Monday, November 22, 2010

99 Percent Done

The first tenants of Ann Arbor's police-courts building have moved into their new digs, and dozens more are scheduled to make the transition in the coming weeks. The city's information technology staff is now up and running with a new data center on the first floor of the city hall addition. And a handful of police department employees have moved in on the second and third floors, including the police chief, deputy chiefs and other top brass. The courts staff will move into floors four and five in January. The building formally known as the Ann Arbor Municipal Center is "99 percent done" after 20 months of construction, according to Bill Wheeler, a city engineer who retired in May but remains under contract to oversee the project until its completion. Read the story here.

Political Gabfest

Slate magazine political correspondent John Dickerson says Sarah Palin ranks up there with marketing behemoths like Apple, Nike and Coca-Cola when it comes to brand management. It seems Palin won't allow even the smallest voice of dissent on her Facebook page, Dickerson told a crowd of several hundred at the University of Michigan Law School. "Within three minutes, it had been deleted," Dickerson said of a comment he left on one of Palin's posts on Facebook. Dickerson was joined by colleagues Emily Bazelon and David Plotz as the voices behind Slate's popular Political Gabfest took their show on the road in Ann Arbor on a recent Wednesday night. During an hour-long podcast, the three pundits kept the crowd laughing as they riffed on Palin, the 2010 mid-term elections and the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W. Bush. The 350-seat lecture space inside Hutchins Hall was filled to capacity, while dozens more spilled into overflow rooms to watch a live video feed. Read the story here.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Solemnly Swearing

City Clerk Jackie Beaudry swears in, from left to right, Mayor John Hieftje and Ann Arbor City Council Members Sandi Smith, Margie Teall, Carsten Hohnke, Tony Derezinski and Christopher Taylor after their successful re-election campaigns.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sawdust Man

Before tonight, the last time I saw Ben Kweller take the stage was in the summer of 2002 at a hole-in-the-wall venue called The Shelter in Detroit (you know, the same place where Eminem battle raps in the movie "Eight Mile"). Back then he was just a skinny barely-21-year-old from Texas, garbed in a Maria Sabina T-shirt and riding high on the initial success of his first album, "Sha Sha." I remember meeting him and his girlfriend Liz after the show and offering to help them load the band's gear as I chatted away with the guys from My Morning Jacket. That all seems like a lifetime ago, so it was a trip to finally see Ben again eight years later at the Blind Pig in Ann Arbor. He's 29 now, and I found out he ended up marrying that beautiful girlfriend of his and they have two little boys. Ben still rocks a mic like a vandal; I was beyond impressed with his new material and his showmanship. In fact, I'm calling it right now: I think he's got a spot in the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame someday. But it's gonna take a lot of time before he can cross that finish line.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Final Words

Virg Bernero, Lansing's mayor and Michigan's Democratic nominee for governor, gave a pep talk at a Democratic Party campaign office in downtown Ypsilanti tonight on the eve of the election. Joined by attorney general candidate David Leyton, Supreme Court Justice Alton Thomas Davis and running mate Brenda Lawrence, Bernero said this is still an election about two different visions. "There are still those that believe if you take care of the people at the top — the folks that got the advantages — that eventually some of the good will trickle down," he said. "I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being trickled on." Read the story here.