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 Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 12:52 a.m.

Ann Arbor city charter amendments pass muster with voters

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor voters on Tuesday approved two ballot proposals that will ease city charter restrictions and allow city staff to publish ordinances and notices on the city’s Web site instead of in a newspaper.

With 98 percent of precincts reported, Proposal A passed by 10,189-7,944 (56 percent), while Proposal B passed by 9,730-8,287 (54 percent).

With the closing of The Ann Arbor News in July, city officials sought alternative methods of providing the public with important information. The city charter had required changes to city code or notices of proposed zoning amendments be published in a "newspaper of general circulation," but the Washtenaw Legal News is the only publication that fits that description in Ann Arbor.

The passage of Proposal A allows city staff to publish approved ordinances within 10 days after enactment either in a newspaper of general circulation, by posting to the city’s Web site or by any other means or method determined appropriate by the City Council. In cases of ordinances longer than 500 words, a summary may be published and copies of the full text would be available at city hall.

The passage of Proposal B allows the city to publish notices of proposed zoning ordinances and amendments in newspapers of general circulation or any other media otherwise permitted by law.

The Michigan Press Association spent more than $46,000 on a campaign urging Ann Arbor residents to defeat the two proposals. It claimed their passage would impact the public's right to know how local government operates.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government for Reach him at or 734-623-2529.



Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 5:03 p.m.

This will not change a thing. The average citizen ignores the public notices. I can't tell you how many times I have had friends insist that the city has not posted the required announcement or tell me that the city should send out individual letters to all residents. I would venture to guess that the announcements will be easier to find online than they were in the newspaper. I encourage the city to provide notices via email for those who want them.

Mike Monan

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 4:07 p.m.

Here is what I don't understand... Why would people vote for LESS transparency in government? Who cares if they still have to post in the paper (even if it's not the Ann Arbor News), as well as on the website (which I THINK they could already do without any extra needed permission)?? Post it everywhere! This almost begs for a clearinghouse website for information coming out of city hall...


Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:52 p.m.

The article mentioned MPA opposition. Were there organized efforts supporting the proposals? Will look for ordinances published "by any other means or method determined appropriate by the City Council" and post them for public benefit, or was it all about the money? Maybe it's because I'm an accountant, but it seems odd that 100 more people voted on PropA than B, and 450 more people voted in favor of A than in favor of B. The errors and omissions could be significant in other elections...Kunselman won the primary by 3 votes.

Larry Kestenbaum

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 2:19 p.m.

Everybody hates robocalls, but experience has shown them to be highly effective. On the average, people who get robocalls become more likely to vote in the direction the robocalls urge. These two charter amendments will be long remembered in Michigan politics as the first self-defeating robocall campaign. There is a point of diminishing returns on these tactics. Future political campaigns would be well advised to take heed.

Janelle Baranowski

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 10:50 a.m.

It's sad to hear that people voted for these proposals in protest of the robocalls. If you look at comments posted on the school millage articles, you'll see people calling for transparency left and right. Yet these proposals greatly reduce transparency. I sent a letter to the editor on this, you can read it at There's also a great article by the Ann Arbor Chronicle Hopefully the people who voted yes will become watchdogs against abuse by the City Council.

Aaron Wolf

Wed, Nov 4, 2009 : 10:22 a.m.

I took this as a vote on robocalling. I voted NO on robocalling (meaning YES on these proposals). I don't even care if the proposals really were bad, I wanted to send the message that if you support unidentified, fear-based, robocalling, then WE the people are AGAINST you, whatever the issue.

Ryan J. Stanton

Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 11:34 p.m.

Proposal A: Proposal B:

Duane Collicott

Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 11:24 p.m.

Yes, we have no new taxes today.

dan obryan

Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

id leave Michigan if it passes.taxes are to many on values down,unemployment too high.the bank can have my place like every other in so many to hard to keep giving it away

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 10:43 p.m.

I hope this passes, if only to send the message that using robocalls actually hurts a campaign.