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Posted on Tue, May 4, 2010 : 6:01 a.m.

Council members proposing budget changes to save jobs of Ann Arbor police officers and firefighters

By Ryan J. Stanton

The jobs of dozens of employees in the Ann Arbor police and fire departments could be spared from cuts under late changes to the 2010-11 city budget.

City Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, announced at Monday night's meeting that she and other council members are in the process of drafting amendments to the budget proposed by City Administrator Roger Fraser.

"While we still have some work to do in refining the numbers between now and the next meeting on May 17, I want to let my City Council colleagues know that we will be submitting an amendment to the administrator's budget that will eliminate — or at least minimize — layoffs in the police and fire departments," Teall said.

"I want to keep our fire stations open and make sure that firefighters are prepared and ready to fight fires, and that response times are not compromised."


Council Member Margie Teall, D-4th Ward, announced intentions Monday night of saving the jobs of city police officers and firefighters.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Fraser's budget had proposed eliminating 20 positions in the fire department and 20 positions in the police department to help close part of what he identified as a $5.8 million budget gap for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Recent news that the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority likely will continue an annual $2 million transfer of downtown parking revenue to the city's general fund allowed some rethinking of those cuts.

The elimination of 20 firefighter jobs was projected to save $2 million, while the elimination of 20 jobs in the police department was to trim another $1.6 million. That means council members would need to make other budget changes — in addition to factoring in the $2 million from the DDA — to avoid cuts to public safety.

Dozens of firefighters protested cuts to public safety Monday outside of the downtown fire station immediately prior to the council meeting.

Teall's comments came just moments before a public hearing on the 2010-11 budget during which nearly two dozen community members spoke. Many of them were concerned about cuts to public safety, though reductions to human services funding and a proposal to generate revenue by allowing parking in Frisinger and Allmendinger parks on football Saturdays also drew ire from some residents.

Fraser's budget proposed eliminating $100,000 in affordable housing funding next year and another $260,000 in funding doled out to human services agencies. He and his staff also proposed generating $34,000 by allowing parking at Frisinger and Allmendinger parks during University of Michigan football games starting this fall.

Those proposals have been unpopular with residents. Teall said Monday night she and Mayor John Hieftje plan to bring forward an amendment on May 17 to maintain funding for human services at 2010 budget levels.

Teall said she and Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, also plan to bring forward an amendment that will eliminate the need for parking in Allmendinger and Frisinger parks.

"Of course, there is still a lot of work to do," Teall said. "Compromises and some sacrifices will be necessary, but I am hopeful that council members will support these amendments."

Several council members offered praises for the announcements from Teall, saying they would support the amendments.

Hieftje said he hopes to "greatly minimize" layoffs in police and fire. He said he thinks the result will be a "budget that I think will be quite remarkable in the state of Michigan when we look at so many cities with tax increases on the ballot and so many cities that are facing very deep cuts and layoffs."

Despite vows by council members to protect police and fire services, many members of the public voiced concerns Monday.

Doug Warsinski, a fire inspector for the city, spoke on behalf of his condo association at Walden Hills. He said prior to 2007, crime was virtually unheard of in his neighborhood.

"Then suddenly we were faced with a series of auto thefts, auto break-ins over a span of a few summer months, and there were also isolated incidents of burglaries, attempted sexual assault and robbery," he said. "While the community has returned to a more normal quiet state, we as a board of directors felt it very prudent to take very costly steps to improve our own security. As city residents paying a heavy tax burden, we feel entitled to expect a certain level of service from our police department. Adequate funding of the police department is necessary to meet these expectations."


Libby Hunter, a retired music teacher, offered a critique of council spending in song form Monday night.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Warsinski said the same goes for the fire department.

John Maguire, an Ann Arbor firefighter who is facing being laid off, said police and fire services are core functions that should be funded before items like parks, public art or a new transit center.

"What does it say about us as a city when we don't put our own personal safety as a top priority?" he said.

Ann Arbor Police Officer Jamie Adkins spoke on behalf of the police officers union. She called out Hieftje for recently stating publicly that Ann Arbor has never laid off a police officer.

"While that may be true, what has not been discussed is the staggering reduction in personnel during the past nine years and ultimately a reduction in services," she said. "In 2001, our department employed 191 sworn police officers. Currently, we employ 124 sworn police officers."

Adkins said police services have suffered as a result.

"Our patrol response times have increased," she said. "We have eliminated downtown beat officers, response to private property crashes have been eliminated, animal control officer has been eliminated, public housing dedicated patrols have been eliminated, domestic violence advocate has been eliminated, fingerprint services have been eliminated, the detective bureau case followup has been reduced, and gun registration services have also been reduced. These are just a few of the reductions in service that have already been seen."

Of the 20 positions to be cut from the police department starting in July, 13 would be layoffs of police officers.

"Our numbers will be reduced to 111 police officers, which includes the chief of police and the two deputy chiefs," Adkins said. "That is a reduction of 42 percent in the police officers within the last nine years."

Several police officers and firefighters attended Monday's meeting. Adkins said officers on the layoff list have been with the city as long as 10 years.

Several residents questioned the city's priorities Monday night.

Ann Arbor resident Libby Hunter serenaded the council with an original song called "Help Us, Roger" sung to the tune of the 1965 Beach Boys song "Help Me, Rhonda." She sang criticisms of city spending on the police-courts building project while city officials talk of laying off police and firefighters. She petitioned Fraser to, "Help us, Roger. Yeah, help us out of this mess."

Leaders of several local nonprofit agencies also spoke out Monday night, pleading with the council not to make cuts to human services.

"The dollars that you grant to human services programs do leverage lots of external dollars," said Katie Doyle, executive director of the Ozone House, which works with youths who are homeless or runaways.

"It is more important than ever," she said. "This is a very tough time and the job situation is tougher than ever, and underemployment has been a problem for us and contributes to homelessness for the population that we work with."

Ned Staebler, chairman of the Ann Arbor Housing and Human Services Advisory Board, said now is not the time to remove the city's social safety net. He advocated for continued funding of $100,000 for affordable housing and cautioned against a $260,000 cut to human services agencies.

"That represents a more than 20 percent cut this year alone," he said. "Twenty percent is significantly more than the rest of the proposed cuts to the budget, which I believe are less than 8 percent. It shows where our priorities are as a city."

Ellen Schulmeister, executive director of the Delonis Center, said one-time federal stimulus dollars are being used to combat homelessness right now, but will run out soon. Demand for services continues to increase, she said, noting the unduplicated number of homeless persons in the county in 2008 was 4,212.

"This data indicates a 20 percent increase from 2007 levels," she said. "There also has been noted a 138 percent increase in requests for food since 2006, one of the highest increases in the country.

"The numbers are going to continue to go up and we can't really take a cut at this time," she said. "If we cut funding, it just makes it harder for us to continue."

Julie Steiner, director of the Interfaith Hospitality Network of Washtenaw County, said she's hopeful council members will maintain human services funding.

"Honestly, without the support that you give us, we couldn't do what we do," she said, noting that the city's human service agencies make it possible to bring in $32 million of other funding to the community. She also said her agency has about 2,000 volunteers who provide $1.5 million worth of in-kind support annually.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Fri, May 7, 2010 : 9:30 p.m.

Stephanie, it would appear you are not so well informed. One of the Mayor's first actions was to push through a tax cut and since then the city millage rate has gone down, not up.


Fri, May 7, 2010 : 4:37 a.m.

Why would it never occur to them to use the money to cut our taxes. I watched a recent council meeting and the mayors eyes lit up over something that was going to bring some increased revenue and he talked about funding some projects. The concept of not spending every last penny is apparently foreign to him, as is the idea of cutting our taxes. If they restore any of those police positions I certainly hope there is an animal control officer. Most of the rest of them spend their time writing tickets because you can't possibly drive as slow as some of the speed limits in town, or because you didn't shovel your snow "edge to edge". The other fundraiser is these 2 minute traffic lights at intersections where there is little to no traffic and no pedestrians, but you can't make a right on red. Whoever named Ann Arbor the 4th best place to live, obviously never spent any time here.


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 4:49 p.m.

It was sometime in the 1990's. I heard the UM has 60 officers, all armed. That was a point of contention back then. I think they are licensed by the state and can operate in the rest of the city.


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 9:04 a.m.

"In 2001, our department employed 191 sworn police officers. Currently, we employ 124 sworn police officers." Question: When did the UM Dept of Public Saftey take over policing for the University, and does that have any relation to the reduction of AAPD officers since 2001?


Wed, May 5, 2010 : 7:23 a.m.

Sterling Heights - population 124,471 - 172 Sworn Police Officers - 90 Firefighters Crime index 160.6 Lansing- Population 119,198 - 250 Sworn Police - 240 firefighters Crime index 495.4 (The web site indicates 424 Fire runs in 2009) Livonia Population 100,545 - 147 Sworn police - 86 firefighters Crime Index 154.4 (Their webstie says 2nd safest city in Michigan) Ann Arbor - Population 114,386 - 124 Sworn Police(111 after cuts) 94 firefighters (80 after cuts) Crime index 203.3

philip hannuksela

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:48 p.m.

A longtime Ann Arbor resident, I noticed a pronounced increase in response times to instances of intimidation on the streets after the bicycle patrol officers were all but eliminated. Those officers would cut through alleyways and be on the spot in time to make quite an impression on all parties concerned.

John Q

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:14 p.m.

"Ms. Lesko is asking the right questions." No, she's not. She's making uninformed comments based on distortions of the information that is publicly available. Not only she is wrong but she's presenting that information in a way that creates false impressions to the average voter. At best, she's lacks an understanding of what she's writing about. At worst, she's deliberately misleading voters. Either way, she needs to educate herself first before she goes off making comments that are making her look foolish.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:49 p.m.

@a2roots "Why is it that no one addresses the benefits issue?" It's because the city has been negligent. Police department employees have been exposed to high levels of Radon and Asbestos. The complaints date back nearly two decades. If you really want an answer to your question ask for the comprehensive report from the police union. Review that report then get back with us

glenn thompson

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:06 p.m.

@ The Ryan Stanton post Clips from the Karen Sidney - Brad Mikus show will be posted on after the show has premiered on CTN

Dominick Lanza

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 5:28 p.m.

Finally some very observant folks posting here one said it will take a major tragedy to change the fate of police and fire cuts. I guess the poor boy who died on State Street wasnt major enough hold your breathe if a fire like that happens after 20 firefighters are laid off and trucks are out of service. Of course then you have the mathematician who figures firefighters only run less then 1% fire calls a day. Gee when was the last murder in Ann Arbor I guess the cops dont work either? Get real buddy police and fire departments are insurance policies that are there for when you need them, do you go without car insurance because you have never been involved in a car accident or home owners insurance because you never had a claim or health insurance because you think you'll never have a life threatening injury or illness. Well you might like to play the odds I'll pay for all my insurance including Police and Fire protection

Karen Sidney

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 5:27 p.m.

The water fund now pays about $800,000 per year to the general fund for police protection. For years the DDA parking fund has paid the streets maintenance funds about $800,000 to maintain the areas around the parking assets but downtown property owners had to tax themselves to get the sidewalks cleared, including around the street meters. The cost of planting street trees has been moved from the general fund to the storm water fund. When those in power want money from a bucket, they seem to figure out a way to punch a hole in it. We won't know whether the justification for the hole is legal until someone sues the city.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 3:55 p.m.

Robert: You obviously know more than you are saying, let us in on it! As someone wrote on this site last week. The mayor teaches a class at the UM and makes 15,000 a year for it. From what I have heard it is a very popular course. You could also look back at the history of the city and you see the majority of the mayors in the last 50 years or so worked full time at the UM or had a spouse who did. On council right now Stephen Kunselman works full time for the UM. So, I guess you are saying that the Mayor would sell out for 15,000? Did Mayor's Wheeler and Harris sell out? (they were full time) Is Kunselman ready to sell out for what is probably a $100,000 a year gig when you add in full bennies. Would you demand that anyone who works for the UM be barred from serving on council? Can you explain why the other 10 council members voted in favor of the Fuller Rd. Station? Is the UM paying them under the table? Let us us in on it...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:18 p.m.

(cont) In the posting reached through the link on a2grateful's post above, Ms. Lesko writes Ann Arbor has $102,000,000 in "unrestricted" hidden budge surplus funds. If this is true, the city has some explaining to do. If there is a good basis for it, then Ms Lesko is not qualified to be mayor.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 1:09 p.m.

Thanks JohnQ. I was just about to post a question to Ryan to see if anyone from city govt has responded to her claims of hidden buckets full of money. She does describe water dept surpluses as "unrestricted" funds. I presumed, as you noted, that those funds are for capital projects that should not be used arbitrarily thus not unrestricted. I've always felt her posting make no sense, but I am not aware anyone has responded, to set her straight. Maybe I just missed it, but people are still pointing to her accusations as proof of malfeasance in city govt.

John Q

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 12:22 p.m.

From reading Lesko's comments, she doesn't have the first clue about municipal finances. The water department could have a billion dollar surplus. That doesn't mean those funds are available to the city to spend on whatever it wants. "But wait!" you say, we paid those water and sewer fees! "That's our money!" Indeed it is. But under Michigan law, water and sewer systems are funded by the users. If there's a surplus to be returned, it's returned to the users of the system. It's not available to the city to dip into to pay for shortfalls elsewhere. Looking at the other funds, several of them are generated by dedicated millages. Those funds can only be used for the purposes that voters approved those millage. That money can't be diverted for police officers if it was approved for parks or for roads. Also, Lesko clearly doesn't understand the limitations of the audit process. The numbers presented by the audit are a snapshot in time of the city's accounts. The large balances in various accounts could reflect funds intended to finance capital projects or large expenditures that have been budgeted but not allocated. Some of those funds reflect dollars held to ensure that the city's operations are not disrupted by a lack of cash on hand do when city revenues are collected. Without looking at why those dollars are being held as "surplus", her comments reflect nothing more than speculation.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:59 a.m.

Blah: You're right. They can't say for sure until council votes in two weeks but for those interested in avoiding layoffs, Teall has proposed a way to do it. Good work.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

@logo "And now we see Teall bringing solutions to the table that will result in few if any layoffs." What solutions? No solutions were mentioned in the article. All I heard were promises with no specifics.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:33 a.m.

Just about every city and state in the country has the same problems with pensions and health care for retires Ms. Sydney mentions only much, much worse. It looks like Ann Arbor is ahead of the others. I remember an article last year that said Ann Arbor's pension was 100% funded. I don't think most cities even have a VEBA trust but Ann Arbor does.

Karen Sidney

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:20 a.m.

There is no way to solve the city's long term financial problems without addressing the benefits issue, especially health care. While requiring co pays helps, it's not where the big savings are. The big dollars are in increasing the retirement age to collect the health care benefit. Most city employees can retire at age 50 with 30 years of service and get lifetime family health coverage. The city pays for health coverage even if the employee gets another job from an employer that offers benefits. The city has failed to set aside sufficient money to pay for retiree health care benefits. The FY09 actuarial report on the VEBA (retiree health care plan) says the city needs $232 million to pay for what it has already promised but only has $71 million set aside to produce an unfunded liability of $161 million. Five years ago Council got a report on city retirement benefits from the Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee. Citizen volunteers spent hours studying the situation and making excellent recommendations. Their report has sat in a drawer for 5 years and each year the unfunded liability has gotten larger.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 11:14 a.m.

Belboz: I can agree with some of what you are saying but when I look around the state and see the tax increases that are on the ballot and all the cuts and layoffs that are happening, Ann Arbor appears to be managing funds very well. I remember reading that Ann Arbor's millage is lower now than it was in 2000. They haven't raised taxes. This article shows there may not be any layoffs in A2 or at least only a few. That will be a rare thing in this state. Despite what all the angry bloggers say the evidence shows funds are well managed in Ann Arbor or else they would be laying off more or raising taxes.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:56 a.m.

Yes, a Fire Department is needed. But, they have responded to 49 fire related calls up to March 15. That is less than 0.7 fire related calls per day. It seems that more responsibility has been taken on over the years to fill the void of minimal fire related calls. Perhaps we should start to examine why the department has to respond to EMS type calls, as well as the Other category. Are these critical needs from a Fire Department, or just things to do because they are not doing something else. I agree the city has been very poor at managing money, but I also think the Fire Department can do some work re-defining priorities if staff reductions require it. The Fire Department should not define what they respond to. It is up to the citizens and tax payers to define what they would like the Fire Department to do. Right now, based on the histric work load, I have no problem with the layoffs.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

Benchmarking is very interesting in the context of other cities. For example, what is a general number of police needed per 1,000 citizens? What is a2's number of police needed per 1,000? Compare that to another MI city where layoffs have occured. What if the number of officers in a city where layoffs have occurred is still more than a2's officers per 1,000 citizens? Data drives the answers. Unfortunately, the City a2 has contrived a budget and reporting system that baffles most of those on council and citizens : ( It will take a forensic accountant to make sense of gobble-de-gook. So much for transparent government...

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

For anyone interested, I'm told that Karen Sidney and Brad Mikus, two local accountants and sometimes critics of city hall, are the guests on 'Other Perspectives' on CTN 17 and will be rebutting Roger Fraser's presentation on the city's proposed 2010-11 budget. Here is the telecast schedule: Premiere: Tuesday, 5/4 10:30 PM Replays: Wednesday, 5/5 3:30 PM Thursday, 5/6 8:30 PM Saturday, 5/8 2:30 PM Monday, 5/10 3:30 PM Tuesday, 5/11 1 PM Wednesday, 5/12 4 PM & 11:30 PM Thursday, 5/13 11:30 AM Other Perspectives is a public interest program hosted by resident Nancy Kaplan.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:34 a.m.

@ Lorie You make a good point, when you say its time to do some digging in the Fire dept. My sources tell me that the Chief himself stated there will be no Fire Stations closing due to the layoffs. Obviously Council person Teall has not been made aware of that fact. It seems unfair that council wants to use all the DDA money for Police and Fire when there are other unions in the city who are facing cuts as well. What do you tell there Families! The money should be divided up evenly throughout the city.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:25 a.m.

Sorry Grateful but it's all bunk. Ann Arbor is clearly doing way better than other Michigan cities and they are all subject to the same cuts in revenue sharing and other falling revenues. The loss of Pfizer taxes would have pushed many cities to the edge of bankruptcy just as plant closings have done but A2 just keeps plugging along. And now we see Teall bringing solutions to the table that will result in few if any layoffs. It is quite remarkable that A2 is still thriving in this fiscal environment when so many cities are raising taxes and laying off police and fire fighters.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:24 a.m.

maybe it's a political move, but compromising on security and safety of citizens is the wrong way to go. Police aren't slaves, I know in A2 there's a tendency to look at them in this us against them mentality given bad blood during the civil rights movement, but get over it already. They need a future just like everyone else.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:23 a.m.

City Council needs to extend the hours that fires can be set and extend the hours that crimes can be committed to get more turnover at the prime fire and crime spots downtown. They need to hire an expensive consultant to look into this and then 5 months from now drop a study on everyone that disagrees. This is the answer to all civic problems.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 10:22 a.m.

Why is it that no one addresses the benefits issue? How come our firefighters and police officers do not co-pay toward their benefit packages? Most people in the workforce that are fortunate enough to have benefits available to them pay something to offset the cost to the employer. It is about time FF and AAPD step up and absorb some of this cost. Of course the argument will be it reduces income but what about the jobs that can be saved. This sacred cow and me too attitude needs to go away. There are very few employers that do not require some co-pay. It is way overdue that all our city employees be responsible for offsetting the benefit cost burden.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:42 a.m.

@ Gill: Which data set is skewed? Are you certain it is Ms. Lesko's? Or, is it the City's? Perhaps a forensic accountant might offer some insight. Is that you? It is not me, so I admit I don't know for sure. What is the proper reserve amount for any reserve fund? What is the appropriate number of police and fire personnel for a small City like Ann Arbor? Where is this common sense discussion in our current leadership / management? The fleet is adrift... there are no motors... there are no sails (other than the call for parkland sales)... there is no admiral... there are no helms(wo)men... there is no destinational map... but there is surely a dire municipal cry for more money to buy more ships... to continue the expansion of the drifting fleet... "Where is it going? I don't quite know... but we need more money to make it grow : ) " And so goes the continuing saga of the conversion of tree town to folly-ville...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

Sorry Dagney but no sale. It was just recently reported on this site that A2 has some of the very lowest water and sewer rates in the state. Of course there is a lot of money in the water and sewer fund. The city has already saved over 1/2 the funding needed to pay for a new sewage treatment plant that was built in the 1940's. Looks like a solid case of sound fiscal management.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 9:18 a.m.

The mayor and council are crying about shrinking revenue, but there's evidence that they have been hiding money in "buckets" for quite awhile. Pat Lesko has a pretty remarkable spreadsheet of the money these guys have quietly stuck in various accounts over the years, most notably water and sewer. Oh, and they want to raise water rates? Because, as Sue whats-her-name says, our rates are just so low that we ought to pay more. Just because. Look at the link to A2Politico. Is it possible we've been hoodwinked by this mayor and council?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:36 a.m.

Sorry but the 2 million from the DDA will not stretch far enough to cover the entire budget deficit. The council needs to grow a backbone and make some hard decisions. If council is going to resist the necessary spending cuts to balance the budget, then they need to admit upfront (before the election) that they favor a city income tax as their preferred method of dealing with the budget crisis., then they should n the end they will not be able to please all their constituents, especially those living in la la land where no significant spending cuts need to be made. that believe 80% of expenditures (police and fire) should be untouchable. Stop kicking the can down the street.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:27 a.m.

a2grateful, Lesko's info presented under the link you provided seems to skew the data even worse than what we already get. Her whole basis of comparing wages claimed fails to account for the reductions in medical benefits, pensions, and retirement benefits that do not occur from part time and contract hires. The emergency reserves of money in utilities is probably required by the Feds to ensure that emergency repairs can be performed to keep things like the drinking water safe. But, it would require talking to the individuals in charge of those funds to find out - which no one seems to have done...


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 8:18 a.m.

Oh the gripers! In most cities in Michigan fire fighters and police are being laid off left and right but in A2 it looks like their jobs will be saved. And guess what? The millage is not going up, hasn't gone up in many, many years. A2 is doing very well compared to other Michigan Cities. Get over it.

Blue Eyes

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:55 a.m.

Save police, fire and human services. We don't need parking in our parks, just quit acquiring more parkland! As for the exorbitant amounts budgeted for planning items, these are "want" items, not "need". Take a page from the County and eliminate most if not all of the planners. Since they hire consultants anyway, if a planner is needed, hire a consultant. When development and construction finally picks up, hire back a couple of planners if they need to but don't keep them on staff doing busy work just because.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:44 a.m.

It always happens, "you always run out of other peoples money to spend" Maybe the voters of Ann Arbor need to use their brain when they vote instead of being mind numb robots and voting for someone with a (D) next to their name on the ballot.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

I agree with Lorie, Can we get some actual data?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:18 a.m.

If we cut all these officers, whose gonna fill the shiny new police station? Maybe we can turn it into a jail?


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 7:14 a.m.

While it is very easy to point the finger at any number of folks and accuse them of fraud and mismanagement of the City's ever shrinking budget, we do not have enough information (yet) to make such accusations without sounding foolish. However, I am a bit perplexed by our crumpling infrastructure i.e. Stadium Bridge, Huron River Drive (total mess), and downtown construction debacles. It is odd how Ann Arbor, the jewel of the Midwest, which boasts the University of Michigan, Google, and other top IT firms can't get a grip on infrastructure maintenance or spending? We need roadways, bridges, we need Police to patrol them, and we need a fire department on call to respond to patrol newly built student ghettos. It seems someone is putting the cart in front of the horse again.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 6:56 a.m.

I am tired of the fear mongering and I'm a little disgusted with the lack of historical data about how many in fire and police per capita -v- response time and results and/or crime rates. Part of this conversation has to be how the service has worked in the past, what we want it to be based on this historical data. I say this because, frankly, fire departments are more like ambulance services instead of actual fire fighting. There are some but we're supporting a whole bunch of hardware and people that may not really be needed but we don't know it or understand it. So, who can do a little digging and find out what the historical response times have been for this city AND how many per capita (police and fire)?

Brian Bundesen

Tue, May 4, 2010 : 6:32 a.m.

Priorities are definitely out of whack. Much like the school budget, there is an incredible amount of waste, finger pointing, excuses, hand-wringing, and absurd "buckets" that stifle any positive resolution. IMO, the city should stop all other projects and do nothing else until they figure out how to keep the city and it's citizens safe with adequate fire and police protection, and fix the roads that are an embarrassment, starting with the Stadium Bridge. In the case of the fire and police, I'm afraid it will take a major tragedy for change to happen.


Tue, May 4, 2010 : 5:22 a.m.

Well, aren't they the heros... a2 City Council members "saving" jobs of police and firefighters... preserving the elements of a community that pays dearly for those benefits... with and without the actual bodies performing the service... It must be election time! Mayoral candidate Pat Lesko has an interesting budget review, with a reported City a2 surplus of $100 mil, detailed at her blog If this is accurate, as reported, it's a great expose of the magnitude of folly, and possibly even fraud, by our current elected City "officials" and "top" City administrators. And according to Mr. Stanton's article, people seem to be "activating" an opportune time...