Ann Arbor City Council Newsletter (November 19, 2022)

Nov 19, 2022 | Newsletter

Hello neighbors!

Welcome to my Ann Arbor City Council newsletter, where you can connect with primary sources to understand the work of your local government. My goal is to provide clear explanations of all the issues your elected representatives will be discussing at their next meeting and alert you to local policy and decisions that have been assigned to unelected Mayoral appointees.

This week, Council considers organization tasks for a new roster of members. A new Council will be appointed to boards, commissions and committees and also approve Council Rules. Also on this agenda: a motion to suspend Council Rules for reconsideration of a feasibility study. Other items on this agenda include a resolution for adjustments to the TC1 District on Stadium/Maple and the purchase of an ambulance.


Ann Arbor Municipal Airport Expansion Public Meetings

Ann Arbor’s own Olympic hopeful – Jasmine Hampton – is training (and competing) hard to earn a spot on the 2024 USA Team! Jasmine boxed at the Olympic training center in Colorado Springs July 31st – September 9th, and she hopes to claim a spot to go back and train there again. She has been invited to compete in the 2022 USA Boxing National Championship December 3rd -10th. Winning that tournament or placing top 2 will determine placement on the USA Boxing high performance team, and who competes in the next world tournament.

You can support Jasmine Hampton through this GoFundMe:
https://gofund.me/7e2e5393


Ann Arbor City Council Meeting Agenda

Below is my summary of issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, you can email all of Council at CityCouncil@a2gov.org

Ann Arbor City Council Meeting
Monday November 21, 2022 7:00PM

The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda, and instructions for dialing into the meeting) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:
https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=914284&GUID=3BFD1492-8C98-4D71-B4ED-9B3DC4952A34

City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99) and online at a2gov.org/watchCTN
Meetings are also streamed live on the CTN YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor

Questions to the Agenda

In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.

AC-1 (22-1914) Agenda Response Memo and eComments – November 21, 2022
This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

Communications from the Mayor

MC-1 (22-1767) Appointments – Confirmations
These mayoral nominations were presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting.

  • Mark Brehob – Recreation Advisory Commission
  • Hannah Cary – Recreation Advisory Commission
  • Kimberley Sundy – Elizabeth Dean Fund Committee

MC-2 (22-1797) Resolution to Reappoint Sarah Mason as Representative and Molly Maciejewski as Alternate to the Washtenaw Regional Resource Management Authority (7 Votes Required)
These mayoral nominations are being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting. As per the resolution, “City Council has previously appointed the City’s Resource Recovery Manager as its representative, with the Public Works Manager as an alternate. Staff recommends continuing these appointments.” Because Molly Maciejewski is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor, seven votes are required.

  • Sarah Mason – City of Ann Arbor Resource Recovery Manager (Representative)
  • Molly Maciejewski – City of Ann Arbor Public Works Manager (Alternate)

Consent Agenda

Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.

CA-1 (22-1848) Resolution to Approve Street Closures for the Kindlefest Special Event on Friday, December 2, 2022 from 7:00 AM until 9:00 PM
This item was deleted from the agenda on 11/17/2022.

CA-2 (22-1770) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Mental Health Court Grant Award and Approve Grant Contract ($115,100.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-3 (22-1771) Resolution to Accept and Appropriate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Drug Court Grant Funds and Approve Grant Contract ($100,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-4 (22-1772) Resolution to Accept and Allocate Michigan Supreme Court State Court Administrative Office Michigan Veterans Treatment Court Grant Award and Approve Grant Contract ($25,000.00) (8 Votes Required)

CA-5 (22-1684) Resolution to Appropriate $492,218.00 from the County Mental Health Millage Fund fund Balance to Amend the FY23 Budget for pass-through Tenant Supportive Services Contracts (8 Votes Required)

CA-6 (22-1781) Resolution to Authorize the Purchase of a Vacuum Truck from Fredrickson Supply (Sourcewell bid – $532,762.02)

CA-7 (22-1782) Resolution to Amend a Purchase Order with Bell Equipment Company for Parts and Repair Services ($100,000.00)

CA-8 (22-1785) Resolution Approving a Contract with the Shelter Association of Washtenaw County for the 2022 – 2023 Winter Emergency Shelter and Warming Center ($72,000.00)

CA-9 (22-1799) Resolution to Approve and Appropriate FY 23 Budget and Allocations for 1-Year Mini-Grants as Part of the New Human Service Partnership ($164,903.48)

Public Hearings

Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.

PH-1/B-1 (22-1712) An Ordinance to Amend Sections 4:58 and 4:59 of Chapter 49 (Sidewalks) of Title IV (Streets and Sidewalks) of the Code of the City Relative to Responsibility to Repair of Adjacent Sidewalks
Amendments to the City code will correct the operative dates for coordination between the City and the Downtown Development Authority for the improvement of sidewalks. These dates are updated to match relevant dates in the 4-year Streets, Bridges, and Sidewalks Millage (July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2026). Certain provisions of that millage apply to properties in the DDA.

PH-2/DS-1 (22-1750) Resolution to Authorize Access by Commercial Users to the City of Ann Arbor’s Fiber Optic Network
Three fiber optic networks constructed by the City of Ann Arbor (and administered and maintained by the City’s IT department) will be made available through user agreements, to be executed by the City Administrator. Non-active fiber (“dark fiber”) will be accessible for use by commercial enterprises, private business purposes, and community telecommunication services (e.g., internet service providers, or ISPs). The fee structure recommended by City staff includes the cost for the city to replace a pair of fiber optics strands in 25 years plus an annual usage and maintenance fee of $12,000.00. Staff project increased annual revenue of $100,000 for the next three years.

Ordinances – Second Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.

B-1 (22-1712) is the same as PH-1 above

Ordinances – First Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for “first reading”. If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting (“second reading”), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.

There are no ordinance first readings on the Agenda

Motions and Resolutions

The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked “DC” are proposed by Council members, items marked “DB” are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked “DS” are proposed by City staff.

DC-1 (22-1886) Resolution Electing 2022-2024 Mayor Pro Tem and Establishing Order of Succession for Acting Mayor
This resolution approves the appointment of a Mayor Pro Tem and an order of succession that includes newly elected Council Members. Traditionally, the role of Mayor Pro Tem is assigned to the Council Member with the most seniority. The current Council includes five newly elected members and five members who have served two years (elected in 2020). Council Member Radina (Ward 3) will serve as Mayor Pro Tem and other members are ordered in succession by seniority and numerical Ward.

DC-2 (22-1765) Resolution to Direct the Exploration of Alternative Uses for GSA Site (200 E. Liberty Street)
This resolution directs the City Administrator to engage with federal officials to determine their interest in future changes to the property at 200 E. Liberty Street. This property is currently owned and operated by the federal government and houses the U.S. post office as well as offices of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). You can learn more about the building here:
https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/regions/welcome-to-the-great-lakes-region-5/buildings-and-facilities/michigan/federal-building-ann-arbor

This resolution recommends that the property could be redeveloped with a greater density of office space and/or housing in order to promote a “pedestrian activated retail corridor” and add to the City’s tax base.

DC-3 (22-1509) Resolution to Approve a Lease Agreement between the City and Great Lakes Air Repair d/b/a Beacon Aviation for a Corporate Hangar Located at the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport
A 20-year lease agreement (with a 10-year renewal option) between the City of Ann Arbor and Great Lakes Air Repair (doing business as Beacon Aviation) will establish a corporate hangar and redevelop the Ann Arbor Municipal Airport. Beacon Aviation will be responsible for building and ramp improvements, insurance, utilities, maintenance work (mowing, snowplowing, etc.) and any taxes/assessments on the structure. They will make nearly $200,000.00 worth of required improvements based on a City assessment of building condition. As part of the lease agreement, Beacon Aviation will have a right of first refusal to develop vacant land immediately to the west of the building if their business grows.

DC-4 (22-1758) Resolution to Authorize a Grant Application to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy High Water Infrastructure Grant Program for the City of Ann Arbor Comprehensive Stormwater Plan. (Total Project Cost $500,000; Grant amount $400,000)
The City will be submitting a grant application to receive $400,000 from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy High Water Infrastructure Grant Program. The City will provide $100,000 in local matching funds from the Stormwater Sewer System Fund. A total of $500,000 will be spent to update and align the City’s Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan with resiliency and climate adaptation strategies. This project will evaluate and quantify the effectiveness of the City’s street trees, the community’s urban forest, and other green infrastructure and best management practices on stormwater management.

DS-1 (22-1750) is the same as PH-2 above

DS-2 (22-1703) Resolution to Approve Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and the Downtown Development Authority for Sidewalk Repairs within the Downtown Development District during FY 2023 through FY 2026
An agreement between the City and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) will cover four fiscal years (through FY2026). For the purposes of repair, sidewalks within the DDA will be treated like sidewalks outside the district. The City will maintain sidewalks in the DDA district and in exchange the DDA will transmit the portion of 0.125 mill of the 2.125 mill streets, bridges and sidewalks millage (as adjusted by any required millage roll backs) that is captured by the DDA for each of those fiscal years. See B-1.


Additional thoughts…

This meeting marks a new era in Ann Arbor democracy. Beginning November 21, 2022, the community’s ability to publicly respond to, criticize, and engage with the work of our elected leaders is greatly restricted. Open, unreserved public comment at the end of City Council meetings – a forum traditionally open to anyone in attendance or (more recently) on the phone – has been wholly eliminated. 

Historically, Council meetings have included three types of public comment: ten reserved comments (requiring pre-registration with the City Clerk on the morning of the meeting); state-mandated public hearings on specific, limited topics; and open, unreserved public comment at the end. That third type of public comment – open and unreserved, at the end of a meeting – has been an opportunity for community members to watch a Council meeting, observe how issues were debated and decided, and react to the work of their elected leaders in the same forum where that work takes place.

Since 2020, all comment periods have been accessible by phone. Even with increased access by phone, these unreserved, end-of-meeting comments have not been numerous, and they have not extended meetings by much.

A new scheme for public comment requires pre-registration with the City Clerk for all participants: hours before a meeting, well before the agenda is firmly set, and well before anyone knows what will actually happen at the Council table. Fifteen people (increased from ten) will now be permitted to comment at the beginning of a Council meeting. If more than fifteen people pre-register for comment, those additional speakers may offer comment at the end of the meeting. However, ALL commenters must have pre-registered with the City Clerk before 5 p.m. 

When this issue was debated on 11/10/22, several (now former) members of Council pointed out that these end-of-meeting unreserved comments are an important forum for people to respond to actions and discussion that aren’t known in advance, ahead of a 5 p.m. deadline. The Mayor and his allies on Council did not believe that this forum for public response was important. Retiring Council Member Grand explained:

“There’s not really a right to just come and [offer] what you think of as a correction to your Council Member. Speaking at a public meeting is only one way to engage and provide your viewpoint… you can send an email, make a phone call, you can engage in social media. There are lots of ways to make your views known that are probably more effective than speaking for three minutes late into the night when Council Members are tired and no one’s… not many people are paying attention.”

Council Member Radina (nominated this week to serve as Mayor Pro Tem) proposed that while these comments might be valuable, people could simply wait two or three weeks and offer public comment at the NEXT Council meeting:

“Oftentimes we are hearing from some of the same commenters at late hours, again, rehash comments they’ve made earlier or express some additional displeasure, which is appropriate. They should be able to express displeasure with our body… there are still a number of ways that we can do that, and also they could sign up at the next meeting and be guaranteed a spot.”

A majority of City Council asserted that a private phone call, email, social media post, or comment at a subsequent meeting is equivalent to (and preferable to) hearing your feedback at the same Council meeting where an issue was discussed. Why? A criticism communicated by phone call, email, or social media will not be incorporated into any public record. How likely are community members to appear two or three weeks later to offer public reaction on an issue that has already been decided? At its core, this rule aims to edit the public OUT of the record of debate at our public meetings.

A resident explained to me why this open, unreserved comment period matters:

“I participated in meetings held by the community police oversight [task force], and attended many council meetings where the subject of police oversight was on the agenda. The mayor, city manager, and some of the council members wanted to limit public comment to avoid accountability for ignoring the [task force] recommendation. They knew they were going to ignore the public from the start, and the only thing that made that feel any better was the unlimited comment period we could use to make them feel the pain they were trying to inflict on the city and the people who had worked so hard to come up with a solution.”

On the biggest issues of controversy in our community, the current members of City Council claim an overwhelming mandate, having vanquished every voice outside of their own well-funded clique. Every current member of Council was elected in collaboration with each other: hiring the same political operatives and receiving donations from a common network of wealthy donors and PACs. Members of Council who were previously elected to represent the residents of specific Wards and neighborhoods are now indebted to a City-wide machine that funded and promoted their candidacy. Where Council meetings previously included significant debate and discussion, we can now expect much shorter Council meetings that end at a much earlier hour. One supporter of the current Council bragged on social media that meetings will end “before the bars close.”

Decades of elected leaders have respected the public’s right to participate in their meetings via unreserved public comment at the end. Anticipating increased access to this open and unreserved forum, a majority of your elected leaders simply voted to end it.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

Under new rules, any number of people can call the City Clerk before 5 p.m. on the day of a Council meeting and register to make a public comment. Fifteen pre-reserved comments will be permitted at the beginning of the meeting and any additional pre-reserved comments will happen at the end. When fewer than fifteen people call to reserve a comment, Council has successfully avoided the community response/reaction that has always occurred at the end of a Council meeting. The Council postures that they have “expanded” public comment – in fact, they have created new barriers to public comment: you cannot comment unless you sign up before 5 p.m., before the agenda is set and before you know what will be decided. Your right to offer a comment of response/reaction at the end of a meeting depends on fifteen other people also pre-registering to reserve a public comment.

If you have ever thought about watching a City Council meeting, now is the time. More importantly: if you plan to watch a City Council meeting, you should sign up to make a public comment.

Next Ann Arbor City Council meeting

Monday, November 21, 7 p.m.
https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=914284&GUID=3BFD1492-8C98-4D71-B4ED-9B3DC4952A34

How to reserve public comment at the City Council meeting

Please go to or call the City Clerk’s Office at 734-794-6140 on the day of the meeting beginning at 8 a.m. At 1 p.m., all speakers that have signed up are randomly ordered. After 1 p.m., speaking times are granted on a first-come, first-served basis. No new speakers will be added to the list after 5 p.m. on the day of the meeting.

For more information, visit the City Clerk’s webpage about electronic meetings, section “City Council Public Commentary Time”
https://www.a2gov.org/departments/city-clerk/Pages/Virtual-Meetings-.aspx

Instructions for dialing into public comment are at the top of the Legistar agenda link.

  • Public comment can be made in person on the Second floor of City Hall (301 E. Huron)
  • Public comment can be made by phone, calling 877 853 5247 or 888 788 0099 Enter Meeting ID 942 1273 2148

You can watch a City Council broadcast live on CTN Cable Channel 16, ATT Channel 99, and online at a2gov.org/watchCTN

Council meetings are also streamed live on the CTN YouTube channel:
https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor

Thank you for taking the time to be informed about our local government!
Elizabeth Nelson