The following was originally published in my Feb 3, 2019 Newsletter in the "Additional Thoughts" section
Since our last meeting, the city survived the polar vortex and I’ve received a lot more information about the proposed trespass ordinance. In just the last two days, the University of Michigan announced that Wendy’s would not be returning to a newly renovated Michigan Student Union, which is relevant to a resolution currently on the agenda.
This winter season, I’m hearing from residents who find that even a combination of private snow removal service and city snow-plowing is sometimes not quite enough. When city plows arrive on your street, they sometimes create a new obstacle: a fresh pile of snow at the base of your driveway that needs to be shoveled out of the way. Some advice from our city public works: https://www.a2gov.org/departments/public-works/street-maintenance/Pages/Snow-Removal.aspx
When I hear about older residents struggling with relatively small (but unwieldy) physical challenges like that “second shovel,” I think about the two teenage boys who live in my house and regularly shovel snow for me. Our city neighborhoods are full of young, able-bodied people (middle-school, high school and university students) who are motivated to work volunteer hours in the context of organized programs. I have now had several conversations with our city administrator about how the city might organize and better leverage volunteerism among our younger residents. If you have ideas or suggestions about groups that might be interested in such a program, I welcome your input!
Two weeks ago (like many residents), I worried about the implications of a new local trespass ordinance. Since sending my last newsletter, I’ve had a long conversation with our interim police chief and received a lot of written background from the chair of our Human Rights Commission. Now that I know more, I plan to support the new trespass ordinance. Adding this to our local code gives us more control over the process of citing people for trespass and I see that as an opportunity. I am reassured that this new ordinance is one part of a larger effort from the Human Rights Commission to make sure citations for trespass are not abused or exercised in a discriminatory way.
Last December, a Ward 4 resident reached out to educate me about the Fair Food Program, which verifies safe working conditions for farm workers. Before that contact, I knew nothing about Fair Food, I had no idea about the challenges faced by farm workers and the need for public pressure and verification to protect them against abuse. Many large companies participate in the Fair Food Program, but Wendy’s does not. This week’s resolution re: Wendy’s is the result of that Ward 4 resident contacting me back in December and it took this long for me to get it on the agenda. Our city administrator helped me draft the resolution and I discussed it with a university liaison to the city. At the January 7th council meeting, I announced that the resolution had been sent to the Human Rights Commission (which eventually chose not to take it on). Coincidentally, the day after this resolution was finally added to the council agenda, the University of Michigan announced that it will not be contracting with Wendy’s as a vendor in the new student union (which removes at least some of the reason the resolution was drafted in the first place!). I’m glad that the University has made the right decision on this issue; at this point, the resolution can show City support for that University decision. I encourage you to read about the work of the Fair Food Program at this link: http://www.fairfoodprogram.org