inevitable”– so it has been said.

    Sincerely,
    Monica Ross-Williams, MBA
    Vice-Chair – Eastern Washtenaw County Democrats
    Ypsilanti Township – Park Commissioner, Proud Eastern Washtenaw County Resident & Voter

    .

  53. A2Y
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    I applaud Commissioner Smith for coming forth and sharing his view on things. It has been a great distraction from the fact that Commissioner LaBarre ultimately works for the A2Y Chamber whose Board of Directors has 2 board members in common with the Ann Arbor Area CVB. One of those two board members is the A2Y Chamber Board President, Sean Duval, who also happens to be the President of the AAACVB Board. If there hasn’t been any back door dealings or unfair access granted due to Commissioner LaBarre’s position I would be greatly surprised.

  54. Support the YACVB
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Next Wednesday, September 16, the County Board of Commissioners will be deciding the fate of our Visitors and Convention Bureau. The meeting begins at 6:00 PM, and we want to be sure that we have people in the audience to stand up for Ypsilanti.

    The Washtenaw County administration building is 220 North Main St Ann Arbor, MI 48104, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104.

    Details:
    https://www.facebook.com/events/1469646650007465/

  55. Hershon Lapersche
    Posted September 10, 2015 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Angsty LaBarf was always a weasel in grade school and it reasons that he’s be involved with a back room deal like this- Absolutely disgusting that this sort of garbage still goes on today.

4 Trackbacks

  1. […] point, seemed all but certain. “Ya’ll thugs,” said Ypsilantian Tyrone Bridges, referring to the “backroom deals” and “veiled threats” we’ve all been hearing about these past few weeks. “You’ve pissed a lot of people off,” […]

  2. […] when Commissioner Alicia Ping made a public statement a week or so earlier about “veiled threats” being made against the board of the YACVB in an attempt to coerce them into accepting a deal […]

  3. […] Washtenaw County Commissioner Alicia Ping accuses Ann Arbor commissioners of having made “veil… […]

  4. […] Washtenaw County Commissioner Alicia Ping accuses Ann Arbor commissioners of having made “veil… […]

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