(June 27, 2007) The recall of four Ypsilanti City Council members moved a step closer today. The Board of County Election Commissioners met on Wednesday and approved petition language for a recall. City Council members targeted by the recall are Mayor Pro Tem S.A. Trudy Swanson (Dem, Ward 1), John Gawlas (Dem, Ward 2), William “Bill” Nickels (Dem, Ward 2), and Brian Filipiak (Dem, Ward 3). Both Gawlas and Filipiak attended the Election Commission meeting today.
Filipiak said after the meeting, “The results were not unexpected.”
According to Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Clerk Derrick Jackson, to put a recall of Swanson on the ballot, petitioners would need 420 valid signatures from Ward 1. They would need 561 to force a recall of Nickels and Gawlas from Ward 2 and 397 signatures to recall Filipiak from Ward 3. Registered voters can sign petitions starting Thursday. Valid signatures must be turned in to the County Clerk within 180 days.
(June 26, 2007) Despite a rocky start, the Ypsilanti 20/20 committee got off the ground last night at City Hall. Billed as an organizational meeting, the meeting stretched for almost two hours and was full of interesting ideas and a passion that hasn’t been seen at City Hall for some time. There was only one audience member, Brain Robb (Dem, Ward 3), who quietly sat in the back and watched.
This was was a really fun meeting. If you want to see what is good about Ypsilanti, we highly recommend you watch the video. It was great to see people excited about baseball in Ypsilanti which has been an idea in the works for some time. There were many other great ideas from independent retailers, sustainable agriculture, and green cities.
Yeah we know, the original promise was for the 20/20 to meet and come up with recommendations in the first 100 days of the new administration. It was 230 days from the election before the first meeting so they are a little slow getting started. And we know the meeting was likely a violation of the Open Meetings Act because the meeting was never properly posted at City Hall. But that wasn’t the fault of the committee members, rather city staff should shoulder the blame because staff should know the rules. It was also a little disconcerting when Gary Clark, interim Chair, called YpsiNews thirty minutes before the meeting and told us that that there was nothing going on at tonights meeting and said we didn’t need to attend.
We are glad we didn’t listen. The meeting was full of energy, great ideas, diverse backgrounds, and you could see that folks were anxious to get to work. Mayor Paul Schreiber should be complemented for the group he has put together. Lets hope that the politics and divisiveness too often seen inside City Hall, leaves these folks alone and lets them do their job of shaping a vision for our community. If the committee can focus on the vision and idea generation, and not become a rubber stamp for things like an Income Tax or Water Street, then this committee has great promise. Mr. Mayor, nice job.
(June 21, 2007) Ypsilanti City Council on Tuesday voted 4 to 3 to put the City Income Tax before the voters. Lois Richardson (Dem, Ward 1), Brian Robb (Dem, Ward 3), and Trudy Swanson (Dem, Ward 1) voted against the proposal.
Council delayed taking action against Mayor Pro Tem Trudy Swanson after allegations surfaced last week of possible violations of the City Charter’s Code of Conduct. Mayor Paul Schreiber (Dem) said that Council should give Swanson adequate time for her to prepare for the hearing.
(June 20, 2007) In a packed Board room of Eastern Michigan University, besieged president John Fallon said he is breaking his silence over the murder of Laura Dickinson and the investigation of the response by Eastern Michigan University. Fallon invoked the memory of President Harry S. Truman by reminding audience members of the famous phrase, “The buck stops here.”
“Ladies and gentleman, President Truman was absolutely correct. And I, as president of Eastern Michigan University, did not, do not and will not pass the buck to anyone.” Fallon went on to say, “I apologize to you and say; never again will such a confounding series of mistakes be made on my watch.” Fallon’s statement begins at 2min:44secs into the meeting.
Fallon continued to read from his statement saying, “This administration and I have been encouraged to be silent publicly. That approach did not serve this situation well.”
This was the first public statement by Fallon since the Regent’s Butzel Long report was released June 8th.
Fallon, after the meeting, told reporters that he had no additional statements to make regarding the investigation and he would wait until the U.S. Department of Education releases its report into violations of the Clery Act later this month.
Insiders in the President’s office told YpsiNews that a CNN camera crew was on campus and was scheduled to interview President Fallon after the Regent’s meeting. Good Morning America reported this morning (story, video) that no officials from EMU were available for comment. So while Fallon says he is breaking his silence it appears Fallon and EMU officials are remaining largely silent on the subject of Laura Dickinson and her slaying.
Prior to Fallon’s statement, Board President Thomas Sidlik said the Board of Regent’s would not be taking any action today. Sidlik also announced that EMU would be hiring Security on Campus, Inc. Sidlik said that Security on Campus would train officials at EMU and provide expertise on matters of campus safety and compliance with the Clery Act. Sidlik expected the training to be completed before students returned in September. After Sidlik made the announcement, several audience members applauded.
(June 19, 2007) For those that endured a 5-hour long Ypsilanti School Board meeting, it was hard to see what was accomplished. At the beginning of the meeting, one audience member was shouted down by the board chair for using the ‘N’ word. (0h:44m) However, the audience member was reading a quote from a police report about an incident at the High School and was not directing the epithet at any board or staff member.
Then in a perplexing move, the board undertook the sale of land on Clark and LeForge in Superior Township. That land was designated as the location of a new bus garage and warehouse for the district. According to the superintendent James Hawkins, Hawkins said that CFO Alan Dowdy said they could sell part of the land and not affect the bus facility. However, how does a finance guy know that the land sale will not impact the site plan when no site plan exists?
There has not been a site plan or assessment of the site to determine location of buildings or traffic flows on the property. Moreover, no inquiry has been made with the state or county regarding traffic flows in and out of the site. The school board didn’t even contact the citizens committee they appointed almost two years ago to look at a location for the bus garage. It was stunning that the Board would consider the issue with so little data.
Then the board took on the granting of a contract to a current assistant principal at the high school. Mr. Macintosh is eligible for retirement so he has opted to accept the early buyout and receive $15,000 cash. The board will then turn around and sign a personal services contract paying him more than he receives now for a two year contract.
The board claims they are saving money but they aren’t. They are putting Macintosh into retirement, then rehiring him for the exact same job he was already doing. That isn’t what you typically do with an early buyout. The buyout is to get the person off the payroll. Not to then rehire them the very next day. The savings is just on paper shifting costs from the local district to the state. When you look at the full cost to the taxpayers this deal will cost Michigan taxpayers well over $50,000. This doesn’t pass the smell test.
YpsiNews then asked the board secretary to send us meeting notices. Board Secretary Karen Allen said that meetings are posted on the web. We noted that special meetings are not on the website and since the Board can call a meeting in 24 hours, we miss the special meetings like the one called several weeks ago. Allen then corrected us by saying meetings could be called in 18 hours. I guess the expectation is that citizens and the media should check the website every 18 hours to insure a board meeting hasn’t been called.
We then suggested that Allen could send the meeting notice by fax or email. Allen responded, “I don’t do email.”
So lets outline the process for calling a special meeting. Allen produces the meeting notice on a computer, prints it out, and then faxes it. But she won’t do email.
Folks these are the people that are supposed to be educating our kids. They are making fiscal decisions without understanding the true costs. They grant a sweetheart deal to an assistant principal, they squash free speech, and they don’t do email. It isn’t any wonder there is a crises in our school district.
(June 18, 2007) LookInTheAttic & Company was featured twice in the July 2007 issue of House Beautiful magazine. The fine tableware blue Nicole Glass plates are featured on page 44 and the ‘cloth’ cabinet knobs for the kitchen on page 120.
House Beautiful, a Hearst Publication, is a monthly magazine about interior design and fashion with a monthly reach of 188,000 copies. The July issue hit newsstands on Friday. Last year, LookInTheAttic’s cabinet hardware was used by Country Living Magazine’s House of the Year Award and as well as shown on Home and Garden Television.
LookInTheAttic is in downtown Ypsilanti at 110 W Michigan Avenue or your can visit them on the web at www.LookintheAttic.com.
(June 9, 2007) An AATA bus suffered a major engine failure on Saturday while on a route in downtown Ypsilanti. The resulting oil spill left a trail of oil a 1/2 mile long along Adams, Washtenaw, Washington, and Pearl.
Residents attending afternoon service at area churches on Adams and Washtenaw had to step through and over the oil spill when crossing the street. An AATA mechanic as well as a contract security guard spread ‘floor-dry” at the bus stop to absorb some of the oil. While the floor-dry was picked up at the station, AATA did nothing to try and mitigate the oil spill on the rest of the streets. Most bus engines have an oil capacity between 8 and 10 gallons.
Ypsilanti residents passed a special road millage in 2000 to repave all the local streets in the city. All four of the streets covered by the oil spill had been recently repaved. According to paving experts, motor oil is especially tough on asphalt, causing premature failure of the road bed surface.
(June 5, 2007) A Memorial Fund for Ypsilanti firefighter Rick LaPensee. LaPensee was killed yesterday in a plane crash in Milwaukee. He worked part-time for the U-M Survival Flight as an organ transplant specialist.
The memorial fund was set-up at the Ypsilanti Branch of the Bank of Ann Arbor, 7 West Michigan Avenue in Downtown Ypsilanti. The branch’s phone number is (734) 485-9400.
(June 5, 2007) Long time Ypsilanti firefighter Richard LaPensee was killed in a plane crash Monday afternoon. LaPensee was one of six people killed when their Cessna Citation jet crashed into Lake Michigan just shortly after take-off from Milwaukee around 5pm Monday.
LaPensee, 48, had been with the Ypsilanti fire department for 14 years and attained the rank of Firefighter/EMT Basic. LaPensee was also a nurse and transplant donation specialist who routinely worked for the U-M.
LaPensee was part of a four person transplant team plus two pilots that worked for U-M Survival Flight. The team was on a mission to pickup organs from a hospital in the Milwaukee area. The flight was returning to Willow Run airport when it went down.
The Ypsilanti fire department is a very close knit group of full-time men and women firefighters. Ken Hobbs, president of Ypsilanti Firefighter’s Union said the news was devastating. As soon as they heard about the plane crash, Ypsilanti firefighters went to LaPensee’s home to be with his family.
This is the second time in two years that Ypsilanti has lost a firefighter. In 2005, Ypsilanti firefighter Brad Patton, along with his wife and one of his three children were killed in a motor vehicle crash while off-duty. Paton’s two other children were injured but survived the crash.