You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 8:11 a.m.

Political blog got Ann Arbor talking, thinking about local issues

By Janelle Baranowski

The cat's out of the bag. The anonymous blogger behind 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 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, 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).



Sun, Feb 14, 2010 : 10:53 a.m.

Rag on Ms. Lesko all you want, but I think Ms. Baranowski's point is that Pat got people interested who otherwise would not have been. This can encourage citizens to look at details and expense reports on their own; and questioning the government is never a bad thing.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 4:55 p.m.

I didnt always agree with the opinions posted, but A2Ps wit and sarcasm made local politics seem fascinating and exceptional, far too important for consigning to the back of the mind." What's interesting is the idea of A2P, not necessarily A2P's ideas...that an independent writer can draw new people into following local politics. As suggested by the end of a certain daily local paper, the large number of uncontested local races, and the embarrassingly low voter turnout for local elections, that engagement was diminishing.

Janelle Baranowski

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 4:27 p.m. Apologies for the error. It is anticipated to be 30% over the next three years, not in the next year. So cutting only ~6% this coming fiscal year is just delaying the massive spending overhaul that needs to occur.

Janelle Baranowski

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 3:18 p.m.

@thor- I hoped this column would not be interpreted as laudatory of the blog, per se, but more specifically what the blog was able to do, which was to get people passionate about local politics. @Skeb Bpow- I will find the article where I got that number from. I agree, it's important to have the facts.

Skeb Bpow

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 2:23 p.m.

Perhaps people choose to comment & post anonymously because they work in a politically sensitive environment. Anonymous posting is their perogative and as Thor mentions, isn't the author (Janelle) of this article praising a blog that, until recently, was written anonymously? Additionally I'm not sure where Janelle is getting her information when she claims "Ann Arbor needs to reduce it's budget by 30 percent within the next year." According to this article the city is on the hook for about $81M in expenses against $76M in revenues for the upcoming fiscal year. That's a difference of $5M or about 6% of expenses. Janelle, where did the 30% number come from? Are just pulling numbers from the sky to support your position? I'm not for or against A2P or the Mayor or the city council but let's have an honest dialogue, supported by facts.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

@Janelle...Isn't this column lauding a blog that was, until this past week, written anonymously? Just sayin'...

Janelle Baranowski

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 1:26 p.m.

I'm open to criticism, but I do find it disappointing that Lifelong A2 chooses to do so under a pseudonym. Perhaps the greatest weakness of is how few commenters choose to stand behind their thoughts and opinions with their real name.


Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

Because I like to keep up on local politics, I read a2Politico when it first came out. After awhile it just seemed so loaded with personal invective and cynicism, I quit reading. Then again my bent is such that I find it hard to agree with People who think our current city council isn't progressive enough. I'd like to see a council that can dial back and just fix (and salt) my streets, pick up my garbage (without charging me $3.00 to drive to the dump myself with styrofoam and cardboard) and staff a professional police department. Is that too much to ask?

Lifelong A2

Sun, Feb 7, 2010 : 10:43 a.m.

Your column demonstrates a sad lack of understanding about A2P: most of what A2P published was, at best, conspiracy theories, and, at worse, provably false lies. In the few cases where A2P relied on facts, they were usually skewed and twisted to attack local public servants. In that same light, it is absurd for you to compare Conan Smith's trip to attend a County-related convention to Mark Sanford's trip to visit his mistress. A2P and Pat Lesko are, basically, the Ann Arbor version of the Tea Party: extremist policy positions based on lies, all advocated through venemous personal attacks. Such silliness has no business in our highly-educated community, and I'm disappointed in for giving it so much attention.