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Posted on Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 1:30 p.m.

Have something to say about government in Michigan? Bend the ear of Ann Arbor's state reps Monday

By Amy Biolchini

Washtenaw County's four Democratic state representatives in the Michigan legislature will be hosting an event Monday in Ann Arbor in which they won't be doing the talking.

Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor; David Rutledge, D-Superior Township and Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline have organized a "Listening Tour" 6 p.m. Monday at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District building at 1819 S. Wagner Road. Signs will be posted at the building to indicate the location of the event.

The public can sign up on the Michigan House Democrat's website — "The Real State of Our State" — before the event, or show up Monday evening without registering.


State representatives Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor and Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline, will be at a town hall meeting Monday.

Ryan J. Stanton | file photo

Participants will be asked to sign in and write what they want to talk about on a comment card. There will be an open dialogue between the public and the representatives.

Two similar events conducted in Canton and in Sterling Heights have attracted between 70 and 80 people and have lasted about two hours, said Katie Carey, press secretary for the House Democratic Caucus.

The events are in response to the most recent actions by the Republican-led Michigan legislature in the lame duck session.

"It's a town-hall type event to allow residents to talk to us about the concerns in their local community," Carey said.

Michigan House Democrats are planning additional Listening Tour events in other districts in Grand Rapids, the U.P., mid-Michigan, Genesee County and Monroe County.

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Retiree Newcomer

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:26 p.m.

How come they schedule this with so little notice and hold it at a time when most folks are just getting home from work or eating supper? A week or two notice and 7pm would be a lot better ... and make it an open forum without requiring questions written down in advance.

E. Daniel Ayres

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:10 p.m.

I'd like to hear how these reps feel about the state's role in "consolidation" of organizational units in government. Ever since I came to this area in 1968, I have been an advocate of eliminating "tax boundary" townships like Ypsilanti Township and Ann Arbor Township and consolidating the areas into one elecoral unit each. The cost savings on services administration and governmental elected officials and administrators staffing would more than cover needed improvements in services to the voters.

Basic Bob

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 4:57 p.m.

I can't see how any would be in favor of consolidation. That could mean a reduction in political office holders and public union jobs. That cuts into their campaign contributions on two fronts. We have already seen how Adam takes an appointment to a jobs panel (something he said he believes in) and twisted into a need to spend more on teachers.

E. Daniel Ayres

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 3:17 p.m.

Oh, and I almost forgot the expense of multiple local elections and election campaigns which generally do not adequately address "real" local concerns anyway. In some parts of our country, not Michigan, the County is the main governmental unit where cities are not chartered by the state. This eliminates small townships and school districts from the map at a significant potential savings and little danger of taking away "voter's rights." Government could be a lot more efficient in Michigan if the number of legislators was cut as well!


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 2:41 p.m.

Given the sad tendency of people to only show up in support of already established attitudes & actions of legislators, I can't believe this is an objective way to arrive at the answer to "what citizens want." This sounds more like a "Reinforce What I Believe" gathering, somewhat akin to sports team rallies. This applies to both liberal and conservative ideologies and their platform political parties. It's disturbing to get successive written statements from the same legislator on the same topic which are only mass-produced form letters stating & re-stating their entrenched "beliefs." This is NOT proper governance: it's one incestuous cult competing against another incestuous cult. Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats in senate. –Orson Welles


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 2:14 p.m.

I'm among many retired unionists who had held fairly substantial investments in Michigan enterprises such as Kellogg, Ford, etc. prior to the recent Right to Work law. Since its passage and signing by your right-wing governor, I have sold all of those shares and put the cash into non-Michigan-based enterprises. I am rigorously encouraging family and union friends to do the same, since opportunities exist for Ohio, Illinois, New York and other company investments at good rates of return. I will not move money back into Michigan investments until the right-to-work law is removed from the statute books. I thought you might like to take my message to the so-called Mich Chamber of Commerce, who seem to have forgotten we retired union folk are not without money power.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:16 p.m.

I wonder what notes they'll pick, sounds like cherry ing picking to me. Kinda like our current administration, throw tose marshmallows please.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 2:48 p.m.

Don't mind the negative votes, Walker, you probably know already: any time you offend cult members, you're bound to get some negative feedback.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

I love how they announce these meetings less than 24 hours before they happen. People with lives cannot attend on this short of notice. I'm sure this is by design so that they can surround themselves with all of their friends and supporters to engage in group think and whine about how fiscal responsibility is getting in the way of taking care of their pet projects and constituencies. Politics as usual....................


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

I put this on my calendar 10 days ago Mike. Any chance for the people's voices to be heard is a good thing.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

The comment cards are a scam! If they don't want to talk about your topic they will just skip your card. I have seen this at county conventions and other party events. Both parties do it. Don't call this a "listening tour" as long as you won't listen to any question the audience cares to ask.

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:13 a.m.

Gretchen Driskell: Will she be finally making a public apology for making a financial contribution to Republican Rick Snyder's campaign for Governor?


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

I say we request that Kunselman become a Republican, since he acts like one.


Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 1:01 a.m.

99% ers...99% input befuddled into a 1% response amid rollicking chants of goom-bye -ya....


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 10:16 p.m.

The peoples' representatives talking with the people! Senator Richardville could take a lesson. I am surprised they are requiring the audience to submit questions on paper. That is usually a republican thing.

Dog Guy

Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

A tear-jerking circle in response to the most lamentable recent actions by the Republican-led Michigan legislature in the lame duck session will leave all participants feeling better.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Yes, please fix global warming, end poverty, and bring fairness to the world. You know, the usual desires of these representatives' constituents.


Sun, Feb 24, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

I wonder if this tour will ever come closer to Ypsilanti and West Willow.