Thank you to everyone who has reached out to tell me how much you appreciate this newsletter. These last four years, I have tried desperately to help residents understand the whole of our agendas through primary sources, while separating out my own opinions/editorial. My work has inspired some imitation, but with opinion and advocacy mixed up in every explanation. I am still the only Council Member who has attempted to connect you – ahead of our meetings – with the whole of our agenda, rather than just selective parts. Residents are not engaged in a meaningful way when they only hear about City Council decisions after they have already happened.
In the last two years, a majority of Council has looked for ways to avoid responsibility and avoid accountability to residents. As recently as this week, the Mayor and his allies voted to remove open public comment from future meetings. Issues of controversy have been identified and quietly removed from Council responsibility. E.g. just a few months after residents protested Council approval of the site plan for the Concord Pines development, the Mayor and his allies voted to remove ALL site plan approval from its agendas.
In October 2021, the approval of Concord Pines prompted outcry from residents:
In January 2022, The Mayor and his allies voted to delegate all site plan approval to either City staff or the unelected Mayoral appointees on the Planning Commission:
A solid majority of our City Council now relies on social media as their primary method of communicating with the community. In the last four years, these online forums have included a small (but reliable) cheerleading squad that is eager to repeat and amplify misinformation and inaccurate generalizations, while shouting down any dissent or corrections of fact. These forums are where, increasingly, your elected leaders have indulged in wild accusations, mis-statements of fact, and righteous preening. Buzzwords and talking points have displaced policy debate and discussion.
Ann Arbor – along with the whole country – has seen this movie before. We can choose to be better or we can pretend that we are immune. This newsletter will continue because I know there are many in our community who want us to do better.
This year, our community heard many campaign promises about both written communication and in-person engagement with residents. We heard similar promises in 2020 from candidates who, once elected, did nothing and/or lost interest. I am the only Council Member who has consistently scheduled regular, open coffee hours for constituents before every Council meeting.
Since the August primaries, this list has gained subscribers in a way I could not have predicted. At first, I was concerned that people might not know the results of the election. More recently, though, I’ve realized that people are signing up not because of what they don’t know but because of what they do know: I’m genuinely committed to making our local government more transparent and accessible.
Update Nov 15, 2022: A majority of City Council delegated approval of development site plans to unelected staff and Mayoral appointees in January 2022, not July 2022 as was originally published here. The correct date, link, and additional link to an MLive story has been added.