Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween, Ann Arbor, 1906

@umichBentley, the Bentley Library's Twitter Account, just tweeted this 1906 picture of Halloween in Ann Arbor. Shudder.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Annexing Whitmore Lake Public Schools

On November 4th, voters in the Ann Arbor and Whitmore Lake school districts will have the option to vote to allow AAPS to annex the Whitmore Lake School System. Currently, Whitmore Lake Public Schools are not in great financial shape. They have begun the slow public schools death-spiral of declining enrollment causing declining revenue causing program cutbacks leading to even more declining enrollment. Without annexation WLPS will have to make further cuts to programs to balance their budget or face an emergency manager or be dissolved. With annexation Ann Arbor Public School would get the just under 1000 WLPS students, all the school district property and $60 million in debt owned by Whitmore Lake. AAPS would also get a special grant from the state to the tune of $1.4 million to help cover costs of the merger. As with any issue that deals with local identity and a cherished public good, there are strong opinions on both sides of the annexation issue in both communities. I am no longer an AAPS voter, but if I were, I think I would be voting to support annexation. Gentle readers, what are your thoughts on the issue? Do you have any questions about the potential risks and benefits if the proposal passes, or does not pass?

Ruth Kraut and David Erik Nelson have both penned pro-annexation articles on their websites.

Ann Arbor is full of ghosts

Trulia has kindly published a ghost forecast for the area. As you can see, Ann Arbor is pretty haunted while Ypsilanti has fewer ghosts. If you follow the link, you can also find zombie and vampire forecasts. Spooky.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kickstart some music

Damn Arbor brings you this brief message on two crowdfunding campaigns worth checking out, and perhaps lending some support if you feel so moved: Third Wave Music and Alejandra O'Leary.

Third Wave is a small group of folks aiming to start a musical instrument shop in midtown Detroit sometime next year. There currently are no dedicated instrument shops within the city limits, which is a little nuts given how big Detroit's music community always has been and continues to be. They've got $22,000 to raise in the next 25 days.

Alejandra O'Leary is a super-talented singer-songwriter, Damn Arbor favorite and Ann Arbor expat who still comes back here regularly to write and record. She's got just under $2,000 left to raise in the next six days in order to fund a new full-length and single.

If you dig local music, these are some good people to support. If you've got a few bucks, throw some their way.

Consent agenda

An anonymous group of sexual assault survivors and allies in the University of Michigan community have posted a list of demands the M on the Diag. As well as chalk-painted "EXPEL RAPISTS" and "ADMINS DEFEND RAPISTS" in large letters in the surrounding area. Their demands were also published in an anonymous opinion in today's Michigan Daily:

1. We demand a mandatory, unified training system for all incoming students regarding sexual assault to be completed BEFORE coming to campus. The new training must have a clear focus on consent, include bystander intervention, explain university policies and procedures regarding sexual assault, and use gender inclusive language. A failure to complete the training must result in unenrollment.

2. All affiliated fraternity, sorority, and cooperative houses must have a sign with a comprehensive definition of consent in their common areas.

3. Athlete and non-athlete students must be held in the same regard and held accountable for their actions. Athletics, despite its autonomy from the University, must have concrete and well-known policies in place to respond to instances of sexual violence.

4. All DPS, faculty, and staff must undergo extremely thorough sexual assault prevention and response training that is comprehensive and unified across all departments. The current, surface-level training is not enough.

5. Survivors of sexual violence must have the option for the perpetrator to be expelled from the University of Michigan.

6. Support must increase for survivors of sexual violence. Support can include, but is not limited to, immediate counseling and removal of the perpetrator from communities surrounding the survivor. Sources of support must be accessible and well-advertised. While SAPAC exists, it is only a start.

7. All input regarding sexual assault awareness policies must center the needs and voices of survivors and experts. Other communities, specifically underrepresented groups and minorities, must be included in all conversations. No group on this campus may be silenced.

This strategy seems like a good way to get the conversation started regarding affirmative consent and the prevention of sexual assault in the U of M community. During welcome week way back in 2002 when I was a first year at Kalamazoo College, my peers and I had to attend a one day seminar on consent and sex. At the time, it was a little awkward, but in retrospect I think it was a good way to make sure all of the incoming students were on the same page. I don't know if something similar exists for incoming students at U of M.

I think the group responsible for this manifesto has done a really good job getting their message out publicly. When I saw the chalk-painted writing on the Diag, I assumed they were spray-painted and was surprised that they weren't being scrubbed off already. The messaging here does a great job of almost crossing the line, while still being respectful of U of M property.

Also, sorry for the punny title.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Ypsi-Arbor Area Blogs you should be reading

Photo by Doug Coombe
Patrick Dunn just wrote a piece for Concentrate on the local blogging scene. I am honored that Damn Arbor has been included in the list along with such local luminaries as MarkMaynard.Com, Juan Cole, Slice Ann Arbor and Meg.Goes.Nom.Nom. There are some great pictures in the article from the amazing Doug Coombe. Check it out.

Damn Arbor is a group project that really would not be possible without the efforts of all the other contributors. So thanks Chris, Quinn, Josh and Ed.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Freep endorses Snyder for governor

The Freep's editorial board has endorsed Snyder in the race for governor this year:
By a narrow margin, the editorial board endorses Snyder. But a second term must be tempered with empathy and a sense of moderate Michigan values.
I'm enraged by a number of the things Snyder's done during his term. But while listening to the town hall debate on October 12, I  realized this race was not going to present an easy decision.

I align more ideologically with Schauer, no doubt. But during that town hall he could offer only vague statements about his plans and empty rhetoric; this left me with a surprisingly poor impression of the Democratic candidate. Snyder leaned on accomplishments which were by and large good for the state.

What's a socially liberal voter with deeply-held disdain for meaningless cliches and nonspecific plans to do?

Updated at 1:28pm to add:

As always, Jack Lessenberry is on point:
What’s most stunning about that is not who the newspaper is supporting. Anyone reading their full endorsement article might be more inclined to apply for asylum in Canada than vote at all. What the paper is saying, whether it realizes it or not, is that our system just isn’t working. Not for you; not for me. Not for our state.
 Listen to his essay over at Michigan Radio.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

MLive photo gallery: Massive tree transplant is going well

MLive reports (with a photo gallery) that U-M's massive tree transplant operation is going well, and that crews expect to finish it today.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Raja Rani announces closing, then new management

Earlier this week, Raja Rani announced it was closing its doors after over being an Ann Arbor establishment for almost 40 years. The owner Jay Singh said he was unable to come to a new lease agreement with the building owners, which has become a common tale for other downtown establishments. However, in true hero fashion, the owners of Taste of India Suvai on State Street have swooped in and signed a lease, allowing Raja Rani to Rani on.

Both restaurants will stay open! Woooooooooo!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Settlement with Detroit creditor is a significant step toward saving the DIA

Here's some exciting news!

The city of Detroit's bankruptcy trial is winding up, and it was announced last week that the city had reached a settlement with its biggest remaining creditor, FGIC (or "Financial Guaranty Insurance Company").

The settlement allows FGIC to develop a hotel and office and retail space at the Joe Louis Arena site. But I'll quote the most exciting sentence from the Freep here:
FGIC also was the last major creditor pursuing monetization of the Detroit Institute of Arts and its collection of masterworks, making such an option far less likely, said Wayne State University bankruptcy law professor Laura Bartell.