Friday, April 29, 2011


Mayor John Hieftje says he's feeling OK about the job cuts Ann Arbor has made in its police and fire departments while he's been in office the last decade. "We've been pretty comfortable in reducing police numbers," he said, pointing out crime is going down and the University of Michigan now has 54 of its own officers. "And we're studying the fire side, looking very intently at it," he said. "So we're pretty comfortable with what we're doing." After several years of making cuts, Ann Arbor officials are considering eliminating 37 more positions in public safety over the next two years — 25 in police and 12 in fire. Read the story here.

Some Perspective

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Something Old, Something New

The new police-courts building now stands adjacent to the 1963-era city hall building in downtown Ann Arbor. The official name of the new building is the Ann Arbor Justice Center. City hall will continue to be called the Guy C. Larcom Jr. Municipal Building. Both buildings will be referred to collectively as the Ann Arbor Municipal Center.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

And Justice For All

Ann Arbor officials recently invited the public to tour the city's new police-courts building, which officially opened in January at the corner of Fifth and Huron. The nearly $50 million, five-story addition to city hall was constructed by Lansing-based Clark Construction Co. It was designed by Quinn Evans Architects of Ann Arbor. Read the story here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Client And Attorney

Ann Arbor City Council Member Sandi Smith, D-1s Ward, chats with City Attorney Stephen Postema during a break in Tuesday night's council meeting. Marijuana advocates called for Postema's firing before the meeting. Read the story here.

Up And Down

A row of police motorcycles stands near a parked patrol car outside the Ann Arbor Police Department. The department reported a 2.6 percent increase in crime last year, but generally crime is on a downward trend in Ann Arbor over the last decade. Lansing has 4.4 times more violent crime, Grand Rapids has 3.5 times, Detroit has 7.7 times and Warren has 2.5 times. Read the story here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Money Matters

Ann Arbor DDA Chairwoman Joan Lowenstein, center, talks with Council Members Margie Teall, left, and Sandi Smith, at Tuesday's Ann Arbor City Council meeting. The City Council decided to send a clear message to the DDA: Give in to the city's demands for a higher share of downtown parking revenues, or else more police officers and firefighters will face layoffs. Read the story here.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Belly Of The Beast

Radon levels far above amounts posing cancer risks plagued the basement of Ann Arbor's city hall where police officers worked for many years, city records show. Top city officials were aware of the problems, but measures taken — including a mitigation system installed in the 1990s — failed to keep radon below federal safety levels, and it wasn't until 2009 that the city moved employees out of the basement. Members of the police officers union believe there may be a link between the radon in the air they breathed in the basement offices — along with asbestos and mold issues — and health problems experienced by several officers, including two recent deaths. Vada Murray, 43, a police officer in Ann Arbor for two decades and a former defensive back for the University of Michigan football team, died April 6 two and a half years after a lung cancer diagnosis. He never smoked. Read the story here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Brandon Weiner And The Le Dogians

Deal Or No Deal

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority's governing board, shown here at its meeting last Wednesday, is playing hardball with the city over what percentage of downtown parking revenues it will share. After nearly a year of talks, no deal has been reached as the city insists on getting more than the DDA is willing to give up. Read the story here.

Robots In Disguise

Budget Talk

Ann Arbor City Council Member Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, speaks with CFO Tom Crawford about the city's proposed budget after Monday night's City Council meeting. City Administrator Roger Fraser unveiled a two-year budget proposal that includes some of the deepest cuts to employee counts the city has seen in recent history, many of them in public safety. Read the story here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Last Call

It's closing time for the Fifth Quarter nightclub in downtown Ann Arbor. The troubled establishment at 210 S. Fifth Ave. officially has shuttered its doors after a string of problems. Fights, assaults by staff and incidents of over-serving customers prompted Ann Arbor officials to ask owners and management to stem the problems last year. With calls for police service as of late October running at twice the number recorded in all of 2009, Ann Arbor officials filed a lawsuit in November against the business and the owners of the building that houses it. A college student from Livonia also recently filed a lawsuit saying that at least two bouncers at the club severely beat and choked him last year, then threw him out on the street while he was unconscious. The owner of the building today confirmed he's throwing in the towel and closing the nightclub and selling it to a new owner. Read the story here.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Kina Grannis

Singer-songwriter Kina Grannis, who became a music star largely through the power of YouTube, played a free in-store concert at the downtown Borders store in Ann Arbor today before her full show at the Blind Pig. Today also happened to be the same day that her album "Stairwells," initially released independently last year, was re-released. Check out video from today's show here and here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

FestiFools 2011

The fools of Ann Arbor were dancing through downtown today as the annual parade of giant puppets and kinetic sculptures known as FestiFools hit Main Street. FestiFools was birthed from creative director Mark Tucker’s “Art in Public Spaces” class at the University of Michigan in 2006. Since then, the parade has blossomed into a full-blown public art extravaganza.