Monday, December 10, 2007

Is Council Violating the Open Meetings Act?

Nearly every meeting of the Ann Arbor City Council includes a closed session. There was even a closed session at the recent council retreat. According to some past council members, the current council has dramatically increased the number of closed sessions. The increase in closed sessions has made these former council members and many citizens question whether the Open Meetings Act is being misinterpreted to keep politically sensitive discussions away from the CTN camera. More ...

Monday, November 5, 2007

$3.9 million in architect fees!

Hastily called meeting just prior to new council members taking office
A special meeting called by City Council on October 22, only 3 weeks before the inauguration of the new City Council members, to approve another $3.9 million in architect fees received 2 hours prior to the meeting. Click here for the architect's proposal. (The document is 35 MB so will take a couple of minutes to download).

Watch the video of Higgins trying to slip the special meeting of council under the public radar. The request for the meeting was not attached to the council agenda. She did not mention that the special meeting was a city council meeting and did not mention that it would be held Monday, Oct 22 at 7:00 PM even though the city charter requires that time and place be included in the request for the meeting. Subsequent to her announcement, there were several press releases posted to the city website's homepage but none on this meeting. The actual resolutions are not linked to the agenda and as of Saturday morning, city council members did not have the resolutions so we don't know how the architect's contract will be amended and whether additional money will be authorized.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Paying for the Rog Mahal

The Ann Arbor City Council majority is rushing to approve a massive new city hall complex. City employees have named it the Rog Mahal, for city manager Roger Fraser. Ann Arbor residents have been excluded from the decision process but they will get stuck with the bill, which has risen to over 57 million dollars. This is more than double the amount the the Community Security and Public Space Task Force Report suggested spending.
more ...
Click here for response from Councilman Easthope.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Who's Watching Roger Fraser?

Ann Arbor city residents have seen services reduced because of budget belt tightening, but Council's tight fisted ways don't apply to city administrator Roger Fraser's perks. The Council majority has even ignored warnings from the city's outside auditor about Mr. Fraser's improper expenditures.
more ...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Parks Spending And Broken Promises

When voters were asked to approve a parks millage increase, they were told the general fund contribution to parks spending would not be reduced more than the general fund contributions to other expenses.

But parks were shortchanged by $1.4 million: streets are defined as parks, the mayor and council, city attorney, city finance department and city administrator each had budget increases of over 15% to 23%. But not parks; and there was a non-public millage change on October, 2006.

Additionally, $900,000 was spent to remove 10% of the ash trees. The city administrator's (Roger Fraser) budget allocates $1400 per tree. more ...

City Council's Broken Pledge

Doug Cowherd, chair of the Sierra Club's Huron Valley Group, comments on City Council's broken pledge

Last year Ann Arbor's City Council put a tax increase to provide additional funds for parks on the November 2006 ballot. Council unanimously passed a resolution stating that if the increased millage passed, then other funding for the parks would not be reduced if the City's general fund revenue increased.

Believing that the Council resolution meant that City Council would not play a game of budgetary "bait and switch" after the election, voters narrowly approved the tax increase for parks.

But only seven months later, eight Council members voted to break their promise to the voters. Despite an increase in general fund revenue for the coming year, Mayor Hieftje, and Council members Easthope, Greden, Higgins, Lowenstein, Rapundalo, Teall, and Woods all voted to reduce the amount of money in the general fund budget for parks. Arguing that Council could not honorably break their commitment, Council members Johnson, Suarez, and Kunselman voted to uphold Council's promise.

Click here for the full meeting with additional citizen comment.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Linda Berauer, chair of the Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission, speaks about the parks budget charade.

Inside Ann Arbor's Budget

Have you ever wondered why your taxes are so high but the city is always short of funds?
Here are the top 3 reasons:
1. The City moves money by charging $8,500 per employee for IT services.
2. There's also $9.5 million in the fiscal year 2009 budget for the proposed civic center. High water bills and selling off of public property are used to finance this.
3. Parks funds are raided.
more ...