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Posted on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:47 p.m.

Ann Arbor mayor says he's concerned there isn't more public art in the city

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje says he wants to take a comprehensive look at the city's public art program in the next month and find ways to make it stronger.

"One of the things we haven't seen yet is a profusion of new art in the city, and that's certainly one of my concerns," Hieftje said at Thursday night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting.

The city pays for public art through its Percent For Art Program. Under an ordinance approved by the City Council in 2007, 1 percent of the budget for all city capital projects — up to a limit of $250,000 per project — is set aside in a special public art fund.

Hieftje told council members he would like the council to set aside time to evaluate how the Percent For Art Program is and isn't working.


Mayor John Hieftje speaks at a recent event in the lobby of the new Justice Center building where the city plans a $150,000 piece of public art to welcome visitors.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"I would also like to see us pause in September and take a comprehensive look at the program, to see why we don't have more art moving forward in the city, to take a look at the fund balances there, and make decisions in a comprehensive way," he said.

The city's continued spending on public art at a time when it's making deep cuts to public safety has angered some residents. But Hieftje argues the city's public art money is set aside in its own fund that legally can't be tapped to pay for general fund items like police and fire services.

"Until a court or the state Legislature says otherwise, it is the law we have to follow," Hieftje wrote in an e-mail to earlier this week.

Hieftje announced at Thursday's meeting he's nominating Council Member Tony Derezinski for a spot on the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission, which oversees the public art program.

Hieftje compared the Public Art Commission to the Housing Commission, which the city took steps to get back on track a little over a year ago. Hieftje said he expects Derezinski to report back on how the council can help the Public Art Commission make stronger steps forward.

"We took a look at the Housing Commission and one of the first things we did to do that was we appointed Council Member Derezinski," Hieftje recalled. "And he came back to us and reported his observations there, and then we were able to take a deeper look at what was happening there and we made some significant changes. And I think everyone would agree the Housing Commission is on a much more solid footing and moving ahead." requested recent financial figures for the Percent For Art Program. The city made available a budget summary as of July 1 (download it here).

The city recently announced it is seeking an artist to create a piece of public art for the lobby of the Ann Arbor Justice Center, the new addition to city hall located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Huron Street. The city has set a $150,000 budget for the project.

That's in addition to another piece of public art designed by German artist Herbert Dreiseitl, who won approval from the city to install a large water feature sculpture with integrated glass pearls in front of city hall and the new Justice Center. The Public Art Commission has established a project budget of $750,000 and installation is expected soon.

Sue McCormick, the city's public services administrator, explained the latest $150,000 public art proposal earlier this week, saying the money for the installation is reserved within the project budget for the Ann Arbor Municipal Center project.

For the majority of capital projects, McCormick said, the 1 percent for art is transferred into the city's public art fund, and therefore it's not required to be spent on the site of the contributing project. But it's still restricted to serve a purpose related to the source funds.

"Here, because the percent for art contribution is contained within the project budget, it will be spent for art on the Municipal Center site," McCormick said.

Hieftje said the city's legal and financial staff did a lot of research over many months before setting up the public art program. He stressed the program adheres to strict guidelines as to where art can be placed and how it relates to the source of the funds being used.

In the city's last budget process, the council voted 7-4 in favor of preserving public art funding, with dissenting Council Members Stephen Kunselman, Sabra Briere, Sandi Smith and Marcia Higgins in favor of a $158,813 cut to the program. At the time, Higgins wanted to reduce the program to a half percent, a proposal that drew concerns from other council members who argued public art is an important economic development tool and contributes to quality of life.

"I know there was a proposal put forward by Council Member Higgins during budget time to reduce the amount of money going to the Art Commission," Hieftje said. "Council may decide to do that. But I wanted then, just as I do now, to take a comprehensive look at the program, see what sort of changes it needs. I think the mission is still highly regarded by our residents, and I know by most of council, that this could be a really wonderful thing for our city."

The Public Art Commission announced earlier this week it will present three Golden Paintbrush Awards at the council's Aug. 15 meeting. The awards are in recognition of public artworks that add interest to the cityscape, beautify the community and create a sense of place.

The three awardees are Mary Thiefels of Treetown Murals, Peter and Doug Allen of Peter Allen and Associates along with Steve Zobeck, and John Magner of Blimpy Burger.

Thiefels is receiving recognition for the Peacework Mural installed in the alley between Main and Ashley off of Liberty Street, next to Alley Bar. The Allens and Zobeck are receiving the award for their stone formations on North Main Street, and Blimpy’s for the Snowbears.

“Public art plays two roles in a community," Marsha Chamberlin, chairwoman of the Public Art Commission, said in a statement. "It helps to create an authentic sense of place and serves as a tool for creating community pride. The pieces are in very different environments and are markedly different in materials. There is something that likely appeals to everyone.”

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 e-mail newsletters.


Jim Kress

Tue, Aug 16, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

I'm sure the Ann Arbor rapist, and his copy cats, are appreciative of the City of Ann Arbor refusing to fully fund the Police Department. The victims of this crime spree should hold the Mayor and City Government officials PERSONALLY responsible for the criminal acts perpetrated upon them by these criminals facilitated in their acts by an indifferent City government.

J Johnson

Tue, Aug 9, 2011 : 12:22 a.m.

Would it perhaps be more welcoming to visitors to drive on streets not filled with potholes? Huron and parts of other main arteries in the city are an embarrassment. It might also be more welcoming to visitors in the winter to have the streets, including side streets in subdivisions, plowed in a more timely manner. There is a lot that goes into making a town more welcoming to visitors and taking care of the basics like roads and public safety are way up there on the list ahead of public art (in my opinion). Maybe when times are better, economically speaking, and we have the basics covered, we can consider spending some tax revenue on art to welcome visitors to our wonderful town.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 4:03 a.m.

This problem is created by the voters in Ann Arbor who would vote for a bucket of spit just because it had a "D" next to it. Good Night and Good Grief

Ming Bucibei

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

The comrade mayor and comrades council members are a pack of useless idiots!! Vote out all incumbents in the next elections!! Ming Bucibei


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 1:48 a.m.

How about a "1% for bridge repair" program.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.

To understand, one must attempt to see beyond their own pragmatic viewpoints and come to the realization that Aesthetic needs are just as important as any other basic human need. I'm serious.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

Previously, the mayor and city council members have claimed that their constituents are in agreement with their policies and actions. Regarding Public Safety layoffs, they insist that most of their constituents are in agreement with the downsizing that has been done and that planned for next year. If you REALLY want your opinion heard, email you cit council person and the mayor; they apparently don't read ANN's articles and definitely don't read the comments.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

You know, I mean, this so unbelievable, but, I guess, huh, really...I am a total loss for words here...words that won't get this post removed that is!

Jon Saalberg

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

I now believe the signs leading to Ann Arbor should be changed to say "Brazil", a la the movie. We have a city government that seems to value public art over public safety, charges ahead with building unneeded parking facilities, unanimously decides that we Ann Arborites who have already paid for sidewalk repair, should pay for the sidewalk repair of those who have not yet had their sidewalks repaired, and produced a 12 page report detailing why a resident should not have build a fence in front of their own home. I will add yet another hair-pulling event to this list: we live in a near-downtown neighborhood, where many residents park at the curb. And yesterday was trash day. So picture a solid line of parked cars and garbage cans, block by block. Yet a street cleaner came down our street, reaching approximately 10% of the curbs, if that much. Maybe he was heading somewhere else to clean curbs, but he went up and down our street, more than once, so it seemed like a colossal waste of time, gas, and work time.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

I've never seen so much short-sighted behavior and am fed up with the way this city has handled their finances. What an assinine thing to say at a time like this where we are potentially falling into a recession again!!! I'm thinking my time in this city is about over....

Boo Radley

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

So, statistically, incidents of public art in the city are very low. With the artwork rate is at such lows, I am very comfortable with the current level of art in the city.

Common Sense

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

How about commissioning a "millon dollar" bronze sculpture of a laid off public saftey worker and family; put it in front of city hall with a plaque saying "Welcome to Ann Arbor". City officials don't seem to have a problem with spending millions of our tax dollars on other "projects".

Ron Granger

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:40 p.m.

Btw, we voted to fund that art. The issue is how city officials are abusing and spending the money.

Ron Granger

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

Since when am I, as a taxpayer, obligated to give police a job for life, with a high income pension? A job for life where it is almost impossible to get fired? Welcome to the real working world. I'd rather have art.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

Who's really to blame here? Everyone knows that Heiftje is so out of touch that it's not funny. People that are his friends are even amazed at the size of his ego. Do you blame the guy who's been consistently out of touch, or do you blame the masses that are voting for him? This guy and the administration are a problem. Look at all the negative comments about Rapundalo when he ran. But he won. Who's to blame there?

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 1:20 p.m.

Though, while I disagreed with Leigh Greden's 'style' and agenda while he was on Council, the man did seem to have more political smarts and savvy in his little finger than our clueless Mayor has in his entire body. Lol.

Ron Granger

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

I fully support more art in the city, and consider it critically important. There will *always* be crime, so I won't even consider the silly "but we need more police!" argument. But the art program has been horribly abused by city government - the majority of the funds are being spent for art at city hall, not for the people. The no-bid German art debacle concentrated far too many limited funds in one piece, in a location where people cannot enjoy it. And the distant artist seemed incredibly unresponsive to the city once he had his check. And now the city wants to take another large chunk of the budget for art inside the new city building. Despite the German blunder - the large sum was to include interior art that was never completed. This suggests major changes are needed to the management committee in charge of the art funds. I recall some major controversy over that committee not holding meetings for public input, and thinking the one annual public meeting was just some kind of formality. So th art commission bungling means there needs to be major changes and major reviews.

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Oh the Housing Commission? Uh Huh. Where the Mayor appointed his old buddy Leigh Geden. Wonderful! &quot;Greden previously served on the city council until he was voted out of office in the 2009 Democratic primary, due in part to voter dissatisfaction with his use of electronic mail during council meetings – for communications that ranged from sophomoric humor to possible violations of the Open Meetings Act and campaign finance laws. After leaving the city council, Greden also left his job as an attorney with Miller Canfield to take a position with Eastern Michigan University as that institution's head of government relations.&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Not sure if I'd use your brilliant political move for the Housing Commission as as example Mr. Mayor. Lol.

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

&quot;Ann Arbor mayor says he's concerned there isn't more public art in the city&quot; Alan Goldsmith, Ann Arbor taxpayer, say's he's concerned there isn't more competent political leadership in the city.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:06 p.m.

Give the mayor a little bit of credit, at least he didn't run over some ducklings.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

Maybe we should all do an art project of our own. Take pictures of things that are a bit more important like crumbling roads/bridges, Police/Fire departments, rape articles from the paper and make a collage then send that to mayors office. He likes art. Lets give him some art. Loads and loads of art.

Jack Gladney

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 7:44 a.m.

This injustice shall not stand. What do we want?! More art!! When do we want it?! Now!!

Cendra Lynn

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 6:53 a.m.

Personally, it comforts me to know that after my house has burned to the ground and most of our pets have died because the firefighters couldn't get here, that I'll be able to see great art as I wander the town with my grocery cart. Can the art be placed where women who are being raped can see it? It's amazing to have a mayor who If you can keep his head when all about him Are losing theirs and blaming it on him.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

&quot;The city recently announced it is seeking an artist to create a piece of public art for the lobby of the Ann Arbor Justice Center, the new addition to city hall located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Huron Street. The city has set a $150,000 budget for the project&quot; How about a row of buckets, labeled with such things as &quot;public art&quot;, &quot;general fund&quot;, &quot;dda&quot; etc on them, but have the buckets depicted by white porcelain toilets. Bonus of them actually flushing, (low flow using recycled water, of course). or some fancy piece of art with a rape victim lying in front of it with the nice eerie glow of a burning city behind it. The joxtaposition would be very artsy fartsy.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

Be sure to enclose the entire piece in a split rail fence.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:30 a.m.

How about a nice bronze statue of a dejected man with a plaque reading &quot; Out of Work&quot;.

Dog Guy

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:21 a.m.

&quot;Public art&quot; is an oxymoron. Sturgeon's Revelation is way lowball for public art. All government art is tombstones for egomaniacal politicians. One may list all government funded art of permanent worth on the back of a hand with a broad-tip marker.

Cable Chef

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:05 a.m.

Just an FYI to everyone saying that he's ignoring what Ann Arbories want, no he isn't. He's listening. He just can't hear you if you make less that 100k/year.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4:01 a.m.

it use to be that the wealthy funded art by commissioning it. The Medici Family gave Florence a lot of its great works, public art displayed out in public for the public. Here the rich don't fund public art so much. They want everyone to fund it.

Seasoned Cit

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:56 a.m.

Let's spend some of the art funds on nice fancy arty designs for the city buses... That will help the AATA and create mobile art that will move throughout the community, vs sit on one spot or in one govt building lobby. Maybe it's also time to review the millage to see if it needs to continue.... should tax money continue to be used for things like art/ and parks...when the city can't maintain what public space it presently has?

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

Geez, Mayor John Hieftje a bit out of touch there? Could start by hiring some decent Graffiti artists, if you want my honest opinion.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:35 a.m.

Why does he keep getting elected?


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 10:38 a.m.

Because when you cast your ballot, it really goes into a paper shredder.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:22 a.m.

Are all city mayors/managers/city council members inter-related? Brighton has the same problem: forget fixing the infrastructure; let's get more art. Ridiculous.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Poice and Firefighters are works of art. Let get more.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:12 a.m.

More art, visit The Sunday Artisan Market every Sunday and see a wide range of fine art and crafts. This mayor apparently does not have his priorities straight and obviously is not listening to the citizens of the city regarding what is truly important like public safety, better roads and streets, etc.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

Get real and check out the truth. It is NOT a 1-party council, it's 2 party - The Council Party and the Dems. Check out who won the elections and more important, who supported them. The council party only won 1 seat. LOOK BEFORE YOU VOTE!

Robert Stone

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

This is blasphemy! This is MADNESS! Madness... THIS - IS - ANN - ARBOR!!!!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:35 p.m.

This makes total sense. Considering the current safety issues, when I'm walking downtown at night, I certainly find myself checking over my shoulder to make sure there's some public art behind me. It's top of mind for the average citizen too.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

While I, too, think the major should have held his tongue - don't forget that even in the Depression there was the WPA and we all benefited (to this day) from the wonderful works of art that were created then. Art is always the first thing on the chopping black whether in the schools or the community. Yet it is also something that we can all be proud of and art can reach many students and people who would not be easily reachable/teachable otherwise. The city as a whole can only be enriched by art. Art is part of our daily lives and we should be proud to live in a town that realizes that. While I too wish we had more police and firemen, I'm afraid the art budget would not be enuff to sustain them. Hence, my wish that the 1% art budget the city has had remained quietly unused until times were better and people more supportive.


Mon, Aug 8, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

It isn't how much, although the amount being spent is excessive considering the current economic situation, it is the cumulative waste by the mayor and city council that would indeed make a difference. In just the past few weeks there were article reporting over $400,000 in spending by the city council that would by most be considered wasteful and unnecessary. Most people do enjoy good art but as @Carole points out, wouldn't it be nice to be able to walk the streets without fear of being attacked so you can enjoy viewing the art? Perhaps the hundreds being laid off from Borders would like to be living public art and can work for the city. It is time for Ann Arbor to make a change and cut the wasteful city officials from the payroll.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:14 a.m.

I, too, love and totally appreciate art and love the fact that there is an abundance of art galleries downtown. However, let's get real about what is really important -- what good is beautiful art if one is afraid to walk the streets to enjoy it.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.

I think....therefore......I'm out of touch... the city could display art from the high school and college students plus other local artsits for free.They would be giving exposure to the artists and would have a steady supply of new work..................

Aaron Wolf

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

What we need is to encourage more low budget public art. We need beauty and art, but we don't need to pay premium rates for it.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

How about this: Hire back laid off firemen using the art budget and call it &quot;concept art&quot;? Worth a try IMHO.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

How about a donation of art, say, from the University's art school? I'm sure glad I don't live in A2, because you (the residents) really put (and keep) some real cuckoos in office there.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

If the grass growing in the cement cracks on State Street and Washtenaw art the Mayor has more than his fair share of &quot;art&quot; in full bloom!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

King John speaks and it shall be done. Keep working on that train idea we all want to see if you can make it run on time. Are mimes and clowns in the street for folly next????? Oh, we have that already.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:41 p.m.

My God, is this man for real. The city has no real tax base, city services are being cut and U of M doesn't pay any tax. But the mayor has his Green Belt and now his next project: public art.........Maybe his honor should worry about attracting viable businesses to Liberalville..........

Marilyn Wilkie

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:38 p.m.

Why not put all those people on the Public Art Commission to work fixing the infrastructure of crumbling Ann Arbor. Physical labor is good for the soul too. Ann Arbor officials should be embarrassed to have people see the city as it is. Visitors would rather not ruin their vehicles than see a statue.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:03 p.m.

and it's quite dirty downtown, too. Have you ever smelled the streets on a warm summer day? The WM garbage truck leaves a trail of dripping, disgusting garbage on the street all over town. It was embarrassing to have the electricians come in for a conference and have to smell that odor and see the cigarette butts all over the streets and some of the sidewalks, too.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

Mayor: Have you seen this &quot;public art&quot;??? We can ALL view it, you know... Outdoor art provided by UM---some information you may/may not have <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;sa.x=0&amp;sa.y=0&amp;sa=Go</a> At the medical campus: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Only in Ann Arbor... I'll bet he gets re-elected next term.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.

I wish the only thing I had to worry about was, Is there to little art in AA? I think I would have more pride in being from AA if the roads were better and the criminals were put in jail. Would someone remind me, Why do we keep electing the same out of touch eltists, election after election?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

I must be in shock and unable to post about his concern, just, you've got to be kidding? OMG


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.

So he's &quot;comfortable&quot; with having less than half the firefighters that most cities this size would have, but he's &quot;concerned&quot; about a lack of public art? Does that seem as insane to everyone else as it does to me?


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

Don't worry folks, he just needs to spend all that money in the different buckets before he gets run out of office...


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

How about spending the $150,000 on public safety, and have a protest march against the lack of art instead?

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:56 p.m. truth to the rumor the Mayor just says annoying and incompetent stuff and that you guys are paying him just to drive irate comment site traffic? Lol.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

I'm not surprised the Mayor is a huge supporter of Financial Managers being appointed by the State of Michigan to take over the management of cities and tossing out the will of the voters. He acts like he wants one of those positions.

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

&quot;Until a court or the state Legislature says otherwise, it is the law we have to follow,&quot; Hieftje wrote in an e-mail to earlier this week.&quot; Translation: You suckers are going to have to toss me and my buddies on Council out of office or file a lawsuit and drag us into Court if you want this madness to stop. I don't care if we cut cops and firefighters and I'm not through tossing tax dollars to my political friends and to promote 'art'. Listening to the public is for suckers.

David Cahill

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Of course the City Council can undo its own public arts program. First step: set the percentage for art at 0% looking forward. Second step: Repeal the ordinance and return the existing fund balances to the funding sources from whence they came. Simple! Easy to understand!

larry kramer

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

what a FOOL!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

I've come to the conclusion the mayor is just messing with our heads. There is no other explanation. No grown man could be that clueless.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

What's the status of that ugly know...the one that looks like a memorial to the dead? Isn't that art enough, Mr. Mayor??


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:33 p.m.

A brilliant local sculptor, whose work can be seen on 'google' by searching 'epic in bronze' has voiced to me and others a willingness to do a bronze totem pole called &quot;The tower of Babble'...with portraits of notorious loudmouths both locally and internationally from various periods of history. Some occasional posters to this site would be included.

B. Jean

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

&quot;Until a court or the state Legislature says otherwise, it is the law we have to follow,&quot; Hieftje wrote in an e-mail to earlier this week.&quot; Save that crap for the clowns that voted for you Mr. Mayor. For the rest of us that have a clue, we believe you have your priorities are a tad askew to put it mildly. Not that you listen to your constituents. Perhaps our residents and visitors alike will view the chalk outlines of the victims of shootings at certain area bars as art. The composites of the suspected rapists could be considered an art form and bless the courageous victims that helped create them. That art deserves your undivided attention. How about the art of protecting our citizens from further danger and adding back necessary police and fire positions? Now theres and economic development tool for you, an actual return on the investment for my tax dollars. You want art? Just look around he'e everywhere on those stupid little round signs that serve as bike racks which no one uses. How many fire and police officer's salaries would those dollars have preserved? And in case you missed it, for decades Ann Arbor has been considered the Art Meca of Michigan. Just keep talking Mr. Mayor, we can only hope your clueless advocates are truly listening come election time.

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

How has this guy not faced a recall yet? Yeah, yeah, I know...we're a one-party town. But, some of the most leftist liberals I know are sick and tired of the nonsense with him and the city council. And, they vote. I guess it's just mind-boggling to me that they're still employed. I'm honestly amazed he hasn't been run out of town by a torch and pitchfork wielding crowd yet.

Urban Sombrero

Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 4:34 a.m.

Ha! Touche! You're a good man, Charlie Brown.

Charlie Brown's Ghost

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 3:50 a.m.

Silly rabbit, recalls are only for Republicans. Good Night and Good Grief

Urban Sombrero

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:21 p.m.

By &quot;they&quot; still being employed I mean the Emperor, erm mayor and the city council. Not my lefty friends.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

I wish he would take a real comprehensive look at our streets. Or are potholes considered art? Or all the new neighborhood speed bumps at the expense of fixing major streets??


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

If art is so incredibly important to the mayor, can I pay my taxes with art? The mayor must have graduated from the Fernando school of &quot;It's not how you feel, it's how you look!&quot;


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

Brilliant! Thank you for yet another reason to clean out my basement and garage.

Roger Roth

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

The law definitely has to go. We don't need art. We don't need roads. We don't need schools. We don't need police and fire. These things cost money and equate into big government. We don't want big government. No taxes, except on workers to pay for the things the right wing deems essential. Fire all the teachers. Get rid of all entitlements, pensions, etc. They cost too much. Bust the unions. As a matter of fact, let's just say do away with all government and then what we're left with after hard negotiating won't necessitate any tax increases. Read my lips, &quot;no, no, no.&quot; (&quot;Doesn't anyone in this town know how to say yes anymore?&quot;--J. Boehner) But, definitely, let's get a few more wars going. But, absolutely, no art!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:14 p.m.

This kook needs to have some sort of legitimate mental evaluation, as he is clearly unfit to hold public office. Hopefully his condition progresses quickly and relieves the community of his burdensome, and bizarre, leadership.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

Well done Mr Mayor!! You have given a wonderful topic for the next public meeting at City Hall. Getting rid of you!!!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

Planet Earth to Mayor Hieftje ... Come in? Hello? Planet Earth calling Mayor Hieftje ....


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

WOW! Just wow...


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:54 p.m.

Stuff I care more about then more public art (in no order): 1) Locking up the serial rapist 2) Police force numbers 3) Fire department 4) Roads and other public structures 5) Schools 6) Jobs 7) Taxes 8) Home values 9) Getting a new mayor that in touch with the people of AA 10) Everything else in the world! Why are we worried about this one of the benefits of having UM here is it provides a lot of free or cheap art and cultural events. Seriously if the art is on campus or down town who cares! As a young professional (with a Ph.D.) I am the type the mayor wants to keep in this town and this is a big turn off. I want good schools, a safe communities and reasonable taxes so I can start a family. I think it is time to move outside the city limits. "Under an ordinance approved by the City Council in 2007, 1 percent of the budget for all city capital projects — up to a limit of $250,000 per project — is set aside in a special public art fund." Why not pass a new ordinance eliminating this stupid pork barrel so no more money gets trapped in it!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

The mayor and the council members are completely clueless. Ann Arbor is literally falling apart and they're talking about not having enough art. Way to keep your eye on the ball.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.

When I read this headline, I had assume it was a joke, like an April Fool's Day article. Well, it is sort of like an April Fool's Day joke. What a joke!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.

Y'all voted for him and you will vote for him again. Because you like punishment. So enjoy the ugly art because you wanted it.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

Wait .... for a minute there I thought I was reading The Onion. I'm all for art, but come on.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.

Local artists displaying art for sale in the new Police Courts building sounds like a good idea, though. Gives the Art Manager something to coordinate.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

This is crazy -- but how about this notion, based on a comment on this subject from a reader a few days ago. If you want art, give a boost to the high school and college art students in the area. Here are three ideas: 1. Determine the locations that &quot;need&quot; art. Look at proposed concepts from local students and hire them to create their pieces. Use the funds to pay will be providing jobs AND giving them exposure for their portfolios. 2. Find other areas for art work to be displayed (with price tags.) Think of the gallery lobby at U/M Medical Center...the displays are brilliant, the artists are featured, and they may sell some of their work. 3. Encourage local businesses to hire local artists/art students to create interior and exterior pieces of art for their businesses. Art is creativity. Time for our mayor and the city council to get creative! If this money cannot be used for anything other than art, make sure it is used to the benefit of people in this community...stretched as far as possible. (And in the meantime, I hope someone will pursue how to change this budget item.)

Snehal Shah

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

I thought there is much more art in Ann Arbor. Mr. mayor, can't you see around? All the broken roads look so artistic. Modern art! Crumbling bridges give a nostalgic artistic touch to the city. Deteriorating buildings give an artistic touch of an ancient city. People not able to buy new cars and using age old car give a very artistic look on the road. Antique art! People living in constant stress and fear give artistic creases on their faces making them look older than their age. Look at the empty houses around, empty office buildings - ghostly art work. What more art do you want? Or is your meaning of more art is that when a homeless or hungry person asks for food, you will hand that person a reproduced picture of Piccaso?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

I'm guessing this might get more comments than any other article posted on here to date.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

What he also fails to understand, that even if those funds can't be touched by a court, the decision making process that lead to this is what is troubling.

Mike K

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

This is neat - liberal minded and conservative minded folks seemingly agreeing on something. That major is quite the uniter!!!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:36 p.m.

In economic distressful times, with limited budgets at both the state and city government level, with the laying off of essential city services staff (i.e. police and fire), his best &quot;concern&quot; is the funding of public art in the city. Are you kidding me? Well, as it's been said for generations, you get the government you deserve. Well Ann Arborites, we certainly do! Next time there's a rape in the city and the perp isn't caught, or when a life is loss due to a fire, or when property damage is so extensive due to a severely cut fire department can't respond in time, I'll make certain that I'll send a painting or any other type of artwork to assist. The mayor is out of touch to the realities of leading a major midwestern city. I feel really sorry for those students returning to campus this fall knowing that there is a rapist on the loose in the city, but our resources for the department in charge of capturing is lacking much needed capital since the mayor thinks its a &quot;concern&quot; that art isn't fully funded.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:27 p.m.

Does he wake up in the morning and wonder, &quot;What can I say today that will vex, irk, and nettle the small handful of people that are paying attention?&quot; Isn't there someone out there who's less of a kook than hizzoner, understands the importance of providing basic city services, and wants the job of ringmaster of the circus that is our city council?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

Perhaps we need to add something on the November ballot to eliminate the mayor and most city council positions and then reallocate those funds to the art program. I suspect that is something most citizens in Ann Arbor would jump at a chance to approve!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Instead of voting politics (Republican/Democrat) lets vote intelligence in the next election. There isn't a dimes wirth of difference in the two parties anyways. The whole &quot;left vs right&quot; thing is a smokescreen for these parasites who continually rip us off.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

&quot;Instead of voting politics (Republican/Democrat) lets vote intelligence in the next election.&quot; There is so little of it who would we vote for?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.


Go Blue

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:13 p.m.

Dear Mr. Mayor - listen to what your constituents feel is important and that appears to be not spending public funds on noncritical things. I think their message is on the loud and clear side.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

&quot;The city's continued spending on public art at a time when it's making deep cuts to public safety has angered some residents.&quot; Some? Would it be more accurate to say &quot;most.&quot; &quot;But Hieftje argues the city's public art money is set aside in its own fund that legally can't be tapped to pay for general fund items like police and fire services.&quot; Perhaps the city should add a section to it's website called &quot;Mayoral Excuses for ignorning the citizens.&quot; Did anyone mention that the reputation the Detroit City Council received did not cast a favorable light on the city of Detroit? Why does the Ann Arbor city council seem to have no knowledge of public opinion? It appears they are only able to hear each other and nothing else.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

If the limit is $250,000, how did the fountain get put in at three times that amount? Did the voters know that the mayor had this fixation when they elected him? He should watch the lips of the citizens, or at least read the comments here. Burned out buildings and citizen safety patrols will welcome visitors at no cost if he has his way.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

$250,000 is the cap on the amount that can be collected from a project. They can spend more or less than that on art for that particular project if they wish.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:05 p.m.

Since the public art budget is not transferable, why not do a call for proposals which would integrate infrastructure projects WITH an art component? For instance, a friend of mine builds highway sound wall forms with integrated patterns: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Two birds with one stone.

Roy Munson

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

Is this a joke? I would like to hear why you people continue to vote for this guy.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

I've added a link in the story to a summary of the public art fund as of July 1, the beginning of the city's current fiscal year. Two things city officials noted in providing the data to me: 1. There are no general fund dollars in the public art fund. What is shown in that category was a posting error and correction. 2. While it appears there have been significant expenditures of public art dollars from the water funds, $750,000 of that which appears expended is the transfer to the Dreiseitl art project fund. Look at that project to see what is actually expended.

Jim Clarkson

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

How about we rescind the art millage and make a city service millage for basic city services since the city cant seem to provide them with their current budget. Seriously, we need more art? We need to get rid of the medical marijuana law because clearly the people running this city are too high.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

ok I have the solution, A2 tax payer should pay oh ..lets say $150,00 for a consultant on this issue. Can I be mayor now ?

Mike K

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Only if I can be the consultant.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

Is it considered &quot;art&quot; if you paint pictures around the potholes and crumbling sidewalks? Maybe hang up some empty police and fire uniforms and label the piece &quot;the good old days.&quot; Or a picture of clowns riding in the clown car - call that one &quot;civic leadership.&quot;


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

ooh, I had no idea that people were yarn bombing the stadium bridge fencing. (Some public art doesn't even need to be funded, people just do it and it doesn't cost the tax payers money)


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

You know, you have a good point. You did forget to mention the beautiful crochet or knitted artwork that one of our fine A2 citizens has been putting up on the fencing by the crumbling bridge on Stadium.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

this guy is a piece of work.skip the art .fix the roads,bring back police and fireman.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

This is because the mayor is OUT OF TOUCH with what Ann Arbor wants/needs...and yet people keep re-electing him... You change these things by voting for people who represent your city, not just the 8 square blocks of downtown...


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

This guy is not living in the real world. He is starting to make Kwame Kilpatrick look like a genius!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

Well, when you blow $1mil on a folly fountain, what do you expect? Headline message to mayor: Ann Arbor citizens are concerned for lack of fiduciary responsibility and ethics in city government, as well as quality provision of core services.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

You get who you vote for. Over and Over and Over and Over and Over This place is like Ground Hogs Day...with a bad ending.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Honey, I can poke the lion through the bars with this stick as much as I want. It's locked up in a cage, just like the voters. Hee-hee. Whaddya mean the door's open? What the AYYYYYYYY ..............................


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

The mayor is nothing more than a broken record with his own agenda and not a concern for what the public thinks/wants. When people express concern about one of his issues he always parrots the SAME response as though if he repeats it enough it will be fact. Ask him about how he handles many and he always says &quot;compared to most other cities in Michigan Ann Arbor is well off&quot;... and then ignores the concerns expressed. Ask him about the percent for art program which is wasting precious money at a time when the city is cutting necessities and he says &quot;the money is set aside in a special fund for art...&quot;. That is partly true. The council passed its own legislation setting up the percent for art and saying it could not be used for anything else. And just as easily, the council could pass new legislation CHANGING that. Perhaps the city departments need to get more creative. Street crews should be considered &quot;transportation infrastructure artists&quot; and they could work on the vast artwork of crumbling asphalt and concrete around the city. Cops and firefighters could be considered &quot;public safety artists&quot; and the city could direct more money to keeping the city safe.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Why doesn't the city council members and the mayor get a paint-by-numbers set and make their own art? Could be time better spent than figuring out where to cut services to provide art.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:09 p.m.

'Ann Arbor could contribute more to community/art events like the giant puppets. ' Isn't this comment from the Mayor part of that program or is it the City Council meetings?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

What a crock...first the council passes a silly ordnance...then the mayor says it can't be undone except through the courts or legislature...pass the buck Mr. Mayor. Why can't another ordnance be passed rescinding the first?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:08 p.m.

What would be so wrong about UNDERRUNNING the spending of every project by 1%? Not that it is necessarily the best thing to do, but the mentality that just because money is sitting there we HAVE to spend it just galls me.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

It is hard to have lots of public art in the city when you spend $1,000,000 of the fund on a single piece of &quot;art.&quot; I am not as against the concept of this program as most, but this is a very poorly run program. Frankly, UM art/design students might love to have a venue to show their work (new City Hall) and it could be done for $25,000 a year (piece of a person to coordinate this). UM has all sorts of exhibitions at Power Center, Duderstadt Center, etc. and they don't pay for the art. It is a &quot;show&quot; that moves on. Ann Arbor could contribute more to community/art events like the giant puppets. That would be &quot;art process&quot; rather than art. They could have a sidewalk chalk event led by the artist who sometimes creates washable art on sidewalks. Ann Arbor could get quite a bang for its 1% for art program, but they've got no leadership/vision and decided to spend a big wad on a controversial piece of art. That has tainted the whole program. As much as I support the concept, the mayor is tone deaf. People are still losing jobs; their houses are bleeding value, etc. and he's talking about an 'icing on the cake' program.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

I have a solution. In many cultures, furniture is considered art. Maybe it's time to use that &quot;art&quot; money on artwork of a more practical nature. These days, in the politically correct and largely unskilled world of university art teaching, what passes for art is more often a giant million-dollar urinal from Germany than anything practical or pleasing to the eye.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

With all of the studies that the city commissions, you'd think they could spring for a public opinion poll.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:04 p.m.

I am slowly losing consciousness because I am banging my head against the wall...

Mike K

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

I'm floored, absolutely floored. I hope I wake up tomorrow and find this to be a goofy dream.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 10:29 p.m.

The &quot;goofy dream&quot; is in the mayor's office... ;-()

L. C. Burgundy

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

You know, Hieftje became a parody of a mayor so slowly, I barely even noticed it occurred.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.

I noticed it right away!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.



Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

I've got nothing at all against art in general or public art. But, now is NOT the time for the Mayor to be pushing more spending on public art when we have streets crumbling, reduced police and fire protection, a struggling economy with a big local employer (Borders) shutting down, and several un-caught violent criminals terrorizing our city. Mayor, wouldn't this be a good time to put issues like Public Art on the back burner?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:40 p.m.

well said


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

Absolutely! Art is fine, but effort should be on infrastructure. Worry about art once the basics are taken care of.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

How can you even comment on this...unbelievable......


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

Meanwhile the police have used and worn out furniture in their new building because that wasnt in the buildings budget. But I guess that doesn't matter when city leaders slowly get rid of them.

Top Cat

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

I'm sure women who are out in Ann Arbor after dark share his concern.

David Bardallis

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

Man, I know this is what keeps me awake at night, too.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Could you be a little more tone deaf there, mayor?

Bertha Venation

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

Amen to that! Let's get rid of them when terms are up!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

EyeHeartA2: You stole my words. But that's is what happens when you have a one partty council.