Political blog got Ann Arbor talking, thinking about local issues
The cat's out of the bag. The anonymous blogger behind A2Politico.com has revealed herself. As many political insiders suspected, Patricia Lesko was the infamous writer behind the mask. However, for most people, the question was, "Who in the heck is Pat Lesko?"
Lesko admitted she is A2politico.com this past week as she announced her plans to run for mayor in the Democratic primary election against our current mayor, John Hieftje.
In late August 2009, www.a2politico.com was launched, providing humorous, pointed and, sometimes, just plain mean commentary on Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County politics. Like many of you, I never thought much about our city and county politics. You may think about it when your tax bill comes in April or when you hit a pothole on your way to work and are waylaid by a flat tire. With state, national, and world politics dominating the news, the focus is elsewhere. Besides, as a Republican in Ann Arbor, I figured it was a lost cause. And then one day, I stumbled across the A2P blog. The post that day was titled “Washtenaw County Commissioners to County Residents: Voting on New Taxes Is For Pantywaists.” I can’t even tell you if I had ever heard someone utter the term pantywaists, let alone read it in a blog about politics. Curiosity piqued, I dove right in. As the post explained, shortly after the failure of the WISD millage, the county Board of Commissioners voted to impose a new property tax via a 1913 law that allows governments to circumvent voters. Not only was A2Politico highly critical of the board for not putting the millage before voters, she also questioned the efficacy of the programs being funded. I couldn’t believe my eyes an Ann Arbor liberal questioning spending on social and economic development programs. It was chicken soup for my Republican soul. As I continued to follow the blog, my interest in local and county politics grew. I didn’t always agree with the opinions posted, but A2P’s wit and sarcasm made local politics seem fascinating and exceptional, far too important for consigning to the back of the mind. Who needs Joe Wilson shouting "You lie!" when you have a City Council e-mail scandal, revealing back-door deals and citizen ridicule? South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford using public funds to visit his mistress in Argentina? Doesn't hit nearly as close to home as County Commissioner Conan Smith enjoying a $900 stay at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island during last May's Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference. Concerned about our nation's spiraling deficit? Don't forget, Ann Arbor needs to reduce it's budget by 30 percent within the next year.
What will be cut? What will be saved? New construction or basic infrastructure repairs? Expand current programs at the expense of others? What do you want ?
With budget shortfalls and out of control spending rampant throughout the state and country, it’s time for citizens to take a stand. And what better place to start than right here in our hometown? In part because of A2P, citizens are waking up and demanding answers. The writing was controversial, meant to provoke reactions from readers. For too long, we've pushed local politics aside. Love it or hate it, at least A2P got us talking.
For that, I want to say:
Thank you, A2Pat.
Ann Arbor resident Janelle C. Baranowski is a 2005 graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in history and Eastern European studies. She is a sales associate at Pacific Industrial Development Corp. (PIDC).