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Elizabeth Nelson's City Council Blog

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I write a City Council newsletter with my summary of agenda items coming before City Council. Sign up to receive it first via email, or read it here later on this blog.

City Council Newsletter (Mar 19, 2022)

Hello neighbors!

Welcome to everyone who is new to this newsletter! Before every Council meeting, I write up my own summary of each agenda item and try to pull details that I think are most relevant to understanding them. My hope is that these summaries can help residents keep track of what City Council is doing. For issues that matter to you, I encourage you to follow links (next to each agenda item) to the City's Legistar website, where you can find all the background information.


This week’s agenda is very short, but includes a scheduled hearing for local tax abatement on a property in Ward 4 (DC-5), weekend street closures to support downtown businesses (DC-6), and a resolution toward more sustainable food procurement policies (DC-4). Food procurement policy was an issue brought to me by a Ward 4 resident several months ago, and DC-4 is the result of staff work in studying the issue and identifying next steps.


The biggest item on this week’s agenda is the resolution to hire the current interim City Administrator (Milton Dohoney) for the position of permanent City Administrator (DC-3). For more explanation of that item, see my Additional Thoughts below.


Last week, I turned in my nominating petitions to get on the ballot for the Democratic primary this August. Thank you to everyone who signed my petitions, circulated my petitions and offered to sign my petitions even after I turned them in! Don't worry if you missed me - you'll be seeing me around Ward 4 a LOT this spring and summer!

 

SUPPORT MY RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN

I am running for re-election to Council in 2022 and would really appreciate your generous support! I need your help to promote transparency, accountability, and serious representation for Ward 4. Our local democracy matters!


Volunteer

https://www.a2elnel.com/volunteer


Donate

https://www.a2elnel.com/donate


Coffee Hours

Sunday Mar 20th 3:00pm

I hold coffee hours Sunday afternoons at 3pm before City Council meetings. This week I will be holding them on Zoom. Please email me for a link: contact@A2ELNEL.com


City Council Regular Meeting

Monday Mar 21st 7:00pm

Starting in January 2022, Council Meetings are IN PERSON at City Council chambers. Public commentary is still available via phone - see the Legistar link for details.

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=931756&GUID=5E1DB6C7-8D76-4216-9690-6E417ADE695D

 

Ward 4 People & Places You Should Know

If you live on the east side of Ward 4 (anywhere in the vicinity of Eisenhower/King George Boulevard/Packard), you probably recognize Karen Hoffman. Karen spends a lot of her day out and about, walking the local neighborhoods. The only two conditions that keep her inside: freezing rain and temperatures under 10 degrees. Any other weather, she is outside walking!


I first met Karen when I was out and about in 2018. In the years since, I’ve learned a lot more about her history as a teacher in Ohio, her work for the University of Michigan, and the time she met a not-yet-famous Kevin Costner in Washington, D.C.!


When we talked this week, Karen told me that some people call her “The Captain” because she is such a presence in the neighborhood. When a dog was lost recently, the police visited Karen to ask for her help in finding it (she did, of course).


Karen has lived in Ward 4 for 16 years.


Next time you see Karen out walking, I highly recommend stopping to say hello. She is someone you should know!

 

ARPA Funding Update

The City announced that a resolution will be brought to the April 4, 2022 Council meeting with staff proposed recommendations for the spending of $24.1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

https://www.a2gov.org/news/pages/article.aspx?i=867


The resolution is not yet on a Council agenda - but is part of a memo dated Feb 25, 2022 from Interim City Administrator Milton Dohoney Jr.

http://a2gov.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=10558367&GUID=F69A5EA6-A112-4D64-80AC-597418CF2C3F


As listed on page 10 of the memo, these are the proposed allotments:


Proposed ARPA Funding (Total $24,182,630)

$4,500,000 Solar on City Facilities

$3,500,000 Property Acquisition for Affordable Housing

$3,500,000 Unarmed Response

$2,300,000 Gallup Park Bridge

$2,000,000 Galvanized Water Service Line Replacement

$2,000,000 Vision Zero Plan Implementation

$1,682,630 Coordinated Funding Support

$1,600,000 Universal Basic Income

$1,000,000 City Clerk Election Center

$1,000,000 Housing for Homeless Households

$500,000 Community and Law Enforcement Data Platform

$500,000 Funding for the Arts

$100,000 Liberty Plaza


I have also posted this information to my website, along with links to previous posts I made about the APRA funds.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/arpa-funding-to-be-decided-at-council-meeting-april-4-2022


As the news release from the City states, "City Council will take community input into consideration to make the final decision about what projects receive ARPA funds at its April 4 meeting."


As a reminder, an email sent to CityCouncil@a2gov.org will reach all Council Members and the Mayor.

 

A2ELNEL.com Website Updates

In addition to writing this newsletter, I post updates to my website with my perspectives on how issues were resolved at City Council and details on how Council voted at each meeting. I also post information about meetings and issues that affect Ward 4 residents, along with news that affects all city residents.

City Council Voting Chart for Mar 7, 2022

The voting chart I made for our most recent Council meeting.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/city-council-voting-chart-for-mar-7-2022


A2Council.com Update for Mar 7, 2022

My summary of agenda items of interest from our most recent Council meeting, along with articles I've written, articles published on MLive, links to Legistar, and CTN's YouTube video.

https://www.a2elnel.com/a2council-date/20220307


FY2023 Budget Process Update: Video Presentations

Seven pre-recorded presentations have been loaded to the City's website, in lieu of the traditional Council budget work sessions that included public comment. A presentation for SmartZone/LDFA was added this week.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/fy2023-budget-process-update-video-presentations


Road and Sidewalk Projects Planned for 2022

The City released a list of road and sidewalk projects scheduled for construction in 2022.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/road-and-sidewalk-projects-planned-for-2022


South State Detour Mar 14 - April 2, 2022

All traffic lanes of South State Street between East Washington Street and East Liberty Street will be detoured - see the post for a map.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/south-state-detour-mar-14-april-2-2022


South Division 2-Way Bikeway Proposal Survey open until Mar 31, 2022

The City has opened an online survey regarding a proposed 2-way bikeway expansion on South Division between Packard and Hoover.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/south-division-2-way-bikeway-proposal-survey-open-until-mar-31-2022


AAPD Community Meetings in April

The Ann Arbor Police Department will be hosting "Access to AAPD Internal Affairs" community meetings via Zoom in April. The meeting for Wards 1&5 is scheduled for April 5th, and the meeting for Wards 2,3,4 is scheduled for April 7th.

https://www.a2elnel.com/post/aapd-community-meetings-in-april

 

Council Meeting Agenda 3/21/22

Below is my summary of some issues on the City Council Agenda this week, with links to more information about each of them. If you have comments about any of these issues, feel free to email me at my official City email: ENelson@A2gov.org

The full agenda (including a link to the latest published PDF agenda) is on the A2Gov Legistar website:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/MeetingDetail.aspx?ID=931756&GUID=5E1DB6C7-8D76-4216-9690-6E417ADE695D


City Council meetings are broadcast live by CTN on Comcast (channel 16) and AT&T (channel 99). They are also streamed live on YouTube and Viebit: https://www.youtube.com/user/ctnannarbor

 

Questions to the Agenda

In preparation for a Council meeting, Council members can ask questions of staff about scheduled agenda items. Questions must be submitted by noon on the Wednesday before a Council Meeting, and answers are returned the next day (Thursday) by 5pm.

AC-1 (22-0564) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - March 21, 2022

This agenda item has a PDF attachment with all questions raised by Council Members, and the answers provided by staff.

 

Communications from the Mayor


MC-1 (22-0568) Nominations and Appointments for March 21, 2022

This appointment from the Mayor being presented at this meeting, and will therefore be voted on at the next Council meeting.

  • Sally Petersen - Economic Development Corporation

 

Consent Agenda

Below is the list of items included on the Consent Agenda. If no one on Council specifically requests that an item be pulled for discussion, the whole of this list will be approved in a single vote. I encourage you to look at this list and offer suggestions to me about anything you would like to see pulled for discussion.

CA-1 (22-0479) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Burns Park Run - Sunday, May 1, 2022 from 7:00 AM until 11:00 AM


CA-2 (22-0480) Resolution to Approve Street Closings for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run on Sunday, June 5, 2022


CA-3 (22-0478) Resolution to Close Streets for the 21st Annual Mayor’s Green Fair, Friday, June 10, 2022


CA-4 (22-0477) Resolution to Endorse Ann Arbor’s Participation in Earth Hour 2022


CA-5 (22-0404) Resolution to Appropriate Funding for the Professional Services Agreement with Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. for RFP 21-24 - City of Ann Arbor Hazard Mitigation Plan Update ($145,238) (8 Votes Required)


CA-6 (22-0307) Resolution to Approve Agreement with The Regents of the University of Michigan for Municipal Parking Citation Processing, Collections and Record Management Services


CA-7 (22-0410) Resolution to Accept a Water Main Easement at 3885 Research Park Drive from SIS Kona, LLC (8 Votes Required)


CA-8 (22-0458) Resolution to Approve a Contract with Dykema Gossett, P.L.L.C. for State and Federal Lobbying Services ($120,000.00/year)


CA-9 (22-0427) Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and Deputy Police Chiefs effective January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2024


CA-10 (22-0503) Resolution to Approve the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the City of Ann Arbor and AFSCME Local 369, effective January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2025

 

Public Hearings

Anyone wanting to comment on these issues may speak for 3 minutes, without having specifically reserved time. Issues subject to public hearing will also be up for a vote by Council later in the meeting.

There are no public hearings on the agenda.

 

Ordinances - Second Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances were approved at a previous Council meeting, and are also subject to a public hearing as listed above.

There are no ordinance second readings on the agenda.

 

Ordinances - First Reading

In order to amend the city code, Council must vote to approve the change, via ordinance, at two Council meetings. The following proposed ordinances are being introduced for "first reading". If approved, the ordinance will be voted on at a subsequent Council meeting ("second reading"), where it will also be subject to a public hearing.


C-1 (22-0222) An Ordinance to Amend Chapter 55 (Zoning), Rezoning of 0.5 Acre from TWP (Township District) to R1B (Single-Family District), Wilson-Barry Property, 614 Riverview Drive, (CPC Recommendation: Approval - 9 Yeas and 0 Nays)

A 0.5 acre parcel at 614 Riverview Drive was recently annexed into the City. This ordinance will rezone the property from TWP (township) to R1B (Single-family district). The R1B zoning is consistent with the adjacent zoning, the surrounding land uses, and the City's comprehensive land use plan.

 

Motions and Resolutions

The following agenda items are motions and resolutions, which are approved or rejected in a single meeting. Agenda items marked "DC" are proposed by Council members, items marked "DB" are proposed by City boards and commissions, items marked "DS" are proposed by City staff.


DC-1 (22-0459) Resolution to Appoint Cherish Smith to the Energy Commission (7 Votes Required)

This appointment from the Mayor was presented at the previous meeting, and will therefore be voted on at this Council meeting. Seven votes are required because the nominee is not a registered elector of the City of Ann Arbor.

  • Cherish Smith - Energy Commission

DC-2 (22-0490) Resolution to Endorse the Protecting Community Television Act (HR 6219/S 3361)

This resolution officially endorses the Protecting Community Television Act (HR 6219/S 3361), now being considered by the federal Congress. The Act would amend a 2019 Order that allowed cable companies to meet franchise fee obligations with non-monetary value (e.g. use of public property and rights of way). Accepting non-monetary value in place of franchise fees has reduced funding support for outlets like our local Community Television Network.


DC-3 (22-0499) Resolution to Approve the Hiring of Milton Dohoney Jr. as City Administrator

An employment contract will be negotiated for Milton Dohoney Jr to be hired as a permanent City Administrator for the City of Ann Arbor. See my "Additional Thoughts" section below.


DC-4 (22-0501) Resolution to Advance Sustainable Food Options at City Facilities and Events

This resolution will implement a list of recommendations to improve the City’s food procurement policies. Moving forward, the City will offer more nutritious and health-enhancing, ideally locally sourced, choices at City facilities. For City vending and event catering, the City will develop a directory of preferred restaurants, caterers, and other eating places that provide plant-based alternatives, support the local food system, and minimize wasteful packaging. The City will work with Washtenaw County Food Policy Council (WCFPC) and attend their meetings. An “A2ZERO Preferred” labeling system will be established to identify sustainable choices at vending machines, snack bars, and other City-operated points of purchase.


DC-5 (22-0481) Resolution Setting a Public Hearing on the Application of Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments, for an Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate in Industrial Development District No. 2021-001

A public hearing will be scheduled for April 4, 2022, regarding an Industrial Facilities Exemption certificate for Sartorius BioAnalytical Instruments. An Industrial Development District was previously established for Sartorius at 3874 Research Park Drive, making them eligible for local tax abatement. The requested certificate will permit a 12-year abatement of local taxes up to $54,587,000 of real property site improvements and up to $8,943,000 of personal property.


DC-6 (22-0546) Resolution to Approve Downtown Street Closures for Restaurant and Retail Use

In anticipation of warmer weather, downtown streets will be closed to promote increased seating and sales capacity at local businesses. Main Street (William to Washington), West Liberty (Ashley to Main), and East Liberty (Main to Fourth) will be closed to vehicular traffic on Thursdays at 4 p.m. and through 6 a.m. on Mondays. West Washington (Ashley to Main) will be closed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. These closures may start as early as Thursday, May 5, 2022, and end as late as October 31, 2022.

 

Additional thoughts…

This week’s agenda includes a big decision: hiring Milton Dohoney as our permanent City Administrator.

DC-3 (22-0499) Resolution to Approve the Hiring of Milton Dohoney Jr. as City Administrator


Residents may recall that Mr. Dohoney joined the City in October 2021, when he was hired as an ‘interim’ City Administrator. Mr Dohoney was first hired with a contract that anticipated his temporary service to the City extending up to January 2023.


BACKGROUND

The last hiring process for a permanent City Administrator was conducted by a previous Council in August 2020. At that time, we were unable to have in-person meetings of any sort, but the process included months of internal staff survey, close review of ten qualified applicants, public interview of four finalists (through three panels of Council/staff/community members) and receipt of online public input. This process resulted in the hiring of Tom Crawford as City Administrator.


On August 2. 2021, a majority of Council voted to end the term of then City Administrator, Tom Crawford, who had been employed by the City for 18 years. In the aftermath of that decision, the Council Administration Committee recommended a search for an interim City Administrator.


INTERIM LEADERSHIP

At our August 16, 2021 meeting, Council discussed the difference between searching for an interim City Administrator and a permanent City Administrator. Mayor Taylor is chair of the Administration Committee and answered questions at the table:

Question: Can you share how the notion came about to search for an interim and then, I assume, the search for a permanent will be the follow-on to that? Mayor Taylor: That is correct. In all cases where we have had a City Administrator… has left for one reason or another… there has been an interim for a time certain. More accurately, there has been an interim for a period of time and the theory is to appoint that person to serve as an interim until this Council selects a permanent. Question: It seems like we’re going to do a search and then another search or perhaps the interim search will yield a person who is wholly appropriate for the permanent position, is that part of our hope here? Mayor Taylor: If I can, perhaps… I think it was the Administration Committee’s thought that we would with a quick process to identify an interim, the interim would then have a period of service, the period of service be a term of a number of months and at that point we would have the option of… or, pardon me, we would have the opportunity to conduct a full search in the ordinary course. It is not envisioned, I think, that the interim would be a candidate for the main position.

MLive’s Ryan Stanton also reported on this meeting at the time, writing: "Whoever becomes the interim is not expected to be a candidate for the position full-time, Mayor Christopher Taylor said."

https://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/2021/08/ann-arbor-may-operate-with-a-temporary-city-administrator-for-up-to-a-year.html


NEED FOR STABILITY

In Agenda item DC-3, we hire arguably the most important position at City Hall without the benefit of any “full search in the ordinary course.” Last August, City Council approved a search for candidates willing to be hired as “an external interim who would be able to serve as Interim City Administrator for a period up to a year, with the exact time period still to be determined.” We did not conduct a search for a permanent City Administrator. That resolution can be found here:

https://a2gov.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=5087334&GUID=46C07F7E-361E-4E2F-8CF9-9D19E02283BE


I am told that there is not time for any additional process because of transitions in other departments at City Hall. It is hoped that a permanent (rather than interim) City Administrator will reassure applicants to recently vacated positions at the head of our Parks and Recreation department as well as our Public Services department.


I encourage everyone to read responses to Agenda questions this week, which includes a recent performance review of Mr Dohoney:

AC-1 (22-0564) Agenda Response Memo and eComments - March 21, 2022


Mr. Dohoney received some very positive reviews. However, only 11% of City staff responded. Of that 11%, roughly a third responded "unable to judge" in answer to specific questions. Quoted responses include "I haven't had enough interaction or time with Milton to fully answer this question" and "Unable to score this item-have not been able to experienced his working with others in virtual environment/personal conversations" and "Not able to score/lack of direct experience." I am sympathetic to their reluctance — we don’t make the best decisions when people are eager and willing to make judgments without meaningful understanding of the subject.


THEN AND NOW

Two years ago, we heard enthusiastic advocacy around the significance of the City Administrator position: decisions about our City Administrator were framed as a community choice, subject to public critique and requiring significant public input. Advocacy for that approach has largely disappeared. In the last two years, Council members elected in 2020 have approved new policies that remove opportunities for public critique and public input regarding City decisions.


I appreciate how past decisions have now limited our options in terms of appropriate process. However, I am hopeful that Mr. Dohoney will provide the leadership that Ann Arbor needs at this particular moment in history. If you would like to learn more about Mr. Dohoney and the significant experience he brings to Ann Arbor, below are several MLive articles about him, along with a short YouTube interview:



Thank you for helping me represent Ward 4!

Elizabeth Nelson


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