Ann Arbor Symphony comes to Ypsilanti

March 30, 2007 by  
Filed under Announcements

Historic concert to be held at Pease Auditorium

Head to Pease Auditorium at 8 pm on Sunday, April 15th for an Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra concert with a special Ypsilanti flavor!

Eastern Michigan University professors Willard Zirk, French horn and Joel Schoenhals, piano will solo on Mozart’s Horn Concerto No. 1 and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. Zirk has played principal horn with the A²SO for 24 years and will retire after this concert.

The talented Ypsilanti High School Brass directed by Matthew Kazmierski will open the concert with a fanfare. Local Ypsilanti residents Barbara Zmich and Kathleen Grimes will also be performing.

Reserved seats for Intersection: The A²SO in Ypsilanti are $16. General admission tickets are $11 (or $6 for seniors, students and children). Tickets are on sale through the EMU box office at 487-2282 or www.emich.edu to purchase tickets. Contact Amy at amy@a2so.com with any questions.

Ypsi students show off winning car

March 30, 2007 by  
Filed under News

Fresh from winning third place in the Detroit Autorama, the Ypsilanti Public Schools Regional Career Technical Center’s Auto Collision Class displayed their handiwork outside Ypsilanti High School, March 29, during Parent/Teacher conferences. The 1967 Edlorado is cherry red and waiting for a buyer! The class is hoping to sell the vehicle to help fund their next car project. Details contact teacher Bill Burnette, (734) 482-8485.

City Clerk Resigns

March 27, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 27, 2007) Ypsilanti City Clerk Rebecca Bintz submitted her resignation on Monday, March 26th. Bintz had been on the job for two months. Bintz came under fire for the alleged use of a racial epithet while at work.

Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) announced that Bintz had tendered her resignation during a special council meeting held Tuesday morning at 7:30. Schreiber told council that Bintz’s resignation would not be effective until it was accepted by the council. Schreiber indicated that he thought that would happen at the April 3rd meeting of City Council.

Watch Video of March 27, 2007 Special Council Meeting

At the beginning of the meeting Schreiber asked newly hired Deputy Clerk Frances McMullan to introduce herself. McMullan began work last week on March 19th and is the only employee in the Clerk’s office.

McMullan previously worked for the City of Ann Arbor for 16 years. She has held a variety of positions including work in the Ann Arbor Building department and the Clerks office where she was an election worker and also was the recording secretary for city council for four years from 1997 to 2000. Her last job was parking referee for Ann Arbor. McMullan lives in Ypsilanti Township and is a graduate of EMU.

New City Clerk under fire for racial remark

March 26, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 26, 2007) Newly hired Ypsilanti City Clerk Rebecca Bintz, is under fire for allegedly making a racially insensitive comment. Bintz, who is still in her probation period, was hired in December by Ypsilanti City Council and started work on January 22, 2007.

Just two months in her new position, it is alleged that Bintz used a racially charged word after an incident at city hall with an elderly customer who had come in and asked for city records. It is alleged that Bintz did not direct the word at the customer. It was after the customer left that Bintz is alleged to have used the epithet.

Bintz, who makes $60,000 a year, has not returned repeated calls from YpsiNews.com for comment on this story and the allegations.

On Saturday, Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) was asked about problems in the Clerk’s office. In a telephone call with YpsiNews.com, Schreiber said that, “Ms. Bintz has been a good employee and any decision about Ms. Bintz’s status is up to the City Council or Ms. Bintz.”

YpsiNews.com has learned that Schreiber met with Bintz twice last week. Schreiber would not confirm that he met with Bintz about the allegations saying that the subject of the meeting was personal.

On Saturday, Schreiber was specifically asked if he asked for Bintz’s resignation and Schreiber replied, “I will neither confirm or deny that I asked her and that is all I am going to say about this issue.”

Council members Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1) and Brian Robb (Dem, Ward 3) were contacted and asked if they were aware of the allegations against Bintz. They both said they were unaware of any problems in the Clerk’s office.

Richardson said she was “surprised to learn there were problems in the Clerk’s office or with Ms. Bintz.” She said that Bintz had been there just over a month and in all her dealings, Bintz had been easy to work with.

City Council has scheduled a special meeting for 7:30 Tuesday morning, March 27th. Schreiber was asked if anything else was to be discussed at the Tuesday Special Council Meeting besides the water bonds that are already on the agenda and Schreiber said no.

Under the rules of the City Charter, the City Council hires just two employees, the City Manager and the City Clerk. It is the City Manager, not the Mayor or Council, that is responsible for the hiring of all other employees and for the daily operation of the city.

City Manager Ed Koryzno took a medical leave of absence on March 9th. Bintz was cast as the new interim City Manager on March 12th under provisions of the City Charter. Sources inside City Hall had indicated that Bintz was not happy about being appointed Interim Manager. Citing her unfamiliarity with the city and that she was the only employee in the department, the next day Koryzno appointed Building Inspector and Building Department manager Charles Boulard as Interim City Manager. Koryzno is recuperating at home and is expected to return to work May 1.

Bintz was hired in July 2002, as Rebecca Lightner, to be city clerk in Bangor, Michigan. Bangor, population 1,933, is on the west side of the state. Bintz started at $28,500 and was making $33,000 a year in Bangor when she left her job four years later.

On the Van Buren County website they tell the story about Ed Cable an African-American living in Bangor, Michigan. Cable was a barber and businessman at the turn of the last century. An inappropriate racial comment was printed in the Bangor Advance newspaper before 1910. Cable responded by writing a letter to the paper. At a time when many would be afraid to speak out, Cable did and his letter was published the next week. Today, local preservationists are working to save and restore Cable’s home.

According to the 2000 Census, Bangor is 75.8% white, 12.7% African-American, and 12.2% Hispanic. By contrast Ypsilanti is 61.4% white, 30.6% African-American, and 2.5% Hispanic. (Hispanic is not considered a race by the Census Bureau which is why the numbers do not add to 100.)

Fairdata2000.com reports that Bangor has 798 registered voters. According to the Washtenaw County Clerk, Ypsilanti has 12,247 registered voters.

During the interviews with Ypsilanti City Council, Bintz cited her broad experience with a diverse community as one of the assets she would bring to Ypsilanti and why she would make a good clerk.

Bintz said during her interview that when she started working in Bangor there were four other people on her team. By the time she left, there was just one person in her office, Bintz.

See video of both of Bintz’s interviews with City Council. Her first interview was October 31, 2006. (Begins at 1hr:43min:20sec) Bintz’s second interview was December 12, 2006. (Begins at 3min:30sec)

This is not the first problem to befall the Ypsilanti City Clerk’s office. The City Clerks office has been beset with problems over the last several years. Every employee that has worked in the Clerk’s office in the last two years has either quit or transferred to a different department.

The Ypsilanti City Clerk’s department consists of just two people. Bintz and Frances McMullan who was just hired as the Deputy Clerk. McMullan started her new job March 19th and has been on the job less than one week. Prior to that, McMullan worked for the City of Ann Arbor.

McMullan will be preparing for her first election as Deputy Clerk when the Ypsilanti School Board election is held May 8th, just seven weeks away. The school board election is a joint election between the City and the townships of Ypsilanti and Superior.

Ypsi’s The Rocket to be profiled by Ikea

March 26, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 27, 2007) Brian Robb at East-Cross.com scooped YpsiNews.com by announcing that The Rocket, downtown Ypsi’s funkiest store, will be profiled by mega store Ikea in April.

Ikea profiles small businesses that “think Ikea” which means they use Ikea products in their business. Hats off to Paul and everyone at The Rocket for helping to promote Ypsilanti. I hope their ISP is prepared for the increase in traffic. If you think 1,000 people at a store opening is huge, wait until you are on Ikea’s website.

Comedy in Ypsilanti

March 26, 2007 by  
Filed under Announcements

(March 26, 2007) If you didn’t have enough fun at the mayoral debates last summer, here is your chance to watch more comedy in Ypsilanti. Comedy Productions, which just opened an office here in Ypsilanti, and Pub 13 announces YPSILANTI IDOL COMEDY NIGHT beginning Monday, April 2, 2007 – 8pm and continuing weekly at Pub 13, located at 13 N. Washington in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

If you think you have a funny bone or your friends are always telling you that you crack them up, this could be your shot.

Each week five contestant-comedians will take to the stage performing a comedy routine, with an allotted time of 10 minutes. In the back of the room, on the bar, will be five jars, each bearing the name of the contestant. Throughout the hour long show, the audience will be encouraged to “vote” for their favorite contestant by “tipping” – placing money in the jar of their choice. At the conclusion of the show, the money (votes) will be counted. The contestant with the most money in their jar will be declared the winner and return the following week as “Reigning Champion.”

A 6th jar, along with a GONG, will also be placed on the bar. After a contestant has been performing for 5 minutes, the hammer for the gong will be placed on the bar. For $10.00, an audience member may “gong” a contestant off the stage. Upon being gonged, the performer must leave the stage without comment. A gonged performer is eliminated from the contest and their tip jar removed from the bar. An eliminated contestant still receives any monies placed in their jar before being gonged. The money in the gong jar will be given to the wait staff.

The House Emcee, armed with an official stopwatch provided by Comedy Productions, will keep time regarding the gong hammer and will also provide the performer on stage a 2-minute warning light within their 10-minute slot. At 10 minutes, the emcee will call out “Time!” and the performing contestant must immediately stop speaking. If the performer continues, they will be “gonged” and disqualified. Any money in their jar will be forfeited to the gong jar.

Interested performers should email Chrissy@ComedyPro.com by Midnight on the Monday prior. (To be considered for the April 2, 2007 show, the deadline is Midnight March 26, 2007.) Contestants will be chosen by Comedy Productions and notified via email the next day. Contestants are required to be at Pub 13 by 7:30pm on the day of the contest. Late arrivals risk losing their slot to an alternate.

To promote YPSILANTI IDOL COMEDY NIGHT, Pub 13 will be tagging their current radio & print advertising and soliciting vendors as possible sponsors. Often, a representative from Comedy Productions will be present to watch performers for possible future work with the agency.

Pub 13 offers a full-menu but is still regarded as a bar. Minimum age for admission will be 18 years old. Admission is free.

For more information, please email Chrissy@ComedyPro.com.

Cook resigns from AATA

March 16, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 16, 2007) Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) has announced that Greg Cook intends to resign as Executive Director/CEO of AATA. No date has been set.

Recently, Cook has been at odds with some members of the Board of Directors over policies, travel and expenses, and fares charged in outlying communities. Board President David Nacht said that Assistant Executive Director Dawn Gabat will be the interim director while the board does a search for a new director.

In a one-page, tersely worded statement, Nacht said, “AATA will continue to thrive and continue to grow under Ms. Gabay’s direction. We thank Greg Cook for his years of service and commitment to AATA and the community”

City Council proposes scheme to borrow $3.1 million (UPDATE2)

March 16, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 15, 2007) Ypsilanti City Council took the first steps on Tuesday night to borrow an additional $3.1 million dollars to pay for capital improvements. The already cash strapped city, buckling under an ever increasing debt load and running up against state mandated borrowing limits is proposing a creative financing scheme to fund a $3.1 million dollar loan over 15 years.

Honeywell has proposed an extensive set of heating and cooling upgrades, as well as window, light fixture, and bathroom updates for City Hall, Police and Fire, Parkridge, Senior Center and a number of other city owned buildings. Honeywell is proposing the city borrow this money and suggests that through a combination of reduced maintenance and reduction in the use of outside contractors, as well as energy savings, the city can pay back the loan over a 15 year period of time.

Watch Video of City Council Meeting

In reality, what the city is doing is borrowing money to do capital improvements that have been deferred since 1995. Bill Bohlen, Manager for Public Works, pointed out in his testimony before Council that elected officials had balanced the budget each year for the past several years by forgoing needed capital improvements and deferring maintenance.

Bohlen also noted that City staff had looked at a similar program four years ago and after the former Department of Public Works head and city manager had studied the matter, it was decided to not bring it before council. It is unknown what if anything were concerns over the program four years ago. It may have simply been that the city was in the middle of the local road project and decided to not undertake a second significant capital improvement program at the same time.

The City has already amassed a very high level of debt since 1995. Current estimates peg the city’s debt near $70 million including water, road and sewer bonds, DDA street scape bonds, city hall facade debt, as well as some $25 million already borrowed for the struggling Water Street project.

The city council also squashed any chance for public input at Tuesday nights meeting while Honeywell officials were present and available for questions. John Gawlas (Dem, Ward 2) made a motion to remove audience participation after the Honeywell presentation. (3m:20s) Consequently, there was no opportunity to ask further questions about the proposal and plan presented by Honeywell. Only Mayor Schreiber (Dem) voted against removing audience participation.

After the presentation and discussion by Council, Schreiber polled the council members present asking if they wanted to proceed with a letter of intent. Gawlas, Schreiber, Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1), and Brian Filipiak (Dem, Ward 3) all said they wanted to proceed. Only Brian Robb (Dem, Ward 3) said he wanted to review the materials and carefully read the 120 plus page report from Honeywell before deciding if the City should proceed with a contract. While no final vote was taken by council, it appears Schreiber has the votes necessary to move forward with his plan that will burden the city residents with more debt.

Schreiber said the city plans to issue a letter of intent sometime in April. Brian Robb asked if a $3.1 million project would require a competitive bid under city rules. Council was told by city staff that there is no need to go out for bid, even for such a large capital project. Staff said Honeywell would be acting as the consultant engineer on the project and Honeywell would be sub-contracting the work to other companies and thus the city would not need competitive bids.

However, the largest single contract will likely go to Honeywell or a Honeywell subsidiary for well over $1 million. So it appears the City is using Honeywell to skirt around rules requiring competitive bids for any large project.

A copy of Honeywell’s proposal and presentation is available here. (Warning, the file is a very large PDF, 30MB)

Updated: March 16, 2007 9:17a
Original Post: March 15, 2007 12:18a

Koryzno on four to six week medical leave (UPDATE3)

March 14, 2007 by  
Filed under News

Charles Boulard appointed interim city manager

(March 13, 2007) Ypsilanti City manager Ed Koryzno has taken a four to six week leave of absence for medical reasons effective immediately.

In a statement released to city council, Koryzno said he had been readmitted to St. Joseph’s hospital last Thursday and that he was suffering from anemia. After extensive diagnosis, Koryzno said a growth was discovered and he underwent surgery on Monday to remove the non-malignant growth.

Mayor Schreiber at Tuesday’s City Council meeting announced the Mr. Koryzno had his gall bladder removed.

Koryzno had first been been admitted to St. Joseph’s hospital several weeks ago for overnight observation. He was back to work the next Monday.

Koryzno said, “We are in the midst of preparing next year’s budget and key administrative positions are vacant, so I hope to return to work as soon as possible.”

Originally Mr. Koryzno thought he would be out for two weeks. Now he is expecting to be out four to six weeks. Koryzno had earlier said that newly hired City Clerk Rebecca Bintz, would become Acting City Manager during his absence. Bintz is the only employee in the City Clerk’s office. Frances McMullan, who was hired as the new deputy clerk, won’t start until March 19th. McMullan was working in the Clerk’s office in the City of Ann Arbor.

Koryzno announced today that he is instead appointing Building Department manager Charles Boulard as Interim City Manager.

We at YpsiNews.com hope that Mr. Koryzno makes a speedy recovery and our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

Updated: March 13, 2007 10:41p
Original Post: March 12, 2007 10:26a

Fire destroys apartment near EMU

March 11, 2007 by  
Filed under News

(March 11, 2007) Fire gutted the second floor apartment at 712 Washtenaw in Ypsilanti around 3:30pm on Sunday. According to Ypsilanti police on the scene, no one was injured and everyone got out of the apartment safely. Washtenaw Avenue was shut down for several hours this afternoon as firefighters from Ypsilanti Fire Department fought the blaze. Also responding to the fire were firefighters from Ypsilanti Township.

The 13-unit building is owned by Three Oaks Properties and is a landmark apartment building on the corner of Washtenaw and Emmet just east of the Water Tower. Three Oaks had acquired the property several years ago and had recently completed an extensive renovation of the entire building.

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