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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 5:52 a.m.

Ypsilanti to remain member of Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce following narrow vote

By Katrease Stafford

Ypsilanti will remain a member of the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti Chamber of Commerce after city council narrowly voted down a resolution seeking to terminate its membership.

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The Michigan Legislature's lame duck session saw the passage of many controversial bills, chief among them the state's new right-to-work law.

Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com

Four council members voted against the resolution Tuesday and three-- Brian Robb, Susan Moeller and Pete Murdock-- were in favor of it.

Murdock brought forth the resolution in an effort to condemn the policies held by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which openly supported the right-to-work legislation. The A2Y chamber is a member of the Michigan Chamber.

"The issue with the chamber, whether its national or state or local, it's kind of a distinction without difference," Murdock said. "The chamber has been particularly active in several political groups affiliated with the state legislature that did all those nice things last week."

Murdock said the chamber has "consistently taken" positions contrary to the people he represents.

Specifically, Murdock said he believes the Michigan Chamber of Commerce supported passage of right-to-work legislation, opposed increasing minimum wage, supported the elimination of personal property tax and opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Earlier this month, the Michigan Legislature approved bills that would make Michigan the 24th state with a right-to-work law that prohibits unions from collecting dues or fees from workers as a condition of employment.

Murdock said if council were to pass the resolution, the city still would have been able to work the chamber and events such as Ypsi Pride, which A2Y helps to organize, would still go on.

A2Y Chamber vice president of government relations Andy LaBarre and A2Y Executive Board Chair Tom Harrison attended the meeting to address the city's concerns.

"We are separate organizations," LaBarre said. "We are separately governed and separate on policy stances. Some of what was said here refers to national efforts that the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti chamber has no reason to weigh in on. We did not contribute to PACs and did not have a PAC of our own."

Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson said she feels as if Ypsilanti no longer has a chamber, citing the move of the weekly Tuesday morning breakfasts the chamber once held in Ypsilanti. The breakfasts are now in Ann Arbor.

"Do we have input on what the chamber supports or what they do or are we just paying money and going to the Tuesday morning breakfast?" Richardson said. "I just really feel like Ypsilanti doesn’t have a chamber."

Richardson further implored the chamber representatives to share exactly what their position was on the recent passage of the right to work legislation and other controversial legislation as well.

"We took no position," LaBarre said. "We remained neutral."

Council member Susan Moeller said she felt that by having no particular stance, the chamber in a way supported the measure.

"By being silent, its as if they were supporting it," Moeller said. "If you're against it, you should be able to stand up."

Murdock said he believes that if the chamber's thoughts are different from that of the Michigan Chamber, they should reach out and voice it.

"It should come from those people, not us," he said.

Harrison said he believes that since the chambers combined, more work than ever has been done in the Ypsilanti community.

"We are more active now," he said. "We're bringing in a lot of Ann Arbor people that wouldn't be here... We listen to our chamber members."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for AnnArbor.com.Reach her at katreasestafford@annarbor.com or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.

Comments

MGoYpsi

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

Council member Susan Moeller said she felt that by having no particular stance, the chamber in a way supported the measure."By being silent, its as if they were supporting it," Moeller said. "If you're against it, you should be able to stand up." Wow, maybe some doesn't have "in a way" the same opinion as yours. That is OK.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

If you are silent, you support it - there is a gross assumption. Perhaps they just didn't want to be confrontational. Assumptions are dangerous. If the city wanted to know what they thought, why didn't they ask?

Ben Petiprin

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

Any partnership with a city so much larger and wealthier than the other will result in the subordination of the smaller community. If the past years are any indication of the chamber's work, then they have done little more than tear a few things down and cater to yuppie types downtown. Without an influx of new jobs, all of these "developments" will be strictly cosmetic. But what has Ann Arbor ever really wanted for Ypsilanti other than making it more visually suitable to their tastes. They do not have our interests at heart, so why do we ally with them?

Ben Petiprin

Fri, Dec 21, 2012 : 7:35 a.m.

Yeah, admittedly. I'm no politician so I don't have to act like I'm not selfish. I don't see benefit in this for me or for anyone remotely like me. The only group this stuff seems to help is large business and fast food chains. That's not development. A few more part time jobs isn't going to help the city. That might be what Ann Arbor thinks, and since they have disproportionate influence that's all we've been able to focus on. What is this regional plan anyway? Perhaps Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti have different ideas in where they should go.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:44 p.m.

There is a selfish view. Get Real: you don't live on an island. If you are no part of the regional plan, you are part of the problem.

Rizzle

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

What does the Chamber have to do with City Council?

Lets Get Real

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Nothing, except that the city chose to be a member of the group.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 2:16 p.m.

Rizzle, The City of Ypsilanti is a member of the A2Y. The city pays a $328.50 annual membership due to the local chamber, in exchange for access to networking events, workshops, etc.

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Richardson further implored the chamber representatives to share exactly what their position was on the recent passage of the right to work legislation and other controversial legislation as well. "We took no position," LaBarre said. "We remained neutral." That's what we want from groups tax dollars go to support.

Lets Get Real

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber gets NO tax dollars and represents the best interest of small, locally owned businesses. The number of union shops that are members of the chamber are minimal. Main Street merchants: restaurants, embroidery shops, insurance agents, real estate brokers, bed and breakfasts, local banks, small retailers, business service providers, etc. Businesses want to locate in a state where creativity is fostered and innovation brings new business revitalizing our area. Demand for more housing, restaurants, retail, and professional services follows. The mission of the chamber is to support Main Street Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, not unions. I'd be curious if even one union is a member of the chamber? Influencing change by standing ourside and stomping like a spoiled child? Not. To make change in a organization: be involved, contribute, build relationships, and present the benefit of the "other" side. Bullying, figuratively hitting someone over the head with demands hardly endears anyone. Working collaboratively to make a better future for our region goes a long way toward giving credibility to a differing perspective. The angry Mr. Murdock wants more for Ypsilanti? Be the change you wish: get merchants to host chamber events at their businesses; get the city to be present and involved on planning committees, ambassador corps, the board of directors, Early Edition program committee, and other chamber opportunities. Has the city ever hosted an event, offered a board member, welcome people, or treat those "Ann Arbor elitists" with distain? Look to successful leaders for a model. Rene and Matt Greff have managed to build bridges over US 23 by treating people on both sides with respect and dignity. I, for one, go back and forth for the best each town has to offer: Ypsi - Mix, Corner Brewing, Sidetrack, Parish House, Red Rock; Ann Arbor - Found, Arbor Brewing, Argerios, Davies House, and unions don't play a role in

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 11:22 a.m.

"A2Y Chamber vice president of government relations Andy LaBarre and A2Y Executive Board Chair Tom Harrison attended the meeting to address the city's concerns." Andy LaBarre--another local elected official who has a potential day job conflict of interest. He'll fit right in with Conan 'Snicker' Smith on the County Board of Commissioners.