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Posted on Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Survey shows Ann Arbor citizens not fully satisfied with their city government

By Ryan J. Stanton


A snapshot of the scores on a 100-point scale for each element in the recent Ann Arbor citizen satisfaction survey. Council Member Sally Hart Petersen, D-2nd Ward, hired ForeSee, a customer experience analytics firm, to conduct the survey, which was mainly targeted toward Ward 2 residents. A total of 303 people responded — 74 percent from Ward 2.


Ann Arbor City Council Member Sally Hart Petersen, D-2nd Ward, has released the results of a new citizen satisfaction survey and she says she's concerned about some of the low scores.

The survey shows Ann Arbor residents want the city do a better job providing basic services such as paving streets in the summer and plowing streets in the winter.

"The big takeaway for me was the emphasis on roads. It's really coming through loud and clear," Petersen said, referring to some of the answers to the open-ended survey questions.


Ann Arbor City Council Member Sally Hart Petersen, right, speaks with Mayor John Hieftje before a council meeting earlier this year.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Petersen said she doesn't think the issues are limited to her ward, but she does notice them more where she lives.

"The plowing in Ward 2 in the cul-de-sacs is really subpar, in my mind, and we need to make that a higher priority," she said.

"For a city that is well-off in many ways … I think we can do a better job of plowing our roads in the winter and do a better job of keeping them in a state of repair year-round," she added.

Mayor John Hieftje publicly addressed the issue of Ann Arbor's crumbling roads this past week in a speech to the local Rotary Club. He acknowledged the city fell behind on taking care of streets in recent years as the city was saving up money for the Stadium bridges project, but now the city is playing catchup. He said roughly 30 miles of city streets could be repaved this year.

Petersen conducted the recent citizen satisfaction survey in collaboration with ForeSee, a customer experience analytics firm headquartered in Ann Arbor.

The survey invited citizens to rate the city based on their experiences, including perceptions of city services, communication, employees, infrastructure, public safety and taxes. The survey also asked citizens to rate their overall satisfaction, as well as their trust in city governance.

While the survey was designed to garner feedback specifically from Ward 2 residents, it was open to all citizens of Ann Arbor. A total of 303 people took the survey — 74 percent from Ward 2.

Petersen said she's concerned that overall citizen satisfaction scored low at 63 out of 100, but she said that's typical for government. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index benchmarks for 2012, the satisfaction score for the federal government was 68 out of 100.

"It's not atypical for a government score to be in the 60s," Petersen said. "Still, I'd like to see that increase. We want people to participate or volunteer or recommend Ann Arbor as a place to live, and we want them to trust the government more. The trust score is low."

Citizen perceptions of trust in their city government scored 43 out of 100, which Petersen said concerns her but remains in line with typical government scores.

Perceptions of taxes scored 51 out of 100. Petersen said the score likely would go up if residents paid fewer taxes or perceived a higher level of service for what they paid. She said she sees the need to continue to advocate for better road maintenance, safer crosswalks and improved signage.

Perceptions of public safety scored 75 out of 100, while the city's infrastructure scored 56 out of 100, and city services scored 81 out of 100.


A deteriorated section of Fifth Street in the Old West Side as it looked on a recent afternoon. Driving on crumbling streets has become the norm for many Ann Arbor residents.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Perceptions of communication by the city scored 55 out of 100, while perceptions of city employees scored 69 out of 100.

While it's clear the city needs to improve basic infrastructure, Petersen said, it also must continue to reinforce public safety. A decrease in perceptions of public safety, she said, likely would lead to a significant decrease in overall satisfaction and trust in the city government.

From an administrative perspective, Petersen said, the case can be made for continued improvement in the awareness and content of information available on the city's website and outbound email communication systems. She said the city could earn significant gains in trust by improving communication.

City Administrator Steve Powers said the feedback gained from Petersen's survey is timely since the City Council has approved a project to redo the city's website. He said the website will be easier to use and the quality of information will improve.

Petersen said she's eager to re-launch the survey this fall to track changes. She said it's her hope the scores will improve as the city makes progress in each category.

The rest of the survey results can be downloaded by clicking on the following links. Petersen explained that while the individual questions asked citizens to respond on a scale from 1 to 10, the overall results were reported out using a 100-point scale to make it easier to track changes.

Petersen said one of the surprises of the survey for her was learning how much Ward 2 residents care about what's happening downtown in terms of economic development.

"They care about not only downtown, but what's happening or going to happen on the Plymouth Road corridor as well," she said.

Petersen added she's working on opening the lines of communication with the University of Michigan to foster more collaboration between the city and the university. She said she's hoping to see a "cultural shift" and she's had good talks with U-M Regent Mark Bernstein about that.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Roger Kuhlman

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Ann Arbor city politicians do not respect and respond to Ann Arborites if they do not belong to liberal special interest groups.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

What a shock this is. How are you going to pave and plow streets and staff police and fire departments when you have to first house the homeless and low income and buy vacant land outside the city limits? Not to mention pay a million bucks to a world famous artist for a fountain. You got to set your liberal priorities before you do what almost all cities do first.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Maybe someone can explain to me how our frivolous spend happy city admins will only "be concerned" by survey findings after they've spent money on them? Once again it take consultant's to figure out that which is otherwise free? Why is it our voices here and via other mediums and forums go unheard and are only legitimized after money is spent?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:54 a.m.

I don't really know what to say about city leaders. On the one side, I'm befuddled that they had no clue about how upset many of us are on their lack of priorities and leadership. On the other side, this doesn't shock me at all! I guess we should be happy they did the survey, something Stalin wouldn't have done. They really need to start with the basics. Look at the budget and break down the cost to an average joe. Does an average joe working at UofM really need an imported overpriced piece of artwork outside City Hall? NO! The average joe never sees said art and has to spend extra dough on tires and suspension driving down Carpenter (yes, I know the street will be replaced next year, but maybe we should have done that before the crappy art). This is one example of lost priorities and why many of us are not satisfied with our leaders. They bring in stuff that benefits them (nice statue outside their office to look at) without thinking of my dimes.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 7:07 p.m.

Carpenter is within city limits, it's what separates AA from Ypsi and Pittsfield Twp.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

The average Joe working at UM cannot afford to live in AA, he lives in Ypsi, Pittsfield Twp., Saline, Dexter, Chelsea, Whitmore Lake or Brighton. Carpenter is outside AA city limits but there are plenty of worse street inside the city.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:08 a.m.

For being the second smartest city in America, we sure do a bad job when it comes to roads.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

We "do a bad job" when it comes to local elections.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:37 a.m.

The roads are better everywhere but here, right? Surely you jest!

Frustrated in A2

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:34 a.m.

I think that this may be a sign we need to make some changes in the mayor and some city council. Change may be good!

Frustrated in A2

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 4:54 a.m.

That's true. That's why I like to read up on the new folks and put my support behind them if they make sense.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

Everyone talks about change, yet we'll vote these yackles in, over and over and over again. In the end, Mrs. Randomoldlady will vote for the name she knows. Until she's torqued at the world, will she ever look at the candidate with the new last name.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : midnight

"Colorado Sun" you are wasting your time and energy.... As most readers probably recognize, "Colorado Sun" is one of a handful of supporters of the former Dream Nightclub who make it their mission to harass or criticize anyone that actually stood up and shut them down. This would include: the City Attorney, the City Council members, the County Judges, the Federal Court Judge, etc. The City Attorney did what was necessary to defend the City from their various lawsuits. He was rightfully successful in Court as outlined in numerous articles and even an Observer bio. I saw online recently that the City Attorney was also recognized as one of the top lawyers in the state by a legal journal -- "Leaders in the Law" in the State of Michigan -- for his work last year. Everytime "Colorado Sun" or one of his Dream Nightclub cronies complains about the City Attorney, the rest of Ann Arbor takes it as a reconfirmation of a job well done. Thanks for standing up for what is right Mr. City Attorney! p.s... While "Colorado Sun" may now support Mr. Ranzini for mayor, I sincerely doubt Mr. Ranzini or any good public officials are interested in accepting the support from anyone in support of Dream Nightclub.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:35 p.m.

Saying the roads got behind for a lack of money when there has been plenty to spend on anything that even sounds green or artsy is a bad joke. Priorities are supposed to be set rationally.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

Breaking news....... Not.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:27 p.m.

Draft Steve Ranzini for mayor in 2014!

Dirty Mouth

Wed, Jun 19, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Yeah, I have gut feeling he is all bark and little bite. Woof.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:21 p.m.

It seems quite likely that this survey was well-intentioned. However, I DO think it warrants a reponse on the cost question. How much did we pay to get 303 people's opinions? Can someone answer this? Ryan? Councilwoman?

Dirty Mouth

Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 1:02 p.m.

Not to call Mrs. Briere a liar, but seriously, ForeSeee charges thousands of dollars. I very much doubt she paid out of pocket.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

Thanks Ms. Briere. I really wouldn't have though people's first impression would be that anything a councilperson did was done with their own personal money. Did everyone else on here assume that was the case? I feel pretty dumb if so. Perhaps I made a cynical/logical leap, remembering the water utilities person a while ago asking to do a customer satisfaction survey in Ann Arbor that was priced at something like $100,00, or $400,000, I forget the actual number. It certainly was not what I would consider "marginal," and so that's a term I like to have re-defined and clarified (e.g. replaced with a dollar figure) when we're talking about spending money. Ms. Briere, are you or any other councilpeople surprised by the low turnout on this survey?

Sabra C Briere

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:45 p.m.

Dear RU, I doubt that most of us would think that the survey was paid for with public dollars. Ms Petersen hired a survey firm with her own funds. When I've done surveys, I've paid for the survey service and used volunteer / pro bono help to design the survey. When the City surveys residents, there can be a marginal cost - for the software, or the software access, and the staff time.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Do you mean citizen or resident? The former pretends to more pretension than is necessary.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:12 p.m.

Many persons residing in Ann Arbor are students whose legal residences may be outside the state or even the United States. I am assuming that verbiage was employed to stress that material distinction.

Dirty Mouth

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

Sally, you hired a company that specializes in evaluating e-commerce and government websites to find out what your constituents think of A2 city government? Was this really wise? You know, we have this institution called the University of Michigan and they have this school called the Institute for Social Research that actually specializes in this type of research and I bet a few Graduate Students would have done a bang up job for nearly 1/10th of what you paid ForeSee? Sally, how much did you pay ForeSee? Huh? Speaking of trust... ahem.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 7:22 p.m.

Hi - please see above reply to Linda Diane Feldt. The ACSI Methodology came out of University of Michigan as well, and one that I have been specifically trained it. The survey was self-funded.

Katherine Griswold

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 9:54 p.m.

Thank you Sally! This is a great first step. I appreciated the opportunity to communicate my issues in what I hope will be an ongoing, improvement-oriented survey process.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 9:37 p.m.

Really, You're going to throw a headline out there when only 300 people responded to a survey and 74% of them are from one specific ward?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

According to the article, 2nd Ward residents were the intended respondents, but a few folks not from that ward responded, also.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

There is dissatisfaction not only among citizens but also members of City Council how Hieftje and his right-hand man Steve Postema have administered the City of Ann arbor for the last several years. 413 East Huron was a major controversy in which the public saw the asinine excuses advanced by the Mayor and City Attorney why the city had no excuse but to approve the project because of fear of lawsuit exposure. Why did the City Council people who voted for this monstrosity not disclose written legal opinions by Postema to back this contention up? The City Charter demands the filing of City Attorney opinions with the City Clerk. Why didn't the City Attorney impose more severe disciplinary action on the City Prosecutor after his impaired driving conviction? Why didn't the City of Ann Arbor investigate more fully the civil rights violations alleged by ex-probation officer Wayne Wade in his suit against 15th District Court officials? The City of Ann Arbor funds the operation of the District Court. Wade was paid $82,500.00 in settlement. Why are numerous City Council members drawing paychecks from the University of Michigan and then voting on matters involving U-M that come before them as Council members? Why are public funds of the DDA expended to pay for items that local businesses owned by well-connected insiders profit from? Why don't we have term limits on DDA members? We need changes in Ann Arbor.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:27 a.m.

Thanks for sharing your opinion of 413 East Huron. A group of people share your opinion. Thank goodness the correct action was taken on this property.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

The Hieftje is bought and paid for several times over by the various special interests he panders to - particularly the University. Mary Sue's "boy".

Cornelius Nestor

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:43 p.m.

What could be the purpose of Ms. Petersen's survey? The citizens' satisfaction, if any, with government in a one-party state (such as Ann Arbor) can hardly be more than a matter of idle curiosity to the government.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:08 p.m.

That would be a huge score compared to Results if the Survey had been conducted in Ward 4, in my opinion.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

It doesn't have to stay that way - everybody in ward 4 has a chance to change that on August 6. I would encourage you to do just that - vote for change.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:30 p.m.

Fourth Warders have two Hieftje allies on City Council - Margie Teall and Marcia Higgins.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:03 p.m.

Satisfaction will improve immeasurably the day the Hieftje walks out the door of Hieftje Hall carrying a cardboard box with all the crap from his newly cleaned-out desk on his last day as mayor of the little city. That day should be declared a local holiday!

Jim Walker

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:07 p.m.

The number of comments regarding Ann Arbor's pedestrian ordinance that conflicts with the state law and has caused problems shows that many people are really paying attention to this important traffic safety area. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor

Colorado Sun

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:37 p.m.

There is the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code passed by the Michigan Legislature and, also, State Police promulgations incorporated into the Michigan Administrative Code which comprise the "state law" you refer to. Someone needs to talk to the City Attorney Steve Postema.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

Many of the above comments can be summed up with the expression "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Hieftje got to go!


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

For pity's sake, friends, this was just a Council member's well-intentioned if unprepossessing effort which apparently fell short of expectations you didn't even have until it was published. Lighten up, air your gripes more effectively elsewhere, and put away the elephant guns.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:25 p.m.

@Cendra Lynn, you forgot the hot tar and feathers.....


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Guess I should have spelled out "fell short of expectations *for a survey*." Ye gods.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

WRONG. The citizens of AA have had high expectations for a long time. This survey simply highlighted the abysmal performance of the city in many ways.

Cendra Lynn

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:54 p.m.

Putting our police and fire people in harm's way due to insufficient staffing deserves torches and pitchforks. Hundreds of us are working assiduously to improve Ann Arbor. Not only have we had the administration standing in our way and simultaneously making things worse, we have people who don't want to hear our anger.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

When do 303 people represent a city with a population of 114,000? "For a city that is well-off in many ways … I think we can do a better job of plowing our roads in the winter and do a better job of keeping them in a state of repair year-round," she added. Understatement of the year. "Can do a 'better' job?" When there are thousands of unfilled potholes and terrible plowing around the city in the winter, the description of "better" doesn't apply.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

The good news is that Mr mayor will need to seek new employment after the next election..... Too bad the survey didn't ask about specific items such as: road maintenance and decisions about high rises such as 413 Huron......


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

It's more likely someone is voted out of office if those who complain actually campaign against the incumbent. People complained prior to the previous mayoral election, but apparently there wasn't enough campaigning and not enough votes to accomplish it. If you complain, please follow up with action/voting.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

I hope the voters toss him out on his butt. Good riddance.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

Boy does this sound like Detroit. Not happy with your government? Re elect them back and see what happens another 4 years. Interesting. It is called voting them out of office. Good luck with that one. Don't complain elect a whole new system.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Second ward has done that. And we still don't get plowed. Nor did we when Ingrid Sheldon was mayor. I wonder if the problem is w the roads dept rather than Council?

Steve Bean

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:34 p.m.

"We want people to participate or volunteer or recommend Ann Arbor as a place to live, and we want them to trust the government more." Participate? Sure. Sounds good. Volunteer? Yes, that would be nice. Recommend Ann Arbor as a place to live? Huh? Why? How is that (or would that be) good for Ann Arbor and the people who currently live here? That's a good example of the unrepresentative thinking that has influenced council for a long time, and it's still unexplained as far as I'm aware. And who is "we" in this case? Does it not register that "we" represent "them", not the other way around?

Patti Smith

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:50 a.m.

If she wants people to volunteer, I would recommend that she not express "concerns" when someone volunteers for more than one city board. (People like oh I don't know, me)


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Great point, Steve. We need some discussion on how much and how fast we want to grow our city. "Resident-centric" discussions if you will.

Linda Peck

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:33 p.m.

I did not see this survey. I would have participated had I received it.

Steve Bean

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Petersen's "big takeaway" about roads and followup about plowing almost sound like the survey is justification for her highlighting her personal concerns. What's the basis for those issues being called out? The numbers don't seem to support them as the top concerns. How did she measure the open-ended questions to come to that conclusion? So even if the questionnaire (is it really a "survey", technically?) weren't biased, her public interpretation seems to be. What might be helpful in future questionnaires would be to ask "why" in addition to "what" so that we can see the thinking behind the opinions. E.g., "What's your top concern and why?"


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

How about doing a survey on how we feel about our current administration, think people are dissatisfied about the local government. Unless you reside outside this city of utopia maybe you haven't heard or read anything other than the local news you would of never guess the Federal government is about to implode with all the current scandals, concerned about whats happening here maybe you should take a good look outside, wake up.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

That was last year before all the scandals, as of April it was down to 49 percent according to CNN and when they get more information hel'll be down in the 30's by years end.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:27 p.m.

Last year's survey of the federal government, using the same methodology, gave a 68.4 score.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

This survey is a joke, and a bad one at that. The only "survey" that matters here is the one on November 5th every few years and Mayor Highrise wins those survey results quite handily. Either the people of Ann Arbor are so beaten down by a decade of Highrise John's schemes and railroad dreams to oppose him any more, or that despite all the bitching here on most people are satisfied or don't care at all. The few bleeting sheep who aren't happy are just sound & fury signifying nothing (that our Lord Mayor cares about).


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Just what I was going to post, thanks Huron74. Despite the complaints here it is apparent the majority of A2 voters are in favor of the actions taken by city council over the years. I am not in favor of how A2 is run, but that is the nature of the beast, the people get to choose and so it appears they are content by a significant margin. It's easy to move to an outlying community much better run, but if you have to do business in A2. you still feel the pain when you have to drive on the neglected streets and take your eyes off the road to watch for pedestrians approaching crosswalks and get upset because of lack of proper traffic control when events close streets.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:03 p.m.

"...despite all the bitching here on most people are satisfied " No political administration in history ever has achieved unanimous support. And the dissenters do like to congregate and share their bile, in a mutually reinforcing manner. That seems to be what the comment section has evolved into. The mayor must face the voters every two years, and recently he has been averaging around 80% support at the polls. It is actually a stunning accomplishment.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

Headline: "citizens not fully satisfied". That's like "Hindenburg suffers mishap".


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:22 p.m.

"Andrea Doria brushes against Stockholm".......


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

You have to love government euphemisms... Oh wait, this is a news outlet. Here is another, from Hirohito's speech to the Japanese people announcing that Japan would surrender: "... the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage ..."


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

"Titanic Reports Minor Leak"

An Arborigine

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:44 p.m.

@brad wish I could award multiple thumbs up!


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

I thought the same thing.......


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

The picture of the mayor and Ms. Petersen at the top of the article says it all! The mayor in a stance of total defiance and disregard with his hands closed and interlocked arms looking away from Ms. Petersen. He isn't the least bit interested in what she has to say! Yes, body language speaks!! ...and that is what his response is to anyone who disagrees with him!!


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.


Linda Diane Feldt

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Please provide more information on how the survey was conducted. It doesn't seem that it was a randomized survey, but rather whoever felt like filling it out? How were people informed about the survey? Did the respondents end up matching the demographics of the 2nd ward? What was the margin of error for each part? Who paid for it? What protections were in place to be sure each person answered only once? All important questions in determining the validity of any survey, I'm sure there are others. A summary of that info would be a good addition to the article. A survey for whoever wants to fill it out tends to be skewed, often picking up people who are especially dissatisfied. The most valid instrument would be a randomized sample, with a large response.


Tue, Jun 18, 2013 : 12:38 a.m.

@SallyP: Ms. Petersen, it is very gracious of you to answer these questions and I wanted you to know that at least one person saw that you took the time to do it. I also applaud you for attempting to engage the community and garner feedback using more modern methods. I will, though, caution on relying too heavily on internet-only based responses for feedback. These metrics are good for gauging progress to a certain extent but the survey is sampling a skewed portion of population. Measuring satisfaction (and improvement in certain areas) is really what the survey is intended to do, rather than actually drive new policies. Thanks again.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 7:15 p.m.

The survey was designed for Ward 2 residents based upon feedback I heard from residents going door to door last summer asking them what their three most important issues with the City were. The survey took this qualitative feedback and translated it into a quantitative assessment of the City's delivery on these topics. It is a point in time assessment that enables prioritization of future improvements for the City. It is intended to be repeated over time so it is possible to track the City's improvement in delivery of these services. While designed around Ward 2 priorities, I did not want to exclude anyone from being heard. That is why I kept it open to any resident of the City. The survey was distributed through, the Ward 2 website, and an e-mail message I sent to those Ward 2 residents and neighborhood associations for whom I had working e-mail addresses. It was also send out through Huron High School e-notes. The survey was self-funded and I chose ForeSee because I was trained in the ACSI methodology when I worked for CFI Group, which has its roots in the Ross School of Business. Admittedly, I wish I had a higher response, but ForeSee's methodology of calculating impacts is stable with a sample size of 300. The survey will be repeated in September. I expect the response rate will be higher with additional media coverage. Thank you for raising these questions. Sally Hart Petersen

Patti Smith

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:55 a.m.

I applaud her for doing this, but you're exactly right that the methodology is seriously flawed. I have taken graduate level courses in research strategies and this one doesn't cut it. The results are interesting but basing policy off of them is short-sighted. I would also suggest that residents of ward 2 do not represent the demographics of the city as a whole (no one ward does). I'd like to know more about who replied. Is it a bunch of rich housewives? Poor students? Only people with access to the internet? How long did they have to fill it out? Again, nice of her to do this and it's helpful so long as we don't base policy off of it in a knee jerk reaction to the results.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:41 p.m.

@Linda: Some of your questions are answered by following Ryan's link to his previous story. The short answer is this poll is hardly scientific and basing policy off of it is nebulous at best.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

I found out about the survey because I was on Sally's email list....I had contacted her on a prior issue via email. There was a link to the survey and I completed it. And I am a Ward 2 resident. Although I applaud Sally for doing this, I agree with the comments that this wasn't really a scientific survey because so few people participated and the bulk of the respondents live in Ward 2.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

The photo of Ms. Petersen with the Mayor says a lot, he's not even looking at her, his jaw is clenched and his arms are crossed. Whatever she was talking about he is not giving it much of a thought and he is probably annoyed with whatever the topic is. Crossed arms are a tell tale sign of "I am not open to a word you are saying". My guess, she's not one of his go to "team members".


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

That was the first thing I noticed, Bunny. King John has been in office WAY too long and only listens to his brainwashed minions.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Nailed it - he doesn't care at all what she is saying. Unfortunately, she seems to be trying to be on that team, her voting on many recent issues has shown that to be case.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

Had I known about the survey, my answer would have been "maintain the roads in good condition all year long, including plowing snow in winter."

A Voice of Reason

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:43 p.m.

Great job Sally! Now, lets see how brave you are to actually do something about it!

Dog Guy

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

Those hippies of Ward 2 are far happier with city hall than my neighbors are.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

303 people? That seems awfully low. Is this because most people in A2 are completely satisfied and see no reason to opine? Is it because they're too busy? Apathetic? I am flabbergasted by lack of return on things like this and votes etc. Can we get: 1) How much this survey and its results delivery cost 2) How was this targeted to Ward 2 people? Were they emailed about it or something?

Urban Sombrero

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

I didn't even know about it or I would've taken it. Granted, I'm not in her ward, but I have a lot to say, lol.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

303 people is less than one-third of one percent of the City population...


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

This was what I was getting at in my above post. Ryan linked to a previous story that better explained the methodology. A website was created (a2ward2) and Foresee did a popup survey for visitors there. This targets a skewed proportion of the populace and, as I mentioned, a quarter of respondents do not even live in Ward 2 (I presume they followed the link to take the survey to specifically give their input).


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:39 a.m.

I suspect if you ask the sheeple, the uninformed, the special interests ( bikes,trains ,art, etc ) and prince john and and his merry band this number is way too low..on the other hand if you ask the taxpayers who are saddled with paying for all this folly at the cost of lack of basic services the number is way too high...


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:26 p.m.

Any time I see that silly construct "sheeple", I want to bite something. Hard.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

I think some potential responders to this post are misinterpreting the message. That poster isn't writing that the survey results are lower than reality. That poster is writing that the mayor and his loyal council members are denying that satisfaction is as low as the survey shows. That poster's message is also that the chagrin of taxpayers is more intense and dissatisfied than the survey shows. If that's the message, then I agree.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

( The condescension makes the message all but unintelligible. )


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

The trust score is deservedly low. Some ways our trust was destroyed: 1) Take our tax money earmarked for specific civic purposes. 2) Spend our public funds on a leader's myriad personal, hidden, and often-stupid agendas, or 3) Hide public funds in a purposely-deceptive "bucket" (shell game) accounting system. 4) Stop protecting citizens, their neighborhoods, and infrastructure, because the "Money is gone," or "We're in a recession (while overall revenues have actually been increasing)." 5) Constantly self promote city greatness and leadership depth when superficiality reigns. Trust loss of this magnitude is rarely regained. What will the leaders do to quick-fix this for "re-election purposes?" Why does "educated" Ann Arbor accept this? Or, is non-acceptance signaled, as evidenced by recent election of civic-service oriented, clear-thinking council people?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:53 p.m.

Ever since Lou Belcher was mayor, Ann Arbor has always been run by a council with a social agenda that is contrary to typical local govt. I know of no city that caters so much to homeless and low income residents for housing over properly funding fire, police and road maintenance. For me, it was the Greenbelt tax that was the final straw and I am so happy I moved to a happy place. But the voters approve. They want it and they have it. So be it.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

An excellent post! Well done, @a2grateful!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

The survey says: 1. Taxes are too high! 2. The infrastructure has been neglected. 18.7 miles of city roads are rated in good shape, 17.9 miles of city roads need repaving, and 47.1 miles of city roads need complete reconstruction. But there are also roads in the city owned by MDOT including major trunk lines and those are 87.6 miles rated in good shape, 151.7 miles needing repaving, and 38.4 needing reconstruction. The Pall Plume threatens to pollute our entire water supply with cancer causing chemicals. 3. Communication is poor. On the positive side, I don't know about your experience, but the city manager does respond promptly to my emails. However, neither the Mayor nor the City Manager blog. Few members of city council blog and some don't respond to constituent emails. When I send an email to all members of city council with a policy suggestion or a suggestion for a way to improve the city or something in city government, I get a response from usually one of them, at most only three or four of them and never from the mayor. In 13 years in office, the Mayor has issued only one letter to the citizens on a matter of policy and that was a long detailed defense of the Fuller Road train station that also had a status update on the commuter rail project. 4. Winter road maintenance is awful! "Petersen said she's concerned that overall citizen satisfaction scored low at 63 out of 100..." I believe the survey is correct on these points. All voters ought to be concerned that the city government rates a D minus! We can and should do better. Our town is great. We ought to have a city government that is also great and not average, below average or mediocre!

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 8:30 p.m.

@snark12: Thanks for the info on ACSI customer satisfaction methods. FYI, the trust score is way worse than the infrastructure and communication scores. It would be better if the survey was based on a scientifically statistical sample, I agree, however, as I stated I do believe that I believe the survey is picking up valid citizen concerns in the areas that score very low.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:09 p.m.

I think it's important understand the context of all ACSI scores (that's the system used by ForeSee). The very best, highest customer satisfaction organizations (think Amazon or Apple) score in the low 80s. So you have to grade on a curve. Except for the infrastructure and communication scores, the results aren't too bad. I think the taxes score will always be low for any government. I agree the methodology is quite suspect, though. It only tests those who happened to find their way onto the Ward 2 web site and we're interested in taking a test.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:20 a.m.

The manner in which the survey was conducted is better for analyzing trends than looking at specific values. This was not a random sampling or scientific poll and it is interesting that on a website specifically for Ward 2 that a quarter of respondents do not live there. It doesn't make the comments or feedback invalid, but the values are likely skewed because of the methodology.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

In other words, it is not a valid survey.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:02 p.m.

@Tano: Think of the down votes as a bellwether. It's just the direction the wind is blowing and it's about as valid of popular opinion as the survey that was done.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Its amazing that people would vote down a straightforward factual comment like this. I guess it falls in the "can't handle the truth" category. Many commenters here seem to have a rooting interest in negativity, and really are not interested in what a fair sample of the population would reveal.

Jim Osborn

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:06 a.m.

Last Summer I met with The Mayor about increasing the watering of the city's trees in public parks and along roads. Many were dying in the drought. After all, the city spends a lot to plant these trees and even places unused "Tree Gators" around them, but rarely fills them up. Many trees, especially the smaller, newer ones were dying or had already died. Our tax dollars were being wasted. I explained that I grew up in Southern California, where it does not rain from April to December and no trees die, as they are watered. Perhaps the city could hire an out-of-work construction water truck to augment the single city truck and protect the city's investment. But no, the money was needed for art or some of the many "studies" such moving the rail station. The end result was hundreds or thousands of dead trees around Ann Arbor. This was preventable. The waiting list is years to have trees planted on city lawn extensions.

Silly Sally

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

They found plenty of water for the mayor's Hurinal in front of city Hall, I see. Oh, so silly of him, watering the wrong things.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:43 p.m.

Out along Dexter where they were doing street repairs, they dropped off the new trees to plant days before the holes were dug, I saw the trees in root balls baking in the sun for days waiting to be planted. This is another example, albeit a small one, of the lack of coordination by the city costing us money.

Jim Osborn

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:16 a.m.

The parks division did spend money to put in unneeded curbs at the parking lot at Burhr Park instead of watering the trees or mowing the grass of the playing fields.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:49 a.m.

Trust in city government would also be raised if city council would pass a conflict of interest policy that requires members of city council not to vote in favor of their employers on matters of importance to them. I've got no problem with them voting against their employer's interest but I do have a problem with them voting a benefit to their employer and it happens routinely in Ann Arbor city government! Our Mayor and another member of city council feel entitled to vote for resolutions that provide a benefit to U-M. To be fair, the member of city council often votes against what U-M wants if it clashes with the public interest, but the Mayor? To my knowledge he has never bucked U-M on anything. He and his wife have part-time well paying jobs from U-M. He received his job after becoming Mayor and receives a generous salary for teaching a single class. Does that instill trust that his governance of the city is fair and impartial? City council needs to pass a conflict of interest policy.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

1bit is correct. Just because a part time elected official votes in favor of something that favors his employer, that does not mean that decision is not in the best interests of the govt unit s/he is employed by. You need more to show a conflict of interest, like evidence the wrong decisions are constantly made. I am not a big fan of the mayor, but since the majority of voters keep re-electing him, that shows his approval rating and we all have to respect that if we consider ourselves good Americans.

Colorado Sun

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 7:28 p.m.

Steve: According to Pat Lesko, Hieftje got his high-paying job at U-M via the dean of the Gerald R.Ford School of Public Policy, Paul Courant. Courant has donated big bucks to the Hieftje mayoral campaign committee. Courant's wife, Marta Manildi, later was appointed to the Ann arbor Housing Commission, where she eventualy became its president. One hand washes the other, Mr. Ranzini.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

@Stephen: I do agree that we are on the same page and appreciate your detailed response. Your statement, below, is appreciated: "I would completely recuse myself from any public business and meetings where the bank or it's customers had a direct financial interest in the outcome." Are there specific instances in which you believe the Mayor should have recused himself because of a direct financial interest as you've outlined?

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

@1bit: I believe that we are on the same page, or close to it. Everyone has an interest in the outcome of civic business. Good policy helps all or at least many. That's not what I'm concerned with addressing with a conflict of interest policy. If I were ever an elected official in Ann Arbor, our bank would never do business with the city or county or any of it's many departments and I would completely recuse myself from any public business and meetings where the bank or it's customers had a direct financial Internet in the outcome. Having said that, I see no problem if in that situation where there was a direct conflict of interest I were to vote against the bank's or bank customer's direct financial interest. So, it is direct conflicts of interest whre influence or a vote is used for personal benefit or benefit of an employer or customer of that employer that should be covered by the conflict of interest policy, not indirect benefits that accrue to everyone in town generally. FYI, our bank has had no business dealings that I am aware of with the city and only holds some small CDs from the county, which are unimportant to the bank. We have had no loans to the city or county or any of their units and do not provide any other services such as investments or insurance to any of them.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:06 p.m.

"basically precludes any employee of U of M from becoming Mayor" That's a sacrifice I'm willing to make.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:34 p.m.

@Stephen: I'm disappointed that you missed what I am trying to say. "Conflict of Interest" is very broad and encompasses both direct and indirect conflicts. The one you are describing, a direct employer/employee relationship, may certainly be valid. But given the nature of our town, the policy you articulated could essentially exclude a wide swath of the populace as the Mayor and Council's decisions materially affect most businesses in the City. Let me be more direct: if you were to ever run for Mayor, would you resign your position and divest yourself completely from your bank? Should another business owner be forced to do the same? Is disclosure of the conflict such that voters are aware sufficient? Conflict of interest policies are great ideas but actually crafting them can be problematic.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:32 a.m.

@1bit: If he wants to be on U-M's payroll, he shouldn't be mayor! He has $110,000 reasons per year never to bite the hand that feeds him.

Jim Osborn

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

If one's pay comes form the university perhaps it should. Or, at least that person should not vote on University matters.

Jim Osborn

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

" He and his wife have part-time well paying jobs from U-M. He received his job after becoming Mayor and receives a generous salary for teaching a single class. Does that instill trust that his governance of the city is fair and impartial?" One word - NO


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:09 a.m.

I'm not sure whether a conflict of interest policy is necessary, but what you are proposing goes too far. Since so much in this city is affected by U of M in one way or another, what you are proposing basically precludes any employee of U of M from becoming Mayor. It would also essentially preclude anyone in the downtown housing, business or financial markets from becoming Mayor.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:36 a.m.

"Citizen perceptions of trust in their city government scored 43 out of 100, which Petersen said concerns her..." It ought to concern all of us that the city receives a failing grade for trust, since trust is a critical ingredient in successful governance. Why is it so low? Here are two examples: 1. The city recently imposed an illegal gag order on all it's firefighters and only removed it after nine months when the ACLU of Michigan sent them a letter threatening to sue them over it. This was done to stifle public debate of the plan to close three fire stations and reopen one in Burns Park that had been closed a few years ago and because fire fighters were the source of leaks about problems in the fire department that impacted public safety but were not being addressed. City administration didn't want valid public criticism of their plan to go public and the fire fighters had serious legitimate concerns about the impact of this plan on safety both for themselves and residents. 2. Statements from city leaders like this one from our Mayor "[The Mayor] said roughly 30 miles of city streets could be repaved this year." This statement is false! The city claims to have repaid 30 *lane* miles of city streets. If the roads paved were all 2 lanes, then 15 miles were repaved, if 4 lanes, 7.5 miles were repaved. When I and even some members of city council who are not voting the "right way" ask questions of city staff about sensitive topics the answers are frequently carefully parsed to shade the truth like this. The answers are always "truthful", but not quite honest and always designed to place the city in the best possible light even if it doesn't deserve the positive spin. Trust is gained through consistent dedication the the principals of open governments and adherence to Sunshine Laws over time. We need city leaders dedicated to these principles to improve these low scores.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

@Jack: If there is another gag order on city employees outside of the fire department, please email a copy of it to me at or forward it to me or mail me a copy anonymously if you wish to my attention at 2015 Washtenaw Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48104 and I promise I'll keep your name confidential.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

That gag order has been in effect for all city employees for about forever. It is nothing new.

Tom Todd

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 10:24 a.m.

someone is jealous if you make more then them(SLR)

Usual Suspect

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 10:35 p.m.

"there is a subset of the population who consider distrust of government, as a principle irrespective of actual government performance, to be an important part of their personal identity, an identity they are always eager to promote." Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, etc.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:01 p.m.

Stephen, The fact that road disrepair measures are in "road miles" does not change the fact that to report road repair efforts in road miles would be utterly meaningless. Lane miles paved is the common standard used in every report of road repair I have ever seen , not just in AA. To claim that it is an effort to deceive the public has no basis in reality. I wonder why you seem proud to operate on such a level.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:26 p.m.

@Tano: The only data we have on the current quality of the roads is road miles, not lane miles, so we cannot validate he assertion that great progress is being made in repairing the roads when the repair statistics don't match with the road condition stats. I am guessing you have few or no direct dealings with the mayor or you wouldn't make some of your comments you made above.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:20 p.m.

I suspect that part of the reason that the trust level is low is that there is a subset of the population who consider distrust of government, as a principle irrespective of actual government performance, to be an important part of their personal identity, an identity they are always eager to promote. These people are far more likely to respond to surveys like this, or to comment at length whenever the opportunity arises. The need to be distrustful and critical irrespective of merit leads to some odd criticisms. For example, to complain about using a standard of "lane miles" when reporting the amount of work done fixing our roads. This is presented as some grand conspiracy to hoodwink the public, when it seems rather obvious that it is actually quite the opposite. To report "road miles" paved would be an utterly meaningless and deceptive statistic. If the city were to pave one mile of a two-lane road, and then one mile of a six-lane road, does it make any sense whatsoever to report to the public that the two projects were of equal scale - one road mile? Even though the latter project took up to three times longer to do and cost three times as much money (roughly speaking)? The use of "lane miles" is a means to honestly and accurately report the amount of work done, and to compare that to the work done in other years. I think the mayor's standing in this community is helped greatly by the low quality of the criticism directed against him.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

@Brad: Could be! I was also wondering if the turning lanes in 3 lane and 5 lane streets were being counted as "lanes" too for the purpose of this "stat"?


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

They're probably counting bike lanes as separate "lane miles", too.