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Posted on Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:52 a.m.

This I believe: Ann Arbor's future is bright

By Guest Column

On balance, I believe that the future of Ann Arbor is bright.

Accentuating the positive, our indispensable strategic asset is secure and growing; our community is replete with talent and civic engagement; and the municipal organization is efficient and sustainable.


Christopher Taylor, the author of this guest column, at a council meeting.

Ryan J. Stanton |

With particularity, Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, commonly ranked among the top 25 universities in the world. The UofM is an enduring institution that grows and improves year in, year out while Ann Arbor reaps the economic and cultural benefits. The U of M will never leave town, never shutter the factory, never merge with a competitor. Our relationship with the U of M is not perfect, but the University will generate rock steady employment, provide compelling arts and entertainment, and offer personal and professional opportunities in Ann Arbor for the foreseeable future and far, far beyond.

Ann Arbor’s residents - its human capital - comprise one of its most valuable resources. We boast one of the nation’s most educated and engaged populations. Our neighborhoods and the residents they reflect are vital. Our reputation for and history of social justice and, for want of a better word, decency, is wide spread and well earned. This base, generally speaking, means that our residents will continue to start vibrant companies, drive innovation in existing organizations, and provide cultural, civic, and economic leadership for years to come. It also creates a political culture that responds well to information and from which we can draw scores of talented, committed persons to serve Ann Arbor in a range of capacities.

The municipal organization has for many years now been run by deeply qualified, committed Staff and led by a set of political leaders - preceding me - that has been visionary in right-sizing the organization and focusing doggedly on creating a sustainable, flexible, service-driven enterprise. The job is not done, it can never truly be completed, but it has over the years become the way we do business. This ethos will help us build on our own successes and lay the ground work for the success of others.

On the other side of the ledger, it is important to recognize that our ability to exploit these advantages is potentially limited by state, regional, and local factors, all too often outside of our control.

We live in an economically and politically challenged state. Michigan’s political culture has for years now driven us to become a low-service state that cabins cities’ ability to solve local problems and provide exemplary municipal services; systematically diminishes support of public and higher education; and deemphasizes and underresources long-standing infrastructure needs.

Southeast lower Michigan’s economic challenges and political dysfunction are self-evident. The near collapse of the auto industry has been avoided, but it is still a region finding its way, hindered by a dominant urban center that has been for decades synonymous with crime, decay, and corruption. There is undoubtedly a growing and hopeful counter-narrative, but a real turn-around is not imminent.

Within Ann Arbor, too, our history of civic success occasionally serves to check our community’s readiness to embrace and plan for change. Not all proposals are good, not all plans will succeed, but we as a community must, I believe, become even more flexible, more open to change and we must learn to better accept the inevitable errors and course corrections that we all make when wading into the unknown.

These obstacles have the potential to weigh us down, to neutralize our advantages. In the end, however, they will not do so. The growth, excellence, and critical mass of the University of Michigan; the energy, creativity, and civic commitment of our residents; and the professionalism of our municipal organization will continue to combine to create a quality of life that is matched by few. It will be sufficient to succeed.

On balance, I believe that the future of Ann Arbor is bright.

(Christopher Taylor serves on Ann Arbor City Council, representing the city's 3rd Ward. He sent this to constituents in mid-December.)


Scott Reed

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

Increasing density will be the key to Ann Arbor's growth. We need more people living downtown in walkable, mixed-use communities. This means encouraging the intelligent development of TALL buildings, penalizing sprawl, and reducing dependence on cars wherever possible. We should also observe that building more roads and parking structures only results in MORE traffic - instead of repairing road infrastructure as it crumbles, we should strategically narrow and even close roads to support greater density. By now I think many readers in Ann Arbor will have burst a blood vessel in apoplectic rage. But consider this: the BEST places in this or any town, the places that give it character and that are worth CARING about, are always places you can safely and comfortably walk through - whether in a dense downtown, or in a park like the Arboretum. If you want more roads, parking structures and sprawl, feel free to visit any of the blighted strip malls strewn about this state. But if you want to preserve Ann Arbor as a place worth caring about, and not another dying blighted suburban sprawl, then you should support the development of a dense urban core.

Stuart Brown

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

Get rid of the buckets Chris "Buckets" Taylor! All council members who have financial ties to UofM need to resign immediately. The reason we now have a substandard fire/safety department is due to the fact that UofM will not contribute enough money to the operation and maintenance of the FD at an adequate level.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 6:16 p.m.

I think you left off the final paragraph...You know, the one that goes like this: I'm Christopher Taylor, and I approved this message.

Dog Guy

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 4:10 p.m.

If "Ann Arbor's residents - its human capital - comprise one of its most valuable resources", why do mayor and council treat us as research subjects in an experiment?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 3:33 p.m.

"Accentuate the Positive", your daily dose of kool-aid from your City Council Person (or DDA, or Library Board member). What will tomorrows bug juice flavor be?

Alan Goldsmith

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

How much did Mr. Taylor pay to run this ad?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

What a visionary.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

Mr. Taylor might be bright, but it would have been really smart to have an editor look this over and tighten it up a lot before posting it here. It certainly does tend towards "fluffy." And what's up with the slap at Detroit? That was really uncalled for.

say it plain

Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

Unfortunately the slap at Detroit is part of AA's 'business model' methinks...


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 5:33 a.m.

It has been said that success in politics is spelled with a capital "Suck." Mr. Taylor, a legend in his own mind, should go far in Politics. He posts mindless back-patting fluff. Where is a Leader?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 2:06 a.m.

Cynics are out in force. If you don't believe in Ann Arbor's future, please move. Kansas or Oklahoma would be a better match.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 3:21 a.m.

NoSUVforMe I believe that Ann Arbor can have a prosperous future and yet retain its small city character without appearing like New York City or Chicago. We, as Ann Arbor citizens, must recognize our deficiencies as much as proclaim our successes. only by acknowledging our present problems can we resolve them and retain what is desirable about our community.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 1:38 a.m.

What's up Gloomzillas? Are we not preppers?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 3:35 p.m.

prepping to move? or just look away from all the self-absorbed brightness? Have to start hoarding sunglasses!


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 1:05 a.m.

One word - SCHOOLS. How can the future be bright if we aren't supporting the next generation through our public schools, but instead subjecting them again to massive cuts?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

With the huge national debt, our futures are not as bright as they might be. CUT SPENDING!


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 10:19 p.m.

While Councilman Taylor extols the virtues of Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan he neglects or fails to observe the other side of Paradise. The City and the DDA wallow in debt and budgetary difficulties that led recently to reductions in City services especially those provided by firemen and policemen. A decade ago the city administrator with the approval of City Council imposed a city pension and retiree health care program which remain the most outrageously generous in the country. The city remains millions of dollars behind in funding these cash cows. Meanwhile a city golf course was almost sold for private development. Then an excessively expensive underground parking structure was built next to the library in expectation by DDA and some City Council members that a luxury hotel and conference center would be constructed on top. A city-wide outcry prompted City Council to finally reject the proposal. Yet the DDA is now presenting a similar plan and expanding it to three other remaining city-owned properties in hopes of generating more revenue for the city. In addition the AATA and City Council wish to expand transportation within and outside of Ann Arbor which may involve expensive light rail or other service not involving private vehicles. Lack of interest by neighboring communities, probably due to lack of demand, killed a 4-county "The Ride" Transportation Authority before it could be initiated. A new law creating a Regional Transit Authority would have supplanted the 4-Party Transportation Authority and itself is being imposed without evidence of need. Finally, Ann Arbor's skyline and character are changing for the worse due to new highrise buildings being constructed to house University of Michigan students or ostensibly young professionals that the residential developments will attract. Is it correct to assume that Christopher Taylor views Ann Arbor through the proverbial rose-colored glasses?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 2:06 p.m.

Since Mr. Taylor makes the effort to communicate, Veracity and others can reply to him and adjust those glasses he seems to wear. (I'd like to add my thanks to Veracity also.)


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

Thank you for the comprehensive wrap-up, Veracity. Would that Mr. Taylor's writing approached this summation of reality.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 7:38 p.m.

In the past decade Ann Arbor has lost three of its top three employers: Pfizer, Borders and UMI. The lone remaining major employer is the University of Michigan which subsists on government largess. The country is broke. University of Michigan should be preparing itself for income shortfalls and isn't. In the interim we can read whistling past the graveyard articles by Christopher Taylor.


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 1:55 p.m.

UMI changed their name to Proquest:

Dog Guy

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:33 p.m.

This essay should be good for a 1/3 appointment to lecture at U. of M. law school (as long as he remains on city council).


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:26 p.m.

Excellent synopsis of the future - bright. Bright as in both energy and intelligence. As long as Ann Arbor has it's own supply of bright it will survive...


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:20 p.m.

This has to be the wordiest article I've ever read. Lol @ "in particularity"


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 2 p.m.

"With particularity..." haha. I think that word choice was correct, if not common.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:52 p.m.

Just don't use the word "bloviate".


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:10 p.m.

"We live in an economically and politically challenged state. Michigan's political culture has for years now driven us to become a low-service state that cabins cities' ability to solve local problems and provide exemplary municipal services; systematically diminishes support of public and higher education; and deemphasizes and underresources long-standing infrastructure needs." It sucks to be us, but we stil have a job to do within our budget and without raising taxes.................Happy New Year to all of my detractors. It's been a fun year of trading ideas and opinions. That is the true hallmark of a democracy................


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 4:20 a.m.

Don't flatter yourself. To have detractors, you'd have to have offered something worth commenting on. I know this is not the case. Happy New Year to everyone except you.

Basic Bob

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 5:34 p.m.

Mr. Taylor fails to consider the large number of people who don't work for the U. Someone has to pay the bills, and that burden falls disproportionately on private business that actually pays property tax. The rich old folks at the U (Coleman, Gilman, etc.) collect huge salaries and outside compensation but pay nothing to the city, and neither does their employer. Some gratitude is in order. Without private business, Ann Arbor might become the next Ypsilanti.

Michigan Man

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

BB - Keep on preaching! Like your sermon very much this Sunday! Would be happy to serve in your congregation.

say it plain

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

OMG, can you say dogmatic? *In*flexible? Bombastic?! This is who "represents" us at City Hall?! It makes me fear, nah, deeply worry, about our bright shining city on a river. Because it seems to be a statement from one who is too damned sure of a saviour in the esteemed, that golden idol, institution of the U! What makes Mr. Taylor believe so deeply in the never-changing body that the UM represents in his Belief System?! Higher education is changing and changing rapidly. I'd rather my elected leaders have ideas about how to stay competitive and in touch with the people and their needs and desires in a *changing* world...because, some of the esteemed theorists and do-ers alike at the UM might tell him...change is the only constant. And I'd rather them understand that the goals of the U and the goals of the town will not necessarily match and we shouldn't just consume un-questioned whatever they offer wisdom-wise.

Silent Majority

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 5:18 p.m.

Chris Taylor is the sort of bright leader we need. Hopefully he will run for Mayor. People may not agree with everything he's said, but he's reasoned, intelligent, and progressive in his outlook.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:49 p.m.

Mr Taylor has a positive and upbeat article. Thank you for this and I am glad he serves this community. The only problem I have with the article is the following line " Ann Arbor's residents - its human capital - comprise one of its most valuable resources. We boast one of the nation's most educated and engaged populations." Mr Taylor, though he was tring to be positive, should have expanded upon the words "engaged populations" read between the words here and look at all the comments that have been deleted by What a bunch of ungrateful sour grapes we have here in this comminuty. Mr Taylor - Thank you for your vision. Please keep up the good work.

Scott Reed

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

I agree - I'm always struck by the overwhelming negativity and cynicism of commenters on this site.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

I read nothing here but a toast to u of m. This is our brightest councilman. He should be a u of me regent so his focus and job title match. Too much reliance on u of m and not enough challenge to it. We need city council people who fight for our city, not the local u


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

I appreciate Christopher Taylor's optimism, as well as time devoted to public service. I am also sobered by state revenue sharing decreases, as well as uncertainty with federal funding and revenue sharing. For these reasons, I hope that the City of Ann Arbor will change its focus to providing excellent city services, avoiding its current trends of frivolous expenditures on outrageous non-essential projects. Instead, let's spend the next two years focusing on residents' quality of life issues, such as caring/intelligent public safety, road repair, and remedying flooded neighborhoods. It'a time for mayor, council , and DDA to overcome their current sugar addiction of the frosting bowl, and learn to craft a healthy meal. The paragraph marks will follow.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

OK, councilman Taylor, to come back down to earth in lil' ol' Ann Arbor...what about city council's Fundamental Responsibility to serve constiutent's by managing their Basic Services? You may not be hearing it from your inner circle, but many of us see most of you as shirking your work. We who pay thousands each year to local gov. continue to see your work as severly lacking. The white house may not seem far off to you, but close to me are huge potholes in front of my property.

Stuart Brown

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:21 a.m.

cindy1, You're right! Councilman Buckets has more important things to spend our money on than us. Roads smoads, who needs them when you can have the giant million dollar finger?


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:29 p.m.

Cindy - Ditto! The roads are in horrible condition, as well as the sidewalks. As an avid biker (weather permitting), I would regularly take Main into downtown, cut thru Depot Town where the Amtrak station, is and then continue up State St south to Eisenhower. The roads are brutal with pot holes the size of small bowling balls. Many of the sidewalks need to be replaced or shaved since tree roots are forcing the concrete up and they are no longer level. One would think that with the high taxes (mine is 4000 for Summer alone), that A2 would take better care of their streets and sidewalks, or perhaps they are just waiting for more Stimulus money from Wash DC.

Michigan Man

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

Many comments deleted this AM - think I may have a couple in that bucket. Ann Arborites seeming to be in an bad mood this AM concerning this article? What gives? The author seems to have pissed off a few of the good, fine Ann Arborites?


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 4:16 a.m.

I would suggest the Jerk Content here is unusually high, even for


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Perhaps if the Author would take care of the citizens of A2 and the many issues that need addressing versus writing an infomercial for the City, he would have far fewer negative responses.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 3:26 p.m.

I was told that a lot of the these contractors that see Ann Arbor as bright are from NYC and want to make it like another NYC. Scary to see this quaint little town become another blighted NYC. Yes, I was there and let me tell you I was glad to get out and come home.

Scott Reed

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:08 a.m.

Blighted in what possible sense? I just moved back from NYC - it's an incredibly vibrant, diverse, safe and walkable city, and an economic engine of our country. If Ann Arbor could be more like NYC, that would be a GREAT thing.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:25 p.m.

"the University will generate rock steady employment" The technology of distance learning is likely to have a major impact on the "old school" brick and mortar approach. Umich seems to be resisting that trend, unlike more advanced institutions such as MIT. Times are a changin'


Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 1:12 a.m.

Nicholas: UM has been a leader in building out the NSF net (precusor to the internet); building OISter, which was used to digitize web content; is a pioneer in digitization of web and book content; is an original member of the MOOC effort with MIT. You have no clue about what you are commenting on. Learn/acquire some facts before you embarrass yourself again. Your comment is baseless/groundless and completely specious.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Little know fact: President Warren G. Harding was known as "the Great Bloviator".


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

And to think that those of us outside the 3rd ward almost didn't get to partake of this missive. That was a close one.

Michigan Man

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

My first comment was deleted for apparently being too direct, honest and straightforward. Let me try again. What is this man saying? Cannot understand one point/purpose/meaning of his words?


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:51 p.m.

f you believe any of the above then I guess that you are probably still waiting for Santa.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

Just curious - is this the longest single paragraph ever published on


Mon, Dec 31, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

I've been taught, in this day and age, that a paragraph can start either by an indentation OR by a line break with left alignment. Additionally, a habit I can not change, only one space is now necessary at the end of a sentence. Although I do not always agree with him, I appreciate, and even enjoy reading, Mr. Taylor's communications. I also appreciate the effort it takes to share his thoughts on various issues with his constituents.

Michigan Man

Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 4:25 p.m.

JBK - Sounds like I am in good company! PC police/thought patrol was also out early on monitoring my attempts at free speech.


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 3:46 p.m.

The PC police removed my previous comment which simply pointed out that this guy's under graduate degree is from Michigan in English where he graduated with distinction. :) lol •B.A. in English (with high distinction)


Sun, Dec 30, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

This I Believe: You are correct and the Enter key is incredibly underrated.