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Posted on Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

Zingerman's, nonprofit among donors giving thousands to campaign for new downtown Ann Arbor library

By Ryan J. Stanton

Editor's note: This story has been updated with information from the Protect Our Libraries campaign finance report that was filed Friday afternoon.

Nearly $71,000 in cash donations from individuals, businesses and a nonprofit group have been poured into the campaign to build a new library in downtown Ann Arbor.

The single-largest contribution came from the nonprofit Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, which put $25,000 into the campaign.

Other major donors include Zingerman's Bakehouse Inc. ($5,000), Detroit-based law firm Dykema Gossett ($5,000), Library Board Member Prue Rosenthal ($5,000), Campaign Committee Chairwoman Ellie Serras ($5,000) and Bank of Ann Arbor ($3,000).


Nearly $71,000 in cash donations from individuals, businesses and a nonprofit group have been poured into the campaign to build a new library in downtown Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The Our New Downtown Library committee, which is supporting a $65 million bond proposal on the Nov. 6 ballot, reported those contributions in campaign finance statements that were due Friday. Additionally, the group reported nearly $9,000 worth of in-kind contributions.

The Ann Arbor District Library is asking voters to approve a $65 million bond proposal for construction of a new downtown library at the site of the current library at Fifth Avenue and William Street.

The estimated millage to pay off the bond is 0.56 mills, which would last for 30 years and cost the owner of a home with a $100,000 taxable value about $56 a year.

As of Friday afternoon, the LOL=Love Our Library committee, which is opposed to the bond proposal, had not yet filed a campaign finance report.

The Save the Ann Arbor Library committee, another anti-bond group headed up by local resident Doug Jewett, reported $2,842 in contributions, all of which came from Jewett's own pocket.

He spent the money on balloons, bumper stickers, yard signs, pins, business cards, rubber bands, mailings, sidewalk permits and liability insurance.

The Protect Our Libraries committee, another anti-bond group headed up by Kathy Griswold, reported $700 in itemized cash contributions plus $49 in in-kind contributions, while spending more than $7,700 — leaving a large debt owed for money spent mainly on yard signs and postcards.

Only eight people made donations to Protect Our Libraries committee that were reported, including $100 from incoming City Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy.

The Our New Downtown Library committee had spent nearly $48,000 as of the end of the latest reporting period, leaving it with more than $23,000 in cash on hand.

Other donors to the bond campaign include investor Peter Heydon ($2,500), Edward Surovell Realtors ($2,000), Library Board Member Edward Surovell ($1,000), Nustep Inc. owners Dick and Norma Sarns ($1,500), Barbara Kessler and Dick Soble ($1,000), Library Director Josie Parker and her husband Robert ($1,000), and Downtown Development Authority Chairwoman Leah Gunn ($1,000).


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Ann Arbor resident Dave Cahill, a former Library Board member who is against the bond proposal, said some of the contributions to the Our New Downtown Library group raised his eyebrows, including the money from Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library and Dykema.

Cahill questioned accepting money from the Dykema law firm, which does legal work for the AADL. He believes Dykema will benefit financially if the ballot question passes because it will have to write or review many construction contracts for the new library.

Cahill also complained the FAADL's membership was not polled before $25,000 was contributed to the bond proposal campaign.

"Instead, the board alone voted to make this large contribution," he said. "The people who donate to FAADL have no way of knowing that many of their donations have been diverted to a ballot question committee. This contribution is so large that it could fund a mayoral campaign."

The FAADL is a nonprofit organization that raises funds for the library largely through the sale of books donated by the public.

FAADL President Pat McDonald could not be reached for comment, nor could Serras or Gunn, who are on the Our New Downtown Library committee.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Dear Fellow Ann Arbor Residents, I think that spending $65 Million to destroy the existing Library and replace it with a new building is very unwise. I enjoy the present Library and make annual contributions of $100 to the Friends of the Library. It seems to me that the main beneficiaries of the $65 Million Bond will be the building industry, as with the overly modern and very expensive City Hall. If the voters of Ann Arbor want to spend an extra $65 Million, it seems far better to spend it on returning the Police, the Fire Department and the Fall Leaf Collection to their former status. Indeed if the Fire Department is not soon returned to meeting the national code, our House Insurance rates will all increase.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

Sounds like this project is a big waste of money. We currently have 4 other libraries branches that are more convenient to most people and seem to be somewhat underutilized. The current circulation system that the library uses is wonderful. Anyone can check the availability of a book online and if that book isn't at the branch of choice, a simple request will trigger that book to be delivered to any branch in a day or so. Let's spend money on developing technologies to strengthen that system rather than construction of a new building. We don't need a public financed Borders or Barnes & Noble.

A Voice of Reason

Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

As I said before, we have a library board of mostly older citizens clearly out of touch with how society is changing and just wants their name on a building to say--"look what we have done our life" Now Zingermans--seeing the opportunity for possibly getting to sell coffee in the library, has put money into the campaign. Is anyone honest anymore? I am most worried about keeping children safe and do not think we need all this human traffic in a library that is utilized by children.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

It's interesting to me that Josie Parker, Director of the Ann Arbor District Library, in an article in the Ann Arbor Journal, spoke to them "from the position of providing factual information on the proposal without advocating for or against it." This pretense of objectivity has even less credibility than Parker as advocate ($1,000 contribution from this Ex Officio member of the Friends of the Library board). This is characteristic of the fancy footwork of this individual in particular and the AADL Board in general. I'm now receiving emails from the Board presenting "facts" about the bond proposal, the facts of course supporting the proposal. Didn't know that having an AADL account would make my email address the destination of lobbying efforts. ... It's probably hopeless, but I intend at least to vote for librarian Lyn Powrie Davidge and nobody else for the Board on November 6, the only candidate who isn't an incumbent and who rightly opposes the bond proposal. ... I'm sorry this story is buried on page 3 of the website.


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 3:59 a.m.

Perhaps the Friends should direct their energy and money toward a campaign to raise the money through private donations rather than burdening the taxpayers with the expense of the library.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

Once again it is NOT the time for this expense, we should delay it to next election. People are voting no at this time are not unti-Library people at all but they are being wise to delay it. Lets get our facts straight.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

So a place that sells $12 sandwiches supports a $65 Million library? Makes sense to me. Snarks aside, I will probably vote for it.....

Donald Harrison

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

Ryan, you mention that only 8 people contributed to "Protect our Libraries" but don't mention that over 120 people contributed to "Our New Library." Support for rebuilding the downtown library and investing in the AADL is widespread across individuals deeply involved in our community, whether they contributed $25 or $2,500 or an endorsement to support this campaign. They include civic, business, non-profit, environmental, educational and arts/cultural leaders and individuals across non-partisan lines:


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

So many potential 'stomach-turning' conflicts of interests and possible quid pro quo's it is nearly Impossible to distill it all down to one question: why is this even necessary?


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

Legal or not, the Friends of the Library donation seems very unethical. The group has always made it sound like donations go straight to helping the library, not to a political campaign. As for the $5,000 contributions from Prue Rosenthal and Ellie Seras? People who have that type of money don't understand that not everyone in Ann Arbor is in the same financial position and therefore may view replacing a functional building in a different way.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 12:14 p.m.

Why build a library in downtown? There is no place to park, plus it's costly.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

We don't need a new library. Vote No.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 11:26 a.m.

Zingerman's & Bank of Ann Arbor, quid pro quo?


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 10:45 a.m.

Do we REALLY need it?


Sun, Oct 28, 2012 : 8:15 p.m.

Paul, no. we. don't. I'll be voting an emphatic no.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 10:35 p.m.

According this IRS web page, the Friends of the AADL may likely have violated their 501(c)(3) charitable tax status by attempting to influence a legislative action: The question is that will they be reported and will the IRS pursue the violation? Donations to the new Library campaign may also not qualify as charitable donations.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 10:13 p.m.

That is so generous !!! The contributors only have to pony up another $64,929,000.00 to get their new library. Maybe the Friends can have their names and amounts etched in all of those new bricks.

Vince Caruso

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

Sorry the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library, which put $25,000 into the campaign, did this with these funds. Some have said this is a make work project, other have said it is a substitute for the convention center. Is this anyway to do planning? Lets get the cards on the table and then decide with open process, and if we need a make work project then lets plan for make work not make believe we need to tare down a fine working structure. The greenest buildings are the ones that don't get torn down needlessly. Unless of course you are into Greenwashing. Vote NO.

David Cahill

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

One correction to the article: Dykema did not violate official Michigan legal ethics (the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct). But its contribution was unwise and inappropriate. In my not so humble opinion.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

I remember reading somewhere that the majority of electoral campaigns are won by the side which spends the most. We'll see if this bears out, and taxpayers in A2 and townships are saddled with the huge bond. Donors revealed in the article don't all sound like those motivated by books, learning, knowledge, and community needs. Resident David Cahill makes some important points - questioning some of the donations, etc.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:20 p.m.

Speaking of the Protect Our Library campaign, here is their filing, since it didn't make it in to the article. Over $7,700 has come from Kathy Griswold alone (only $700 has been donated by any one else). That's more than any single donor to any of the other campaigns, corporate or personal. Some serious axes to grind or something. Didn't she used to be on the library board? Is this something personal?


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

Veracity, I sure hope that's what you're saying to everyone that questions the motivations of people donating to the pro-campaign.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

This issue involves personal opinion by everyone. Let us never attack the messenger while forgetting about the message. Do not attack a person or even a group just because you disagree with what they say. Find something inaccurate about the message and point it out; otherwise just state your opposition.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

I examined the report. The $7712.18 is a loan from Kathy Griswold, not a donation. She charged most expenses on her VISA card. Presumably she will solicit or accept donations to help retire the loan.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

She was on the school board.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

As a lifetime member of the Friends of the Ann Arbor District Library (FAAdL) I take exception to the FAADL contributing $25,000 to the campaign for voter approval of the $65 million bond issue. I would rather see the money buy new heating and cooling units which I am told is needed. However, I expect that the library has sufficient reserves for such capital expenditures anyway. The library should have a budget which allows for maintenance costs and sets aside funds for building improvements.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

So I just got a copy of the Observer in the mail, and saw two full-page ads for the Protect Our Library campaigns (inside front cover and full back cover). I thought I'd see how much those ads cost, and according to the Observers ad rate card ( Inside Front Cover: $4,209 Back Cover: $5,342 So I thought I'd check the paperwork filed by the Protect Our Library campaign, to see if it was available yet. And there is no mention of expenses to the Observer, nor have they said they raised enough to cover that cost. The Observer says their ad deadline is two weeks before printing, so this should all be in their filing submitted today. What's up with that? Is the Observer giving free in-kind advertising (which still has to be reported), or is Protect Our Libraries hiding donations and expenses?


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

And Vivienne, the Observer requires payment up front for advertising, I've done it before.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 9:01 p.m.

David, not the ones I'm looking at. "Paid for By Protect Our Libraries." You can't miss them.

David Cahill

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:59 p.m.

A2Onward, my guess is that the Observer ads were put in by the "yes" committee. Protect Our Libraries is one of the three "no" committees.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

I don't know the particulars, but in general expenses do not have to be recognized until they are actually paid. The Observer may have invoiced after accepting the ad, and in fact the amount may not be payable until after publication. The close of books this election cycle was October 21, which would coincide very closely with the date of publication. (I just received my copy today.)


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

Makes me wonder if Zingerman's plans to take advantage of the Library subsidized full service catering kitchen included in the plans for using the Library proposal funds. I'm also wondering if some of the business leaders aren't getting the full story and are just being told what they want to hear.


Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 1:47 a.m.

What about the mind control devices in the scones? It's always the scones!


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:12 p.m.

Oh and right now, the plans include a "full service catering kitchen" and separate restaurant cafe, not a few coffee makers in a break room.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:08 p.m.

It's about location and access in addition. You can't buy access like that to inside the Downtown Library right now. Someone has to operate the catering kitchen and cafe. Think smart! If I were a business owner that saw an opportunity like that, I'd be a fool not to support it. No conspiracy, just a smart business move that might not be in the best interests of the general public.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Holy crap everything is a conspiracy to you guys!


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:48 p.m.

Interesting speculation which I should have considered.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Really? You think Zingerman's, who just spent millions to build themselves a new kitchen, is donating to a library campaign so that they can use a break room kitchen?


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:37 p.m.

ZINGERMAN'S, THE DDA AND LIBRARY BOND CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS A lot of interaction has occurred between Zingerman's Deli and the DDA with both ending up contributing to the campaign for the new library bond issue. Last year, to assist its $6.7 million dollar expansion,the DDA gifted Zingerman's $407,000, "which is the estimated tax-increment on the improvement to the property over the course of 15 years. The money would be used for improvements to sidewalks, sidewalk ramps, signage as well as for costs associated with LEED certification for the Zingerman's expansion." ( Likewise, DDA chairwoman Leah Gunn has donated $1,000 to the cause. Zingerman's and Leah Gunn's donations may very well be in the interest of the DDA which may obtain 1% of the bond funds, or $650,000, if voters approve the $65,000,000 bond issue. Certainly, the DDA can use the money since it is facing a $2 million budget shortfall this year. ( Zingerman's could be showing appreciation for the DDA by supporting the effort to get it more money. I do not believe that the library, as a non-profit organization, will have to pay property taxes to the DDA on improved land for which private owners would have to pay.

Sabra C Briere

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

I asked for a specific explanation of the DDA capture of funds from this proposed bond. Here's what I learned: ". . . the library doesn't pay taxes, but the private property owners in the DDA District do. So you may have heard a statement that was suggesting that if approved this millage would be taken by the DDA in the DDA District through its TIF, which comes from new tax dollars generated by new buildings in the DDA District. Yes, the DDA will capture some of the millage through its TIF, but the majority of the library millage paid by buildings in the DDA District would not go to the DDA's TIF, and more importantly, the offset is that the DDA will be contributing financially to the downtown Library building project using its development purpose as is laid out in our 2003 DDA Development Plan. The DDA very much sees itself as a financial partner in the Library. For instance, as a very small example of DDA $ going to the Library, as part of the construction of the new garage the DDA discovered that the Library electric system was run off conduit placed in the City's Library lot without City approval or easement and all this electrical equipment was now in the way of the new structure; the DDA paid 100% of the cost to relocate the electric line to within the Library's property and also paid 100% of the DTE charges for electrical design & the new connection. With the approval of the proposed library millage and the construction of a new downtown library the DDA will have many opportunities to assist the Library financially. This can include paying for/undertaking utility upgrades, providing free parking for contractors and a staging area for the project, paying for pedestrian improvements, and much more."


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

ADDENDUM: The grant to Zingerman's occurred in 2010 and not last year. I apologize for the error.

Atticus F.

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:34 p.m.

I use the Ann Arbor Library on a daily basis, and I see NO need to spend $65,000,000.00 on a new one. The amount of waste is stomach turning, and sickening at best. Another Ann Arbor mafia/contractor cash grab.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 10:33 p.m.

how does the art commission fit in the "waste is stomach turning, and sickening at the best". sounds like it would also apply to them.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:04 p.m.

It is always about the money. The next questions go to who benefits if the bond passes. We know that the Downtown Development Authority gets a tidy enough portion of the bond money, so DDA allies are in. Friends of the AADL get a trophy site and an awfully nice meeting space, though $25,000 is quite a contribution. What other connections exist between donors to the campaign and potential beneficiaries?


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Wasn't Zingerman's on the receiving end of a renovation grant? Is this reciprocating and giving funds we the city taxpayers gave to the city (and then to Zingerman's) now going to the library campaign?


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

The grant in question went to Zingerman's Deli. The contribution mentioned in the story above came from Zingerman's Bakehouse. Although both part of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses, the two operate pretty independently, from a financial standpoint. So it's not just Zingerman's Deli giving back some the grant money. That said, it would be nice to see that public spirit directed toward more pressing needs than a pipe dream of a largely unnecessary new library building.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 8:25 p.m.

I would if the contributions came from any organization that was reciprocating after receiving public money. My point of view is in line with lifelong habits of being a wise spender and underestimating what to spend in order to be ready for what's unexpected. By committing Ann Arbor taxpayers to a 30 year millage, there's a need to consider how the proposed library "need" ranks vis a vis other needs that will arise. This is especially important in this city, where a former city manager was able to push through a pension plan that greatly benefited him and others who had worked too few years for the City of Ann Arbor. That act alone will put Ann Arbor into more of a bind over that same 30 years during which the library bond would need to be paid. I question the motive and fiscal examination of all municipal spending since such former city fiasco.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7 p.m.

You seem to be saying that Zingerman's campaign contribution is "giving generously back to the community". Would you say the same thing if they had contributed to one of the groups opposed to the new library?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Zingerman's has been giving generously back to the community for many, many years. Nothing new here. But you're right, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority did approve a grant of up to $407,000 in support of a brownfield application by Zingerman's back in 2010. That's mentioned in this story:

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 5:54 p.m.

Who are the members of the Friends Board?

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Thank you Ryan.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:10 p.m.

The same Sheila Rice that started her own anti-campaign, but voted yes for the friends donation to the pro-campaign? Weird.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

2012-2013 Friends Board of Directors: Pat McDonald, President Pat Settimi, Vice-President Lara Thomas, Secretary Mary Borkowski, Treasurer Mary Kay Cotter, Membership Chair Kathy Ciesinski Sue Fraser Fred Mayer Paul Morel De Bora McIntosh Sheila Rice Clare Canham-Eaton Ex-officio members: Rae Ann Weymouth, Book Shop Director Josie Parker, Director, AADL


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 5:51 p.m.

I have to wonder if the Friends of the Library violated their IRS Non-profit status with that donation to the campaign. If they are 501(C)3 they did.


Mon, Oct 29, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

My apologies to the Friends of the library and the readers of AnnArbor.Com for this mistake.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Oct 27, 2012 : 4:50 a.m.

As I understand it, they're aware of these rules and were careful about the amount of money given.


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Actually they can not exceed 20% of their exempt purpose expenditures including administrative costs. That means if they spent $25,000 in lobbing efforts, then the FAADL better be spending more than $125,000 on their other non lobbying costs. Somehow, I highly doubt that.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Here's a fact sheet from a group called the Alliance For Justice, which says 501c3's can do exactly what the FAADL is doing here. There also is some information along the same lines on


Fri, Oct 26, 2012 : 7 p.m.

From the Friends website: "This organization is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization." ( ) What is the tax status or organizational structure of 'Our New Downtown Library'? What is the prohibition under tax law?