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Posted on Wed, May 22, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

3 of 6 Ypsilanti City Council members abstain from voting on resolution to prevent abstention

By Katrease Stafford

Three Ypsilanti City Council members abstained from voting on a resolution Tuesday that would have prevented them from taking that very action in the future when considering issues.

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Council member Pete Murdock

Council member Pete Murdock proposed a resolution Tuesday that would have required council members to only vote yes or no on each issue facing council unless they had a financial or professional conflict of interest.

Mayor Paul Schreiber, Council members Susan Moeller and Brian Robb abstained from the vote to show their disapproval of the resolution brought forth by Murdock.

Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson and Council Member Ricky Jefferson voted no, while Murdock and Council Member Daniel Vogt voted yes. The resolution failed.

Murdock said he decided to make the proposal after Council Member Susan Moeller abstained from a vote on May 7 regarding an amendment to the Water Street Family Dollar development purchase agreement.

Moeller abstained from a vote that approved the entire $210,000 from the purchase agreement, and future monies related to Water Street, going toward a fund solely dedicated toward retiring the Water Street debt or for infrastructure costs.

"I was a little surprised that we could do that," Murdock said. "The (city) charter said we have to vote yes or no. The city of Ann Arbor has that in their charter. I just think that people put us here to make decisions. We should vote on every issue."

Moeller said she only abstained from the vote because she wasn't in favor of the Family Dollar being on Water Street. Moeller said she supported the amendment, but not it being packaged with the Family Dollar agreement.

"Lately we’re having all this censorship and push here," Moeller said to Murdock. "You didn’t like that I abstained and now you just want to have new rules."

Murdock disagreed.

"I don't think it's appropriate," Murdock said. "I think you should have to vote on all the issues. It's not really about you. It's about us."

Moeller said it wasn't wrong for her to abstain from voting, adding that City Attorney John Barr indicated she could do so.

"If someone wants to sit up here and abstain from every vote, their constituents will judge them for that," Robb said, adding that council members should have that right.

Richardson moved to have the resolution set aside, stating she was concerned it would create a "divided council." The motion failed.

"I would rather not see us do things that would divide us," Richardson said. "If we really want to see the city move forward, we have to work together."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, May 24, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

They abstained to show their disapproval? And for what reason might they vote no? Gotta agree with Pete on this one. That's not the reason for abstentions.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:37 p.m.

I knew the addition of Susan Moeller would make things interesting and spice it up a bit (as any new blood probably would do). I might have to start attending these council meetings now.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 11:49 a.m.

Come on - are you sure this isn't an Onion article?


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 9:19 a.m.

Gutless wonders, not willing to vote. They were elected to lead and vote, not run and hide! Go figure!


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:57 a.m.

I have lived in Ypsi since 73 and right now I am so confused about the City of Ypsi. Time to go to the Zoo so I can make sense of things.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:36 a.m.

The more I read about Murdock, the more like him, despite the fact that he voted in favour of the Depot Town Dollar Store.

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:43 a.m.

Oops - I meant the more I like him... Seriously, abstaining is basically doing nothing. Something not uncommon in politics these days.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:25 a.m.

Wait, first a moritorium on a moritorium vote and now abstaining from an abstention? Mind=blown. How does one run for Citu Council? I'm running.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:32 a.m.

It is a breach of duty not to vote on a properly brought motion or resolution unless there is a clear conflict. Politicians are elected to make public policy and law and it only weakens the law and it integrity when a duly elected official abstains.

Mostly Purple

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 11:04 p.m.

Susan Moeller is wonderful. I'm glad to see she's shaking things up at the Boys' Club.

The Picker

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:37 a.m.

P.S. Susan & Lois are girrrrrrrrrrrls !!!

The Picker

Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:12 a.m.

You lost me, " at the boys club", such 19th century thinking ! You gotta lay off the Masterpiece Theater!!!


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 10:24 p.m.

Too funny.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Elected officials are elected to vote yes or no on the issues that come before them. The only valid reason, in my opinion, to abstain is if there is a conflict of interest. Otherwise, abstaining is cowardly and not serving the public interest.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

On issues that are PROPER to be before them. Ann Arbor City Council likes to vote on all kinds of things which are really not council's business. Although that doesn't appear to be the case in this specific instance.

John of Saline

Wed, May 22, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

Hey, Obama voted "present" a LOT as a Senator and he's President now.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

Name the last time it happened. On the other hand, it is common for Illinois senators - R and D - to vote "present". Obama's "present" votes in the Illinois Senate comprised about 3% of his total votes. Not " a LOT" by any standard.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:56 a.m.

@Shadeau: You absolutely can vote "present" in the US Senate. It's rare that a senator votes that way, but they do from time to time. However, Obama never voted "present" as a US senator. He did vote that way many times as an Illinois state senator. So, it's technically correct that he voted that way a lot as a senator, just not as a US senator. Based on statements that Obama voted that way as a senator, it seems people over corrected those misleading statements by saying you can't vote "present" in the US senate. While rare, it is possible.


Thu, May 23, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

You can't vote "present" in the US Senate. Nice try, though.


Wed, May 22, 2013 : 11 p.m.

Throw on CSPAN for grins and you will see the Senate chambers as filled as the palace is for a weekday Pistons game. None of our elected officials vote unless they want something to be on their record as being pro or nay something. And I agree, Obama's voting record was pretty horrible. But no worse than most other Senators who look to rise up in office.