Joan Lowenstein's critique of the 'anti' party in Ann Arbor gets local politicos fired up
In a new column that appears in The Ann magazine, Joan Lowenstein, a former 2nd Ward Ann Arbor City Council member and current Downtown Development Authority board member, offers a harsh critique of residents she suggests stand in the way of progress.
She says Independent challenger Jane Lumm's defeat of Democratic incumbent Stephen Rapundalo in last month's council election makes her sad because it "heralds an un-Ann Arbor-like conservatism in the city's increasingly aging population."
One supporter of Lumm called it a "bizarre rant," while Vivienne Armentrout, a former county commissioner and also a Lumm supporter, writes in a blog post of her own that Lowenstein "has really outdone herself with this one."
"Her article combines disinformation with outright insults, and is even politically incorrect," Armentrout writes on her blog.
In the column, Lowenstein writes that Lumm's campaign was fueled by "skillful propaganda" from people who misleadingly call themselves independent when what they really are is "anti."
"The idea that we hear over and over from the 'anti' party — and that includes current Councilmembers Steve Kunselman and Mike Anglin — is that government should only provide 'basic' services," Lowenstein writes. "When did Ann Arbor become a basic town?"
Lowenstein offers a particularly snarky criticism of their opposing viewpoint on the project to build a new transportation center along Fuller Road, a $121 million vision that includes accommodations for trains, bicycles, pedestrians, buses and automobiles.
"Is this an independent point of view?" Lowenstein asks in the column. "No, it is the most pernicious of all: A transportation center would bring in more people, and people are dangerous if you want to huddle in a corner and hold on to what you have."
Lowenstein is a close political ally of Mayor John Hieftje and the so-called council majority, which was whittled from eight to seven with Lumm's election this year. Kunselman and Anglin also fended off challengers backed by council majority allies in the August primary, while Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, was re-elected unopposed this year.
"So if we are keeping score, the total for the season is Council Party 1: Community (or townies) 4," Armentrout concludes.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.