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Posted on Tue, May 7, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Action on proposed changes to Ann Arbor DDA pushed to September

By Amy Biolchini

Discussion on major ordinance changes to the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority have been postponed until the Ann Arbor City Council’s first meeting in September to allow time for revisions.

The council unanimously voted to push the item back on its agenda Monday night as it grappled with an otherwise heavy agenda, including the site plan for a controversial 413 E. Huron St. high-rise.


Stephen Kunselman

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

Council members Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, and Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, co-sponsored the changes, pitting themselves against the will of the mayor and many downtown Ann Arbor businesses.

The ordinance changes would diminish the DDA's revenue by about $1 million in tax revenues in the first year of implementation. Monday night, Kunselman stated at the beginning of the meeting he was pursuing a change to the recipient of the reimbursement from the leftover funds after the cut to the DDA’s tax revenue to include public housing trust funds.

Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, initiated the move of the issue to the later meeting date.

“I really appreciated Council Member Kunselman’s comments at our opening, April 15 meeting, talking about looking to work collaboratively,” Higgins said. “I think we need some time to look at this. I think he has taken some time to look at different funding models, and I think those motions are starting.”

Higgins said she anticipates the ordinance changes to include major changes from what council members were considering now.

Kunselman said he’s been seeking a postponement of the issue since the council’s last meeting.

“I agree there’s a lot on the table that needs to be discussed. We need to certainly bring the staff from the city and the DDA together,” he said, noting: “Clearly, there is something broken, otherwise we wouldn’t be where we are today having significant discussion about TIF rebate, about what the library is needing and the other taxing authorities.”

Higgins said she would like to see Kunselman and Kailasapathy work with staff and DDA board members to make the ordinance revisions clear and well-planned, which Kunselman said he was interested in doing.

Mayor John Hieftje has previously accused Kunselman of being politically motivated to attack the DDA.

“We can get to a better place, we can make (the DDA) stronger, we can make it worthy of our community so they can continue to do the good work that they do downtown,” Kunselman said Monday. “It’s always been my objective, not to hamstring or cut them so they can’t perform the great duties that the DDA does.”

Kailasapathy called for the council to exercise a degree of sincerity in the process.


Sumi Kailasapathy

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

“Let’s not just pretend this problem was created by Council Member Kunselman and me,” she said. “This problem was there 10 years ago … Obviously it’s broken.”

Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, said she wasn’t particularly interested in delving in to changes to the DDA but supported the postponing the issue in the spirit of collaboration with her councilmembers.

“I don’t think it’s broken,” Teall said. “ I think the DDA has done a great deal to almost bend over backwards to partnership with us.”

Teall said she believed some clarifications do need to be made in the DDA ordinance language, but that they could be handled by staff before September.

As an arm of the city government, the DDA works to improve the downtown area and manages the city's parking system.

The DDA is partly funded by a tax increment finance district that sees revenue from the increase in taxable value due to new development and construction within set boundaries.

Higher-than-anticipated revenues recently for the DDA as a result of burgeoning development downtown Ann Arbor caught the attention of Kunselman and prompted him to pursue the ordinance changes.

City records show that most of the DDA's increased revenue from the TIF district comes from recent downtown high-rise developments: Landmark, Zaragon West and The Varsity.

Kunselman’s and Kailasapathy’s ordinance changes as first introduced would force the DDA to refund about $931,000 to other taxing jurisdictions in the first fiscal year of implementation, including $559,000 to the city, $196,000 to Washtenaw County, $124,000 to Washtenaw Community College and $52,000 to the Ann Arbor District Library.

Monday night, Kunselman said he was pursuing a reimbursement to the Ann Arbor Housing Fund with the cut in the TIF revenue.

DDA board members must be appointed by the mayor and earn the approval of city council. They serve four-year terms, but there is no term limit.

The ordinance changes would implement a two-term limit.

The council voted 7-3 to give initial approval to those changes April 1, when Hieftje claimed the changes would mean $231,000 less for the city's general fund.

Hieftje attempted to strike the term limits from the ordinance changes in the April 15 meeting, but failed to gain the votes that he needed because several members had left due to the late hour of the meeting.

That eight-hour-long April 15 meeting saw many participants in the public hearing on the ordinance changes to the DDA.

The hearing had to be paused at the meeting and was continued Monday night, when about 13 people spoke before the council during the public hearing on DDA ordinance changes, many of whom were DDA board members.

Leah Gunn, DDA board member and Ann Arbor resident, said that the ordinance changes as proposed would destroy the DDA’s TIF.

Revenues from the TIF allow the DDA to support affordable housing initiatives in the city, including a recent $500,000 gift to the Ann Arbor Housing Commission, Gunn said.

“It this ordinance passes … We will not be able to allocate the money that affordable housing deserves,” Gunn said.

Ali Ramwali, owner of downtown restaurant Jersulaem Garden, also spoke during the public hearing.

Construction of the DDA’s new underground parking structure was next door to Ramwali’s restaurant last year -- which caused the restaurant some grief.

“It was a nightmare; a fiasco,” Ramwali said. “I’m thankful the project’s over.”

The DDA was formed in the early 1980s to help towns revitalize their downtown districts after urban sprawl and shopping malls changed the business scene. Ramwali said Monday night that he believes the purpose of the DDA is ripe for reform.

“I’m here to see some reform gets made within the DDA to be changed to reflect that it’s 2013, not 1982,” he said. “Those realities need to be incorporated into the policies that city council takes forth.”

Ramwali suggested adding elected officials to the DDA’s board to add accountability to the body.

“Why don’t citizens have input on a body that has a $20 million budget?” he said. “We’re talking about taxation without representation.”

DDA board member Joan Lowenstein said to council members that the DDA is the only real economic development arm to the city council that has the ability to spend money on projects.

To approve the ordinance changes to the DDA would be to maintain the “toxic sludge of the status quo,” Lowenstein said.

Several other DDA board members who spoke Monday night, including Newcombe Clark, Sandi Smith and Russ Collins, called for the council members who had introduced the ordinances to meet directly with the DDA.

“If it’s about affordable housing, let’s sit down and talk about it,” Smith said to the council members. “It seems that we’re doing this for the wrong reasons at the wrong time.”

Collins said the DDA has historically been flexible to re-negotiate its contract for parking reimbursement with the city each time the city has asked.

“We are your partners; we want to talk to you,” Collins said. “This resolution doesn’t encourage that, I’m sorry to say.”

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.



Mon, May 13, 2013 : 10:52 p.m.

Has nothing to do with keeping Downtown the way it is. The DDA needs to wake up to responsible spending and keeping downtown a nice place through responsible projects that have true value added. Not money pits that diminish Downtown's appeal. Btw, parking is still as much of a problem as it was before in areas and times of interest in Downtown. For example, still can't find parking very easily, let alone handicap parking near Kerrytown on a Saturday morning.

lou glorie

Sat, May 11, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Re Ms. Lowenstein's "toxic sludge" comment. Yes there is a back-up somewhere in the system. Status Quo may be defined as DDA members who have been on the bench for 20 plus years, the mayor's appointments of former council members (reliable, adept at trudging through sludge of their own making), the dearth of actual downtown merchants, residents and property owners on this unaccountable board. Ms. Lowenstein is in the vanguard of this septic group. She has probably become so accustomed to the stench she and the other cronnies have created, that she no longer smells it. Or perhaps she is falling back on the grade school technique known as whoever names it did it. I'm grateful to Ms. Biolchini for seaking out Lowenstein for comment. Lowenstein may be the loose lips that sink that ship hauling a load of toxic sludge.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

Right on 4 Real! You hit the nail on the head. Kunsleman started all this in an effort to score political points with a punching bag that he thought wouldn't hit back but he ran into a buzz saw of downtown shop and restaurant owners, the Chamber of Commerce, the other business associations and to top it off, the entire affordable housing community. It all backfired on him. He is backpedaling as fast as he can and now there is no more time to try and fix it before his primary in August. Aside from this crowd people love downtown and don't want it messed with. He's given his opponent some excellent talking points.

lou glorie

Sat, May 11, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Or maybe Kunselman knew full well what he was in for, which makes him out to be some kind of braveheart. You may not have noticed, but those proposing minor tweaks to the DDA have not resorted to the kind of name calling and strong arming employed by members of the DDA and their backers. The parade of people speaking up for the DDA--that was representative of the general public? A collection finer collection of hangers-on, and misinformed, I've never seen. That spectacle was shameful and if you and 4real thought this was a genuine, spontaneous outpouring of support, you've joined the ranks of the deluded. By the way, my respect usually goes to politicians who will work with others to make their proposals better. I do fear, though, that the already modest changes to the DDA proposed by Kunselman and Kailsapathy will be whittled away for the sake of seeming reasonable. Their original proposal was not radical surgery. It involved minor changes and in my estimation is only to be faulted for not going far enough.

4 Real

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 8:53 p.m.

Have I been watching the same meetings as most of the responders here? The council members who put this forward keep changing their mind. I am not sure what they are trying to do anymore. 50 or 60 people spoke in favor of keeping things just the way they are, many of them citing the contributions to the affordable housing. Sensing that they had pissed off the wrong crowd, the jokers on council now want to dedicate money from the DDA to affordable housing?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:22 p.m.

To approve the ordinance changes to the DDA would be to maintain the "toxic sludge of the status quo," Lowenstein said. Hey Ms. Lowenstein - Couldn't of said it better myself the DDA has turned into the toxic sludge of the status quo. Its like the pot calling the kettle black.

Bob W

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

Just because we have a DDA doesn't mean it must continue forever. Perhaps what is needed is a city ballot issue to decide if it should continue or be abolished.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

For those who cite the DDA's contributions to Avalon as good, I'd like to point out that Avalon used that money (and more) to purchase several North main properties, then sat back and did nothing for years while the properties rotted and became dangerous, and now the city is using local tax money (again) to demolish those houses, all while Avalon and its partner 3 Oaks continue to own the property. So I don't think giving money to Avalon makes the DDA helpful OR smart. At all. It's not a point in the DDA's favor, is what I'm saying. Quite the opposite, in fact.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:50 p.m.

Even if you were right, rm1, why would we: 1) Pay money to demolish houses still owned by entities that still legally exist, still conduct business, and are not in bankruptcy? 2) Give money AGAIN to said entities, even given 1? 3) Think 2 is a mark in anyone's favor, given 1?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:01 p.m.

"now the city is using local tax money (again) to demolish those houses" I don't know the details behind this often-repeated complaint, but I am assuming that the City is at least getting liens on the properties in the amounts of City expenditures, so that it will recover those expenses whenever the properties change hands. Someone correct me if I'm wrong. And, if not, why not?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

It's shameful and political and does nothing to improve or enhance the city for the citizens of AA. The DDA needs to be held accountable and elected. Right now it's run by one Yuppie who appoints fellow Yuppies. Not listening to what WE want.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

I spoke at the City Council meeting Monday night regarding the fact the Downtown Area Citizens Advisory Council (DADAC) is no longer an active duly-constituted body since its ten listed members, per City Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry's office, had their seats expire at various dates between 2008 and 2012. Two of the "members" of DACAC, Ray Detter and Herbert Kaufer, were present for the City Council meeting. DADAC's authority emanates from state law and purports to represent the interests of downtown-area residents in advising the DDA on how its proposed actions may affect residents. After my comment, Sabra Briere asked the Mayor how to ensure that board and commission members are aware that their terms are about to expire; he replied that it was the chairperson's duty to ensure this. The City Council immediately placed as an amendment to the agenda, the matter of re-appointment of the ten members whose seats had inadvertently expired. It shall be heard on May 13th. Several citizens confronted Detter after the City Council meeting about the issue and he assured them that his seat was still active until the City Council renewed it, however this position is at variance with the records of the City Clerk and the actions of City Council that evening. I am dismayed that DADAC would continue to have meetings and purpoedly transact official business without any quorum or duly-constituted memebers and not even be cognizant of this deficiency. I cited this as an example of the incompetent manner that the DDA structure has operated under the last several years.

Patricia Lesko

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

"Council members Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward, and Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, co-sponsored the changes, pitting themselves against the will of the mayor and many downtown Ann Arbor businesses." Um no. These Council members want the CURRENT ordinance governing the DDA enforced. Under the auspices of that ordinance ALL surplus funds collected by the DDA must be returned to the entities from which, as CPA John Floyd pointed out when he spoke last night, the DDA takes them. There are plenty of cities without DDAs, including Berkley, California, which has special business districts which receive money from that City Council. "Many downtown businesses owners," did NOT speak. A small handful, several with direct ties to John Hieftje and the DDA, did. Kailasapathy and Kunselman are attempting to make sure that the ordinance governing the DDA is enforced and that the group, whose members stood in public and called themselves "partners" of City Council, realize that they are, in fact, subordinates whose work needs much closer supervision. DDA Board members Joan Lowenstein was bombastic, and Sandi Smith insolent as they spoke against closer scrutiny of the DDA. It was a demonstration of why, exactly, term limits for the DDA Board are needed. As for "the will" of John Hieftje, he stands to loose thousands in campaign donations should he be unable to protect his donors on the DDA Board who, in each election, contribute a significant amount of his funding.

4 Real

Wed, May 8, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

Actually I thought Smith was right on! Spend more effort doing positive things and less time tearing things apart. That is true leadership.

craig stolefield

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 7:12 p.m.

You should run for mayor again, you might get up to 16% next time!


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

Part 2 The DDA is now involved in building the 240-space parking structure for Village Green City Apartments for $9 million and 60% of the parking spaces are reserved for Village Green's private use. Despite the limited availability of parking to the public, Village Green will not assist in paying the $575,000 annual cost for servicing the debt. The DDA will have to find new funds to use for these payments or further drain its shrinking reserves. The DDA decided also to provide a $407,000 grant to Zingerman's last year to assist with Zingerman's expansion. The amount of the gift is actually equal to the TIF payments that Zingerman's is expected to pay over the next 15 years. Zingerman's has obtained $6 million in loans to pay for its new construction and did not need the DDA largesse. In fact, Zingerman's has enough cash or remaining borrowing power to recently purchase a farm in Dexter for $400,000. The required renovations needed prior to opening the farm house and barn to the public will cost Zingerman's considerably more money. The DDA is also involved with affordable housing which is the responsibility of the Ann Arbor Housing Commission (AAHC). The 2009 Schumaker and Co. report identified $14 million dollars of repairs and upgrades needed by the 360 units operated by the AAHC. Unfortunately, the AAHC has no funds and has recently requested and received from the DDA $260,000 to replace a roof for Bakers Common. Most recently the DDA has given an additional $300,000 for other repairs to Bakers Common. If the DDA wanted to solve all of the AAHC financial problems it would need to use two-thirds of its annual revenue. The DDA has been contributing money to Avalon House ($400,000 most recently) as well which is a worthy cause but the money will hardly enhance economic development downtown. The errant DDA spending mentioned above produced recurring budget deficits demanding spending limits and external oversight. The pending resolution will help.


Thu, May 9, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

I don't understand how one can say that providing affordable housing does not help economic development. It is precisely this understanding by the DDA that is critical to our community's success. THEY understand that if the low-wage workers serving everyone in downtown Ann Arbor at the expensive restaurants and shops, and our city employees, have no where to live, that creates a severe economic problem for the downtown. I applaud the fact that the DDA has been willing to put their money where their mouths are in this discussion. I can only hope that the City of Ann Arbor will begin to do the same (again) as well.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:14 p.m.

"To approve the ordinance changes to the DDA would be to maintain the "toxic sludge of the status quo," Lowenstein said" Now correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't the "status quo" be to keep it the way it is complete with tax-skimming, lifetime cronyism, inexplicable car allowances and the like? I guess it depends on if you look at the glass of toxic sludge as being half full or half empty. She does have a way with words, doesn't she?

4 Real

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Mr. Ranzini, I suggest you run for Mayor. Then the majority of Ann Arbor voters get to decide if your priorities are important to them. Until then, don't assume that the rest of us are unhappy with the direction of the City.

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

If you look at what comes back to the city from the DDA and what the DDA pays for downtown that the city would have to pay for you see the city's general fund would suffer if there were no DDA impacting police and fire, etc. Interesting anyone would criticize the new parking structure. Not only is it very well designed and attractive, downtown desperately needed more parking. More parking was especially critical to keep the Tech Campus growing and new jobs flowing! Ann Arbor's a great, award winning city and because of that, companies want to be here and so do workers. The Downtown is a major driver of all this. Cutting the DDA is like putting the golden goose in a cage. It does not make sense.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

A2 was a great place 25 years ago with a very approachable city hall, and a more diverse corporate base. Not anymore. And there used to be alot more parking options. There is alot of money that is changing hands here.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

Are you counting the Google advertising people in these 1,000 tech workers? Actually even with those there is no way there are 1,000 tech people there in the "Tech Mecca".

Larry Ryan

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

Exactly, over a 1,000 tech workers (maybe more) already in the area of Liberty and close by downtown. Old Boarders filling up with high tech companies plus many others nearby. I personally know 10 Ann Arborites who have found good jobs there in the last year.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

Hehehe.... he said tech campus.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

Part 1 The DDA provided a needed service in the 1980's as the parking structures were deteriorating do to poor management and business interests were shifting from downtown to Briarwood and other outlying areas. However, downtown has revived and will continue to flourish without any efforts by the DDA. In recent years the DDA has shifted its attention to economic development and has adopted increased density as its vehicle for economic expansion. Unfortunately, the DDA has not been judicious in its efforts to encourage and support development downtown. The DDA wasted several million dollars of tax payer money by building the library subterranean parking structure as a gift to Valiant Partners LLC which planned to build a luxurious 14-story hotel on top of the garage. Had the additional superstructure needed to support a tall building were not included in the construction, the garage would have cost $10 million or $20 million dollars less. The resulting bond issue to pay for the construction would have required several million dollars less than the annual $3.6 million debt servicing being paid now. TIF dollars have to be applied to making debt payments rather than being available for more useful services. (continued)


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Moved to after the primary. Who is surprised? It worked so well on the percent for art scam, which is ongoing to this day. "Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, initiated the move of the issue to the later meeting date. " Great. She can cast her lame-duck vote in September then.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:15 a.m.

Highlight of public speakers regarding DDA: Vivienne Armentrout, paraphrased, "Why do we even need city council? Steve Powers is an excellent administrator. Our staff is professional. We don't need council to run the city. We need council to be heavy thinkers." To me, this comment affirmed the strong idea, and need for reform of the 1980s-based DDA agenda, which has solved 1980s problems, and has become solidly entrenched, as heavy and deep as the concrete of, and debt for underground parking. The time for shallow, status quo thinking is over. Then Sumi K commented that, "Most of the DDA supporters haven't even read current proposed changes to know what they were opposing." Unreformed, unaware DDA supporters fell victim to the fear-mongering drone of the status quo. The drone: "If you touch our funding, your beloved programs/downtown will be destroyed." Note to DDA: You serve the city. The city does not serve you. The city writes rules, within MI law, and you follow. Public speaker Ali Ramwali, owner of Jerusalem Garden, shared his experience with the city and DDA. When he approached the city to address his problems over neighboring DDA construction, he was directed to the DDA. They were of no help, for several years during library lot parking construction. DDA was unaccountable, inflexible, and immovable. He questioned, "Why a city body, with a multiple tens-of-million-dollar budget, has no accountability to ordinary citizenry within the DDA boundary, as well as the rest of the city?" Special thanks to Stephen Kunselman and Sumi Kailasapathy, for your analysis, flexibility, questioning, thinking, and collaboration. Your nickname should be the "Special K" duo. Put the status quo, entropic, DDA/other council members on a "Diet (you know, like a road diet)." Make the DDA accountable and relevant to the entire city, and not just its secret-handshake, untouchable, unaccountable aristocracy. Thank you Special K, and


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

Thank you for the clarification. I apologize for the paraphrased misquote. However, it is my belief that the spirit of your quote extends to all issues facing city government, and especially the DDA.

Vivienne Armentrout

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Thanks for the nod to my comments, but please note that my comment was made with regard to the 413 E. Huron development, not regarding the DDA.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 11:18 a.m.

others that supported postponement to allow continuance of this process.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:59 a.m.

Please remember that the DDA brought us the $50 million Garage Mahal with its $10 million of footings for the tall buildkng built over it and over $60,000 per parking spot cost. Also please remember that without the DDA's financial help the $47.5 million Rog Mahal addition to city hall could not have been built. Of course the fact that neither was a wise investment and they weren't needed (or at least not needed this decade) is very inconvenient! However, when the $50 million Rog Mahal was built the city's leaders assured us that it was desperately needed. Of course, we later learned from a state review commission that the judicial overcrowding in the county courthouse was solely due to a judge and associated staff that weren't needed* because the court's case load had dropped*, so the city hall addition was just wasteful spending and the real plan was to completely remodel the city hall from basement to top floor over time anyway. [*judge and associated staff that weren't needed] [*Case load had dropped:]


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 4:46 p.m.

Can't we predict that the parking structure cost too much money using how much the city has already said it will cost per spot? We don't need to sit back and wait; can't we take their price, assume the absolute sunniest, most positive scenario (e.g. every spot full every minute, all payments made on time, zero maintenance costs, etc.), and still see that it will take about 200 years to recoup the cost? Also, ordmad, do you think that the government spending twice the money to do the same thing a private enterprise could do is a good thing, or a problem?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Even without the extra judge (whose courtroom I spent a lot of time in and who, for some long stretches, was on leave) it was extremely overcrowded and, irrespective of that one courtroom, very confusing to litigants and the many lawyers who don't practice there regularly. I do agree that City Hall could have been built a little more cheaply, though with some involvement in government contracts I can confidently say what you and I could built for $200 a square foot will cost any governmental entity twice that. Thanks for the continuing interesting discussions.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

@Ordmad: if the extra unneeded judge and associated staff had been let go the old court house building wouldn't have been overcrowded. As for the new building, did we really need to house the city/county server farm and IT group in $400 per square foot premium space in the downtown core?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Whether the Garage Mahal project is a debacle is too early to tell. As a banker, you well know that investments don't pay off in their first year or even their 10th, and you also know that public investment isn't the same as private: you measure return on dollars very differntly. As for City Hall, operations were crammed (including the police) into the old building and the Courthouse situation on Main Street (which the City was leasing) was an over crowded nightmare and that's not an opinion form from an article taken out of context, that's from someone who was there many days of the week.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:35 a.m.

Discouraging -- recommend that they up the date for further discussion. In fact, closing DDA would definitely be a worthy decision.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:32 a.m.

Smith, Gunn and Lowenstein are part of the problem with their life time memberships and arrogance (especially Lowenstein--a failure on Council and the diplomacy of Attila the Hun) on the DDA. The looting of dollars from the Library, Washtenaw Community College and the AATA, as well as the rest of the City has to stop and this 'delay' is just a dodge because the Mayor is hoping for a more of a puppet primary after the August election. For all three to resign immediately and term limits for future appoitments would be a show of good faith on the part of the DDA, but good faith and the DDA aren't words you would ever use in the same sentence.


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

What I find especially embarrassing is Ms. Smith's display of obvious contempt for anyone that does not agree with her viewpoints. At last nights meeting she sat to the side, mocking and jeering as council deliberated. If she is so interested in being heard she should have run to retain her council seat. Instead she operates from the murky sideline of the appointees. She served the first ward poorly, if at all, during her council tenure, must she continue to embarrass the city in her new role as DDA mouthpiece?


Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

If the DDA did not exist, would the city NOT be able to do the things the DDA did? I assume if the city could build that ridiculously huge and expensive justice center, they could build and repair parking structures too. And the city's supposedly repairing sidewalks also. So why is the DDa necessary? Is it to ease the work load and decisionmaking of the council members? I keep seeing references to how vital the DDA is because of how they fixed parking structures and water mains in the downtown area, but I don't understand how the DDA is necessary to accomplish those things.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

With action delayed until September that means that the DDA will get its $1 million funding increase in the new fiscal year starting July 1st. This is very disappointing. "Delay and study" is a classic parliamentarian move to sidetrack a popular political initiative to defeat the will of the majority. The DDA's current priorities as expressed in previous articles on this topic are adding elevators and retail to the Williams Street Garage, paying for a sewer improvement to help develop the Y Lot into a tall building, and new street lights on S. Main St. These "priorities" don't even rate a last placed "10" on the list of top 10 priorities I would suggest we ought to be focused on which start with providing basic public services: "#1" fire and emergency medical services that meet national standards, "#2" a police car in front of your door in a reasonable number of minutes to help in an emergency situation, and "#3" roads that are in good repair, but 58% of our roads are in "Poor" condition according to a new WATS study. The rest of the list would include clean water, efficient and environmentally sound waste removal, sewer and waste water systems that properly work, all very unglamorous but necessary. Sorry, but corporate welfare including subsidies to developers to build tall buildings isn't anywhere on the list of priorities and those priorities ought to be set by the *city council* and paid from the general fund, not the Mayor appointed and unelected DDA board. Unfortunately for the rest of us, the Mayor has successfully rallied some allies to fight for increased funding for his DDA slushy fund to fill his various city "buckets", not for the best interests of the citizens!


Wed, May 8, 2013 : 1:07 a.m.

craig -that is an urban legend that the DDA created a great city. A2 has been doing just fine prior to the formation of the DDA The fact that the DDA changed dramatically under this administration and has transformed itself into some sort of city charity is laughable. This administration and DDA is shady at best

craig stolefield

Tue, May 7, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

It would be better for your campaign for mayor if you had your facts straight more often. If you had followed this more closely you would know that an amendment put forward by Sally Peterson a month ago moved the action date for the changes back a year, that is already in the legislation, even if it passed last night. It had nothing to do with "delay and study" a "classic parliamentarian move." But it sounds good! Beyond that you still don't seem to understand that the city general fund could actually lose money if this change goes through. General fund = police and fire. This whole thing is a bad idea in the long run as well. The DDA has created a great downtown that is the envy of cities far and wide. It has a lot to do with the successful economy in this city and the low unemployment.