(Ingles abajo)If this is something that gets your goat, there is a training for the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Rapid Response Team, a group aimed at protesting ICE actions as well as supporting ICE detainees and their families this Sunday at First Methodist Church in Ann Arbor.
Eso es una ALERTA IMPORTANTE! Hoy en la manana immigracion tomo gente en Ypsilanti! Se ha reportado actividad de immigracion en las calles pricipales de Ypsilanti. Por favor si es posible no usan las calles principales y por favor pasan este mensaje a sus familiares y amigos. Gracias. Cuidado en las calles!
ALERT. This morning immigration agents arrested some folks in Ypsilanti. There have been a number of reports of immigration enforcement activity on the major Ypsi roads. Please avoid these areas if you can and pass the message to your families and friends.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
How did a picture from Ann Arbor's 1998 anti-Klan protest become a logo for anti-racist punks in Germany?
|The front page of the May 10, 1998 Detroit News and Free Press. Note Tom Pidgeon's photograph on the right. It shows 18 year old Ann Arbor resident, Harlon Jones, kicking an unnamed white supremacist. Photo courtesy AADL's Old News program.|
The 1996 rally saw anti-Klan protesters clashing with police and scuffling with Klan supporters. The most notable photograph of the day depicts 18-year-old Keshia Thomas, an African-American woman, using her body to protect a man with SS tattoos from an angry mob. As the time of the 1998 Klan rally neared, tensions were running high in Ann Arbor. The city erected barriers around City Hall, where Klan members would be speaking, and brought in reinforcements from other departments. There was also a volunteer Peace Team, who were there to protect the fence around City Hall. The anti-Klan protesters, headed by Anti-Racist Action, the Revolutionary Workers’ League, and the National Women’s Rights Organizing Committee,were also well organized.
|Pidgeon's picture of Jones, enlarged an in color (left). The Good Night White Pride Logo (right), which originated in the German Hardcore and Oi! scenes.|
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
There are no public hearings scheduled tonight and no second readings of ordinances. There only firs ordinance reading is for 17-0257, which would add a chapter (120) to the city code dealing with the solicitation of immigration status by city employees.
After ordinances come motions and resolutions. There is a resolution, 17-0189, to withdraw objection to the renewal of liquor licenses for Old Carolina Barbeque Company and Nagomi Sushi and Noodles. Sounds like they have probably taken care of their back taxes and fees. There is also a resolution, 17-0258, to install Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons on Fuller Road at the crosswalk by the entrance to Huron and Gallup Park.
All in all a pretty light agenda. It will be interesting to see whether Ypsilanti's or Ann Arbor's city council meeting will finish first tonight. As always, you can follow the meeting on Twitter using the #a2council hashtag. You can also watch the live on CTN.
The first ordinance tonight, Ordinance No. 1283, would rezone the rental house a 311 Ballard from "Center" to "Core Neighborhood." The lot, located next to the Eagles Marker on Cross, was rezoned "Center" in 2015 as part of the Shape Ypsi update of the city's zoning code and master plan. The crux of the matter is that the "Center" designation is intended for downtown areas and does not contain "house" as a permitted use. 311 Ballard is, in fact, a house. This makes the current structure on the property non-conforming and that in turn makes it a big pain in the but for the current landowner. By changing the zoning from "Center" to "Core Neighborhood" the lots current use "house" will be a permitted use. This rezoning was approved by the planning commission. As such, it is likely to pass.
The second ordinance, Ordinance No. 1284, is a smattering of minor changes to the city's zoning ordinance. There are a smattering of changes throughout the zoning ordinance and I have insufficient time to detail them. This ordinance is the main reason the council packet is 812 pages for this meeting.
The two resolutions dealing with the Thompson Block, 2017-046 and 2017-047, involve dissolving various incentives for the properties old owners, Thompson Block Partners, LLC. This paves the way for the new owners, 2Mission, to receive OPRA (Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act) and Brownfield incentives at a later date, if the city and 2Mission decide they want to pursue these at some point in the future.
I'll be at the meeting tonight tweeting with the #YpsiCouncil hashtag. Please follow along and contribute.
February 21, 2017 Ypsilanti City Council Meeting Agenda (2 pages)
February 21, 2017 Ypsilanti City Council Meeting Packet (812 pages)
Ypsilanti City Zoning Map (16 pages)
Monday, February 20, 2017
|Fresh Thyme is Washtenaw County's newest grocery store.|
Last week, I somehow manged to end up shopping at the new Fresh Thyme grocery store 3 times. The store, which opened February 1st, is located on Washtenaw at Golfside in Ypsilanti Township which makes it the closest supermarket to Casa Damn Arbor. It's about the size of Lucky's Market--a little bigger than Trader Joe's, smaller than Kroger.
Friday, February 17, 2017
Incase you missed Rich Retyi's presentation at Nerd Nite last night, you can hear all about Ann Arbor's Fourth Avenue Red Light of yesteryear over on Ann Arbor Stories. This episode of the podcast is decidedly NSFW. From Ann Arbor Stories:
There was a time in Ann Arbor’s not-so-distant past when a part of town was widely known as the red light district. Adult bookstores, topless massage parlors, prostitutes, hoodlums, and bums—all just blocks from City Hall and Ann Arbor police headquarters. Cops were raiding massage parlors every few months, rounding up a dozen massage workers at a time, but the arrests never made a dent. Crackdowns on prostitutes and the johns who solicited them didn’t make much impact either. The red light district regenerated. Persisted. Grew stronger.My favorite part of this story is how it all turns on local zoning.
How did Ann Arbor become home to this kind of brazen adult fare?
Image via: Ann Arbor Stories Instagram
Thursday, February 16, 2017
There is a faint sliver of hope. Our Governor has voiced his opposition to reducing the State's income tax, so as long as Snyder has is willing to standup to his party members in the House (and possibly Senate) we should be safe. Now might be a time to call Snyder's office and let him know how you feel about potential income tax cuts. His number is 517-335-7858. You can also find contact information for you state Senator and Representative at Michigan Votes.
Forster Art House is hosting another art show this Saturday, Feb. 18th. The space, located above The Getup Vintage (215 S State), is named for Foster's Art House an art store located at the same address from 1914 to 1941. The show is on Saturday from 6pm to 10pm. Seems like it would be a great thing to check out if you're downtown this weekend.
You can read Patti Smith's review of last weekends show, Niceland, over on Pulp.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Damn Arbor alum and co-host of the Ann Arbor Stories podcast, Rich Retyi, will be giving a presentation about Ann Arbor's former red light district around Fourth Avenue at this Thursday's Nerd Nite. Rich and his co-host, Brian Peters, have been researching the heyday of Ann Arbor's red light district the 70s and 80s. A time when Fourth Avenue was not known for being the home of the Food Co-op and Fourth Avenue Birkenstock, but instead the infamous Danish News Bookstore. I asked Rich what he found most interesting in researching for his presentation. Here's what he said:
It's crazy how big a role the state of Michigan played in the history of porn. One of the biggest pioneers of pornography operated right near Flint, and at least one of the entrepreneurs he spawned set up shop right here in Ann Arbor, fighting the city and its businessmen for nearly a decade, while operating bookstores, theaters and massage parlors in the state. Ann Arbor had a real and true bad side of town. Anecdotes from citizens and businesspeople who operated on and near South Fourth Avenue talk about prostitutes lounging in doorways, hoodlums roaming the street and cars cruising slowly down the block looking at the merchandise. All two blocks from City Hall and Ann Arbor Police Headquarters.Sounds like it will an entertaining and educational lecture. There will also be presentations by Romance novelist Celia Mulder, who will cover romance novel subgenres from "time-traveling Vikings to firefighting cowboys to shapeshifting were-creatures;" and from physicist Brian Worthmann, who will be talking about the color pink from a physics perspective.
There is no cover thanks to the AADL.
Monday, February 13, 2017
“It’s good to promote our work and have it showcased in a different light,” said Emma Kinery, Michigan Daily editor-in-chief. “When you come on our website, we’re immediately seen as a student publication. But the newsletter highlights us as a newspaper, not necessarily a student newspaper.”I think Emma Kinery's statement really captures one of the great things about ANNthology from our point of view: the newsletter is a great way for us to get our articles out to a wider audience. As a reader, I really like ANNthology because it does a great job delivering important local stories I might not otherwise find on my own.
Organizations such as the Ann Arbor District Library and the Ann Arbor Art Center have started blogs covering arts and culture in the city. When that content is included in the newsletter, it helps raise awareness for topics undercovered by other news organizations, said Luisa Puentes, Ann Arbor Art Center director of marketing.
“We felt the void of information about art in the community,” she said.
So gentle readers, have you signed up for ANNthology? If you have, what do you think about it? If you haven't signed up yet, you can right here.
Friday, February 10, 2017
Its demographic shifts have been cyclical, changing along with the world. While large numbers of Polish immigrants initially came over a century ago to work at the Dodge brothers’ automotive plant, Hamtramck also served as a transitional landing pad for Albanian, Bosnian, Ukrainian, Armenian, and Lebanese families escaping war, violence, and political persecution. As many found success and left Hamtramck for other parts of metro Detroit, Yemeni immigrants began arriving in the 1970s, while Bengali immigrants came in the '80s and ‘90s. Immigrants from both countries are still trickling into the city today. Thanks to economic conditions and ongoing conflict, their numbers, and the thriving businesses they’ve established, have continued to grow.The article is definitely worth a read. I especially like how the article closes: "This isn’t necessarily America’s melting pot, this is America’s all-you-can-eat buffet. It’s a place offering the sort of variety that coexists in ways that need to be valued, instead of vilified, at a time when fear and hate aren’t contained in comment sections but are seeping into our lives as law."
Thursday, February 9, 2017
There is good news on the FOIA-front, though. There is a new bi-partisan effort to reform Michigan's open records laws this legislative session. Unfortunately, Meekhof believes nobody but journalists cares about having a transparent legislature. Speaking to a group of journalists in early January, Meekhof said "You guys are the only people who care about this." Gentle reader, I don't know how you feel, but I certainly would like a more transparent state government. It's embarrassing that Michigan is dead last in terms of transparency. If you agree, now may be a good time let your Senator and Representative know. Also, it couldn't hurt to give Senate Majority Leader Meekhof a ring too, and let him know that you support increased transparency for our elected officials. His office phone number is: (517) 373-6920.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Niceland is a special three day art show featuring local artists Helen Gotlib, Dylan Strzynski, and Lavinia Hanachiuc. The show is in the Tiny Buddha Space above Totoro at 213 S. State Street. There's an opening reception Friday February 10th from 6-9pm and the show continues Saturday (1pm-9pm) and Sunday (1pm-4pm). This special midwinter art show is the result of a confluence of fortunate events, according to Helen, "Dylan and I are on the road showing our work all over the country for several months a year so when we get back to the studio we normally don't have much time to have an exhibition locally... Having this space available at the right time for us to show together with Lavinia."
It looks like it'll be a great show. Helen and Dylan both make wonderfully unique paintings and I absolutely love the image on Lavinia's ceramics. If you are looking to see some lovely local art and support local artists you wont want to miss this show.
|"Night" (Mullen), by Helen Gotlib. Used with permission.|
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
|The Water Street Properties.|
The failure of the millage in August 2016 left the city in a tight financial situation and led to a municipal hiring freeze. Citizens Supporting Ypsi is proposing a 2.30 mills ($2.30 per $1,000 of taxable value) millage that would raise $7,840,000 payable through 2031. All of this money would be required to be directed towards the Water Street Debt. They estimate it would free up about $700,000 from the city's general fund annually. To place the initiative on the ballot the group needs to collect at least 848 signatures from citizens registered to vote in the city of Ypsilanti by April 13th.
If you'd like to learn more, there is a campaign kick off meeting February 25th from 4-6pm at The Ypsilanti Freighthouse Cafe.
Monday, February 6, 2017
Gentle readers, no need to watch tonight's Ann Arbor City Council meeting alone tonight (see above). The agenda is pretty light. The only public hearing tonight is on the proposed Closed Captioning ordinance. Still, you can expect come public comments regarding the ongoing deer cull. Also, given the President's recent EO's on immigration and borders, there may also be some members of the public advocating for Ann Arbor to become a full sanctuary city. Also on the agenda is a resolution to accept the recommendations of the Ann Arbor Liquor Control Commission, which Ed covered last week.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Registration and Voting
- The last day to register to vote in this election is Monday, April 3.
- The Clerk's Office will be open Saturday April 29, 8am - 2pm for absentee ballot requests.
- The Special Election is Tuesday, May 2, 2017.
- City polling places will be open from 7am until 8pm.
In the Ann Arbor Public Schools, we are responsible for more than 3.4 million square feet in 34 school buildings and properties, located in the City of Ann Arbor and surrounding townships.
Sinking Fund is the millage levied in Michigan to support the repair and construction of school buildings. Sinking Fund dollars protect critical General Fund dollars that must be preserved for instruction, programs, salaries and other essential district operating costs. Under state law, sinking fund proceeds may not be used to pay teacher or administrator salaries.
The AAPS has an aging infrastructure that has not had additional investment, beyond the 1 mill Sinking Fund, in more than a decade (2004). The current reality is that the 1 mill Sinking Fund is not adequate to cover the needs to repair district infrastructure.
We have a wonderfully successful AAPS school district: our teachers and students, parents and programs are second to none. The AAPS is among the top-achieving districts in the state and across the country. In the Ann Arbor community, we are the proud beneficiaries of 32 beautiful school buildings, and it is our responsibility to restore and prepare them for the next generation of children. The current reality is that our school buildings are aging and require significant renewal and restoration.
Increasing the Sinking Fund provides a critical opportunity to provide much-needed improvements to each of our 32 school buildings. The breakdown of this 2017 Sinking Fund proposal is that approximately 65% is slated for repairs, approximately 15% to expansion in a few strategic areas of the city to meet the demands of new housing development, and approximately 20% to continue the 2015 Bond work that is currently in progress across the District.
It also contains a breakdown estimating how the funds from the millage would be spent.
If you don’t have the time to read the full executive report, consider reading this report on the millage from the AAPS news site:
The district currently has a one-mill sinking fund millage that is set to expire in 2019, but if voters approve the 2.5 mill sinking fund, it would replace the existing millage. The current millage raises eight million dollars but School Board President Christine Stead says it isn’t providing enough money to maintain Ann Arbor’s schools which on average are more than 60 years old. “It is not anywhere near enough to even handle one major roofing project at one of our big high schools,” Stead says. “So if we were to divert all of those funds to one thing it still wouldn’t be enough to get us there in a year.”The AAPS website has a history of the sinking fund millage.
This article has been updated to clarify the millage cost estimate and explain how property taxes are assessed in Michigan.
1: A home’s assessed value, in Michigan, is 50% of the home’s market value. Taxable value is based on the assessed value but is capped — increases are limited to the change in the Consumer Price Index, or 5%, whichever is lower — until the home is sold. For additional information, see the City’s page on Assessment-State Equalized Value (SEV). The AAPS report linked in this article, which says the new millage would cost $125 for every $100,000 of a home’s value, appears to be talking about the home’s market, not taxable, value.