Group opposed to new Ypsilanti tax proposals won't participate in public debate
The two groups lined up on either side of new taxes in Ypsilanti won't meet for a debate before the May 8 ballot question.
The group opposed to two proposed new taxes in Ypsilanti will not accept an offer from the group supporting the measures for a debate on the issue.
SCIT alleges it wasn't properly contacted about the debate, while Save Ypsi Yes says that response is an attempt to avoid debating in public.
Supporters of the proposals say the new revenue will lead Ypsilanti to long-term financial stability and avoid forcing the city to make deep cuts in its services. Its opponents say the tax increases are too steep and will drive people and businesses from Ypsilanti.
Council Member Pete Murdock asked AnnArbor.com Content Director Tony Dearing to moderate the debate, and Murdock and Save Ypsi Yes chair Beth Bashert sent out multiple emails to SCIT leaders’ personal email addresses inviting them to debate.
Bashert said that included the group’s registered treasurer, Steve Pierce. When Pierce didn’t respond after five days, emails were sent to Karen Maurer, Mike Eller and Carol Clare, who are also among SCIT’s active members.
When those emails were met with silence, Bashert said Save Ypsi-Yes sent out a public invitation via Facebook.
A SCIT response letter penned by SCIT spokesman Peter Fletcher claimed Save Ypsi Yes hadn’t contacted SCIT through the proper channels. He wrote that no one called the phone number listed on its website, sent a letter to the mailing address listed on its site or sent correspondence to the email address listed on the site.
He claimed SCIT was only contacted through Facebook, which he said was inappropriate.
Bashert called that claim an attempt to distract from SCIT's refusal to publicly debate and provided the email invitations to AnnArbor.com.
“They tried to throw a red herring out there by saying we didn’t follow proper email etiquette, which we did,” she said.
When contacted by AnnArbor.com to inquire whether or not SCIT was interested in partaking in the debate, Fletcher first criticized AnnArbor.com for a typo in a recent article. He said his group wasn’t interested in a debate moderated by AnnArbor.com for that reason.
Fletcher, the spokesman for SCIT, wouldn't say whether SCIT leaders would partake in the event.
Fletcher then said he didn’t like how Save Ypsi Yes had "behaved" or organized the event.
“They’ve been asked plenty of questions that they dodged and ducked,” he said. “They created a circus. Sorry, but we won't fall for that.”
Fletcher wouldn’t say whether or not SCIT planned to debate, but a different SCIT member was able to confirm no one from the group would debate.
Fletcher stated in his letter that Save Ypsi Yes is trying to keep the public uninformed and “sneak the election on the May ballot."
“With just over four weeks before the election and where one weekend is Easter, there is little time left to do anything more than to get out the vote. The time for debates has past,” Fletcher wrote.
Murdock questioned how SCIT could charge that Save Ypsi Yes is trying to withhold information while proposing a debate that will provide more information.
“Peter Fletcher says we don’t try to get information out there - okay, so let’s get more information out there (with a debate),” Murdock said.