This week marks a full year since the installation of a City Council in which all elected members were approved and endorsed by Mayor Taylor. In the last twelve months, 97% of all agenda items have been approved unanimously, most notably on issues of controversy.
City Council Posts
Below are essays I’ve written exploring Ann Arbor City Council issues in depth and providing more background on the decisions of your elected representatives.
This week’s agenda item DC-4 is a stunning departure from past city policy regarding data-driven decisions. City staff is asked to prioritize reconfiguring all existing multilane roads under the City’s jurisdiction, narrowing and reducing traffic lanes. Council no longer wants traffic data for specific locations or projections for safety improvements and traffic delays.
The June 5, 2023 Ann Arbor City Council agenda is quite long and illustrates how a new Council approaches the job of local government, accountability, and informed decision making.
This week, I recorded a meeting of the Council Administration Committee. My recording illustrates the poor quality of phone access – unlike other meetings held by boards and commissions via Zoom, the audio quality of phone-access is so poor that it is extremely difficult to hear what is said much of the time.
At the May 1, 2023 meeting, City Council will consider a resolution to dissolve the Council Brownfields Plan Review committee
The April 17, 2023 Council agenda illustrates just how much transparency is lost when City operations happen outside of public process. Item CA-9 is an amendment to a 20 year lease agreement (with option to renew for 10 years) for building maintenance and management of services at the Ann Arbor airport.
This week’s Council agenda is very short, but two items – $45 million in water supply revenue bonds and $450,000 expenditure for tree limb cleanup – are worth extra discussion and consideration.
Council Evades Responsibility: Insurance Board, Downtown Street Closures, Brownfield Review Committee
The most recent Council meetinghighlighted just how rapidly a new Council is delegating responsibility to unelected City staff, reducing their own responsibility and accountability for decisions that impact the City and its residents.
At the March 6, 2023 meeting, Council will consider a proposal to eliminate the City’s Insurance Board, a forum that exists to consider resident requests for compensation from the City. The new ordinance empowers the City Administrator or his designee to decide payment or denial of all claims up to $75,000.
I scanned Legistar and quickly found multiple examples of how “Best Value” contracting policy has been implemented, at a cost to taxpayers. In just a preliminary search, I identified where this new scoring criteria – combined with Council discretion, rejecting staff recommendations – has cost the City over a million dollars.